5 Myths of Public Relations
Public Relations builds your company’s reputation. Consumers invest in, join, support and buy from companies they believe in. If you’re thinking about giving your business a boost with public relations you need to understand what it can do for you.
PR is the Persuasion Business. PR people are storytellers. They create narratives to advance their agenda. PR can be used to protect, enhance or build reputations through the media, social media, or self-produced communications. A good PR practitioner will analyse the organisation, find the positive messages and translate those messages into positive stories. When the news is bad, they can formulate the best response and mitigate the damage.
The power of PR through editorial media can be a highly effective way to build a brand and get your company valuable exposure. Like no other form of marketing, editorial coverage provides third-party endorsement that adds credibility to a business and raises its profile among potential customers.
Although relationships with the media have always been an important part of our work, PR now has a much stronger position in building relationships directly with the public and consumers. Channels such as Twitter, Facebook and company blogs offer brands the opportunity to directly foster and develop these relationships.
The truth is that every company engages in public relations. The only distinction is if you purposefully manage it or not. Here are 5 PR myths that may be holding you back:
From agencies to freelancers, the cost of PR depends on who you hire. PR is much less expensive than advertising and the benefits can be much more substantial. One good media placement can lead to a substantial increase in sales and company growth. If you hire the right PR agency, the money you spend will secure you key media coverage with the kinds of outlets that bring value to your business. Any amount spent on marketing is too much if it doesn’t work, but effective public relations is priceless.
PR stands for Press Release
The acronym PR stands for public relations. A press release, although a good start, will not do all the work that a well-planned public relations strategy will do. There is much more to public relations than just a news release. If you are still waiting for the media to pick up your press release, you need PR.
A press release is just one tool used in public relations and should be reserved for significant announcements and milestones — such as a company’s launch to market, a major funding announcement or partnership deal. Even in those cases, a press release only gets you so far. It gives the media information to write a story. But it doesn’t convince them to write one. That’s where a strategic PR plan and proactive media relations are necessary to get reporters to cover you.
We have no story
Work with a PR that understands how to create stories around your business that build into a growing and complete picture of your brand. Today’s trend in PR and marketing is for ‘thought leadership’, meaning you can gain valuable exposure with intelligent and relevant industry commentary. For breaking news, journalists often need an expert to comment in real time via a phone interview, video-conference, live video interview, Tweet, email or IM.
With some quick thinking, reaching out can lead to great new connections and media attention. When the story isn’t immediate, businesses can insert themselves into a trend. These are usually feature stories, in contrast to news happening today. For example, if law firms are cutting hourly prices in return for fixed fee or guaranteed monthly retainers and you are a law firm who signed a big deal like this with a major client, that’s one instance of a trend.
Constant flow of information, multiple formats of media, thousands of startups mushrooming in a short span of time — in this dizzy environment, startups in particular need the right communication to help them catch eyeballs and stand apart. You only have one chance in the life of your business to be “new” and that’s the story hook you can never duplicate down the line. Don’t waste the opportunity waiting to make it big first. If you’re anticipating success before PR, you have it back to front. Achieving significant and wide-ranging editorial exposure can be the key to helping your business get off the ground in the first place.
We don’t know where to start
Public Relations does what it says on the tin- we build relationships. Although relationships with the media have always been an important part of our work, with shrinking newsrooms, bloggers and social networks have become the outlets where people follow the news. Even the media use social to share breaking details on stories.
If you are a B2B business, then you should know which key publications are read by your audience. These will probably be regional business publications or industry titles. They could also be titles across the verticals you service as well as business sections in the nationals. There’s a misconception among many that success on the media front comes from who you know. The truth is, good contacts are only a small piece of the puzzle. The more critical aspect to successful public relations is a good pitch — a story angle about you or your business that holds media appeal.
PR is not for my business
Unless you are set on being in stealth mode, there is obvious benefit from getting your business in the media spotlight. It can raise consumer awareness, drive sales, increase brand credibility, attract investors, lead to partnerships, secure retailers, create speaking engagements and so much more.
PR works best when you’re open to all possibilities. There is a bit of experimentation to see what works best from different mediums (print, broadcast or online) to various story angles and target markets. It’s important to align your communications objectives with your overall business goals, and it’s crucial to ensure they are realistic.
If you begin by asking your PR agency for a front-page splash in the Financial Times, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Many companies are looking for a one-time silver bullet to achieve their PR goals. Predictable, consistent and, of course, interesting communication is the key to building trust and relationships with your audiences.
As Bill Gates said, “If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget I’d spend it on PR.”