People react according to how they see a thing, how they perceive it and what they feel about it. The decision to purchase an item is often influenced by what the buyer feels about the product. A large percentage of the buyers purchasing decision is highly determined by customers’ product knowledge and awareness of one product over the other.

Why do most businesses compete for who makes the most impressive impact?

Why do many businesses contend for who leaves the most lasting impressions on customers?

Why does one business sell out over the other even when they literally do the same thing?

All of these questions and more point to one thing… Consumer Perception and Public Relations!

So What Then is PR?

PR, as it is generally referred to, is the art of maintaining valuable communication between an organization and the public. It encompasses all the effort put into corporate branding, social awareness and reputation management of a business in the public eye.

For SMEs and startups, the biggest misleading questions are often

Do we really need PR? Can we afford PR? …Only “big” companies run PR.

Well of course you need PR. Yes, you can afford PR, and as a matter of fact the giant companies we admire got up to where they are today by building PR from the scratch.

 “So long as your business has anything to do with human beings whether B2B OR B2C, you need PR!”

Here are 7 Indispensable Benefits of PR for SMEs you cannot afford to ignore.

PR Creates Awareness

Effective PR sparks an interest in your audience and gets them to sit up and take notice of your brand and product offering. This could be in the form of regular audience interactions, campaigns and so on, focused on promoting key brand traits. A well thought out PR strategy is key to creating inspiring campaigns that stand out.

PR builds credibility

As Richard Branson wisely said: “A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” A 2014 Nielson study concluded that PR is 90% more effective than advertising. 80% of business decision-makers prefer learning about companies through articles instead of advertisements, and 48% of the millennial audience says word-of-mouth influences their buying decisions over other marketing forms. Credibility is hard-earned respect and comes from knowing your product enough to build a strong brand image and communicating exactly how it benefits the customer. Effective PR would definitely earn you credibility with your customers.

PR showcases your thought leadership and expertise the more relevant stories you share, the more of a thought leader you become. This invariably impacts on your audience positively as you are seen as an authority in your field and a credible expert people can trust. The good thing about sharing stories is that you give your customers real insights about how you do your business. They get to feel more personal to you as you let them into your behind the scenes. You may also take the full length of answering questions that may arise from using your products. You may run consultancy services providing relevant suggestions and answers to your customers. All of these would increase your outlook as an authority in your industry.

Storytelling Techniques Create Lasting Impressions – Especially when narrated from a third party perspective, customers tend to relate more with the brand when business share relevant stories than employing the use of traditional advertising. This is one viable way to getting the word out for your business. You gain more business credibility when the third party spread the testimonials of their experiences around your business. With PR you can identify how best to maximize these testimonials to your advantage.

Boosts Social Media Presence and Increase Outreach to Target Audience – With PR your business takes a better position in the social media world of business especially with the trend of most businesses cashing out on social media platforms. More so, you reach a larger percentage of your target audience who are most likely among the estimated 8 million users on social worldwide.

Reputation and Crisis Management – PR sets your business in the spotlight for the right reasons. Nothing crumbles a business more than negative perception or scandalous reports. With PR your business is portrayed in good light, leaving only positive impressions to consumers.

 Increase Sales and Business Expansion – There is everything to gain when it comes to sales and PR. Your PR campaign creates a proper atmosphere for increasing sales for your business as you begin to engage in media promotions, content marketing and more.

 Create Awareness and Mass Publicity – Publicity is about the numbers and PR truly brings in the numbers for SMEs. As you engage in Social Media Marketing, Market Research, Content Sharing and the likes, you reach out to more audience who in turn converts to buying customers.

In conclusion, the benefits of running PR for your business cannot be overemphasized especially in today’s digital age. As an SME thriving in an ecosystem as Nigeria could be challenging. With increasing competition and unpredictability of customers choice and preferences, adopting PR is your sure bet to standing out from the crowd and carving a niche for your brand.

If you take nothing out of this piece, here’s one point you should bear in mind…Running PR implies you don’t just have a business, but you have a brand people believe in, a name people trust, you’re not just selling products but creating real value for more people, therefore, building lasting relationships converting into sustainable and increased patronage for your business.