What is Public Relations?
Public Relations (PR) is a bridge between the community and your company. You employ strategies and techniques to portray your company in a positive way in the eyes of the public, in effect taking deliberate steps to control public perception of your brand.
How is PR different from Marketing?
Whereas marketing focuses on building sales, PR focuses on building and managing reputation. The main goal of most marketing strategies is to generate sales. You need profit to grow; marketing is the gateway through which you obtain that profit, by promoting and selling products and services by using strategies that appeal to your target audience. Many of these strategies involve paid efforts, such as website setup, ad campaigns, design and services that serve to maximize customer outreach and excitement about the product or service.
The main goal of PR on the other hand is to build positive relationships with the public so that they view your company in a positive light. Unlike marketing which zones in on your ideal customer, PR audiences are broader and encompass the wider public.
So while the focus of PR is not sales, it definitely has a powerful influence on public perception of your company and consequently on profit margins. A poor or weak reputation in the public will hinder your company’s overall ability to generate sufficient sales, no matter how good your ads or other sales strategies are. And the great thing about PR is the fact that many of the strategies it uses to connect and build rapport with the public don’t cost a dime! Such strategies may include writing press releases, sharing positive company stories, reaching out to influencers and speaking at events.
PR Tools You Can Use in Your Business
So how exactly can you start using PR in your business?
One way would be through advertorials. These are unpaid advertisements that take the form of newspaper or magazine articles. Here, you can share inspiring stories about your company or present objective information about new products or services, incentives or events being created by your company. Put even more eyeballs on your company by getting your advertorials published in credible, well-known and respected magazines or newspapers. Doing so will definitely help to put your company in a positive light.
Another effective way to use PR is by building your media relations. Media houses are always on the lookout for interesting news and are very powerful in influencing the minds of the public with their stories. Therefore, it would be very beneficial for your company to form strong relationships with key media personnel in your community. Do this and you could become the go-to expert to enlighten the public about what’s happening in your market.
Reach out to journalists, editors and other media persons through their social media channels by engaging with and sharing their content, and offering them connections and resources of your own. The easier you can make it for them to acquire the information they need, the more likely they are to promote your brand within their circles and lift the reputation of your business.
Community Relations is a very powerful form of PR that can help increase the influence you have among the community within which you operate. It’s all about gaining the trust and support of your community by supporting their needs and concerns. From providing sponsorship support for well-known events or causes within the community; to simply using your employees to volunteer their time to address a problem within the community (e.g. charity movement for disabled children, beach cleanups to promote a safer, cleaner beach environment for all, etc.).
Make it your priority to build genuine relationships with individual members who have influence within the community eg. informal leaders or activists. Their approval of your brand will make it easier for other members of the community to view your brand positively.
A Hidden Gem that Inspires and Build Trust
The methods discussed here have by no means scratched the surface of the number of ways you can use PR to elevate your brand’s reputation. Other such ways include attending business events, arranging speaking engagements and building rapport through frequent email or post newsletters.
PR offers a genuine, totally non-sales means of connecting your company with the public. Combine it with marketing, and you will have yourself a business that inspires loyalty, trust and positive vibes in the eyes of the public and community that it serves.