What is PR?
Over the years when I tell people I work in the public relations field, I often get a blank stare. So, are you in advertising? You work on ads for businesses? Does that mean you get to be on TV?! That sounds so glamorous!
Nope, no and no - well, maybe sometimes.
What is the definition of PR?
PR is short for public relations. If you look up the word public relations, you’ll find that it says public relations is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization to the public in order to affect their public perception. It’s an organic process. This is how PR differs from advertising, in which you pay for play (pay for ads). There are a lot of behind the scenes processes to help everything organically fall into place in the world of public relations.
Now, what does that really mean? And how can it apply to your business or organization?
Basically PR allows you to craft your messaging in a way that best represents your company. Not only does a publicist help you craft this messaging, it is shared with the public in a variety of ways. That may be a full-scale publicity campaign sharing this messaging with media outlets either on a local or national level or via social media.
Example of PR
Let’s break it down even more. Let’s say you just launched a new shoe line. The shoes are ready and the sales have started, but you want to grow even more and you want to sell more. You want everyone and their mom to know about these brand spanking new shoes. You reach out to a publicist, tell them your dream media goals, overall goals, and tell them what your company is all about. Once all the fine details are worked out and your publicist is secured it’s game on.
A publicist will create media materials based on your conversations. Media materials will include a press release announcing your shoe brand, a fact sheet, and various pitches with angles to generate interest in your shoes. A publicist will also create a media list based on reporters who will likely be interested in covering your story.
Let’s say a reporter says yes, let’s do this! A publicist will make sure both parties have everything they need to move forward with a story. Once that story runs, social media channels have content to share and the word is out.
That’s just one element of public relations.
Types of PR
PR is not a one-stop shop, it’s scope ranges across a variety of avenues based on needs. The types of PR vary and include the following:
Strategic communications creates a positive relationship between a business and the community. This strategy includes press releases, special events, speeches, and social media. This is a large umbrella, but one that is very important to help an organization achieve its goals.
Media relations places a strong emphasis on building relationships with members of the press. Media relations is crucial to provide information to a desired audience. The main objective is to get positive coverage to create awareness and a positive impact for both parties.
Community relations is just as it sounds, a chance for your brand or business to connect with the community. This might look like a grand opening event offering free shoe fittings to clients, donating shoes to organizations and people in need, a 5K event raising money for a non-profit you partnered with to donate shoes to communities in need. Basically, the goal of community relations is to promote a company’s mission.
Internal communications is for collaboration within a company and those within an organization. Internal communications strategy should motivate employees to read, engage, and share. This may look like communications shared from the CEO to the staff, website and blog brand content. Internal events, involvement with industry articles positioning employees as a trusted resource, or an internal newsletter with announcements to help with staff morale and to create a community within your company.
When a crisis occurs, crisis communications ensures a company has a plan in place that helps them provide a reassuring response. This basically ensures that everyone within the company or brand is comfortable approaching the controversial topic at hand. This involves discussing responses before reacting, communicating promptly and precisely with the public, educating and supporting employees, monitoring company sentiment, prioritizing customer feedback, using technology and tools.
Public affairs tends to focus on public policy and lawmaking. When new laws are passed by federal or state legislators it may have an effect on a specific business. Public affairs also place focus on stakeholders, which are key to most businesses and maintaining those relationships is crucial. Public affairs focuses on influencing policy.
Online and social media communications
Online and social media communications go hand in hand with publicity efforts. These efforts must be aligned, as both are used to build and maintain trust in the company and products. Social media allows real-time messaging, and really provides a soundboard to amplify any message. Social media allows companies to reach a very large audience. It’s often difficult to measure return on investment with PR, however, social media impact is measurable with various metrics. Hashtag campaigns are a great way to raise awareness for a specific cause and it’s a wonderful way to further get the word out.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know the ins and outs of PR, you can figure out what types of PR work best for you and your company. It’s not a one size fits all format (back to my shoe reference), there are so many different avenues and elements that make PR an essential part of a company’s business plan.