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Three ways public relations can take your business to the next level

public relations

Many moons ago, when I first declared to my family and friends my intention to switch my career path from broadcast journalism to a concentration in public relations, the response I received was met with applause of resounding support – and inquisitive looks. Not because my circle disapproved of my decision or questioned my ambition, but to put it mildly, they didn’t fully understand what public relations was precisely, or how it operated (especially in comparison to its brother-and-sister communication counterparts).

Armed with the textbook definition of public relations as coined by the Public Relations Society of America (“a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics”), I spent a fair amount of time finessing my explanation so that all points of distinction were crystal clear.

And yet, more than 13 years later, I continue to find myself expounding upon the same concepts and rehashing similar conversations with a whole different set of people that I come across (which, to this day, still includes my dear 70-year-old father, who I’m still not entirely convinced understands what it is that I do for a living).

The point is, despite its universally accepted practice as an effective promotional tool, as a whole, the industry does a poor job of explaining the nuances involved in understanding the framework and day-to-day practices of public relations, a broad yet understatedly complex activity entangled by elements of public perception and decision-making. Unlike our fellow peers, we’re not in the business of negotiating advertising rates for our clients, nor are we responsible for brainstorming zany marketing gimmicks that will translate into correlated measurable sales for a new product.

So, if public relations doesn’t fit those communication pegs, which ones do they address, and most importantly, how can they be utilized by any growing business? If you remember nothing else about the nature of PR and its applications, consider these three essential takeaway lessons.

  1. PR loyalists don’t control the media, but we do influence minds

While some may convince themselves to the contrary, PR managers don’t possess an alter ego as subservient honey bee workers who report back to the “Queen Bee” of a media outlet and demand that (s)he write a particular story angle on behalf of your enterprise. That responsibility lies squarely with a journalist, and the reporter alone.

However, just because PR practitioners can’t forcibly demand that an editor write about a certain topical issue doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. By employing tested and proven media relations tips – including the long-term fostering and nurturing of genuine relationships with targeted members of the media circuit – PR practitioners can carefully position a good story with a strong pitch so that it fits a journalist’s beat or assignment.

The benefits about accruing favorable media coverage? Not only is it cost-effective, but in addition to enhanced SEO perks, it also helps to construct long-term credibility about your company due to an unsolicited, reputable third-party review. Earned media coverage has the ability to skyrocket your brand’s differentiated visibility within the public domain, but when leveraged effectively, its ROI has more lasting power than any traditional or digital paid spend.

  1. PR practitioners are skilled perpetrators of storytelling with a purpose

Popular television shows like ABC’s “Scandal” have given rise to certain falsehoods about public relations specialists, and, more specifically, publicists. For decades, the industry has been actively waging combat against the notion that our square purpose is to intentionally deceive stakeholder publics with deceptive messages in order to bury a negative news story.

However, don’t brand all PR professionals exclusively as spin doctors. While watching dirty propaganda tactics enfold makes for salivating primetime TV, the true job of a practitioner is to create gripping narratives on behalf of organizations that translate into engaging, positive stories with an extended shelf life to drive specific goals.

As an image shaper, consider your brand the amorphous slab of clay, the PR pro a disciplined, passionate potter, and the curation process the creative strategic focus that births an authentic commodity that immediately hooks the respected connoisseur eyes of the art community.

  1. PR specialists can be a great complement to your sales fleet

While it is true that the key functions and objectives of public relations aren’t rooted in the high power lead generation machine that sales and marketing teams offer, it shouldn’t be totally discounted as a valuable business development tool. In fact, when done right, PR is a strong complement to any existing salesforce.

Turning to instrumental content marketing initiatives that attract a variety of audiences across the sales funnel is a surefire technique for cultivating the right leads at every stage of the game, as well as scoring exclusive editorial opportunities that intertwine aspects of quality content with impartial endorsement.

Educating your customer base across the wide spectrum as you build out your sales pipeline is critical, and PR extends a unique lever to spike business interest from the prospects you’re looking to convert into brand loyal customers.

Contact SWBR to learn more about our public relations capabilities and services, and how a customized campaign can bolster your business with sophisticated reputation management techniques.

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Ernie Thomas

STIEGLER

PRESIDENT

Advertising is in Ernie’s DNA as he’s a third-generation family member to join the business his late grandfather founded. With that pedigree comes an almost six sense of identifying the “it factor” needed to create campaigns that spark customers to action. Ernie (or ET) uses his outgoing personality to connect with clients to build strong collaborative relationships. He digs deep to uncover new opportunities that will make a measurable difference for each client’s business. A graduate of Eastern University and Saint Joseph’s University (MBA), he has the book smarts and experience to elevate brand communications with strategies that challenge the status quo. He’s always guiding Team SWBR toward the correct target audiences, smartest campaign messages, right digital channels and best traditional tactics suited to boost sales.

When he’s not working, Ernie enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. He’s also an avid golfer still searching for his first hole-in-one.

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