Public relations is one of the most powerful ways to influence consumer behaviour and have a massive impact on a company’s success or business. While it can be defined as any form of the strategic communication process that helps build mutually beneficial relationships between companies and audiences, there is a lot more to it than that. When done correctly, public relations is the art of creating all positive attributes of a business into a compelling story that supports a company’s goals.
In this article, we will look at:
1) What is PR?
2) Types of PR
3) How PR can help
4) Traditional vs. Digital PR
5) Tools and techniques in PR
6) How to measure Public Relations
What is PR?
An effective public relations strategy is one that not only builds relationships with media professionals but also helps increase brand awareness and boost credibility. While public relations is not a new concept, advancements in technology have shifted PR to a more digital landscape. PR now involves leveraging all media channels to promote an organization and cultivate a positive public perception.
The media plays a huge role in public relations and is used to broadcast a company narrative to its target audience. Brands have different types of media at their disposal when trying to meet PR goals. These include owned, earned, and paid media. Having said this, winning positive earned media is generally the “end game” when companies create their public relations strategy. Regardless of their goal, whether it is to increase sales or win new clients, earned media generates publicity in an authentic way.
Since there are so many aspects to PR, it can be challenging to summarize a PR professional’s responsibilities in this day and age. From connecting brands with people to storytelling, influencing media professionals and reaching a company’s target audience, these experts do it all.
Ideally, every brand should have a target audience. Whether it is its customers, employees, investors, media professionals, or a combination of all the above, the target audience needs to be defined. As stated previously, one of the responsibilities of a PR specialist is to connect a company to its people. In fact, the more active and connected a business is, the more successful it will be.
Reputation-management and image-building are central components of PR. This is a combination of what a company says about itself, the things they do, and what their audiences think about them. If all these things are done correctly, then a company can build a positive brand image.
In addition, with so much information out there, storytelling has also become a massive part of PR. Rather than just stating facts and sharing a list of monotonous information, companies that can grab attention with an inspiring, captivating story will encourage audiences to connect with a company on a more emotional level. A good story needs to not only attract attention but also retain it. In order to be successful, companies also need to create a story which is both timely and relevant to the audience. The story should be something that people are interested in, rather than one that will cause them to switch off mentally.
Last but not least, influencer marketing is another significant component of PR. Successful PR should inspire a change in behaviour influence opinions. Good PR persuades people to feel a certain way about a brand. Alternatively, it creates a compelling call-to-action to buy a product or service.
With more audiences holding brands accountable, companies need to ensure that all actions they take provide a positive brand image. What differentiates PR from marketing and advertising is that it is earned, not paid for. Whether through traditional media or social media a good PR specialist does not rely on paying professionals and influencers to endorse a product or service. Rather, PR is about persuading these people to fall in love with the product or service so that they can offer a genuine endorsement.
Since an effective PR strategy involves so many elements, some companies rely on PR professionals to help them fully understand what needs to be achieved to gain media coverage. PR agencies like Pressfarm help companies of all sizes create quality content like press releases, email pitches, guest posts, and media kits in order to build a memorable brand image among the media as well as their target audiences. Beyond creating quality content, they also distribute this content to the appropriate media professionals and audiences. Ultimately, the experts at Pressfarm work to boost brand visibility for clients across different industries by helping them feature in relevant search results across multiple search engines.
Types of PR
Before we dive into how to do effective PR, we need to understand that there are different aspects of PR and various ways to achieve positive media attention. Whether it is communication to stakeholders within a business, a company’s involvement in the community, or a new product/service launch, PR content helps a business to establish credibility and gain traction. It is true that PR is generally focused on using communication tactics to create and develop relationships between an organization and its public. Beyond that, it also the use of creative, and persuasive communication tactics with media professionals, employees, and other people interested in the business.
1) Media relations
Media relations is focused solely on building mutually-beneficial relationships with journalists, media professionals, bloggers, and influencers to generate earned media. The ultimate goal is to establish a good relationship with media organizations and offer oneself as a possible content source. Typically, it means coordinating directly with the people responsible for producing the news and features in the mass media.
