Public relations is a term that is thrown around a lot; however, many people don’t understand it and its significance.
So what does it really mean, and why is it critical for individuals, businesses, and organizations?
According to communication experts and public relations specialists, here are reasons why public relations is important:
PR acts as a go-between and delivers newsworthy information
In my more than 50-year career in PR, I’m not sure if it’s ever been more important because, in today’s world of 24/7 news cycles, content is king.
To put it simply, PR, through its collaboration with earned media, creates the only credible content in today’s world of internet blather, social media pontificating, and paid ads disguised as real reporting.
That’s why PR, and its primary goal to act as a go-between and deliver newsworthy information, not fluff, is so crucial. It enables the media to provide third-party validation to information and separates the wheat from the chaff.
What is the perception of PR?
To the general public, PR has the reputation, whether deserved or not, as being a “spin factory.” Many think it’s just about protecting clients from bad press or feeding hyperbole to the media to make a client look good.
Does that exist in the industry? It does. In some ways, it was actually more common before the internet, given there were fewer media outlets and the relationships between publicists and the media played a larger role.
Today, given how publicists interact with reporters, producers, or even influencers, many in the business will go after the quick hit of online likes and clicks where sensationalism might be the key to coverage.
But the real PR pro’s out there, who I believe make up the majority of the industry, still know that truth, integrity, and diligence will deliver something of real value to their client.
But like the proverbial giant tree falling in an empty forest, an audience has to hear it, or all this truth and integrity means little. That’s the job of PR—to act as the go-between, the messenger to the media, so their audiences will hear and understand the impact of that sound.
What are the goals?
PR serves as the pathway for businesses and individuals to connect with the media in a way that does a particular goal.
For some, it might be brand recognition where a company profiles or has a representative serve as an expert source and delivers a sense of “legitimacy” while also educating the public on their efforts.
Some may be interested in raising their profile in the community or promoting their values via their brand. And others may just want their name out there for either SEO purposes or greater awareness. And yes, in some industries and situations, PR can be about damage control.
Every company or individual has different goals, and PR is predicated on serving those goals to provide a solid ROI to the client.
Each goal comes with a different form of media outreach, but what I stress, irrespective of the goal is to keep in mind that good PR is not only about serving the client. It’s just as important, if not more so, to serve the media.
PR walks the line between client goals and media needs. If we don’t deliver the type of information about a client that entices the media and hopefully builds a level of trust, then a client’s goals won’t be achieved—so thinking like a journalist is key.
“If you build it, they will come” is a great movie line, but real life is a little different.
While there are situations where a company or individual creates something so interesting, successful, or “newsworthy” that the media will seek them out, it’s far more common that an introduction takes place.
This is where the real skill from the PR side comes into play. It also lends itself to bad practices with over-the-top, grandiose statements with nothing tangible in support.
Those seeking PR representation will be very well-served to:
- Define their goals.
- Understand that a good campaign is a building process.
- Recognize that third-party coverage carries a different kind of weight.
- Resonate more deeply with audiences when compared to marketing or advertising.
With that established, doing the due diligence to find the right PR firm is crucial. Aligning values and goals at the beginning will deliver better outcomes later.
It’s the most impactful means of communication
If you are someone who needs to get your message “out there” to help promote your business, product, service, talents, or event to a local, regional, or national audience, there are three primary means to readily do so:
- Public Relations/Publicity
Advertising can effectively spread the word, but it is usually quite pricey and can be cost-prohibitive if your marketing budget is limited. The biggest “pro” for advertising is that you know precisely where your paid-for ad or commercial will appear and when.
However, by and large, there is zero “prestige” factor with paid advertising. Everyone knows you wrote a big check to get that message in there.
Promotion can be a fun way to tell your target audience about your project.
For example, you can:
- Stage an event
- Create a ticket giveaway contest
- Offer reduced prices on a business anniversary
- Hire people to place “wild postings”
Usually, small posters—around your community on telephone poles and trees or hand out promotional flyers to people coming out of supermarkets.
Creativity is your only limit here, but, again, depending on the scale of your promotion, this too can become costly and often involves a great deal of planning and logistics.
For me, since I’ve been making a living at the Public Relations/Publicity game for over 40 years now, generating coverage in:
- TV media outlets
is not only the most prestigious form of marketing your news, but it’s also the most impactful means of communication.
If the biggest newspaper in your town or the number one morning radio show, or the top-rated TV news channel in your market runs or airs news about your campaign or project, those in the audience are sure to be impressed and usually make a note about what you are suggesting they do on your behalf.
For example, I have been representing many top restaurants based in Los Angeles, and via press releases and “non-paid-for” media coverage, we have seen significant increases in their businesses after our stories have appeared.
Publicity is “free space” in a:
The only cost involved here is hiring a strong, well-connected publicist who is highly creative, a great writer, knows the media landscape in your community, is collaborative with you and your messaging, and doesn’t charge you an arm and a leg.
I’ve made quite a good living at doing just that since 1982. I’m sure with a little research, you can find a top-notch public relations expert in your community who can help generate the much-needed and “prestigious” media coverage you, your business, your event, or your project deserves.
Katherine M. Rothman
CEO, KMR Communications
Public Relations is one of the most efficient ways to enhance marketing strategies and build a substantial reputation online. Individuals and companies who are savvy realize that it is no longer a case of “if you build it, they will come.”
The competition in most sectors today is formidable. Public relations entails using solid relationships formed with a broad but well-targeted media landscape to get the right message to a niche and desired audience to enhance brand recognition and reputation.
