Do you read the regular advice comments from John Timpson, the chairman of high street cobbler and key cutter Timpsons?
They appear in the Telegraph and elsewhere, and I am a big fan of his sensible advice for growing and managing a business... and given how ubiqtuous his firm is on Britain's high street, he has a track record of success to back up his advice.
Recently, in his column he dealt with a question about whether a firm should start doing press and PR activity to generate customers.
It is a question many accountancy firms' partners have asked. At big firms it is a resounding "yes", and increasingly many mid-sized and smaller ones too. But many also miss a trick by simply seeing it as being a tactic exercise for generating a few bits of press coverage to attract some extra sales leads. There is nothing wrong with this per se, but it is a one-dimensional approach that will bring limited and transitory results.
PR is all about "building a better business rather than just increasing sales"
John Timpson hits the nail on the head with his comments, saying "The best public relations campaigns don't just find a few more customers, they also help to create a company culture and get you noticed for all the right reasons.... define what you are good at and how you want to be seen by both the outside world and your own colleagues".
Amusingly he also gives the advice "make sure you really know what you want them to do". Sounds sensible, yet often I go to businesses who really aren't sure what they want... notably one smaller accountancy firm whose CEO invited me to a meeting with him and the managing partner... only for it to be a debate between the two of them whether the firm should be doing PR at all ("no" was my conclusion for reasons I won't go into!).
Clearly accountancy firms want favourable press coverage, but make sure you think through why you want the coverage. Yes to it bringing in a few leads, but more than that what are the big business challenges you need to overcome to deliver your strategy... and how will better and clearer communications help you achieve them? Once you have answered these questions you are in a good position to get great value from a PR campaign.