For many business owners, public relations can be a tricky component of their business to grasp, often understanding its importance but misunderstanding its use.

As a PR professional, I feel it is my job to keep an open and honest conversation with my clients about PR and its process to ensure realistic goals and expectations are met as well as to point out what is fact and what is often misconstrued.

So here is what you, the business owner, needs to know:

1. Public Relations is here to help build brand awareness and maintain its image. It does not always correlate in an immediate increase in sales.

Although media coverage can generate some sales, I would not recommend clients to spend money on PR for the sole purpose of increasing sales. Clients should think of PR as more of a marathon rather than a sprint. Although the results they want to see can take longer, the reward is usually greater in the end. PR professionals work with the media to secure media coverage about a client's company, products and services, with an intent to help build a brand and an image that the consumers can recognize.

As a client's media coverage portfolio begins to build, overtime they will then see a steady increase in sales. It typically takes a minimum of 6 months for clients to begin to see any ROI on the money they spend on PR.

2. Try to find a way to work with all types of media

All clients LOVE those huge national placements. Why wouldn't they?? If I could guarantee that every one of my clients will be on the Today Show I would but this is just not the reality. Are clients strategically pitched to the Today Show and these other major media outlets? The answer is YES. Do we have strong working relationships with the producers and editors at these major outlets? The answer is YES. Can we guarantee coverage?? The truth is, NO. And clients should not be told otherwise.

Landing national features can often take months to secure. Fresh angles and images, repeat impressions, and whether or not the story or product is a good fit for the media outlet at the given time are key factors when working with national media. I encourage clients to take advantage of the other media opportunities that come their way on the smaller level (ie blogs, local news affiliate stations, regional publications and etc.) They will be surprised by the benefits this can bring. I have found that my clients who are more willing to work with a variety of media, the more successful their PR Campaign becomes.

Clients can then maximize their coverage results (both big and small) by sharing it on their social media platforms.

3. Press releases are only effective when you have newsworthy content

Media contacts receive hundreds of pitches and press releases a day. To ensure a client's release is being read, it is important that the content in the release is newsworthy. Perhaps, it is a new launch of a product line, an opening of a store, a hiring of a new CEO, or a collaboration with a charity or a celebrity, this is the type of content that deserves a full page release and the media will appreciate its length.

A compliment to a full page press release is a short strategic pitch. A strategic personal email with just a few key points and web link can be equally effective, if not more effective, than drafting a full page press release. Like many of us, media contacts are often checking their emails while on the go. Instead of having to read through a full release on their phone, some media prefer to have the key information quickly at hand.

There should always be a good balance between full page press releases and strategic pitches that are being sent to the media.

PR is constantly evolving and versatility is key! Good luck!!