PR firms work with their clients to transform their visibility and credibility in a way paid advertising can rarely achieve.
PR serves multiple functions for a client, whether an individual, boutique, or Fortune 500 company:
- It can increase sales and profits over time through consistent media coverage.
- It heightens and sustains recognition and credibility.
- It changes the public’s perception of a business or an individual in a positive manner.
- It increases online presence, which is critical for search engine optimization and Google rankings.
Public relations is a point of differentiation from competition
When a potential customer, client, or patient is choosing a real estate firm, a restaurant, or a dermatologist, they often ask themselves, “what have I heard about this entity/person?”
Many people equate positive mentions in the media with quality and status. If the media has not featured a restaurant, hotel, plastic surgeon, etc., people wonder why they have not heard “buzz,” which can serve as a detriment.
PR creates a larger-than-life image, even for start-up companies or entrepreneurs. When done by a carefully vetted PR firm, dollars spent toward PR are often the wisest investment.
It’s all about who the PR firm knows and how creatively they position you
A strategic PR campaign involves a highly in-tune PR firm, attentive to its client’s goals, who will tailor fresh and creative press releases, media alerts, or messaging to media who cover your subject matter.
A seasoned PR firm will optimize a client’s budget and time by consistently ensuring they are seen and heard on the right media platforms. In addition, they will identify key influencers who will support your brand.
It is improbable that you can gain access to these individuals on your own. Doing so is essential to your ultimate success. It enables you to tend to your business while vital media connections are forged on your behalf.
One of the end goals is to become a go-to press resource for your area of expertise and become synonymous with your field of work.
Public relations paves the way for future endeavors
Once an individual or a company has an established “name,” it is easier for them to parlay the “earned media” into paid ventures they might want to embark on in the future.
These can include:
- Book deals
- Paid speaking engagements
- Being part of expert panels
- Being hired as a KOL (key opinion leader)
- One’s own TV program
- Selling a business
Or a myriad other opportunities that would not have been possible without the positive exposure of media coverage and its ensuing recognition.
The bottom line: Being a qualified but best-kept secret is not a positive state of business flow; public relations and ensuing media coverage can change that.
Sarah Cooke, MBA
Principal, Cooke Consulting Solutions
Earned, owned, and paid media have their place and value and provide powerful communications programming when on brand and leveraged in coordination. Specifically, the management and distribution of information through public relations, or earned media, has a measurable effect on achieving your business goals.
It elevates your expertise within a target community to build trust
Your company has tremendous experts you can leverage to build your brand and theirs. News and information outlets are always looking for experts to talk specifics, for example, about the local economy.
For example, a credit union’s chief lending officer likely knows a good bit in this area, or if you’re a tech firm, explain the latest technology trend at the consumer level for a B2C outlet or its strategic application for B2B.
These types of efforts create brand awareness, thought leadership, and trust that can help grow your business.
Leads are not uncommon. One of my public relations clients recently signed business based on an article we’d pitched for a trade publication late last year. Most of the time, the line from PR to sales isn’t that direct, but this particular credit union called my client and said, “do for me what you did for them.“
It builds relationships with editors and reporters in a target market
Help them to see your experts as legitimate news sources for articles they are working on.
As you gain their trust, they’ll start coming to you for ideas and information that can expand your brand reach and trust. You might try to target local business journals or other media popular with your intended audience.
Know where your target audience gets their news and make their reporters and editors your target. Sure, their immediate need is to fill a time slot or news hole with information their audience wants and needs, but who are they really?
- Are they after awards or a juicy story that will get them to the next rung in their career ladder?
- Are they looking to go home to their family at 5 pm every night?
That is your audience.
Mitigating bad press
No matter how great your organization is, bad things happen—robberies, fraud, or data breaches, to name a few, are very real possibilities.
Having a pre-existing relationship with the media won’t keep them from publishing negative news, but you are far more likely to have the opportunity to get your side of the story in.
Or think of it from this perspective: I was recently researching some credit unions’ charitable work, and about 10% had no information about it on their websites and little to no information about it on their social media.
When I Googled them, all I found were posts about robberies at their branches. This is not the first impression you want to make with potential customers.
Also, consider the cost of not being prepared in a PR crisis. One of my clients recently had trouble with a now former employee, which could have easily blown up into a crisis.
We created and implemented a multi-step action plan to address and even help pre-empt what might have happened. While the issue seems to have died on its own, what could have been the cost if it had blown up?
Final thought on this point of information: Never respond to a reporter with “No comment” or ignore them. It makes you look guilty about something.
It builds trust and SEO authority to bring more leads and sales to your website
Organizations often distribute press releases on a wire service for valuable search engine optimization, as well as potential coverage by a reporter with whom you don’t already have a relationship.
SEO helps people find your company when they’re googling around for car loans or BaaS providers. It will help increase your website’s traffic, brand awareness, and, potentially, your business.
So, what is the ROI of public relations? ROI is an accounting metric: Gains – Cost = ROI.
Not every investment has that easily quantifiable a return, but for all the CFOs out there or those trying to convince the execs to invest in PR, you can try measuring increased traffic to your website, especially referral and organic search, around the time of the public relations work.
You will build trust and SEO authority to bring more leads and sales to your website. The return on investment for public relations is not easily measurable, but the value of public relations is readily apparent.
President and CEO, Durée & Company
PR is essential to garnering positive media coverage for a brand
Public relations is a powerful tool. It’s comprised of a thoughtful strategy and management of how information about an individual or business is disseminated to the public and media.
