From shoestring to big budget, every brand needs to invest in public relations (PR). Period.

We’re not talking about that one big media hit, we’re talking about a long-term communication strategy that is going to land you the brand recognition that will keep your business going and growing.

Having worked with clients on both sides of the budget spectrum and at all points in their brand life cycle – from start-up idea to 30 years in business, there will always be that one person who says they don’t believe in PR. However, you’re not going to go anywhere if you don’t tell people about your business. Even the most exclusive brands in the world have a PR strategy. If you are dealing with clients or customers and you are attempting to grow a business, you are likely interacting with your public(s), which means you are building relationships – Public Relations. It’s not just about getting your brand in the media!

There are a few crucial points in business that you absolutely need to have a PR strategy in place, and there are others that it just makes sense. Here are 6 signs you need to invest in PR for your business.

#1: Your brand story isn’t that exciting

It’s the last thing anyone would want to admit about their own brand, but sometimes you have to be truthful with yourself. Just because your mom and your uncle Burt say it’s great doesn’t mean it’s right for the masses. If you aren’t getting the pick-up you thought you would, then perhaps you should look at the story you are telling and how you are telling it.

#2: You are preparing to launch a new business

The key here is “preparing” to launch. Your PR strategy should start building months before you actually launch, so give yourself a good 3 – 6 months before the set launch date. When you are new to the market you don’t have brand equity built up (ie. no one knows who you are). A great PR campaign will help to increase brand recognition and to establish a good reputation for you overall by reaching your target audience in the right way. It will also help you to differentiate yourself from all of the other start-ups (we ARE in an age of entrepreneurship, after all).

#3: You are preparing to launch a new product/service

Just because you already have an audience doesn’t mean they will understand or even hear about your new expansion. If you think about it, even Apple creates a huge lead up to the launch of a new product, otherwise their brand loyal fans won’t know to line up days in advance to purchase in-store! You need to find the best way to communicate with your current audience and to explore ways to expand your audience by offering the new product/service.

#4: Growth is at a standstill or declining

To keep your brand at the top of the heap, you need to put work into keeping it fresh and continuously increase visibility among your target audience. If things just aren’t working for you, you have to figure out why. Often it comes down to how you are positioned and the messaging you are using. Your brand story should be re-visited regularly over the years as your brand matures to make sure that you are still aligned with the market needs and the audience needs.

#5: You are looking for investors

Whether you are a start-up or looking to take your brand to the next level, you may be considering bringing on investors. To attract quality investors you need to showcase your brand expertise and establish yourself as an authority in your industry. Investors often find opportunities by tracking industry news and attending industry events, so your PR strategy should include tactics that put you in the right place.

#6: You just don’t have the time

This is not uncommon, especially for entrepreneurs and smaller organizations. If you spread yourself too thin, you can’t execute your business objectives very well – you may even experience burn out. Find someone who can act as an extension of yourself in terms of understanding what your brand is all about. A great PR agency will come on board and integrate well into your team/operations. If you choose to hire to run your PR internally, make sure the person is a good fit with your team.

Let’s face it. You only get one chance to make a good first impression and a great PR strategy will put you on the right track. If you really don’t know how to get to a great PR strategy, then your investment should be in an expert that will help you get there.

Originally posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications blog.