PR is a carefully planned, sustained effort to establish your identity, maintain credibility and promote communication between your organization and its public. It’s a way to keep your name and good deeds in front of the public. It should be part of your overall branding strategy for your business to build brand awareness.
PR is one tool to be used to achieve a communications objective. Advertising strategies are another. In advertising, you’re paying to control the message that you want delivered. Public relations means getting stories written or broadcast about your company on and offline in the local press, business media, trade publications, radio, television and other media outlets depending on the audience you want to reach. PR is an information message about your company.
The public can be very cynical. They have lots of advertising messages thrown at them on a daily basis. But, when people read articles, hear or see something about your company in the news, they’re going to take you more seriously than they do from your ads.
When someone makes a claim, you typically say, “How do you know?” The reply you most commonly hear is, “I read it in the newspaper; I heard it on the radio; I saw it on the Internet.” Not, “I saw it in an ad.” Using the media to deliver a message is a type of endorsement that is impossible to achieve through any type of advertisement. With its message of integrity, quality and extraordinary service, it has the power to persuade.
Writing and placing good and informative content – user case studies, company profiles, product and market overviews, section briefs – in publications or getting one of your executives interviewed by a local or national reporter have a much longer shelf life and greater pass-through value than ads. This becomes especially true if you get permission to reprint from the magazine publisher or rebroadcast your television or radio appearance, which allows you to circulate them further to your employees, customers and others. Also, you can then put the material on your Website or in your next e-newsletter.
No company can expect much return from the marketplace if not enough prospective customers know what it does and how it operates. Some argue that attempts to create greater recognition, or to sculpt public impressions, are in some way unnatural. These skeptics feel that if their company is doing a good job, the public will “beat a path” to their door.
Waiting to be discovered can take a financial toll on your company. Your company competes with thousands of others. Oftentimes, the main difference between you and your competitors is whether your communications or marketing program are established by default, or as a result of careful planning.
Many of your competitors already are actively doing public relations, media relations, community relations, employee relations and marketing communications. You’ll never stand far unless you also proactively seek attention. It’s an extremely crowded market in the online and offline space.
Getting attention takes an ongoing, dedicated effort. You need to have an ongoing plan to communicate ideas and messages to the public, creating marketing support for services and products, and developing and nurturing media relations. You focus on your key brand messages. Until you clearly differentiate the appeals of your company – its products and services – you cannot market your company effectively.
Having a well-developed public relations campaign gives you several advantages. For starters, when stories are done on your industry, the media will have a spokesperson within your company to contact. This way, your company, and its executives, will be mentioned prominently in such articles, positioning them as leaders in the field. Most importantly, though, it will convey information to the most important audience of all: your potential customers.
So, what is news? Anything that is of potential interest to the people in your community. People make news. Employee promotions and awards make news. Events make news – business openings, special promotions, anniversary celebrations, participation in or sponsorship of a community event. Innovations are news – a new product or service.
In addition, you should be using social media. It’s an attractive public relations method for interacting with the general public, customers and community at large.
The more customers read, see or hear about your company’s accomplishments, the more they know about you, and the more they want to know about you. Your commitment to a sound, ongoing PR program makes a big difference if you want to capture solid awareness of your company. Why are you waiting?