From creating relationships with journalists to protecting and building brands, the art of public relations should be taken seriously and handled with care.
As a publicist, creating and maintaining relationships with journalists is essential to garnering positive media coverage for a brand.
Public relations is important because it:
- Creates buzz
- Reaches audiences
- Drives results for brands
PR is more than just making headlines. Media visibility is excellent, but so is being known in the community as a thought leader within an industry.
Reputation management during times of crisis or success will strengthen and enhance visibility to intended audiences. Promotion of brand values helps to ensure trust and credibility not only to customers but also to the media.
Strengthening community relations shows a solid commitment to local:
- Business leaders
Public relations is also a pathway to third-party endorsement and earned media. If PR is done correctly, the audience should feel that they are being informed organically through editorial coverage, not being sold by a paid advertisement.
Authentic editorial coverage ultimately creates brand creditability since journalists write about it without any payment rendered. PR provides an unbiased viewpoint from trusted media sources.
Public relations also helps:
- Build brand recognition
- Enhances the overall brand identity
- And can help a brand stay relevant in the public eye while setting the brand apart from competitors.
Professional Speaker and Speaking Coach | Former TV News Anchor/Reporter and Radio Host
PR is honest storytelling; it uncovers the truth, not manufacture it
Many people think of public relations as “spinning,” twisting facts or shading the truth to get people to do something:
- Buy a product or service
- Vote for a candidate
- Support a cause
These abuses occur daily, but they no more reflect the true essence of public relations than biased reporters reflect journalism’s core values.
A true public relations pro helps build positive relationships with constituencies that matter to a business or cause. The best ones create compelling clarity for what you do and why you are the best alternative in the marketplace.
They also understand the most effective and cost-conscious ways to distribute your message, so it produces tangible and quantifiable results.
PR will always be about:
- Good content
- Smart distribution
No amount of technology will ever change that.
Public relations begins with a vision, seeing something clearly that your client either does not see or does not know how to express. It is honest storytelling. It is about uncovering the truth, not manufacturing it.
Too often, attempts are made to cover the holes in the story with slickness or omission. That’s a mistake. Core problems cannot be fixed with PR. The resolution comes from candid assessment and corrective steps that ensure accountability.
The best way to produce a good story is to build one properly in the first place.
Andrea B. Clement
Owner and Principal Consultant, Clem.co LLC Media
PR adds credibility, expands your reach, and increases visibility
In my experience, PR is very important for amplifying your brand’s reach to your target audience of prospects beyond your existing clients and followers on social media.
Additionally, studies have shown that consumers are more likely to trust and try a brand that third-party media outlets have covered as being newsworthy, innovative, interesting, etc.
Potential buyers must often see or hear about a brand’s product or service many times before purchasing from you. (The general rule is about seven times, but in today’s market, with so many competing ads and media outlets, it may require more than seven touches.)
Prospects need to see your brand online on social media, hear about you from other people, learn about it from targeted ads, and see it in the news, too.
The more frequently and broadly you put your brand out there in public view via media outlets (especially ones with large audiences that fit your target demographic), the more prospects will learn about your:
The more clients you’ll reach and convert.
By getting covered in news media or industry news outlets and journals, you are creating buzz and reaching many potential buyers who may not already know about your brand.
PR also helps with SEO by referencing your company, mentioning your brand name, and linking to your website. Even without a backlink, PR mentions help with exposure to more people and boost SEO. Many people are unaware that Google algorithms also recognize company mentions, even without a link.
PR enables you to control the narrative and the story
Well-planned public relations campaigns also enable you to control the narrative and the story about your brand’s product or service.
You can help consumers understand essential information about your product or service, such as:
- What problem does it solve for consumers
- How it makes buyers’ lives easier
- How your product or service is different (and better) from competitors’ products and services
You can also share company news about your company’s mission, any industry awards, or accomplishments you can share with prospects to help raise your:
- Brand’s profile
- Increase visibility
- Continue to push out positive messaging and news about your company and brand
Public relations is also a great way to help position yourself as a leader and thought leader in the industry. By being cited as an expert in news stories about issues that impact your industry’s prospects and clients, you will be seen as someone who leads the way and provides real solutions and expertise.
Tips for successful PR
Sometimes it can be challenging to get picked up in the news media (known as “earned media” coverage.) Not every brand nor industry is newsworthy at any given time.
One way to increase your chances of getting picked up by a news outlet is to relate your company’s news to current events that are already being widely covered in the media.
For example, inflation is currently a topic that is being covered in the media. So if you can tie your company’s news story to the topic of inflation, e.g.:
- How your product or service can help people deal with the impact of inflation?
- Or what you’re doing to keep your prices lower during inflation etc.?
You will have a greater chance of getting picked up by the news media.
If you have company news you need to get out immediately and cannot get picked up in the mainstream media or industry news outlets; one great tool is a well-written press release distributed on a national (or global) newswire.
Using a distribution service for your news can help you reach tens of millions of prospects. With a distribution service, you can also target the distribution of your news to reach a specific state or region if needed, and you can target audiences by the industry as well.
Additionally, a reputable newswire will allow you to track the success of your news release to see:
- How many people were reached?
- How many views you have?
- How many click-throughs you have on your news release (to your website, for example)?
PR gives a voice to companies and nonprofits whose stories might otherwise go unheard
Public relations is important because it:
- Shares news and stories that would otherwise go unheard.
- Helps organizations communicate and connect with their internal audiences to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Builds relationships with internal and external audiences through community engagement.
- Provides a communication strategy to share the stories that build brands.
