Harold Burson, founder of Burson-Marsteller, the world's largest public relations agency, says companies should not think of a PR agency primarily as something to send out press releases, but as a resource for strategic counsel on how to do the right thing and get credit for it. Ideally, you would have both an internal publicist and an outside agency to handle PR needs, since it is a labor-intensive process that is highly reliant for success on established relationships. You can find publicists (ideally, they would be ex-journalists) through your local Yellow Pages, the Public Relations Society of America at
Having PR counsel on retainer saves money, but most small businesses (or perhaps you are the lone crusader for a local cause) cannot afford even a freelance publicist for a project ($100 an hour versus $150–$300 for an agency). The alternative is to slowly master the most important details of successful PR.
Whatever you spend on publicity, though, coverage by the press is much more credible and effective in getting your message out than advertising. To locate 70,000 media outlets in North America, consult