Many companies have a perception of what public relations (PR) is. More often than not, they confuse PR with marketing and branding with advertising.
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A key challenge that PR agencies face is presenting and explaining what PR is and the value derived from engaging with a PR partner. So, what are some of the perceptions of PR, what is it in reality and how can it help your business?
Wikipedia has a lovely definition of PR. It is described as the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organisation. The description continues for another paragraph or two and by the third sentence, confusion sets in.
The promise of PR
In short, PR creates a profile for your company in the media, highlights its product, solutions and intellectual capital that resides within the organisation. It increases your Google search rankings and provides a platform for customer testimonials.
All of this complements your marketing efforts and the company’s overall objectives in getting their name ‘out-there’. Importantly, it influences the decision of a prospective client to engage with your business instead of your competitors.
To PR or not to PR
Unfortunately, it is usually the companies that reject PR that need it the most. When a company experiences financial difficulties, PR is one of the first budgets to be cut. Even when these companies end up understanding the concept, they find themselves questioning the value PR can bring to their company.
PR can assist with negative media. When a PR and communications strategy is in place, the company would already have a positive reputation in the media and their industry which can soften the ‘blow’.
It’s all about telling your story in your own words
PR allows a company to shape the perception of their business in a positive manner by reaching the appropriate target markets through the media. It tells the story of the company, its value proposition, the company culture and why it exists.
It provides a platform for customers to tell the intended target markets how great the business is and, importantly, creates top of mind awareness. Keep this in mind next time somebody calls and asks if you require a PR agency.
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This was GREAT reading, and a much needed self-love piece. We could unpack on this topic so much more, as there are a number of PR misconceptions. Even more so once you have secured the account.Is it just me, or do PR professionals have an increasing difficult job, due to the fact that we are also often mistaken by client as a PA or the fact that our ROI does not directly turn around sales? We support the marketing mix, which supports sales. Our job is not to sell a product to the publics, rather to tell the consumer why our product is better than the competitor's, regardless of the platform we use to do so (Social Media, Media, Influencer campaigns etc). On another point I also feel that the traditional way of practicing PR has become a little stale and old fashioned. We use numerous platforms of promotion to get the "Word out there", not just the media route. Media houses have become increasingly difficult around brand promotion, often using the term "Advertorial Top Heavy" - This is often in response to the fact that clients rarely budget correctly for advertising spend annually, which would assist PR in looking at amplification opportunities. When this topic comes up, I always ask the question: Who is the most celebrated Fashion Designer in the media worldwide? The answer is Ralph Lauren, why? Because he spends the most on advertising, which makes the journey of PR, marketing and promotion a lot less bumpy. Then again, I suppose we need to also take into consideration, that not all PR people practice good PR, so there is that issue as well, when it comes to pitching to new clients. It feels as if the PR culture in South Africa is rarely understood for the incredible work it can do, if given the right opportunity.