We continue our expert interviews series by chatting with Suzanne Jameson, founder of Jameson & Associates. She provides great insight on the world of public relations on what’s next in the industry.

How did you get into Public Relations?

With years of experience and a degree in Business Marketing, I stumbled upon my passion for public relations (PR) in 2008 while working as the Marketing Director of a nonprofit based in Santa Fe, NM.

Due to our virtually non-existent marketing budget, I had to figure out creative – and inexpensive – ways to get the word out on our programs.  I started approaching media outlets and soon became the spokesperson for the organization, appearing in numerous TV spots and radio shows.  I quickly discovered that PR is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach a completely new audience for your products and services!

When my husband and I relocated to Arizona with his job in 2011, I decided to put this new passion to use for small businesses and nonprofits.  I formed my LLC in the fall of 2012, created a website and began obtaining my first “real” (aka paying) clients in 2013. Over 200 client articles and almost 40 TV segments later, I am thrilled to be able to help businesses “get seen!”

Why would people want a service like this?

For many companies, traditional forms of marketing – advertising, direct mail and more – are expensive and not necessarily effective. Social media can be a fantastic tool for some businesses, but often doesn’t get you in front of your target client. Email is inexpensive and can have a great ROI, but that’s dependent on the quality of your contact list (which you may not even have if you are a new business).

PR is free and, simply put, tells a story. YOUR story. It communicates to a broader audience what you do – and why it’s needed.

I work with clients to develop their unique story.  A press release tells the “who, what, when, where and why” of your business or event.  A release is designed to give media outlets objective information on your business.  Your newsworthy release is then submitted to appropriate publications and/or TV stations on your behalf.

Why is this important? When a business is featured in an article or TV segment it gets you in front of more people on a broader scale. Also, being seen in the press gives your business almost instant credibility!

You can also repurpose articles and segments as content on your social media networks, on your website and in e-blasts to extend your reach even more.  The surprising benefit of PR:  Your business will also start to appear in more online searches and may drive people to your website!  

What are some of your success stories?

My first major campaign in Arizona was for a new franchise providing engineering summer camps to kids.  I was contacted in April of 2014. The camps were due to start on June 2nd of that year – a very short amount of time to promote.  Using an aggressive mix of PR (articles in several publications and a TV segment on NBC, an Open House event and Facebook contest that nearly went viral), the camps sold out and the franchise was soon ranked #2 in the country in terms of sales.

One longtime client sells refurbished PC’s and teaches basic computer skills to children at 19 schools. His companies have been featured in publications, or on TV, each month for the past two years.  By focusing on a different aspect of their business each month, the company is being consistently seen in the press.  His sales have doubled and are continuing to grow!

One of my favorite success stories involves a woman business owner, a personal security expert, who sells safety devices (stun guns, etc.).  From an article in the East Valley Tribune in 2016 she was contacted by the HR manager of one of the largest employers in the state and asked to do a presentation to their employees.  This business owner now speaks at this company on a regular basis, sells her devices to them as well, and is being asked to present to other groups.  I was also able to obtain two free TV segments for her which are now being used on her website to promote her expertise as a public speaker.

So what was initially an ecommerce business has now evolved into an organization educating others on personal safety – all because of one newspaper article.

Hence the “magic” of public relations: This doesn’t always happen, but I’ve seen scenarios like this occur enough to make me – and my clients – true believers in the power of PR!

Why can’t people handle their public relations on their own?

PR is a funny animal.  A business can do their own public relations but they won’t be taken seriously by the media. A PR professional will have the relationships built and will also provide a press release and appropriate images to the media. They also do the follow-up. Many media outlets receive in excess of 300 submissions daily.  My job is to package your story in a compelling way, follow-up consistently and also arrange interviews, etc., when needed.

It can take several calls and messages to obtain any type of coverage.  Businesses don’t have the time for this attention to detail and follow through. Having professional PR representation also gives your business a certain “cachet.”  You can always tell people, “I’ll have my rep call you.”

Where do you see the future of public relations going?

Newspapers, due to lack of advertiser and readership, and cost of production, are disappearing rapidly.  As this happens, there are fewer publications to submit to and TV is becoming increasingly competitive in terms of obtaining free exposure.

The good news is, while some publications may be “going away,” the need for online content is growing at an incredible rate!  Publications that are surviving are also working with a diminished staff and are relying on contributors to fill in the gaps in terms of material.  What does that mean to your business?

There has never been a better time to tell your story!

Patty Hughes
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