I’ve always been a big fan of Dr. Seuss. There’s just something about his whimsical rhymes, colorful characters, and strong moral foundation that allows me to suspend reality (for a time) and indulge my imagination. His work, although geared towards children, is rich with important life lessons for people of all ages. I find that one of my personal favorites, Oh, the Places You’ll Go , serves as an excellent allegory for small businesses on the path to great things. “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!” Establishing a small business is an exciting thing, a true labor of love. It gives you the unique opportunity to follow your own passions and create a brand that speaks to who you are and what you want to contribute to the world. But as all entrepreneurs know, ensuring the long-term success of your venture means constantly juggling lots of complex variables. In my experience, the careful maintenance of good public relations is the most important factor in transforming a struggling start-up into a booming business. (This assumes solid management and continuous assessment of direction and progress are already in place.) “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” When it comes to choosing a PR agency, the power really is in your hands. It’s all about finding a PR group that will take your unique vision and use it to create a strong, compelling voice for your company. An agency that asks challenging questions and helps you better define your goals and target users is far preferable to one that simply reacts to requests. A fluid relationship with your PR team will add dimension to your vision and help you anticipate and contribute to emerging trends. “You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, ‘I don’t choose to go there.’” Although it may be tempting to go with the PR agency that has the longest, most impressive client list, you’ll be much better served by finding a PR group that has exceptional listening skills. The PR team should not only listen to what you have to say about your long-term business goals but also provide you with the tools necessary to listen to the unique needs of your target audience so that your brand can adapt to address them. “You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers Who soar to high heights.” In order to get to those high places and enjoy the lofty view, you’ll need to take some (calculated) risks. A good PR team will take bold, even fanciful, measures to ensure that your name stands out in the crowded marketplace while remaining true to the heart and soul of your brand. Sure, risk taking can be scary – but a measured risk tends to pay off. “I’m sorry to say so But, sadly, it’s true That Bang-ups And Hang-ups Can happen to you.” Even the biggest companies have faced adversity on the road to corporate success. Household names from Tylenol to Pepsi Co. have recovered from potentially reputation crushing crises thanks to nimble, creative, and timely public relations. That sort of PR is essential to maintaining customer loyalty during those critical moments following a business “hiccup.” “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)” Above all else, remember that you need a PR team that, at the end of the day, allows you to say with the utmost confidence, “I’m okay being me.” PR should be a guiding hand, a relationship builder and a catalyst for creativity. A good PR agency will NEVER try to change who you are or the core of what your business represents. “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!” You heard the man … get going!
Heidi Raker is a 30-year public relations veteran. She's the founder and managing director of Raker Goldstein, a lifestyle boutique, which was recently acquired by The CHR Group, a global marketing holdings company. A passionate marketing pro, Heidi has a penchant for emerging brands, serving as an incubator for embryonic brands. Her three decades in the industry have enables her to nimbly guide companies of all sizes and above all, help them realize their vision through results-driven public relations programs.