Tyler Barnett knows a good marketing opportunity when he sees one. In addition to getting his clients featured everywhere from Seventeen to CNN, the public relations expert and owner of Tyler Barnett PR has also done a fair share of marketing himself. He's been quoted in articles on various subjects related to work and entrepreneurship, including in the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News and World Report. He's even been featured on an episode of "The Millionaire Matchmaker."
So, when Barnett started to notice a need in the public relations market for a PR firm that specialized in the needs of small business — micro-businesses even — he jumped at the opportunity. He, along with co-founder Jenna Watson, started a new PR firm specifically designed to serve small businesses, called Visionary5.
The firm provides not only a lower pricing plan for small businesses (generally between $1,000 and $3,000 a month), its whole approach to promoting smaller businesses is different from that of parent company TBPR.
The "5" in the company name refers to the five marketing components the company provides to its small business clients. They are public relations, marketing, branding, social media, and being a brand spokesperson.
"PR alone is not enough for small businesses," Barnett told BusinessNewsDaily. "We make sure that all components are covered."
PR alone does not drive sales, he said. Instead, a combination of PR, social media and other marketing components helps parlay successful PR into successful marketing.
"If you just have PR it's very difficult to show sales," Barnett said. "The best campaigns are combination of both PR and marketing. It's a better approach."
Barnett and Watson offer some expert PR advice for small businesses.
BusinessNewsDaily: What is the biggest challenge small business owners face in terms of public relations?
Barnett and Watson: One of the biggest challenges small businesses face when they try to take on their own PR is the actual time it takes. PR by nature takes a great deal of time and effort. Between coming up with the creative, pitching, following up, etc., PR is often a full-time job. Small business owners know they need good PR but rarely have the time or know-how it takes to achieve it. Another challenge is the actual cost of PR. PR services can often be quite expensive, especially when small businesses choose to work with large firms.
BND: Do you think PR is necessary, even for small companies?
B & W: PR is necessary, especially for small companies. PR is a cost- effective alternative to expensive traditional marketing. PR utilizes numerous tools and techniques to gain recognition and awareness, most of which cost little to nothing. In addition, the value of third-party endorsements generated by good PR cannot be substituted with purchased ads or traditional marketing. PR provides small businesses with collateral that they can use for the lifespan of their company. Visionary5 was created specifically for small companies who may not be able to afford larger firms.
BND: Is it possible for a small company to do their own PR?
B &W: It is definitely possible for a small company to do their own PR, but they should expect a learning curve. PR is a trade like any other that requires a good amount of time, practice and experience to master, so if the business has the time, it is most certainly doable. I do however think, hiring a firm like Visionary5 that specializes in small business PR is a more practical solution.
BND: If a company can't afford a PR firm, what can it do to help generate publicity on its own?
B &W: Some simple ways to generate publicity include creating and running social media sites to engage potential clients, writing and issuing your own press release announcing your business' new products or services, or simply calling your local media and persuading them to cover an event you are hosting. Remember to be persistent and follow up — a single phone call placed to the right person at the right time could make your business.