What is Public Relations and How Can it Help Your Business?

While most people may have heard of public relations there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding it. So, what is public relations and how is it different from other marketing tools?

What is PR?

An essential part of any marketing plan, PR leverages the power of newspapers, magazines, trade journals, web sites, radio, and television to boost your company’s visibility and credibility through third-party sources. Third-party sources (i.e. the media) add to the believability of the message by offering an unbiased viewpoint outside your organization. Through the media you can reach influencers and decision makers.

Public Relations is an important part of any marketing campaign. It works well in tandem with advertising, social media and content marketing or can be used alone to gain visibility for your company. 

Earned VS. Paid Media

Unlike other marketing tools PR is earned not paid media. This means that with PR you earn your spot on that television news program or in that newspaper article, you don’t pay for the space or time. Public relations is the only earned media tool in marketing. All others are paid media including advertising, content marketing, websites, and social media. 

The advantages of paid media are that you control the message and are guaranteed to have your advertisement or social media post run at a specific time and place. The disadvantage is that the audience knows this content comes directly from the company which influences believability and credibility. 

With earned media your audience knows the information has been vetted by a source outside your organization which lends credibility to the story. You can also take advantage of the good will and reputation the media source has already established with its audience. Through the media you are able to reach people you may otherwise never been able to with other marketing tools.  

As Jean-Louis Gassee said, “Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.”

And Richard Branson said, “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.” 

Reaching Your Audience

It’s important to consider your internal audience, employees, stock holders and board members as well when developing a PR program. These are some of your best advocates and they need to be in the loop when it comes to new products, services, business expansion or other plans. Weekly newsletters and e-blasts are a great way to keep this group of influencers informed and on-board. 

Whether its communicating with your internal audience or reaching folks outside your firm, public relations is a powerful and effective way to communicate. Through PR and the power and influence of the media you can tell your unique story to the people who matter.