What, exactly, is public relations? Throughout my career, this has to be one of the most misunderstood tactics I perform. To many I have spoken, “PR” is this nebulous service that is hard to define. Is it journalism? No, but one should be able to write for journalists if in PR. Is it publicity – Notice or attention given to someone or something by the media, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary? In a sense, yes. However, my definition strives to include more.
Public Relations is the art of building brand awareness through building reputation.
I have known Ken Hitchner, current public relations and social media director for the talented folks at Creative Marketing Alliance, for several years. We have worked together off and on in our career and he defines PR very simply:
Reputation + Relationships = Revenue
The goal for any marketing or public relations campaign should be to increase revenue. I cover how to measure the return on your marketing investment (MROI) here.
So, if the goal is to increase revenue, it is imperative you develop relationships with your target audience. Generally speaking, people purchase from people and/or brands they like. True, they may be swayed by other factors like price, but do you really want to build your business strategy on being the lowest priced? It makes better business sense to build brand loyalty, allowing price to not be the most important factor.
This brings us back to relationships and building your brand. If people purchase from brands they like, then who do people like? While the answer varies wildly, an underlying element usually includes trust. It is safe to agree, few people like what they do not trust.
Which circles back to reputation. Without a reputation you can trust, it is highly unlikely you will earn relationships with your target audience. And, without those relationships, it will be even more challenging to increase your revenue based on brand alone.
Third Party Influence
The question is, how does public relations build reputation? While paid advertising unquestionably has its place, the average consumer is bombarded with countless messages every day. These tend to be disruptive and it is widely understood the goal of the advertisements are to sell you something and, therefore, are biased. But, if your message is conveyed through a third party such as a news source, it tends to have more credibility and, if positive, will likely increase trust.
With so many different options, I will discuss best practices on how to produce a positive message through public relations in another blog. However, I want to stay focused on why PR is an important part of your marketing strategy.
Know the act of getting an article “placed,” or having someone quoted, in the media is where your PR person is worth every penny. Compared to paid advertising, public relations is referred to as “earned media.” This is because placements within news sources cannot (or should not) be purchased. Rather, they are earned through media relations, which is building relationships with the media so they see your brand as a trusted resource of news their readers care about.
While the ultimate goal is to increase revenue, the objective of any quality public relations campaign is to increase trust and build your reputation. Once you do that, the relationships with your brand will grow and the rest will fall into place.
Rick Verbanas has brought his passion for marketing to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and not-for-profits. He strives to stay current in the latest marketing best practices, and provides a weekly roundup for your news and enjoyment. To subscribe to future blogs, please enter your email address on the left hand side of the page.