The media is not equipped to find the news of every company and nonprofit in their community. Public relations professionals help excavate, craft, and share the organization’s good news with the media.
In addition, PR helps share stories with all internal and external audiences an organization serves through a myriad of media channels, including its website, social media, newsletters, articles, blogs, podcasts, and videos, to name a few.
Public relations helps organizations communicate with their employees through internal communication vehicles such as newsletters, blogs, and emails to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Consistent messaging and an understanding of each person’s vital role in the organization are essential to building culture and brand awareness. Clearly communicating company news internally also prioritizes objectives that help guide the decision-making process to align with and meet goals.
One of the best ways to build relationships with employees, customers, and the community is to bond over the passion for a cause.
Public relations professionals can help design a community engagement strategy that aligns with your organization’s mission, vision, and values and share stories of engagement and impact.
Communicating community engagement efforts helps position a company as a leader in its industry and community.
You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, so why would you communicate without one?
Communicating without a plan is risky business. A well-designed communication plan can help you:
- Build your brand.
- Position you as a leader in your industry and community.
- Connect with clients, employees, volunteers, donors, and the community.
- Create customer evangelists.
- Communicate effectively through targeted media channels.
- Provide clear direction in a crisis.
- Establish yourself as a valuable and reliable resource for the media and your industry.
TEDx Speaker, Publicity Expert, and Celebrity-Maker
It’s the gold standard when it comes to strategic positioning and communication
Public Relations (PR) is often defined as the “state of the relationship between the public and a company, organization or person.”
If you or your business are playing on a large enough scale, the conversation about you is going to happen. Public relations allows you to participate in that conversation through strategic communications rather than just allowing others to draw their own conclusions.
Strategic communications can be delivered in various means, including:
- Earned media
- Owned media (social media, podcasts, or blogs)
- Internal communications and paid media (advertising or influencer marketing)
PR, in the form of earned media, and editorial, is still the gold standard regarding strategic positioning and communication with prospects and potential clients.
Editorial content appearing in print and online publications, television appearances, radio or podcast interviews, or speaking engagements is a way for anyone to share their story, message, and “why” with the world on a credible platform.
This third-party verification comes when a media platform chooses you to communicate with its audience.
This allows you to avoid having to shout from the rooftops how great you are and to simply let your media appearances do the talking and serve as one of the most powerful credibility markers available to organizations and thought leaders.
A thoughtful and strategic plan targeting platforms where your ideal clients take in information and media is an integral part of PR. Don’t forget to consider adding outlets and platforms that speak to those who will soon become your ideal clients.
Your plan also needs to consider the message, perhaps even more than the outlet. The message or story is something that will live forever, so choose your angle and create your content wisely.
Keep those you desire to serve in mind and show them who you are and what you stand for with moving stories rather than just telling them. Public relations can open a world of opportunity for you to impact the world and your company’s bottom line.
Founder and President, Debbie Goetz Media Connections, LLC
It spotlights the positives of an individual or company and raises their credibility
Public relations is important because it is earned media, in the best sense of the phrase. Many people think of public relations as spin or crisis communications, but true public relations is way more than that.
Public relations is best used to spotlight the positives of an individual, company, or organization and help them raise their credibility with their target audiences and members of the media.
For example, one of our clients is a psychotherapist. Whenever a mental health issue is trending (i.e., back-to-school jitters or how to help your child cope after a school shooting), we offer him up to the media for interviews.
We have been so successful in positioning him as a subject matter expert that members of the media now contact us when they want to interview him about a mental health issue.
Having the media contact you or include you in a story or article leads to third-party validation and increased credibility, which can help boost reputation and, ultimately, sales.
Unlike placing an advertisement, where a company can control the message, with public relations, there is no control over whether or not the media pick up a press release or pitch.
Yet, any information that leads to media coverage will be more robust than an advertisement since public relations focus on raising awareness and getting out factual information.
In other words, an ad says, “We’re great,” while PR placement in broadcast or print media says, “They’re great.”
When our psychotherapist does an interview on TV or radio, his phone rings afterward with prospective clients. We call that successful public relations.
CEO and Founder, Eleven11 Media Relations
PR acts as an extension of a business’ communication and marketing efforts
One of the most important aspects of public relations is building brand credibility through a controlled narrative.
Just like a person or company would create a brand story for their website, internal corporate communications, marketing efforts, social media aesthetic, etc., public relations is there to act as an extension of that.
The amazing part is that this extension has the ability and power to reach the masses. While many of the above brand stories are usually found by being sought out, public relations allows for a person/brand’s story to be amplified throughout various channels like:
- Digital media
- Print media
Having the potential to reach millions of people proactively instead of waiting for them to find you.
Having a publicity team help manage the public narrative of a person/brand in a controlled way ensures that what is being showcased to the world is aligned with personal/brand values.
One of the most important things a person/brand can have is trust and credibility with consumers or their targeted audience, and a large portion of this is built with public relations through articles, thought leadership, and various strategies.
For example, many consumers would purchase a brand they’ve seen in positive media articles rather than a brand they’ve not heard of at all.
If the narrative of a person or brand is negative, that’s also where public relations is essential, as it can combat the negativity with a positive story or set the story straight by crafting a mindful public-facing narrative.
With brand recognition, positivity, and credibility in the media, public relations helps a person/brand reach its goals of becoming more well-known, profitable, or whatever the key performance indicator might be.
PR is instrumental in setting your brand apart from the competition
Public relations is more relevant now than ever before. In dealing with a company’s internal and external reputation, a solid PR plan is among the best tools for building a successful and thriving business.
