What Are Public Relations Campaigns?
Public relations, or PR for short, is a vital aspect of any public entity. That could be a company, a brand, or a public figure like an artist, athlete, or politician.
A successful public relations campaign involves a series of coordinated activities with one business outcome in mind. This might be audience expansion, changing public perception, or simply to increase sales of a new product or service.
Modern PR campaigns tend to be custom-made for the business or brand launching the campaign. What seems innovative and powerful for one brand might be completely inappropriate for another.
In this article, we’ll look at the best PR campaign examples and how public relations campaigns can be used across a variety of industries.
What is a Public Relations (PR) Campaign?
While the details of a public relations campaign may vary from one campaign to the next, a broad definition is any combination of practices with specific objectives and goals for a business.
Public relations itself is the practice of managing a brand’s public image. The importance of public relations is in influencing, as much as possible, public perception of the brand.
The PR campaign is the sum of activities involved in maintaining and improving that public perception. A solid PR campaign improves and promotes understanding between the brand and its target audience in particular as well as the general public.
While a press release and social media posts can be part of a PR campaign, far more goes into a successful PR campaign than that.
Most major companies hire PR professionals to create PR campaigns because they have the experience and expertise necessary to take the company’s objective and transform it into an actionable series of steps.
Brands of all shapes and sizes invest in PR campaigns. Look at the broad range of companies and brands featuring the Matildas in recent advertising, from banks to books. All of these companies are engaging in PR, associating their brand values with the widespread public goodwill towards the national women’s football team.
Marketing Vs. PR Campaign
While marketing and PR are similar, it is important to distinguish between the two. This is not least because success in both fields requires a concrete understanding of what separates them from one another.
We wrote extensively about these differences in another post, but the short difference is this:
- Marketing activities drive sales with innovative promotional activities.
- PR is concerned with maintaining and improving your brand reputation.
While public relations activities can be part of a marketing strategy, not all marketing is PR, and a lot of PR activities do not have the goal of driving sales.
What is the aim of the Public Relations Campaign?
The aim of any good PR campaign should be clear and understandable for everyone working on the campaign. PR objectives are typically some variation on:
- Raise awareness of the brand.
- Generating interest in the brand.
- Building customer loyalty.
- Cementing brand identity and increasing brand credibility.
Achieving each of these objectives helps in achieving the others.
For example, a PR campaign that boosts brand awareness increases the potential for consumer interest in the brand.
Increased consumer interest over successive PR campaigns increases consumer loyalty. The best PR campaigns build on the success of previous campaigns and lay the foundation for future success. In this case, the campaign will build trust with existing consumers and improve customer loyalty to the brand.
This has the net benefit of wider reach and improved sales figures. Customer loyalty that is rewarded with excellent products or services improves brand credibility and cements a brand’s position in the market.
Different Types of PR Campaigns
There are as many types of PR campaigns as there are businesses who use them. The list below features some of the more common variations of the PR campaign, most of which will be familiar to most readers.
While there are many different types of PR campaigns, the differences between them are not necessarily as cut-and-dried as they may seem. More often than not, a PR campaign that is categorised as one type could easily fall under the umbrella of another type.
As with most business activities these days, the most successful PR campaigns tend to be agile and versatile. The best type of PR campaign is one that helps you achieve your business objectives. Further categorising is mostly about making it easier to understand which activities are best suited to pursuing those objectives. This has the added benefit of making it much easier to measure the success of the campaign based on these activities.
Consider the list below:
1. Strategic Communications
Virtually all PR activities could be considered strategic communication. Strategic communications is about aligning the exchange of information between brand and audience with business objectives.
It requires communications to be consistent and coordinated with broader business objectives. One example of strategic communication is avoiding all mentions of a new product announcement until the agreed launch date, or outright denying the development of said new product until it is ready for launch.
This practice is very common in the fast-paced world of consumer tech, where new innovations are heavily guarded against competitors and early adopters might be discouraged against a purchase with a fancy new product on the horizon.
2. Media Relations
Media relations might be the oldest type of PR campaign. When you consult a PR agency, you’re also enjoying their relationships with various media outlets. PR professionals with good contacts at major media organisations will use these to get their clients’ message in front of the right audience.
