Public relations (PR) is a great marketing tool but one that is much misunderstood and misrepresented. It’s not just media relations and it’s certainly not spin. It IS about building relationships, greater brand awareness, reputation management and ultimately organisational success. PR is arguably the most effective of the marketing disciplines in terms of cost, medium to long-term results and return on investment. Its value is in the fact that it engages with the people that matter to your business in the way they want to be engaged with and, most importantly, opens up dialogue. It is a powerful thing to know what people think about your product or service - whether enhancements are needed or they think you’re the best thing since sliced bread, that information can be used in a variety of ways, all of them beneficial. And if activity is highly targeted and you’re getting your message across successfully, it usually means your marketing spend elsewhere can drop.
The fact that PR tells a story indirectly through a third party (usually the media), substantiates its claims, often features an independent testimonial and is not paid for space gives it a lot more credibility than advertising. Ideal for communicating complex messages, another of its strengths is that it can more easily generate a call to action because it supplies a rationale for why someone should do something.
In the past, one of PRs greatest weaknesses was an inability to truly measure the impact of a campaign outside of a basic ‘this is what the coverage would have cost if you’d bought the same amount of space in advertising’ measure. This is no longer true and there are all sorts of ways of measuring outputs and outcomes, which show how people have responded to the work carried out. PR is not an overnight answer however – it can provide a quick hit but for brands looking for longevity and behavioural change, a sustained and consistent approach is required.
Whatever your business needs, PR can create the response that you need, whether that is greater engagement or sales. It’s worth a look.