Everyone is somewhat familiar with public relations (PR), but it can be difficult to pin down what it really means. Some class it as free advertising and others think it’s a waste of time. (It’s not and it isn’t by the way.)
The Chartered Institute for Public Relations (CIPR) defines PR as a “discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour.” In other words, it is “the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
PR agencies or in-house press offices work to bridge the gap between a company or brand and its publics (audience). This is done by establishing and maintaining relationships with integral figures in the media, from industry publications to influencers. By building and nurturing these relationships businesses can encourage support for, or the promotion of, the company, a product, or their spokespeople.
Through industry publications you can access a wide readership and with industry influencers you can directly mine their network. Either way, your key messaging will (hopefully) be communicated to their audience and a section of your publics.
Having a comprehensive PR strategy will elevate your brand in ways that advertising or marketing can’t. This is especially the case, as people generally dislike being advertised to or at. But a mention in an industry publication, or even local newspaper, can go a long way. It lays the foundation for a business to build a relationship between their brand and their publics.
By putting in the groundwork this way, your brand is much more likely to standout among your competitors. And recognition is everything. The “emotional appeal of familiarity” has emerged in almost every industry due to market saturation. Meaning that people, and businesses, buy from brands they’ve heard of before.
So, making your brand an everyday household name can work wonders. Just take a look at the widely used phrases associated with, or inspired by, brands. The transitive verbs ‘to google’ and ‘to hoover’ have evolved beyond the brands behind the names, despite a continuing deep connection between them.
Investing time and money into your public relations can also cement credibility and build brand recognition. Whilst every PR strategy will be different, there are fundamental brand building PR activities that endure across the board. These include pushing out press releases, participating in award shows, and generating earned media in the press.
Increasing your PR efforts can optimise the content you are producing and who is seeing it. As you can see in this graph, taken from the Signal AI platform, increased PR efforts can dramatically impact media coverage and the reach of your brand.
Building brand awareness is one thing. But truly effective PR can totally transform public perception of your brand. An aspect of PR that can have this transformative impact is engaging directly with your publics with a spokesperson. This puts a face to the brand (and name) and humanises it.
You can media train key stakeholders to be confident spokespeople for your brand. And by prioritising them in your PR outreach, their reputation will grow which will help establish your authority in the market. Making it easier to position yourselves as expert thought leaders and for audiences to empathise with a company’s values.
Beyond business as usual case uses, PR will help you manage the unpredictable outcomes of anything that comes your way. If a crisis situation arises, delivering the right messages and content can salvage your brand’s reputation. By utilising a well-thought-out PR strategy, you can ensure that your spokespeople are able to convey those messages.
When things aren’t quite so dramatic, your PR efforts will maintain brand reputation. Keeping a clear line of communication and brand messaging will ensure that you remain engaged with your community and audience.
As a business it’s always good to know what’s going on in your own backyard. And consumers like brands that are commercially and socially aware of their surroundings. There’s no better way of raising awareness in your community than through geographically localised or industry specific partnerships. Therefore, local partnerships will foster strong relationships and build connections with your target audience. These are valuable resources that simplify getting the word out about your brand.
Nurturing relationships with local publications, radio, and news broadcasters, is an effective way to supercharge your PR. It’s not only rewarding for your brand, a strategic media relationship that pays off can reflect well on you internally. And beyond your business, it’s a mutually beneficial system, in which you can share in each other’s successes. Having that level of social penetration can have a real impact.
Despite the prominence and prevalence of digital media, some businesses are still slow on the uptake. It is vital that you enhance and optimise your online brand presence. As a PR professional you can help guide this process.
There are a few practical steps you can take to optimise the digital aspects of your business. Starting with opening and maintaining relevant social media sites so you can directly connect with your audience. These can be used to push press releases to major online publications and will encourage earned media. In turn, this will drive traffic to your site through content downloads, form fills, and newsletter sign-ups.
But there are plenty of roadblocks in the way when it comes to building an effective online presence. Having a comprehensive PR strategy in place helps you overcome these. A PR strategy, alongside your content, social, events, and demand generation strategies, will allow you to optimise your digital presence. It can also prevent mistakes.
It’s clear that investing in your PR can be highly profitable. But here’s the 411. Press releases and news stories are a great way to generate hype around a brand. Whether this is a new product release or an event, informing the press will create much needed buzz.
Additionally, peaking potential customer’s interest through high profile media coverage can bring in, and convert, new leads. Supporting marketing and lead generation. And having a consistent stream of content leaving the press office makes that high profile earned media easier to achieve.
Ultimately, if your PR is effective it’ll be easier to convert new leads into closed deals. As a result, you’ll hold their interest for longer and the credibility it brings will be invaluable.
Despite PRs positive impact, it can be difficult to demonstrate the value of PR to a business. But it isn’t impossible. PR professionals have developed various methods of measurement and reporting metrics. Above all, they’re vital when proving the necessity of PR to your higher ups.
Media monitoring tools can be used to measure media coverage. The metrics include number of articles and their potential audience reach, to sentiment analysis and publication type. These provide a tangible understanding of the efficacy of PR. But as with all things, not all media monitoring tools are created equal.
The different types of tool you use can really affect how accurate your reports are. Solutions like google alerts and other products relying on overcomplicated boolean searches fall short. They fail to impress in the face of great innovation in the industry.
More media monitoring companies are adopting AI which is revolutionising the industry. It is increasing accuracy and provides insightful reporting and real-time capability. So, if you’re looking to track your PRs performance, consider investing in the best to get the best.