More than ever before, the media requires a consistent flow of information and news stories. When businesses and brands craft compelling stories and press releases that are easy to share and build on with op-eds, interviews, featured articles, and other types of media coverage, it benefits both the media outlet and the brand.
3. Community Relations
Direct engagement with the community is an extremely effective means of connecting with an audience.
Community relations is a popular PR strategy for politicians, for obvious reasons. Consider, however, local school fetes, or the cafe around the corner displaying local art or flyers for local concerts and theatre performances. These are examples of grassroots community relations.
Community relations extends to any direct engagement with your audience through a channel you control, such as a regular email newsletter or a blog.
Community relations campaigns need two-way communication to be successful. You need to be sensitive and open to feedback from your community in order for this campaign to succeed.
4. Internal Communications
Internal communications campaigns resemble community relations, but on a much smaller scale.
Internal communication is all about keeping your team onside. Engaged, motivated, loyal employees will be your brand’s greatest advocates.
A strong internal communications campaign involves ongoing programmes that keep staff engaged and informed with the activities of the business. This requires higher-ups to understand employee needs and concerns.
This is an increasingly important focus for larger companies, but small businesses often benefit from internal PR activities like end-of-year parties or having a suggestion box at the front desk.
5. Crisis Communications
Crisis communications is far more about preparation than reaction. It is critical that organisations have crisis management plans, including crisis communications, in place long before any crisis can occur.
Part of this is building and maintaining strong relationships with stakeholders and the media. This is where crisis communications crosses over with other types of PR campaigns, like community relations and strategic communication. Strong community relations and strategic communications enable a more viable crisis response.
6. Public Affairs
Public affairs, also known as lobbying, is about developing and leveraging relationships with politicians and the government.
The relationship between an organisation and any government entity is very distinct from other PR activities, and should be treated as such. The expertise of public affairs professionals extends to regulatory compliance, corporate communication and trade associations.
For some organisations, this might include influencing legislative change and lobbying politicians to advocate for or act in the best interests of the organisation or its audience. The political outreach of various not-for-profit and civil rights organisations is one example of this.
7. Online and Social Media Communications
A strong online presence isn’t just preferable for modern organisations. It’s imperative. A great online presence makes an organisation stand out. Without an online presence, the organisation simply does not exist in the mind of the consumer.
Modern consumers get online before ever thinking about a purchase decision or a brand. Online PR is accordingly vital to lead generation. This extends to influencer outreach, blogging, website maintenance, and social media activity.
Generally, online PR professionals understand what works best on each platform and which platform is best suited to an organisation’s audience.
3 Famous PR Campaign Examples
Music may well be the most popular product in the world. We all think – secretly or not-so-secretly – that we have the finest taste in music. Why not share it with our friends?
Spotify Wrapped is the streaming platform’s viral annual end-of-year event, allowing users to share their most-streamed artists, songs, and genres, as well as their total time spent listening to music.
Wrapped builds excitement, tapping into people’s natural love of music and sharing that love with others. Spotify users advertise the service for free, en masse, every year, in the guise of telling everyone just how much they love Taylor Swift.
Lego: Rebuild the World
The humble Lego brick is the foundation of their entire brand. Lego’s multi-channel Rebuild the World campaign launched in 2019, across TV ads, social media, interactive pop-ups, and a dedicated website encouraging children to share their own Lego creations.
By nurturing and encouraging children to share their own creativity, Lego reached an enormous audience, generating huge buzz while staying true to the brand’s wholesome values of imagination and playtime.
Nike: Just Do It
One of the most simple, and effective, PR campaigns of all time centred around a three-word tagline: Just Do It.
Nike leaned heavily into their relationships with elite athletes like Michael Jordan and Serena Williams to showcase their products as tools capable of helping their customers achieve their potential.
The campaign was effective, motivational, and true to Nike’s brand values of determination and excellence. To this day, the three words that defined the campaign are synonymous with Nike’s brand.
Public relations campaigns don’t need to be complicated.
A great PR campaign aligns itself with an organisation’s strategic goals and focuses on the right channels and activities to achieve that. The PR campaign could aim to expand the brand’s reach, or engage existing consumers and reward their brand loyalty.
The best PR campaign is one tailored to the aims, objectives, visions, and values of your company.
It should embrace your values and highlight them for the audience through the right channels and media outlets. This is true of all PR campaigns, whether they’re digital, through the media, or within the internal corporate structure of the company itself.