This is the most effective way to provide information to media outlets about a company’s newsworthy topics. In order to qualify as a source for a news story, your story must contain one or more of the following: new research, the launch of new products or services, local relevance, impressive performance milestones, and a human interest angle. Having a good working relationship with media professionals is essential for companies to spread key messages to their target audience. By creating compelling news stories, providing insights, and pitching exciting story ideas for their industry, companies can build a good reputation among members of the media. Ultimately, this rapport with the media can help a company reach their most desired audiences.
The key to effective media relations is creating compelling content that will draw media professionals in and make them interested in producing organic content to boost visibility for the business. Dealing with the media can present unique challenges for companies because they are the gatekeepers of the news. For this reason, having positive long-term relationships with these professionals vital for every business, regardless of its size.
2) Community Relations
Since consumer behaviour is changing and people are now buying products or services from companies that share similar values, community relations is an effective branch of public relations. Community relations is about engaging communities to establish a positive reputation by providing environmental stewardship, employment, health & safety, and good quality of life. Generally, PR specialists who engage in community relations help build a positive relationship with the local community on behalf of the company itself.
Companies engage in this type of public relations to generate local support for a project. “Giving something back,” can improve a company’s ethical reputation and get people interested in a company’s product or service.
To effectively do community public relations, companies need to fully understand how their community feels and how best to engage with them. Whether it is including regular updates, sponsoring events, or donating corporate time or expertise to a charitable event, it is all about getting involved in improving the community in an organized, intuitive, enthusiastic, and strategic manner.
Similarly, PR professionals who specialize in corporate and social responsibility focus on improving a brand’s reputation by highlighting environmental responsibility and charitable works.
3) Crisis Communications
PR professionals who are responsible for crisis communications aren’t only busy in times of crisis. Managing a crisis with tact takes a lot of consistent planning. Any crisis PR specialist worth their salt will have a crisis management plan set in place in advance to overcome whatever obstacle is thrown at a company. This could be a faulty product, a dispute between an executive and the public on social media, or anything in between. In summary, this PR specialist needs to be prepared for anything that could potentially hurt a businesses’ reputation. By developing a well-thought-out plan and solid relationships with both stakeholders and the media, companies can put a positive spin on a crisis. In order to implement the plan effectively, companies should already know who presents the critical message and how it is going to be conveyed, before the crisis happens.
4) Social media communications
In today’s digital landscape, businesses need to have a strong online presence to stand out from their competitors. Consumers have increasingly been turning to the internet to do their research before making any purchasing decisions. With the increase of social media influencers, a social media outreach strategy has become crucial to generate leads, build brand relationships with bloggers and social media influencers, and attract new talent. Not only do companies need to know what content to create, but they must also understand the best social media platforms to achieve their PR objectives and goals.
Social media has helped change public relations by encouraging customer focus, creating a constant news cycle, making PR affordable for small businesses, and establishing greater engagement. The rise of social media has forced companies to resolve issues quickly to avoid a PR crisis and improve their business as a whole. Secondly, having a 24/7 news cycle has given brands the ability to deliver news at any time and know what content is trending as well as how to respond to it. It offers companies the opportunity to offer their audiences constant updates. Social media also makes PR more affordable for small businesses who need it to manage their online presence. Last by not least, customers can engage with brands directly, thus helping brands to gauge how effective their content is.
5) Employee Communications
As known as internal PR, employee relations helps give employees a positive image of the company they work for. . Employees can be a company’s biggest brand ambassadors, so they must be treated well and kept up to date with the business activities, both internally and externally. The goal of this type of PR is to keep current employees satisfied, motivated and loyal. PR activities for employee relations might include organizing events, creating internal newsletters and other communications, and helping managers develop good relationships with their team.
This type of PR has become one of the most important aspects of any company’s PR strategy. It can also be the most sensitive PR form since it is based less on image and more on action. Among its other functions, internal relations strategists counsel employees about policies, course of action, the organization’s responsibility, and their responsibility.
