Founder and CEO of JMG Public Relationsan award-winning PR agency for innovators and their mission-driven startup companies.
Public relations is an important practice that individuals and companies can use to inform, build trust and share their stories with the public. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PSRA), public relations “builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their audiences.”
In my time in PR, I’ve helped clients visualize their performance, ideas, positions and products to achieve their business goals. To be successful, customers must communicate effectively what they hope to achieve. In turn, a PR manager’s job is to position the campaigns and create a clear and strategic plan to achieve those goals.
As PR specialists, we act as a liaison between our clients and the public. Contrary to how many people see the field of PR, it’s not all glitz and glamour. There is a lot of work involved in planning strategies, setting up campaigns, networking with the media and building strong and lasting relationships. Success doesn’t happen overnight, and what the public sees is the culmination of hard work by a team of professionals.
The responsibilities associated with PR include, but are not limited to:
• Create campaigns.
• Cultivate relationships with the press/media.
• Writing press releases.
• Developing press kits.
• Writing speeches along with other types of written content (eg blogs, opinion leadership articles).
• Research, including the customer, their audience, competitors, as well as any additional information relevant to creating a successful strategic campaign.
• Using social media to communicate with the public.
• Messaging sessions.
• Media training with clients.
With PR comes influence and an opportunity to build trust with your audience. People trust information that comes from an objective source, a source that is not paid for, rather than advertisements. It is one of the most credible forms of promotion.
It is also one of the most cost-effective and economical ways to reach a wider audience. Word travels fast, especially in this age of social media. Spreading the message organically as opposed to a paid media placement is consistently used by PR agencies to amplify a client’s message.
In this way, the reach of the client is increasing. An interesting story, one that stands out, can be picked up by various media, showing the message to a much wider audience. Thus, by being able to capture the attention of more than one outlet at any one time, you get the opportunity to get broad attention for a customer, as well as the time spent reaching one outlet at a time.
Along with benefits come challenges that all industries face in one way or another, although none are impossible to tackle. Because the served media placements are earned, unlike ads, you can’t fully control how your business appears, when your post appears, or where it’s posted. Many aspects are out of the hands of the PR executive; all you can do is trust the process.
Guaranteed results are another pain point. You can spend time writing a press release, speaking to journalists, and doing countless hours of research, but you can never guarantee that your story will be featured. Again, it’s about trusting the process.
Evaluation is another area that can sometimes be frustrating for PR managers, as it is not as easily quantifiable as it is in other industries, such as advertising or marketing. But while it can be difficult to measure the effectiveness of PR activities, there are ways to analyze efforts. You can count media mentions and published stories, but there’s not such an easy way to determine the impact they have on your audience.
However, there are certain key performance indicators (KPIs) used in PR that can help clients understand how business is going. They contain:
• The press secured.
• Media and audience feedback.
• Grow social media.
• Click-through rates.
• Referral traffic.
Analyzing these indicators is an important tool for PR managers because it gives a better understanding of what works for a client and what doesn’t. Studying the information then makes it possible to adjust the media strategy to move in the right direction.
Contrary to popular belief, public relations is not the same as advertising. In fact, it is essentially the opposite. PR is earned media, written content about a company or brand that has not been paid for. It can take time to earn certain types of media attention, which is why building relationships is essential in this industry. Success overnight is rare and the process requires patience.
While it’s not uncommon for people to use the terms interchangeably, PR and publicity are quite different. An easy way to remember is that public relations is the process of managing the relationship a company or brand has with its audience while publicity is the act of bringing something to the attention of the public usually with the intent to to get a promotion. Publicity is less controlled and often unsolicited, unlike public relations where strategies are planned.
Overall, I hope this breakdown of PR was helpful. Using PR effectively can transform the future and profitability of any business, and with the right strategies, it can help manage any hurdles a business may face.