No longer is the flow of communications and influences a one-way street from a brand to its audiences. Now, there is open and ongoing communication from consumers, employees, and investors who are putting pressure and expectations on companies and employers more than ever before.
PR is instrumental in setting your brand apart from the competition and encompasses everything from reputation management and building brand values to social media management, thought leadership, and SEO performance.
It works towards improving and developing corporate social responsibility
A PR team can tackle crisis response and preparedness and work towards improving and developing corporate social responsibility as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The scope of what PR tackles are expansive, and many of the smaller details are often overlooked by companies focused on the end goal of increasing sales. The catch is that PR works to increase sales and generate leads by focusing on these details that build a strong reputation.
What sets PR apart from marketing and advertising, and why it’s important to have a PR team and plan to compliment your additional communications and business efforts, is its ability to create:
- Brand recognition
That carries the brand through campaigns, announcements, crises, and acquisitions.
Today, PR remains among the most relevant and strategic tools to:
- Manage your brand’s image better
- Build trust
- Continue to maintain strong relationships with your audiences
PR Manager, Knightsbridge PR
Every business begins and ends with PR
Competition on the market is rife. Each industry has contenders left, right, and center.
So how can a business stand out? How can start-ups compete with large-scale companies? It may seem impossible, but there is a solution, and that solution is Public Relations.
What are the statistics?
The importance of PR is paramount in the modern world of business. And this is proven by PR Value Statistics which have shown that PR is 90% more successful than an advertisement when it comes to influencing customers.
So as a business, you are far more likely to attract new customers through a well-versed PR Campaign than you ever are from a highly-priced advertisement.
What makes a successful PR Campaign?
Press, press, press! And more specifically, online press.
The media is an excellent tool to tell the world your story and drum up business while you are at it. Doing this through a digital medium allows you to pinpoint your audience directly. The reach is additionally more significant and far more impactful.
Why is online presence so significant to your brand?
Besides the obvious answer of attaining new clientele, there are other benefits of acquiring an online presence, including:
- Building your brand’s reputation.
- Forming better B2B relationships and a social media presence.
- Allowing you to advertise more effectively and cheaply.
Why your brand needs Public Relations
Public Relations is imperative to every business, whether you’re just starting your company or fully-fledged and thriving. This mainly relates to gaining continuous, high-quality press.
There is no better way to grow your audience, customer base, reputation, and social media presence. It all begins and ends with PR.
Digital PR Specialist, Green Flag Digital
Successful PR is a marathon, not a sprint, and there are not as many tangible KPIs to measure the success of a PR campaign as there are for paid ads; I’ve found that business owners don’t prefer to put assets into it.
It carefully curates content and naturally grows the audience
There are a lot of different aspects to the umbrella term “Public Relations,” and all of them are arguably important. The ultimate goal of PR is to get people talking about your brand exactly how you want them to be talking about it.
Every influencer you send the product to, every guest you invite to your events, and every publication you pitch a press release to is specifically curated to be and reach the exact audience you’re hoping to reach organically.
The more of these hand-selected people you get talking about your brand, the more your audience will naturally grow. And this is why successful PR is a long game because the most lasting impression you can make for your brand is built organically over time.
Without PR, you’re just pushing an agenda that people don’t believe
Think about an expensive product that you’ve bought—it could be a pair of sneakers, a skincare item, a crazy new brand of espresso maker, the first time you heard of an Apple Watch, etc.
You probably didn’t see one ad for the product for the very first time and immediately say, “I’m purchasing this; I need it,” unless you have the luxury to drop money instantly after seeing and wanting an expensive product without caring if it’s actually good or not.
Typically you’ll see an ad for the product, then a week later, your favorite influencer posted a picture using the product, and you go, “huh, I remember seeing that….”
Then a week later, you see press coverage of a launch event for the product with a cool guest list, and you like the vibe of the branding. A week later, your friend mentions at dinner how they heard about this incredible new product and finally bought it, and they couldn’t be happier. And there you have it. You’re sold.
We have so many advertisements and fake sponsorships pushed in our face every single day, it’s difficult for people to believe and buy into something without continual positive talk about the brand/product and to create the feeling of:
“If you don’t have this product already, then you’ve been missing out all this time, and you should probably buy it now that you’ve heard all the good news about it from these people you trust and admire.”
In my eyes, that is Public relations. And without PR, you’re just pushing an agenda that people don’t believe rather than carefully curating how you want to be viewed in the long term.
It’s an invaluable tool in creating favorable public opinion and name recognition
As a publicist, I believe public relations is the most important spoke under the marketing umbrella. Public relations is a low-cost, highly effective way to accomplish business goals. It is an invaluable tool in creating favorable public opinion and increased name recognition.
It is an unpaid, third-party endorsement of a company, a person, a product, or a service, and that fact alone lends tremendous credibility.
Your uniqueness and story differentiate you from everyone else in your field. Being quoted in newspaper and business publications and appearing on broadcast media brands you as an “expert.”
This type of credibility creates a “buzz” or publicity that associates you and your firm with excellence. Publicity builds on itself and opens doors where entrée was never previously anticipated or envisioned.
At its very core, public relations is about relationship building with:
- Potential clients
- Referral sources
- The media
Many people are surprised to learn that growing a business and generating awareness does not require big marketing dollars. Public relations is a brand builder, reputation maker and, ultimately, positively impacts the bottom line.