6) Strategic Communications
Strategic communications is a broader form of PR. This is where public relations overlaps with marketing and advertising in business. Strategic communications is a comprehensive communications plan for any company. Rather than distributing information just for the sake of marketing, strategic communications is about giving coordinated messages that help a company achieve its objectives. Startups need to understand what their business priorities are and ensure that all communication activity supports these objectives. This form of PR depends on all PR efforts being coordinated to help a company achieve its business objectives.
How PR can help
An effective PR strategy should help expose a business to new audiences. More specifically, it is a way for businesses to communicate with potential customers. A company’s PR efforts enable them to manage how they spread information. This should be a part of the overall branding strategy but focuses more on its reputation and widespread communication.
Public relations has always been one of the most cost-effective strategies to use for marketing a company; it can be valuable when startups have a limited budget but still want to advertise their products or services.
Let us look at how PR can help a business with its sales and overall business strategy.
1) Boosts brand visibility & awareness
A PR marketing strategy helps brands to make current or potential customers aware that the business exists. By creating a consistent PR strategy, companies can build general awareness of their products, services, or brands, supplement any direct marketing and advertising efforts, and increase a website’s rank on various search engines.
Unlike traditional PR, digital PR does not have a specific shelf life, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Everything about a company remains visible on search engines forever, which means that the PR content that a company creates needs to add positive value rather than negative. By sharing relevant, newsworthy stories across all channels, businesses can boost their brand image and draw in new customers
2) Create long-lasting relationships
Over the past decade, many companies have had to market themselves differently. For businesses to stay relevant and open, they need to focus more on meeting consumers’ needs and adapting to their environment.
Good PR helps brands to capture attention. Positive news coverage about the startup can influence customers to choose a business’s service over competitors that have not received any media exposure.
However, it is not just about attracting customers anymore; it is also about creating long-lasting relationships and building brand loyalty. Along with many other benefits, good PR is about building trust and delivering value to establish lasting relationships and generate goodwill. While it can be time-consuming to achieve that goal, it is worth it in the long run.
3) Entices investors
Even if a startup is established, they need to continue marketing their brand. Whether it is to new potential customers or investors interested in backing the company, a carefully thought out PR strategy can create positive media coverage, resulting in a better negotiating position with potential investors.
While most companies should already have a PR strategy, there is always room for improvement and modifications to make it more relevant to their audiences and media professionals. In order to use PR effectively, companies need to:
1) Emphasize the relevance of a product or service
Companies need to create something that sets them apart from their competition. However, this can be easier said than done because it is highly likely that something similar already exists on the market. To generate leads and drive sales, it is essential for companies to clearly and concisely describe why consumers should choose their product or service over others.
2) Enhance online presence
Even before the pandemic, more and more consumers were purchasing their products and services online. PR helps companies create a robust online presence that is highly visible to their target audience. Along with that, PR professionals also provide businesses with support and guidance to help them market themselves online while also always being one step ahead if a crisis occurs.
By focusing on digital marketing efforts like search engine optimization (SEO) and email marketing, startups should keep their online presence up to date and continue establishing themselves as thought leaders through blogs, videos, social media channels, and other digital content. These are just some of the tools that companies can use to strengthen their brand image and increase their profitability.
Traditional vs. Digital PR
The PR landscape in 2021 has changed drastically due to the events of 2020, advancements in technology, and corresponding change in consumer behaviour. While traditional PR still exists, circulation numbers are shrinking as people rely more on the internet and social media platforms to gain their information. Online media outlets and influencers now possess more power than ever. As a result, the PR industry has evolved rapidly over the last decade. Ideally, a combination of both traditional and digital PR should make a company more successful. Brands can combine traditional PR like press releases and email pitches with digital PR tactics to build an efficient PR mix. This approach also provides secondary benefits, including link building via backlinks. For this reason, many companies have added digital PR to their public relations strategy so that they can increase their brand awareness and the products or services that they offer.
Digital PR helps a business reach out to their target customers through high-quality links which provide social proof. This strategy is reliant on SEO because a well-planned digital PR strategy positively impacts a website’s search engine visibility and ranking.
