How Does “Public Relations” Help a Business?
The success of any company depends on the strength of its reputation.
Consumers trust brands that have earned their loyalty. This is true of virtually all business niches, from direct-to-consumer products like coffee and computers to ultra-niche business-to-business professional services.
Public relations, or PR for short, is a key tool in the reputation management arsenal. It’s a vital piece of the marketing puzzle that revolutionised traditional marketing approaches.
Great PR boosts a business’ credibility. It builds a positive reputation and boosts visibility with the target audience. It allows businesses to achieve their goals, reaching an increasingly large audience, generating sustainable growth within their niche.
Why Do Companies Need Public Relations
Modern businesses simply cannot do without a solid PR strategy. The precise scope and scale of your PR strategy will vary based on the size and existing brand positioning of your business. However, businesses of any size can and do benefit enormously from a solid, professional PR approach.
Benefits of Public Relations
1. Increases Brand Awareness and Credibility
Ferrari famously does not spend money on TV commercials. The Italian sports car manufacturer’s reputation is so strong and so far-reaching that they don’t need to.
While it seems counterintuitive, this is an example of great PR. The simple fact that they don’t advertise is part of Ferrari’s PR strategy. It strengthens their reputation, relying on Ferrari’s firmly established brand across the globe, and separates them from competitors.
The lesson here is that a solid PR strategy, even one as unorthodox as Ferrari’s, strengthens your brand and increases your credibility. This could include media placement, press releases, and even your social media presence.
2. Cost Effective Marketing Strategy
PR offers solid “bang for buck” in your marketing strategies, particularly for small- to medium-sized businesses. PR often extends to speaking engagements, influencer marketing, and media coverage.
Implementing a professional public relations strategy allows your brand to continuously build trust and credibility with your target audience. Critically, it does so without demanding a massive up-front amount of capital.
Free media coverage, for example, does wonders to promote and amplify any brand. This broadens the reach of the business. Any good PR strategy will emphasise earning free editorial coverage rather than simply paying for ads.
This makes it a truly cost-effective marketing technique.
3. Creates Positive Public Relations Publicity for Your Company
Good publicity is invaluable to the success of any business.
The goal of PR is to manipulate and massage your business’ public image. It is, after all, public relations.
A PR strategy focuses on earning and promoting positive publicity and a public image aligned with your brand values. Building a positive public image boosts consumer confidence and builds trust with your target audience.
4. Protects Company Reputation
A company’s most valuable asset is its reputation. That’s why British Petroleum spent so much money rebranding as Beyond Petroleum a few years ago. Their reputation was irreversibly affected by a major oil spill, and the company had to rebuild its reputation from the ground up.
Assuming your company avoids causing any major natural disasters, a great PR strategy protects your company’s reputation. The easiest way to do this is to be proactive, such as with a good media strategy.
5. Helps with SEO Campaign
It should come as no surprise that SEO, Search Engine Optimisation, is a major piece of the PR puzzle.
These days, you need to be on the front page of Google (or another search engine) for customers to even notice your business.
Getting there involves a few strategic steps. Any campaign you embark upon should include a strong, savvy SEO strategy to ensure that your newfound publicity sends prospective consumers straight to your own company’s website.
6. Attracts New Customers
Business is all about growth.
Growth comes from new customers.
Expanding your reach with a PR marketing strategy means more people will know about your brand. Accordingly, PR brings new customers to your business.
A wider net always catches more fish.
What are Public Relations?
Public relations is really all about managing perception. Public perception of your business is hard to define, but important to understand.
PR professionals aim to build brand awareness and improve your business’ reputation. This, in turn, attracts more customers and builds your relationships with your consumer market.
Typically, public relations efforts for smaller and medium-sized businesses are proactive rather than reactive. They attempt to build a narrative and boost a business’ profile.
Reactive PR typically involves a response from an established brand to an event that has already impacted the brand’s reputation.
How Does a Public Relations Campaign Work
A PR campaign works by answering the question “why do people need to know about my business?”
PR activities require you to build and boost your reputation. You want to establish your business as a leading authority within your industry. You want to build your credibility with your audience. You want to reach your target audience and make sure they know that you can provide solutions to their problems.
The below steps outline the overall trajectory of a typical PR campaign.
Step 1: Define Your Business Goals
The first thing for any good strategy is to make the aims clear.
Define what your business aims to get out of your PR strategy. Is it a boosted profile? Are you launching a new product or service? Do you simply want to increase your reach with your audience?
Define your business goals and what you want PR to do for you so you can accurately measure the success of your PR and media relations campaign.
Step 2: Determine How Much to Spend
The next key step is to determine your budget.
It’s true that PR campaigns are a cost-effective means of marketing your business. That doesn’t mean it’s free, however.
You’ll want to set a budget for the PR campaign and determine where best to spend your money. Some aspects of PR cost more or less than others. Some paid influencer marketing, for example, requires more money than a simple press release, but you get a clear, targeted reach into your target audience for this.
Another key budget question is how long you expect the campaign to last. While some PR campaigns can be evergreen, with media coverage lasting forever, others are a sprint, not a marathon.
Step 3: Know Your Target Audience
You must know who you’re reaching out to in order to engage them effectively.
Define your target audience. Know what they like, what they dislike, and what problems they’re trying to solve. Know how your unique brand voice and service solves their problem in a way that nobody else does.
Knowing your audience makes reaching out to them that much easier.
Step 4: Choose Your PR Activities
The final step before unleashing your powerful PR strategy on the world is to choose the PR activities.
You can choose from a broad variety of public relations activities, including media & community relations, advertorials, business events and conferences, external partnerships, and even employee relations.
Step 5: Implementation
The best way to get something done is simply to do it.
The final stage of a PR campaign is launching it. Once the campaign is underway, it’s critical to measure its success against your defined goals above.
Implement the campaign, measure its success, and be open to learning more about your business and audience from the experience.
What Do Public Relations Companies Do
To fix a leaky tap, you call a plumber. To build a house, you call a builder.
To implement a great PR strategy, you hire a public relations company.
Public relations companies do PR campaigns all the time. They tend to be very good at it. In a way, the existence of a PR company is a great example of good PR: they wouldn’t be in business if they couldn’t deliver the results.
PR companies allow your business to save time and money by focusing all their efforts on your campaign. Experience is the greatest teacher, and PR professionals do PR activities all the time.
This not only allows them to launch campaigns effectively, but the experience allows them to tweak campaigns if need be.
PR companies also have the benefit of strong, established media outlets and influencer relationships, opening doors that might otherwise remain closed to an in-house campaign.
In conclusion, public relations is not just about promoting your latest product or idea. It’s a multifaceted, long-lasting approach to marketing your business and brand as a whole by increasing your profile and building public trust. A PR agency effectively engages local media and highlights your key messages to deliver on your company’s marketing aims.