Public relations (PR) is one of the most misunderstood parts of marketing. Many organizations treat it as a department separate from marketing to avoid mixing it with advertising and other promotional efforts, but in the end, there is one unified purpose for PR and marketing: creating awareness about your company.
It’s not just glitz and glamour, and it shouldn’t be totally self-serving either. If it’s done correctly, PR can bring unrivaled attention to your organization, yet it takes a lot of effort to cultivate a story that portrays the company or brand ambassador’s reputation, idea, product, position, or accomplishment in a positive light.
Why should you invest in PR? Here are a few benefits you can’t ignore:
Develop a positive image – Think of PR as your reputation curator. Not only will it ultimately position you as the authority in your field, but it can also work to manage a crisis that might occur, like for example product defects or negative perceptions.
Brand awareness – Let’s state the obvious. The more you are out there, the likelier someone will remember you. Media has far more reach than most other platforms because of the third-party endorsement, and PR is the gateway to get exposure.
Credibility – When media highlights your services, people listen. After all, most people still see newscasters and editors as trusted advisors.
Relationship building – The purpose of PR is to establish relationships with publics, whether that’s a consumer, business, or other organization. PR is the foundation for fostering a strong relationship with your audience, one that can’t be replicated through other tactics.
SEO – Backlinks (other websites linking to your own) is SEO gold. It’s one of the most important elements to rank well on search results. The more reputable the website, the better. Yes, Google measures a website’s authority. Media coverage and being a guest author can give you the some of the best backlinks possible.
With these benefits, it’s difficult to argue against spending your resources on PR.
How to get the most out of PR
Work on long-term media relations
Developing media relations is not something that happens overnight. A lot of people think that just by writing a press release and sending it out, they will get media attention. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Media relations is an artform, you must intricately know how the media works, what’s your local or industry landscape and how they prefer to be engaged. The goal is to position yourself as a credible and worthy source, with a great message, and journalist will answer your calls or emails.
Develop a yearly plan
Everything must be strategic, as with any other aspect of your efforts. It’s best to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve with PR in the long-term and then break it down into an actionable plan with specific tactics that you execute diligently. You must, however, leave room for unexpected happenings such as receiving an award or any other milestone that merits a communication plan or at least a press release.
PR strategies are marketing plans in themselves. The only difference is that they are executed to the media — they are your audience in this case. Work hard to position yourself as an expert in your product category for reviews or positive mentions.
Writing for PR is different
PR is not the place for fancy adjectives or glorious phrases about how your products or services are the best. In PR you state the facts in third person and have a credible spokesperson to provide a quote. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that PR writing still should respond to the company’s mission and vision.
Think beyond media coverage
Once the message is crafted, you need to match it with the right media outlet at the right time, presenting an angle that will pique their interest. And, PR goes way beyond media coverage, you can also work to get speaking engagements, interview opportunities, media events and advances, spokesperson training, product launches and reviews, media monitoring, investor and employee relations, case studies and other content development.
Don’t ignore social media
Social media is playing a starring role in the marketing mix. Industry influencers, online reviews and user comments can have a powerful effect on your audience’s perception of your company. Every PR effort should connect with your social media efforts, not just to share your latest media coverage but to monitor your online reputation.
You can also gather valuable intel from social media, such as including positive comments or reviews on your media efforts and surveying your followers for valuable insight to create charts, graphics and even infographics.
Work with a reputable PR agency
PR efforts are time-consuming and complex. Media relations don’t happen overnight. Working with a PR agency that has the knowhow and established relationships provides more value for the money spent. An agency will also have tons of experiential knowledge on what can work for you, so you don’t have to develop a strategy plan from scratch.
Every company can benefit from some sort of PR effort. It can safeguard your reputation, greatly increases awareness, whether it’s in the B2C or B2B arenas, and can drive great amounts of traffic to your website, ultimately increasing sales. Working with an experienced PR agency can go a long way for your company.