Think you don’t need PR or advertising? Think again.

Earlier this week, I went to a lunch event with a group of young professionals. As part of the event, we heard from a business owner who took a leap of faith to start his business almost 30 years ago. He talked to us about the risks, the benefits and how his business has changed and thrived in that time.

His story was great. But one thing caught me off guard. He said advertising doesn’t work. He said the best way to grow your business is by pure word-of-mouth. On that, we disagree. I know my feelings on his sentiment were written all over my face because everyone at my table laughed. But it’s the truth. He’s got a very successful business. But if you’re thinking about starting a business (or if you already own one), here are three reasons you actually DO need these things.

  1. Businesses fail. Don’t be one.

According to Bloomberg, as many as 80 percent of businesses fail within the first 18 months. It’s no secret that the No. 1 reason is that they run out of money. But Forbesoffered five other reasons. I won’t list them all here (that’s what the link is for) but two of these reasons caught my eye: not reaching customers through deep dialogue and failure to communicate value propositions in a clear, concise fashion.

Guess what a great PR partner can help you do? Not only are we constantly in tune with the media and what people are talking about – we’re consumers! At my firm, we often have brainstorms that involve our entire team, which spans four different states. It provides great perspective for our clients not only on how to talk to their existing customers, but how to best present their product or service to make it attractive to potential customers.

  1. Word-of-mouth is great. But how does it start?

I’m not trying to say that word-of-mouth is not important. It’s crucial to most businesses. But if you aren’t communicating with your potential customers, how will they know you exist? You need to communicate who you are, what you do and why they should patronize your business.

How you communicate will depend on your business model. For example, Pinterest isn’t the right platform for every business. And not all businesses need to have billboards. But these things can be great for the right company. And a great PR partner can help devise what strategy is best for you.

  1. Nowadays, people are talking. Make it a two-way conversation.

I use Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, GroupMe and G-Chat. I text, play Fantasy Football, read the news, email and follow blogs. And these are just a few things that exist on my phone!

The conversation is happening whether you’re part of it or not. There are hundreds of opportunities to talk to your customers and to address what they’re sharing with their friends. A great PR partner can help you take advantage of those opportunities.

I’ll end with a great quote. We’ll call this the “too long, didn’t read” version.

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde