PR 101: What Exactly Is Public Relations?

By October 13, 2016Uncategorized

When you think of public relations, you may imagine bold, front page stories in the newspaper, the razzle dazzle of high-profile press conferences or the glitz and glamour of TV interviews. Well, we can say with certainty that public relations is about far more than a charismatic company spokesperson in a power suit. There are many misconceptions and lots of misinformation about what public relations entails. We’re demystifying public relations by explaining what it is (and what it isn’t).

WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS?

By definition, public relations is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public.

It’s all about credibility

The goal of any successful PR strategy is to build and maintain credibility with your audiences. Businesses can build authority by using a variety of content to become subject matter experts. These methods can include blogging, authoring white papers, publishing annual reports, or creating visual communications, such as infographics and short videos. Credibility-boosting tactics can also include forming strategic partnerships with other organizations, nonprofits and involvement with like-minded events.

It’s controlled by a third party

The conversations of your company’s third party audiences, such as customers, social media followers, donors or board of directors – even the media – are controlling the conversation about your company through the spread of information your company distributes.

Successful PR harnesses the power of storytelling

Storytelling evokes emotional buy-in amongst audiences. It does not pitch a direct sell. Brands that harness powerful stories of how their product has benefited the lives of their consumers connects with audiences on a whole new level.

Here’s a wonderful example of how GoPro used the power of storytelling about how their product captured the goodness of humanity:

(Warning – keep tissues within reaching distance!)

It’s changing more and more every day

Public relations isn’t a stand alone facet of communications anymore. With the internet revolution, public relations is increasingly fusing with digital and content marketing and social media. Each area works together hand in hand to deliver the same corporately-universal message that the brand is wanting to communicate. Or in simpler terms, they all need to work from the same playbook.

WHAT PUBLIC RELATIONS ISN’T

It’s not paid for

Public relations is very calculated and builds brand recognition through many different communication channels. Conversations and information that flow freely through your audiences isn’t something that you can control by throwing some dollars around. News coverage and organic online conversations are not paid for. There may be costs associated with building a PR strategy, such as personnel, media databases, event marketing and content creation, but generally you can’t buy organic influence.

It’s not just about the traditional media

Public relations has evolved far beyond headlines and feature stories since the online revolution. Media relations is just a part of public relations – but is still an important part. Companies can now tap into national trade publications and influential bloggers to gain exposure, in addition to local media.

It isn’t just “nice to have”

Building a solid public relations strategy isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. PR teams are critical to have in place so they can build and maintain a brand’s positive image, bridge relationships with media and influencers, and help a brand stand apart from competitors.

Now that you are well-versed about what PR is and isn’t, are you ready to kick off your strategy? Give us a call and we’ll get to work!