The main focus for companies employing digital PR strategies is publishing articles and securing backlinks from relevant websites and blogs. However, to achieve this objective, brands need to start by building positive relationships with people in the press. Besides publishing articles and securing backlinks, companies have also used blogger outreach, influencer marketing, affiliate programs, and other strategies as part of their digital PR strategy.
The public relations industry has been around for a long time. People in this is industry are constantly adapting to new technologies and trends to stay relevant. The shift towards digital PR combines the limited shelf life of SEO with a longer-term PR approach. A company’s PR strategy should create positive brand awareness, produce and share quality content, create viral campaigns, involve social media marketing, and work with traditional media.
While content marketing has existed for a long time, its importance has increased due to the need to optimize high-quality content with SEO and digital PR.
Link building is one of the many benefits of digital PR and SEO; it helps companies create an original content pitch to online publishers and be a trusted source of information in their industry.
Let us look at some benefits of link building in digital PR and why companies need to look online to attract potential consumers and retain existing ones’ attention.
1) Better links
When a company invests in creating high-quality, newsworthy content, more readers will be interested in what they have produced. Some roles of effective digital PR include providing emotional content that a target audience can connect with, and writing personalized email pitches that show the company has done the proper research about the journalist.
2) More Diverse Links
Link building can get a company all different types of links, but having digital PR gives companies the bonus of acquiring higher authority links. Syndication networks then go through natural syndication where they pick up stories that authoritative publishers have posted. In other words, brands can generate impressive media placements without having to do extra work.
3) More brand mentions
As a society, we rely heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations. We seek advice and have conversations about the latest trends and other topics. While brand mentions may not directly impact link building, discussions about a brand can provide value differently. It still means that people see or hear about a company, which increases awareness about who the company is and slowly builds authority within the industry.
4) Build more long-term authority
Pitching consistently great content allows companies to better position themselves as experts and thought leaders in their field. Digital PR can help a company’s Domain Authority, a logarithmic scale that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. Publishing content on high-authority websites and gaining backlinks also helps to bolster rankings for targeted keywords. The higher the SERPs position, the more traffic to likely visit a company’s site. Domain authority sites give users a clear sign of whether a company is a credible brand.
Tools and techniques in PR
1) Story and content plans
As mentioned before, newsworthy stories can make the difference between a successful PR campaign and one that does not get any traction. These stories can boost a brand’s publicity and create a significant impact. For this reason, companies need to provide a constant flow of engaging and relevant stories to build their reputation. Companies also need to develop a content plan so that they have a big picture of how they want their media efforts to be perceived. Stories about your startup can take time and resources to find, develop, and pitch. For this reason, they need to be planned to ensure that deadlines are met and the messaging is relevant to media professionals and their audience.
2) Press releases
Essentially a press release is an official announcement that provides information about company news. Press releases are only one of the tools which companies can use to earn media coverage. The primary objective of a press release is to build brand awareness and help companies to reach their target market effectively through earned media, which can help increase a company’s legitimacy in the market.
When media outlets write about a company, it gives potential customers and investors a chance to see that the company exists in the market for a reason. Another objective of a press release is to gain referral traffic; the more traffic a media outlet has, the higher the potential is for customers to read about a specific brand. Finally, press releases are another great way to increase backlinks through earned media and guest posting, effectively combining PR and SEO.
3) Media pitches
A media pitch is how companies and startups promote information about their products and services to journalists, bloggers, and other media outlets that influence their industry. The purpose is to get press coverage, brand mentions, and exposure for the business. Media pitching is so important that if a company/startup gets media coverage from the right publications, it can raise awareness and grow.
Creating a successful pitch is not as simple as crafting an attractive email subject line, typing a few sentences and hitting send. On the contrary, there are many factors involved in creating high-quality pitch emails. Some key elements include: adding value, trying not to be self-promotional, and focusing on building relationships.
Companies need to understand that a majority of the time, media outlets want to receive high-quality, relevant pitches that have new data or take on a different angle from what they already know. While media outlets wish to receive email pitches with value, they also do not want to receive mass emails which seem more like spam and do not contain anything noteworthy.
