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By Donald Levin

Lay a foundation for the investment. Understand your audiences and markets, on the one hand, and your services/products and corporate values, on the other. Assess how the two sides match. Bringing them closer together is one way to define PR.

This matchmaking is the crux of business development and marketing. Many CEO's are frustrated by their company's fuzziness about the process and its results.

Estimate losses, values. What does it cost you for each day that you don't have the PR function fully motivating your audiences to call you? What is the value of one more new sales prospect and one more potential investor?

Estimate person power. Add up the person-years you believe the company needs to achieve the results you desire. An entry-level program requires at least a half-person-year, usually a full person-year.

Allow for your experience with PR. Ever have an agency, an in-house operation, any PR? Define PR for your company. What alternative functions replace or overlap PR. The more comparable experience you have had with PR, the more comfortable and accurate you're apt to be with
your investment planning.

Consider timing issues. What is prompting your interest in a new or revitalized PR function, and how crucial is this? Is any special corporate or product/service news coming up--from your company or its competitors? Do you have the few weeks needed to find, evaluate, and
active new PR resources or a firm?

Bottom line. An ongoing PR program costs upwards of $25 to $50,000 a year. Companies with sales below $5 million may want to spend less, but that requires cutting deliverable values.

Evaluating all the above factors--and asking PR experts to outline and price programs for targeted objectives--will help you set budgets.

When is PR Most Powerful?

1. When your company has news--i.e., fundamentally new products or services (when you invent that better mousetrap).


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