By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Reports from Feb. 2002, marriages are most susceptible to divorce in the early years and after five years, approximately 10 percent of marriages end in divorce.

The Oct. 2005 CBS News Poll reports that after nearly five years as our nation’s leader, President Bush’s job approval rating has fallen to its lowest ever with 58 percent disapproving of the job he is doing as president.

According to About.com’s Small Business Information site, over 85 percent of small and medium-sized businesses fail in the first five years.

It seems that the longer you stick with something, the more chances you have to mess it up. On the other hand, here on Kaua`i, time can be a charm. One of our clients just finished a three-year use permitting process. Another has just begun blossoming by making its sales goals. Our own company is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, and we’re doing better than ever. Locally, we like shiny new things, but we also like to wait and see how things are going to shape up for new businesses before we patron them wholeheartedly.

From a PR perspective, here are the five things we think are most important for businesses in the first five years (actually, they’re applicable to marriages and presidents as well):

1. Appreciate. Taking your success and your customers for granted will have them looking for another company that makes them feel special. Just saying “mahalo” to those who contributed to your success can score you points.

2. Improve. PR can only do so much if your services, products and processes don’t meet the needs of your customers, employees, or vendors. Analyze your procedures often and fix them when needed. Learn new things at every opportunity and be fearless about evolving.

3. Communicate. The level of effort that businesses put into exposing themselves to their publics (and we mean that in a good way) in the first year doesn’t necessarily need to be upheld, but consistent, honest, positive and effective means of reaching out to your publics is critical to keeping your relationships strong. Remember that everyone receives information differently so use a variety of communications vehicles.

4. Plan. Most successful businesses develop business and marketing plans at their kick-off but often as the years go on, the plans gather dust. Make it a habit to revisit vision statements and goals, revise them as necessary, and distribute them to all who need to know. Writing down your objectives and aspirations and sharing them are powerful steps toward manifesting them.

5. Celebrate. Ron and Laura Wiley take this tip seriously. We all should. Get a calendar and a camera, document your milestones and victories, and savor them with your publics. Otherwise, five years can pass in a blur.

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