Public relations strategically amplifies a company’s accomplishments. The bottom line is public relations will help you become known in your business, your industry, and your community. That’s an invaluable return on your time and investment.
Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
It’s the most cost-effective thing a brand can do to build awareness
PR is about attracting attention, and it is the most cost-effective thing a brand can do to build its awareness/visibility/credibility.
PR is “earned media” because the brand gains publicity and exposure by sharing information with its audiences/followers and cannot control how or whether the information is used.
Advertising is “paid media” because you pay to reserve the space to run an ad you create on TV/print/radio/outdoor/online. Anyone can pay for it, so earning it is best.
“Perception is reality,” so you get more bang for your marketing buck with earned media. Every time a new article hits, you speak at an event, or you are quoted in the media, there is value in that exposure and instant credibility in the third-party validation, which carries much more weight than a paid ad.
When that exposure gets prospects to reach out or decide quicker to hire you or buy your products/services, it more than pays for itself.
Think about how much it would cost to buy a half-page ad in a major magazine or newspaper to get an idea of the media equivalency of having an article about your business written as an editorial. It is a massive opportunity that most companies could not afford, and it can be used on your website forever as a sales tool.
I look at PR as an investment rather than an expense. If a story about you in the media leads to new customers or shortens your sales cycle, then the cost of hiring a PR firm more than pays for itself pretty quickly.
PR requires at least 3-6 months of effort, though, to prepare the background materials and begin pitching, so you have to be able to spend a little money upfront to get those articles placed.
The good news is that if you do not start getting any short-term hits, you can course correct and move on, at least without wasting too much time or money.
I measure success by the media equivalency cost of the press you get in print and online through quantitative and qualitative market research and monitoring social media mentions, likes, retweets, followers, etc.
Exposure from content marketing far outweighs paid ads; the benefit of creating content is that the value of being a thought leader is much higher/more credible than a paid ad because it is perceived as more objective/credible.
The smaller the budget, the more critical it is to do PR because advertising is about reach/frequency/volume, so if you cannot advertise a lot, you will not get noticed/remembered at all, so it can be a waste of money.
With content, if you get mentioned/noticed/tagged by key influencers (for instance, as one of Oprah’s “favorite things” as many of my clients have), it can literally put your brand on the radar/sell out your entire inventory in hours/days.
PR measures are crucial to a brand’s longevity and image
Public relations is one of the most effective strategic tools in a company’s arsenal for gaining brand awareness and market share. As PR professionals, we tell stories through the media to reach target audiences (clients, investors, potential employees, etc.).
In the past, PR was centered around press releases and informational documents about company news. The industry has evolved with the digital age to tactics and media such as podcasts and other forms of digital PR.
Aggressive PR measures in times of company growth, innovation, or crisis are crucial to a brand’s longevity and image.
Public relations is also extraordinarily complementary to marketing in general. It is the constant exposure to a brand that leads to consumers buying.
Today’s professionals must embrace that technological advancements have changed how we think and communicate and, therefore, how we buy.
To create social posts that can drive sales, brands need content to share online—owned media. To grow a following for this owned media, brands need earned media to direct potential buyers to the content. And to direct potential buyers to the content, companies, and brands need to share their work online, which is shared media.
Each element is connected and can be supported by a company’s ability to gain exposure and brand awareness through a thoughtful public relations approach.
Further relating PR to sales, buyers are often in a constant loop of exploration and evaluation before deciding to purchase. In fact, it takes 27 interactions before a B2B buyer makes a decision.
Buyers can be in the decision phase for as long as two years. That’s why producing content consistently and often through a thoughtful public relations campaign is essential to staying top-of-mind.
Founder, Scribe National
Public relations tactics ensure you don’t leave your message up to interpretation
As a business owner, it’s critical to shape your company’s narrative. Leveraging public relations tactics (like media pitching and events, influencer partnerships, and internal and crisis communications, among others) ensures you don’t leave your message up to interpretation.
Here are three other reasons why engaging in public relations is a smart move for your company.
Public relations helps build brand recognition in an affordable way
It’s common knowledge that people need to see a marketing message at least five times before it sticks in their minds.
When promoting your business, it’s wise to take a multi-channel approach that includes paid tactics like advertising and organic (unpaid) tactics like public relations. This is especially helpful if your business is on a budget.
Taking some time to craft a compelling, relevant, and timely media pitch could help you build recognition in your market for a fraction of the cost that running ads alone would rack up.
Public relations helps you communicate your values
Public relations is an excellent way to share your brand story with your audience and communicate your company’s values.
Consumers are growing increasingly conscientious about where they spend their hard-earned dollars. A few cookie-cutter sentences in your marketing content won’t convey your company values, mission, and vision in a memorable way.
However, a full-fledged brand messaging strategy that includes public relations tactics gives both you and your team a roadmap to successfully sharing your values.
Public relations helps you grow your audience
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Borrow other people’s audiences?” This is precisely what leveraging public relations enables you to do, which is why it should be a key part of any business owner’s content marketing strategy.
How exactly does it work? You can choose from various tactics like:
- Appearing on podcasts
- Submitting guest blogs to popular industry websites
- Or partnering with influencers
To spread the word about your brand.
PR Manager and Freelancer
PR marries your brand to your customers
Public relations helps you stamp authority as a brand. It is a way to directly reach your niche market on a wider scale. It helps your brand fit in with your clients.
The clients get to relate to and understand your brand and you. They get to share your goals and dreams since they relate to what you are offering. PR marries your brand to your customers.
