Most people have heard of the term "Public Relations," but when they try to define it, the results are usually vague and general. It might be comments like "It’s how a company gets its name out there," or "It's when a company becomes famous."

Public Relations (PR) is an essential yet misunderstood component of any company. Many people believe that being in the public eye will automatically earn them good publicity. However, this isn't always the case. It's what you're doing to stay in public view that will impact your public relations efforts.

Let's take a dive into PR and the 5 most important things you need to know about it.

1) What Public Relations Actually Is (& is Not)

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PR is not just simple public exposure, and PR is not just a buzzword for news releases about an event or product launch.

PR is a strategic communication practice employed by experienced professionals in order to build a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and the public.

A PR campaign is essentially about managing your organization's image in the public eye. It is about gaining and maintaining a loyal public following and ensuring people support and encourage your company.

It is also not the same as advertising, which is a paid form of public exposure. The main difference between advertising and PR is that advertising is directly related to sales. PR can influence sales too, but it is not the only reason to carry out a PR campaign.

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2) What is the Purpose of PR

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As just mentioned, the purpose of PR is not necessarily to directly influence conversion rates. PR can do this, but it is not limited to just that! Your business can use PR in a variety of ways.

For example, many businesses set up PR campaigns to build good relationships with your key stakeholders (i.e., customers) and to influence them in a positive way.

Companies can also use PR to overcome a crisis or obstacle. For example, suppose your company is facing a series of failures that are subject to the public eye. In that case, you may want to spin these otherwise negative events into something positive. An empathetic PR professional will advise you on how best to go about this.

Additionally, PR can help you establish credibility and authority. This is especially useful if your company operates within an industry with other businesses that are well known for their expertise. A PR specialist can help you convince your customers that your brand is the best in its field or simply get them interested, so they read more.

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3) How PR Works

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There are a number of different methods and responsibilities when it comes to the work of a PR firm or specialist. These may include:

  • Speechwriting
  • Conducting market research
  • Conducting competitor analysis
  • Writing up media lists
  • Managing a team of journalists and influencers
  • Managing the company's social media profiles
  • Writing web content (to create both internal and external links)
  • Analyzing, interpreting, and anticipating public opinion in order to build a strong image for your business.
  • Dealing with the media and creating a positive image for your business
  • Communicating with government officials
  • Influencer outreach and social media management

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4) There are Different Types of PR

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PR is actually a very broad category that includes many different types of public communication.

Some of the most common forms of PR are the following:

  • Media Relations: Using the media to communicate with the public.
  • Social Media Management: A digital marketing expert will typically use social media platforms to spread an organization's message.
  • Internal Relations: Communicating with the public on an internal level, such as with employees and customers, to explain company policies, responsibilities, plans, and goals.
  • Customer Relations: Handling relationships with the target audience and customers through communication strategies based on market research into the needs, interests, priorities, and attitudes of the customer base.
  • Investor Relations: Handles an organization's relationship with its shareholders or the individuals who have invested capital in a firm through hosting investors' events, creating financial reports, and responding to complaints.
  • Government Relations: Dealing with the brand in relation to the government and regarding policies such as fair competition, employee protection, tax, etc.

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5) What it Looks Like in Action

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To really understand PR, you need to see examples of it in action. Here are a few notable cases:

The #IceBucketChallenge

This viral campaign was all the rage in 2014. At the time, scientists were working on finding a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which is a debilitating nerve disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. The #IceBucketChallenge saw people dump cold ice water on themselves, film it, and then post the video to Facebook.

This campaign was a great example of PR because it encouraged people to support a good cause while raising awareness and funds for the disease.

Because of the immense popularity of this campaign, celebrities and politicians alike participated in the #IceBucketChallenge. In fact, because of this campaign, the ALS Association raised $98.2 million (compared to $2.7 million the year before).

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Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" Campaign

This PR campaign was rooted in the idea that adding your name or other words to a can of Coke would make it more personal. The company printed popular names on the bottles -- like Sarah, Ahmed, and Michelle -- and encouraged people to take a picture of the name and post it to social media.

This PR move allowed people from all over the world to spread the word about the company. In total, Coca-Cola increased Coca-Cola consumption by 2% and also became a #1 trending topic on many social media platforms.

Conclusion

These days, PR is one of the most influential and powerful forms of marketing around. While many digital marketers and agency owners may find it difficult to work with public relations, having a fundamental understanding of PR will be important to your overall marketing strategy.

You may find it necessary to hire an empathetic PR professional or an expert PR firm that can help your company on its way to greatness! Contact the PR experts at Paton Marketing today for more information about PR and how it can help your business