PR help for SMEs

THE idea behind Chocolate Box PR, a “public relations concept package” according to its creators, is to allow small and medium enterprises and start-ups which have never utilised PR before, to get their message out to the public.

“Even the name, ‘Chocolate Box’ plays on the idea of buying a confectionery box to sample the chocolates inside at your own pace,” said Craig Selby, one of Chocolate Box’s creators.

Selby, as one of the co-directors of local boutique PR firm Orchan Consulting Asia Sdn Bhd, said branding is generally underutilised by local SMEs and small businesses.

“One reason is that the SME owners are busy running the day-to-day operations, and branding and PR are not things that occur to them. Others may realise that they do need to publicise their business or product, but may be constrained by their budget.”

Chocolate Box consists of three “step-up” packages for clients. However, the basic one offers consultancy and Do-It-Yourself PR”, where the client is guided on how to move forward.

More comprehensive packages, according to Orchan co-director Farrell Tan, include a media list, story pitches and select collateral preparation.

“The focus is something that sets Chocolate Box PR apart. The idea for training was based on models we researched in Europe, where many businesses have an active role in tailoring and getting their message across to the public,” Tan added.

“Those who have used PR before generally know what they want, whereas this is for businesses who haven’t used PR before, those that aren’t sure what they are getting into and just want a ‘sampling’ of sorts,” said Tan.

“If it works out for them and business picks up, then PR has helped them. If it hasn’t, then at least they have minimised their financial outlay,” Selby added.

Since its launch in March, approximately 30% of enquiries Orchan received were from clients enquiring about using Chocolate Box PR, with 70% of enquiries eventually becoming Chocolate Box clients.

“Some think it is a substitute for advertising, but that is not true. You need both advertising and PR, in getting your message out and reinforcing it,” said Selby.

“Some clients have even opted for ‘Chocolate Box PR+’, which is basically the full package with added services which they selected based on their needs and our discussions,” said Tan.

Some of the SMEs or start-ups which have utilised Orchan’s Chocolate Box service include Yappy.TV, an online social media portal in Kuala Lumpur which has been around for less than a year. Similarly, BellaVita, another start-up that provides a health supplement drink, has also utilised Chocolate Box in terms of strategy guidance.

“So even with all we have said about pre-packaged and off-the-shelf, it’s still pretty much customisable and bespoke in terms of our clients’ requirements and the message we intend to get out to the public,” said Selby.

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