Using PR helps you grow a community and build brand loyalty
You can market your product, get leads, convert them to sales, and that’s about it. But to get repeat business and referrals and to build that loyalty while creating a community is where PR comes in.
So, if you google your name or company, what news, features, or articles are the search results showing? How about if you click on a news search? Nothing? So, are you a ghost?
The first thing a person does when they hear about a brand is search for it; if they cannot find you online, that creates doubt about your brand.
Imagine when they google, and there you are, in TV interviews, podcasts, Magazines, etc. That places you ahead of your competitors—a million times ahead. That also builds confidence that you exist, serve, and are well known for it.
The backlinks you get as a result of PR help optimize your brand and services in all searches placing you ahead of other brands.
There are a million reasons why PR is crucial, and the beauty is whether you are a huge organization or a startup, you need PR to make that mark and impact on your potential customers.
CEO and Founder, Black Orchids PR
PR helps to move the trust needle
When you are in business, ultimately, people want to know, like, and trust you. Public relations allows you to boost your credibility and helps to move the trust needle.
With the rise of social media, many people overlook the power of public relations. Aside from appearing in the media, public relations allows people to connect with stories and provide insight from behind the brand or business. This is an added way to connect with audiences.
Let’s not forget what Bill Gates said: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.“ This speaks to the power of PR.
Businesses should never think they are “too small” to incorporate PR. If used properly, this can be the key driver in taking your business to the next level by leveraging other platforms.
Jack M. Berkman, APR
President and CEO, Berkman Strategic Communications
It introduces legitimate and verifiable content
The importance of PR cannot be overlooked when establishing a sound, honest and accurate understanding of the issue. The content of quality PR is paramount in establishing a bedrock of reliable positioning for the ascension of content to follow.
Proper key messages and the ability to put forth the consistency of this supporting content allow for the proper depth of the issue to be set forth.
PR is not intended to create a murky informational environment, but rather content-filled empowerment of messaging that aligns with an organization’s or product’s mission, allowing for a proper and clear understanding of the positioning.
Never allow the marketplace to define the situation, but rather introduce legitimate and verifiable content to support the overall intention of the positioning while establishing commentary that is consistent, reliable, and trusted.
Founder and Director, PublicityandMarketing
It helps reframe and rebrand people
I’ve had a client come to me, for example, who had written a book about how to prevent teenage suicide. Although we had gotten some media placements for the book, I felt like it was somewhat limited.
One day, an inspiration came to me as an idea to reframe and rebrand her as a self-care expert. Once I did this, then suddenly, I got a lot of media placements and got a lot of buzz around her.
It even got to the point where I suggested to her to write a second book about self-care, which is what she did. If she hadn’t come to me as her public relations expert, then the magic would not have happened without my inspiration and expertise.
Co-Founder, 143 Communications
Public Relations is critical for the growth of a company
The goal of PR is to secure earned media which is essentially their party validation from reputable media outlets like The New York Times.
Receiving a nod of approval from these types of outlets will only help your brand’s reputation in the eye of the consumer.
A brand that receives PR coverage in a media outlet with a link back to the brand’s website helps increase the overall SEO and, in turn, helps your company bubble closer to the top of Google searches so that your brand’s website is easier for consumers to find.
Overall, PR helps a company increase its brand equity which in turn helps raise awareness among the general public. The more people that know (and trust) your brand, the more likely your brand will grow and be successful.
Senior Editor, Tandem
PR ensures you are in the right place at the right time
People think they know what we do at the digital marketing firm where I work. Yes, we specialize in search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click marketing (PPC), and social media marketing.
However, people might be surprised to find out that we also partake in reputation management. A part of a company’s public relations is ensuring that the least amount of negative press is released and that negative press is positively handled. This is just one example of why public relations is important.
But some may still wonder, why is public relations important?
- It lets you be in charge of what is said about you. Instead of letting others create your voice and your message, you can help control what is said about you by crafting your own public relations messages.
- It lets you get the word out. When you have something fun, interesting, or exciting going on with your company, others won’t find out about it through osmosis. Using public relations is how you let people know about your great news.
- It lets you have a central person or point of contact for sending messages. Having a public relations person or team can be beneficial. It lets your audience know who they can contact when needing information about your company.
- It lets you build trust. If you aren’t saying enough about your company for others to understand your business, that might be as bad as not saying anything. Utilizing public relations is one way to build trust with your potential clients.
- It lets you be in the right place at the right time. Public relations agencies are masters in their field. They know where to be and when to be there. Using public relations ensures that you, too, are in the right place at the right time.
Public relations isn’t all schmoozing and getting people to like you. It’s also being the voice of your company. Don’t let someone else be your voice.
Public Relations Manager, Wreaths Across America
It helps relate your message to the general public for your audience to grow
This may seem like a non-sequitur, but have you ever walked among any large crowd and seen the exact same tee shirt twice? No? That’s because digital/niche marketing only sells that one tee shirt to the one person who shares the same values as the shirt.
Today, digital marketing (a form of niche marketing) Algorithms, SEO, and social media platforms all help build models to help identify that person who wants your product or service no matter where they may be.
However, let’s continue with the tee shirt premise. Let’s say you make and sell tee shirts for a rock band. For a while, the fan base for that band buys these tee shirts. Then rock is no longer cool, and the band’s fans stop buying the shirts. What happens if that niche is already being serviced? Do you switch to another niche?
The real question to be asking is: “Who was the consumer? Was it the public in general who wanted to wear shirts?” No! It was a niche audience for that band for a limited time.
You see, if your company is over-reliant on digital/niche marketing, if you lose a consumer, your potential sales market is forever diminished.
