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Q:We have retained a PR firm. They have presented us an elaborate plan that includes news releases of things like new hires, client wins, etc.

A:Some of things they suggest (such as by lined articles) we think can generate leads. However, some of the things they are suggesting seem like fluff. Generating leads is our goal. We don't really feel the need to tell the media every time we hire someone or buy a new copy machine or something. :-) Any thoughts on PR and its value? Should we ask for a stripped down PR plan that just includes lead generating activities? That is our instinct in this matter. Any thoughts on PR and its use for the small business would be appreciated. My gut tells me that most PR consultants think in terms of corporations and that is probably how they were trained. Big corporations do a lot of PR that is just in the category of nice to have -- e.g., announcing a new hire -- but that are not really core to the mission of making money. I guess it comes down to resources and time. In my last post, I forgot to mention a great PR book, Jason Salzman's "Making the News: A Guide for Nonprofits and Activists." It doesn't read like a college PR textbook; it's full of great illustrations of how to get--and keep--media attention. It's primarily aimed at the nonprofit sector, but the advice Salzman gives is applicable to the business sector as well. Don't let the title of Salzman's book throw you. Yes the title says "a guide for non-profits and activists," but the advice he gives is just as valuable to a for-profit corporation. He aimed his book at the non-profit sector because most non-profits don't have, and can't afford, a professional PR person to maintain contact with the media; his book is a basic how-to-do-it. His advice will also work for a small business that's unable to hire a PR professional. The concepts are the same, although the labels (for-profit/non-profit/activist) may be different. You still need to define your message, pick your target and reach it with the correct medium. The key is making that medium your friend, and Salzman shows you how. Now if you're a for-profit, I'd go one step farther than Salzman does, in that I'd buy spots on the radio and TV stations you want to use. Here's the link to the book at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0813340950/qid=11116101... While I was on Amazon, I came across another Salzman book, "Let the World Know: Make Your Cause News." I can't vouch for this one as I haven't read it, but the synopsis looks good. Here's the link:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0006QCOZ2/qid=11116101... And just in case someone is wondering, I get nothing from Jason Salzman or his publisher. I took a PR class five years ago, the prof assigned that book, and I've kept my copy and still refer to it.

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