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Nov 08

What is PR and Why is it Important?

Most of us have heard of the term public relations, but not everyone is completely dialed into what it actually means. To some, PR is negatively synonymous with the word “spinster”; to others, public relations is the holy grail to business success.

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines public relations as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Okay, that’s vague at best. Let’s see if we can help clear the air a bit and highlight some top reasons why you, or the business you represent, should snap into attention and take the art of PR seriously.

And, yes, it is an art form; one that takes practice, experience, and a bit of internal savvy to do well.


A Little Background

Why do so many businesses invest so much time and effort into public relations which, from here on out, I’ll refer to as PR?

PR is all about deciphering then disseminating the right key messages to the right people and places all in an effort to build your brand reputation. A good PR campaign will elevate not only the public or consumer awareness of a brand (i.e. product, service, individual) but, when done well, has the ability to enhance a brand’s longevity and overall success. When done correctly, PR can make or break a company’s staying power.

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?



PR Elevates Your Street Cred

In any relationship, trust is huge. From a business perspective, a lack of trust in a company or its brand can deter prospective customers or, quite possibly, turn loyal customers away if existing trust is lost. Losing out on business opportunities is detrimental to the success of a company and, as such, must be monitored and nurtured.

This is where your street cred comes into play! Let’s face it – we all want it but, sadly, not all of us have it.

To develop yours and/or sustain what you’ve earned, it may behoove you to bring on a PR strategist to do the dirty work for you. If you’re not in a place to employ a specialist, consider working with a consultant who can provide you with all of the strategy and direction without the hassle of employment paperwork.

A good PR strategist will increase your credibility by improving your overall reputation through thought leadership pieces, influencer connections, networking strategies and, my favorite, “old school” media relations tactics.



Yeah, But Can It Increase Leads, Sales and Profits?

In short form, the answer is yes.

With enhanced street cred, comes an elevated business reputation that will do leaps and bounds for consumer trust (we already talked about the importance of this) – which in turn makes it more likely for your target audience to either purchase your product or utilize your service.

A strong PR campaign will speak to the masses, but hone in on your target audience with key messages that encourage positive response; a response that helps bridge the gap between being a prospective customer to being an active customer.

It’s important to create PR campaigns and marketing messages that promote your organization in the best possible light. By doing so, you’re able to capitalize on what may be, for at least a brief moment, a captive audience.



Hmmm, That Sounds Expensive – Is it?

A carefully crafted PR campaign is an extremely cost-effective way to communicate with a large, targeted audience. Let’s compare for a moment what I consider apples to oranges – and that is “earned” media placement vs. “paid” media placement:

EARNED: When you see an article about your company in the mainstream media, a blog, or even a Facebook post, that’s a piece of earned media. You didn’t pay for it; your evangelism or existing reputation or activities have motivated an outsider to talk about you. In this scenario, not only is everything cost-free, but the 3rd party nature of the coverage would enhance the likelihood of it being perceived as genuine and factual.

PAID: This would be advertising, native advertising, SEM, etc. You’re paying to be seen or heard. It’s interruptive, but it works pretty well when done right. That said, paid placements are taken less seriously because the consumer knows that the organization has paid good money to promote itself in such a manner which is far less ingenuous than a 3rd party endorsement.

Okay, fine, let’s throw in “owned” media as well as “shared” media into the mix since we live in a digital world…

OWNED: These are your social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Outside of paying for online promotions, your social media pages are cost-free. You produce the content and distribute it across your communication channels. These are wonderful, cost-free ways to promote yourself.

SHARED: This is a tricky one because you can’t really create shared media, you’ve got to earn it. It’s like when someone says, “I want this video to go viral!” Well, wouldn’t that be great? I think we all post videos online hoping that it has that “it factor” to be shared by 100K people. Nonetheless, shared media (which I included because it has great impact if received) is also free.



PR Helps Your Online Presence

We live in an age where everything gets posted online. So, if you’re doing your job right and people are talking about you – all positive, of course, due to your amazing PR strategies – your chances of developing a larger online presence increases as well. For example, press releases, social media and websites that publish your PR content will be viewed by large numbers of people in their circle of influence. Search engines favor this type of content and will give you more online exposure as a result.

The bottom line is that PR is basically the cat’s meow when it comes to low-cost, positive, and targeted outreach to a favorable audience. I say give it a try and see how it helps you – OR, reach out to a consultant who knows what they’re doing and see about getting a structured, tailored PR strategy developed that meets your needs.