Public relations (or speaking to large numbers of people as a whole) can help find new consumers in large groups that help you build new niche models for growth.
Going back to the tee-shirts, if I gave away 100 tee shirts in a crowd, “rule-of-thumb” and “counter-culture” marketing models tell me that at least ten people will be wearing those shirts in the crowd.
In addition, if I sold advertising on the back of those giveaway tee shirts, there’s a strong possibility that I can make more money giving away general tee shirts than selling niche tee shirts with a more sustainable business model. I might even sell some more shirts to people who didn’t get the freebies.
So that means I’m now selling shirts and advertisements while making partnerships with events and organizations to give away my shirts. In doing this, I found my shirts are a big hit with community event organizers. These are all new market segments for your tee shirt business.
- How are you relating to the public as a whole?
- How are you reaching unexpected audience segments?
- How are you translating their expressed interest into their needs for better selling?
- More importantly, “how are you reaching out beyond the limitations surrounding your present niche audience’s digital on-demand analytics?”
Remember the old phrase, “you have to think outside of the box!” Today you have to “reach outside of the box” that the digital age has compartmentalized your potential consumer’s information into and reach out in ways that allow new audiences to identify themselves.
In other words, you have to relearn how to relate to the general public if you want your niche audience to grow into several niches that can help grow your business.
SEO Content and Copywriter, Words With Jennifer
Public relations is essential to any business because the public’s opinion of a company’s image can be as important as its products and services.
A good public image can influence a company’s profits and stock value.
It aims to gain public support
Public relations aims to gain public support for a company and its products or services while avoiding excessive expenditure on advertising.
Companies can use various strategies to maintain a positive public image. These may include offering free samples of their products, sponsoring community events, and donating to charity.
Public relations specialists will work to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome for both the company and the public.
It helps navigate media coverage
Another important reason for public relations is companies rely on their PR teams to help communicate their message to journalists and the media. Media coverage can help businesses achieve various goals, such as raising brand awareness and increasing product sales.
The public views your company through the lens of what the media tells them about the company. The media bases their reports on what they hear from you, and your PR team shapes that message.
With the internet playing an ever-increasing role in shaping public opinion, it has become even more important for companies to invest in effective public relations strategies.
It helps businesses maintain a positive image
Public relations involve maintaining a positive image with the public by responding to any negative publicity that arises quickly and professionally.
It can include activities such as:
- Distributing press releases
- Hosting press conferences
- Issuing statements in response to accusations or crises
Dr. Suzanna Wong, DC
Chiropractor and Co-Founder, Twin Waves Wellness Center
It helps businesses get good visibility without paying for every piece of publicity
As a business owner, PR, for me, is vital. Marketing your business can come in many forms, and it’s not all about paid-for advertising.
Using Public Relations as the centerpiece of my marketing effort means that my business gets good visibility without paying for every piece of publicity I get.
This can not only make your marketing budget go further, but you can also reach people more easily. Not everybody pays attention to adverts.
The other reason I like PR is that you can help people, even if they don’t immediately decide to come to my wellness center (which can often be the case).
Giving helpful information through articles can provide people with fundamental information about something they are having trouble with. The more you do this and people see your business’s name, the more likely they will come to you in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Qualities Should You Look for in a PR Professional?
When looking for a PR professional, there are several qualities you should look for:
Strong communication skills: PR Professionals should have excellent written and verbal communication skills and be able to craft compelling messages that resonate with their audience.
Creative thinking: PR professionals should be able to think creatively and come up with innovative strategies to get their message across.
Industry knowledge: PR professionals should deeply understand your industry and the media landscape, including which journalists and media outlets are most likely to cover your brand.
Good judgment: PR professionals should be able to exercise good judgment when crafting messages, handling crises, and making decisions that are in your brand’s best interest.
Results-oriented: PR Professionals should be focused on delivering results and have a track record of success in generating media coverage and increasing brand awareness.
How Can a Business Measure the Effectiveness of Its PR Strategy?
Measuring the effectiveness of a PR strategy is essential to determine if it’s delivering the desired results. Here are some ways to measure the effectiveness of a PR strategy:
Media coverage: Tracking the volume and quality of media coverage about your brand will help you determine if your PR efforts are generating buzz and increasing brand awareness.
Social media engagement: Monitoring social media engagement, such as likes, shares, and comments, can help you measure the impact of your PR social media efforts.
Website traffic: Tracking traffic to your website can help determine if your PR efforts are driving traffic to your website and increasing conversion rates.
Brand reputation: Tracking your brand’s reputation through online reviews and other metrics can help you determine if your PR efforts are improving your brand’s image and credibility.
Overall, a well-executed PR strategy can be a valuable asset to any business or individual looking to build their brand, establish their reputation, and increase their visibility. By following these tips and working with an experienced PR professional, you can develop a PR strategy that will produce the desired results.
What Are the Most Common Misconceptions About Public Relations?
Public relations can sometimes be misunderstood, leading to some common misconceptions. Here are a few of the most common:
PR is just spin: Although PR is about creating a positive image, it’s not about being deceptive or dishonest. Instead, it’s about crafting a compelling message that accurately represents your brand and communicating it effectively.
PR is only for big businesses: While large corporations often have dedicated PR departments, PR can be just as valuable to small businesses and individuals. In fact, a well-executed PR strategy can be a significant competitive advantage for smaller brands.
PR is all about media relations: While media relations is an essential aspect of PR, it’s not the only one. PR can include social media, content marketing, event planning, and more.
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