PR (Public Relations) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual, business or an organisation and the public. This includes the exposure of topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. It essentially acts as an alternative to advertising as a form of marketing communications. Edward Bernays, described as the father of PR, worked wonders for the promotion of cigarettes for Women in the 1920s which was one of the first times this was majorly used to promote consumer products.
Many companies participate in PR campaigns to increase their brand awareness and popularity among the public. Some campaigns can be extremely controversial (see Max Clifford’s projects) but the majority are subtler and filled with subliminal messages. It is not essential for any business to become involved in a PR stunt, but it will inevitably increase recognition of your business to develop awareness.
So why should you get involved with a PR campaign?
- Public relations is personal. You might have demographics for your audience in advertising. You might even have performed focus groups and market research to pin down their necessities. However, as individuals, the audience remains mainly anonymous to you. You’ll communicate to them more as a circle that shares common interests, instead of as individuals. Advertising, by its nature, includes a mass communication.
- Public relations build up credibility. Public relations boost an organization’s credibility because it’ll operate through numerous trusted intermediaries. Plus, these intermediaries communicate to a certain audience which looks to them to filter out all nonsense. If messages are chosen to be communicated, they’ll gain credibility due to the intermediaries’ credibility.
- Public relations is precise. Public relations is less predictable than regular advertising due to you having to get the intermediary to comprehend your important message points and reiterate them in his/her messages. It means cautiously aligning them with an intermediary’s messages. It’ll mean knowing their needs and your audience’s needs and where your business and its messages fit within that environment.
- Public relations is based on relationships. Great public relations mean setting up ongoing relationships with many important influencers (and therefore their audiences) and knowing how your business may become an excellent data source for the influential.
- Public relations is opportunistic. Offering accessibility to your consumers in order for the influencer to see how they’re solving issues using your organization’s services and products is a vital method of offering more data. The influencer understands that you are not going to give him a consumer who is unhappy, yet without your assistance, he isn’t likely to gain access. Plus, he’ll have the chance to speak with your customer about your competitors and see what they’re doing more broadly than only your business.