What is public relations? Solving the PR conundrum
How do you define your brand to your customers?
Your logo and website can provide useful information about your business and its values.
Your tone of voice in marketing messages and campaign highlight the kind of personality behind your organisation.
However, it takes a lot of effort and strategy to create a public image that really resonates with your target audience.
Public image, or the way that your brand is perceived by the people encounter it, is the heart of a good brand. It’s also something that makes up about 63% of your company’s value.
Through PR, you can share critical messages with your consumers, and even protect yourself from mishaps that could harm the way that you’re perceived.
Although the term “public relations,” appears a lot in most branding and marketing strategies, it’s something that many people can’t truly define.
Today, we’re going to answer the question “What is public relations?” in depth and help you to understand why a PR strategy is so valuable.
What is public relations?
Let’s start simple. What does PR mean?
How do you define public relations?
Public relations is the term used to define a communication strategy that companies rely on to build stronger customer relationships.
A lot of people assume that a public relations definition applies exclusively to the work that companies do to protect their image when things go wrong. However, that’s not the case.
Public relations specialists can help you to craft a compelling brand communication strategy which you can use to expand your reach, connect with customers, and more.
The main objective of public relations is to build and maintain a positive image for your brand, focusing on the key visions and values that make your organisation special.
Once you’ve created a story that works for your company with a PR brand, you can work on sharing that message as far and wide as possible.
PR experts can help with expanding your reach too, by using avenues like:
- Social media platforms
- Unpaid publications (magazines and forums)
- Speaking engagements
- Media relations (newspapers and influencers)
For example, maybe you’re building a fashion company from scratch, and you want your customers to see you as thoughtful and sustainable.
To assist with that image, your PR expert might publish an article in a news site about your recent recycling efforts. They might also help you to find a blog where you can post a piece about creating sustainable clothing.
A big part of public relations is building as many assets as possible that support the image that you want to create. The more pieces of proof you have to back up the identity that you’re trying to create, the more believable and authoritative your company becomes.
The importance of public relations
At its heart, public relations is about storytelling.
All businesses have a story to tell about who they are, what they stand for, and what they’re trying to achieve. Public Relations harnesses that story and builds on it so that your story becomes more believable.
Crucially, The importance of public relations isn’t just linked to storytelling, however. The right PR strategy can also help to mitigate damage that can disrupt your brand too.
For instance, when Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol products were contaminated with cyanide in the 1980s, the company used aggressive public relations campaigns to mitigate the damage to the brand.
The company started by pulling all products from shelves, then changed its entire product packaging strategy to reduce the risk of tampering.
The company’s shares climbed back up by 24% only 6 weeks after the crisis occurred.
Public relations helps with:
- Managing reputation: Using trusted media sources and carefully crafted stories, public relations gives credibility to the message that your business crafts about who you are. Things like engaging in media relations with leading publications can improve your credibility, while public statements help to build customer relationships.
- Building brand identity: A PR strategy is all about diverting attention from the bad things that happen in your business and pulling more focus to the good things that you do. With the right public relations, you can highlight the aspects of your organization that make you more unique, compelling, and competitive.
- Spreading brand reach: PR uses various platforms, from social media, to blog posts and interviews with influencers to help you reach new customers from across the globe. The right PR campaign works hand-in-hand with your advertising strategy to pull more eyes towards your company for all of the right reasons.
Used correctly, PR can even improve your SEO standing too. Backlinks and mentions earned from things like press reports and guest blogs quickly strengthen your position with Google.
What are the types of public relations?
Public relations comes in many different shapes and sizes.
There are reputation management campaigns that are all about mitigating the impact of a crisis and media relations, which leverage the power of influential figures and platforms to amplify your message.
Most public relations companies use a range of strategies to help their brands tell the right stories and collect more customers as a result.
The most common elements included in a traditional public relations definition are:
- Media relations: Working with media outlets to share information and news about the business, services, and products.
- Internal communications: Communicating with vendors, employees, and stakeholders using tools like newsletters, town meetings, and other sources of content.
- Sponsorships: providing in-depth financial support for an event, organisation, or team in exchange for ongoing recognition.
- Tradeshows: Attending industry-relevant workshops, conferences, and expositions to spread awareness of your brand.
- Special events: Hosting public or private events that heighten awareness of your business and its unique values.
- Social media: Managing your reputation through various social media channels. This might include some interaction with influencers on certain platforms too.
For instance, if you wanted to convince your audience that you were a reputable marketing company, you might use your PR campaigns to share stories with influencers about your new marketing software.
You could also sponsor or host an event where you teach people about marketing and generate attention for your educational sessions on social media.
What is the role of public relations in branding?
Although there’s more to extensive branding than an excellent public relations strategy, the two concepts often go hand in hand.
Many people refer to brands as the things that people say about your company when you’re not around.
In other words, your brand is the perspective that people have on your business, based on the work that you do, the items you sell, your marketing, and more.
Public relations helps to shape the perception that people have of your company, using as many effective platforms as possible, from magazine reports to social media.
Public relations helps with generating awareness, supporting brand credibility, and even strengthening your company’s personality.
So, what is the role of public relations in branding?
- It helps to develop brand identity: People are more likely to trust and believe in established brand. The right public relations strategy makes you into a more established company, with lots of evidence to back up your claims. It focuses on highlighting the key values in your business and showing your audience that you’re not all talk and no action.
- It differentiates your company: PR helps to find ways to separate your company from the other brands in your region. It’s all about telling a story that highlights the most interesting points about your brand. For instance, with your PR strategy, you might focus on showing the world how much you care about the environment, which will mean that you appeal more to eco-friendly customers.
- It builds credibility: Most importantly, your public relations strategy helps your customers to trust you, by putting evidence behind the claims you make. It’s much easier to make your clients believe that you’re a company that cares about customer service if you have a bunch of news stories talking about the award you won for customer satisfaction.
Do you need a public relations strategy?
Public relations is a critical part of any brand-building strategy. It’s how you develop and tell a story that brings your business to life. With public relations, you showcase the values that make your company special and build relationships with your audience through affinity.
However, excellent PR doesn’t happen by accident. Just like any other campaign for building a brand, your public relations efforts will need a well-tailored strategy to deliver exceptional results.
You’ll need to ask yourself what kind of message you want to send to your audience, and how you’re going to amplify that message.
Which media entities do you need to connect with to develop your credibility? Which actions should you be taking to show that you follow through on your brand promises?
One of the easiest ways to strengthen your public relations strategy and set yourself up for success is to work with a PR company.
However, before you do that, it’s often useful to get to know your brand a little better, so you can figure out which message you want to send.
If you need help building a reputable and unique brand, that’s where Fabrik can help. Contact us today for assistance with everything from brand strategy and logo design, to content marketing and tone of voice.
Fabrik Brands: Creative Industry.