Understanding public relations is a great way to find how it can work for you. There is a whole world of promotional methods out there and it’s important to understand your options before you choose the one that’s best for you.
What is PR?
People often confuse public relations and marketing. The key thing to remember is that marketing covers paid media (that is, advertising, advertorials, product placement etc.) while public relations covers earned media (news coverage, social media, word-of-mouth etc.). Because public relations relies on earned media, we have a few advantages over marketing.
First, we’re cheaper. Buying ad space is expensive, not to mention the cost of designing and producing the ad itself. The benefit of getting your message in the news is that you don’t need to pay anyone, you just need to grab the journalist’s attention. Second, the public is more likely to trust the news over an advertisement. Third, media coverage tends to have a snowball effect. If the right outlet picks up your story, others might catch on and your campaign could take off. Finally, you can fit a lot more information in a news article or blog post versus an advertisement.
Things to consider
Don’t let the last paragraph get you too excited. There are a few things to keep in mind when considering public relations. Since PR uses news media to get attention, it relies heavily on building and maintaining relationships with journalists and bloggers. This can take a lot of work. Another thing to keep in mind that is you can’t control earned media. The journalists you contact may not be interested in the story or, if they are, may decide to take it in a direction you don’t want. If it’s extremely important that the information goes out in exactly the way you want it, then PR might not be right for you.
Do you need PR?
In a word, yes. There isn’t a company out there that wouldn’t benefit from some targeted news coverage. However, if you’re weighing pros and cons, consider what you are trying to achieve. Do you want to establish a reputation? Are you trying to attract attention? Are you launching a product or service and need to build some buzz? If you’ve answered yes to any of these, PR might be the thing for you.
Next, find out when it’s time to hire a PR agency.