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By Donald Levin

* PR encompasses more than you realize. PR includes targeted business and trade publicity; hard-hitting publications; opinion research; speechmaking and other customer-group appearances; as well as various communications programs. It's more than publicity, more than a story in your newspaper or an appearance on local TV.

* PR produces sales, investments, recruitment, strategic partners--not just "image." Accomplish these and other measurable results using all the tactics of PR. For example, your company gains
strategic partners when they read about you in publicity and your publications. How well your PR helps meet important objectives is your yardstick in evaluating the PR function.

One healthcare client employs our PR services to increase sales by stepping up distribution and the number of buying influences (school nurses and pharmacists).

* Benefit from a firm's objectivity. A PR firm carries out programs for different kinds of clients, from which it gathers independent experience. Tap this experience--writing, design, contacts, organization--and the talent behind it. Don't undervalue outside opinion by assuming that, "They don't know how we do business."

Remember that why you're better off with a PR person who knows your general industry and learns your products on the job than with an ex-product person who is learning PR.

* Don't expect a PR person to control the press. No one controls the media. Reporters and writers are accountable only to their editors. If a firm claims to control the editorial function at any media, be very skeptical. We believe that our knowledge of the media and our ability to gather newsworthy client information earns our fair share of positive coverage. That's all.

Advertising in reputable trade and business magazines is not a means of control. Some clients have engaged us to minimize or eliminate coverage of certain subjects, which we did in part with standby releases, statements and interviews. In certain cases, we've prepared ads to respond to and contain a problem, but not to control an editor.

Conversely, advertising is not a requisite for on-going coverage. We have scrapbooks full of publicity for clients who don't advertise at all.


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