Another thing is that while a pitch should demonstrate value, it should not be too self-promotional. Yes, some parts of the pitch should be about the company and what it can provide to the industry, but not to the point where it is all about them. Companies need to ride the fine line between promoting their brand and providing new insight and value to the industry.
Finally, companies and startups need to focus on relationship building instead of just chasing short-term success and virality. For a brand’s stories to be heard and their content to gain exposure online, they need to develop relationships rather than looking for “hacks” or quick wins.
4) Influencer PR
With the rise of social media influencers in the digital marketing world, companies, regardless of their size, need to create an effective social media and influencer PR strategy to leverage the reach of an existing influencer who has already built a strong following and brand reputation in their particular niche. By doing so, companies can use the influencer’s expertise to increase brand awareness and drive sales.
Influencer PR is a niche form of social media PR that uses endorsements and product mentions from individuals who already have an audience and are viewed as experts within their industry. This form of marketing works well because social influencers have already built up a high amount of trust among their community. In other words, recommendations from them help companies provide social proof to potential customers. Ultimately, when a brand forms a partnership with influencers, they agree to help expose a brand’s messaging and content.
A successful influencer PR strategy helps a company increase its brand exposure, build authority, and connect with new audiences.
Along with social media influencers, bloggers are still influential people that companies should consider when trying to preview new products. For this reason, they have the power to position a company as a market leader. Blogs are still critical to SEO and building a robust digital presence for a brand. By using strategic keywords, they can drive traffic to websites and boost domain authority.
6) Email marketing
Customers gain their information through their social media channels and media. Email marketing is crucial because this information is delivered directly to customer’s inboxes. By curating the company’s news and segmenting it by different audiences, companies can only receive content relevant to each group.
How to measure public relations
Once a company launches its PR campaign, it can measure the outcomes both quantitatively and qualitatively. The data achieved helps them see how effective their PR efforts are in raising awareness.
1) Share of Voice
The share of voice refers to the percentage of all online, print, broadcast coverage, and conversations about a company or brand they have managed to secure. To correctly measure it, companies and PR professionals should keep track of all media coverage achieved, including cuttings, screenshots, clips of broadcast coverage, and other forms of multimedia so that there is a record of everything.
Not only is knowing share of voice beneficial for the company internally, but it also helps them compare their coverage with their competitors. They can also see what tactics were successful during the campaign and what needs to be changed to achieve better results
2) Tone of Voice
The tone of voice measures how a company has been presented, either positively or negatively, within the media. Through analytics, companies can see whether the coverage they earned was positive or negative. Along with that, to measure success, they can make a list of keywords or phrases and keep track of how often they appear.
3) Brand Perception
By building qualitative data from their Tone of Voice assessment, companies can review their brand’s overall positioning. By answering the questions of whether there had been a change in how target audiences view their brand, how their key messages were received and what responses they got, whether they were believed, and if they received any adverse reactions, they can measure changes in perception and attitudes towards the brand at any given point in time.
4) Digital Presence
As mentioned previously, PR greatly influences consumer behaviour, and its objective is to build trust and long-lasting loyalty. Businesses need to understand that not all PR success will lead to immediate consumer action. A large majority of the time, consumers generally do not take immediate action. Even so, once they have engaged with quality content from a company, the brand will remain top of mind and the consumer will eventually make a purchase. To effectively measure consumer action, it is wiser to focus on a more extended period.
Ultimately, It is essential to check on the business performance every once in a while. This needs to be measured and tracked so that companies know exactly what is happening. It may not have been easy in the past, but in the digital age, it is pretty simple to figure everything out. By measuring Key Output Metrics, which are measurements of your earned media wins, you can get a good idea of how well your brand is performing. These Key Output Metrics include: mentions, the share of voice, backlinks, sentiments, and end audience reach.
Regardless of how a company structures its PR efforts, public relations is an essential part of any company’s overall business strategy. Without it, brands cannot reach the right audiences and get help from media professionals and influencers to get the word out about the brand. At the end of the day, quality content should reflect brand values, provide factual information that will benefit their audience, and be created in a compelling way to attract and retain the attention of their audience.
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