According to Public Relations News, Public relations are the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.” While the public part implies inclusion of things like public affairs, community relations, investor relations, public press conferences, media events, internal communications and crisis communications, it also involves a lot of behind-the-scenes, non-public activity. It could involve simply the writing of a press release, but it could also involve coordinating media contacts for an event or conference, securing credentials, lobbying for article placement and the like.
Sometimes public relations are an effort to influence the public. This is especially true for political action groups, associations and other groups. Sometimes public relations are community relations. Just look around your own community to see how many companies and organizations have a community affairs initiative or a person in charge with a related title. In larger, publicly held firms, this person is sometimes the director of investor relations. Investors are a public entity, so in this case public relations are appropriate. What the public wants to hear is a good story. Good PR is the telling of a good story. The better the story, the better the acceptance by the public and the better the public relations. Of course if the story is especially appealing to those that could be your clients, then you could have a PR homerun. In this case, it is communication with your target market that may or may not be very public.
PR’s importance is changing, according to The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR (Harper Business). American marketing strategists Al and Laura Ries argue that public relations has become the most effective way to build a brand. Well-known brands like The Body Shop, PlayStation and Harry Potter spend little on brand-name advertising. The same is true for many entrepreneurial companies like yours. Business owners become known in their respective fields of concentration many times through public relations and the associated media generated. PR is communication in many ways with your target market. Maybe instead of public relations we ought to call it target market relations or TMR. You may be communicating about a new product, spreading news about your company or making a major announcement. You want to communicate publicly, but the only people you care about are potential prospects, customers or investors, in the case of a partnership or a public company. One exception may be communication to a group that you are trying to influence for the best interest of your company and target market. An example of this is lobbying government.
Define what your public or target is in your public relations effort. This is best done by defining your target market and then any sub-segment. Lining up publications and broadcasts with the market and the segments will define what the public is for your public relations. The bottom line is to get word out about you, your company, your products and services to those who could potentially buy from you. Public relations are just one part of marketing, as marketing is made up of many things. The good news about PR is the cost and the effectiveness when it’s in front of your target market.
Top 5 Reasons Companies Need Public Relations or Media Relations
Social media PR what used to be a need for a televised broadcast, newspaper coverage, or radio time in order to get coverage has since evolved into an internet-induced cloud of online branding. Media relations used to be simpler. Getting in touch with an intrigued journalist resulted in an article or broadcasting an announcement over the radio got results. Present day, these traditional methods are not only less effective, but more expensive. Print publications are only in vogue for as long as they are on shelves. While most newspapers of today are posting stories online in addition to print, the newest form of an endless shelf life advertisement is through internet visibility.
Online media is the replacement of traditional media and is now the standard media for Generation Z (those born in 2003 or after). Search engine optimization, content publishing, social media releases and podcasts are just some of the contemporary forms replacing newspapers, radio slots, and even T.V. ads. Because of these expanding outlets, traditional methods have and are expected to decline. This is why public relations is growing and becoming the newest form of marketing and promotion. It’s no longer about just getting your name out there; it’s also about serving a purpose. Reaching customers and audiences in subtle yet effective ways is the latest trend in company exposure. Here are five specific examples of why public and media relations are a necessary component of a successful business or corporation.
Developing a Brand or Image
Effective PR creates an image of a company, influences an audience that this image is good, and connects with consumers to create a relationship between company and customer. Having a good image evolves from a combination of enacting corporate social responsibility, having excellent customer service, and maintaining a consistency in core messages. Your brand should be able to create a conversation with customers. Not only should a logo or company name be recognizable, but it should stand for something. Compare Disney to Busch Gardens, what do you think of each? One is family oriented while the other promotes wildlife and thrill rides. While each is in the same industry, they each have their own unique brand.
To keep a business growing, it must expand its endeavors and utilize its resources. Establishing a partnership is a huge move for business owners, and it comes from connections. That’s where public and media relations steps in. One of the key skills sets any PR professional should have is an ability to make and keep connections. Connections turn into opportunities at the drop of a hat, and it may not always come from a familiar face. Having representatives for companies at networking events is where partnerships happen. Partnerships evolve through many different forms, but almost always end up being beneficial for both parties involved.
Searchable Online Presence
These days when we want more information on a subject, chances are we Google it. If we want to know the recipe for a Thanksgiving tradition or the type of wine to use for a pot roast, it takes but a few seconds to bring up multiple different recipes from multiple different places. All this information is available at our finger tips, but what good is it if it’s not organized, reliable, and up-to-date? Search Engine Optimization is the secret behind successful websites. One of the most effective, yet privy tactics of public relations is making sure the content a business wants seen is showing up on the screen of the searcher. If a local cupcake bakery wants to establish themselves into the Tampa area, they better hope that its website pops up if someone Googles Tampa cupcake shops. Otherwise, they’ll go unknown. This is where a lot of potential exposure goes unseen and that’s where PR comes in to gain it back.
Keeping the Tradition Alive
Although the internet has revolutionized the ways in which information is shared, traditional methods of public and media relations are still in use today and do still get results. Getting coverage through a newspaper article or landing a slot on a local nightly news broadcast will still provide visibility and can even produce a specified audience. These methods reach audiences that may not surf the internet often and instead rely on traditional media to get their news. Exposure is the greatest selling technique. However, the ultimate problem with exposure today is that there are thousands, if not millions, of options being thrown in our direction on a daily basis. It’s difficult to make your company’s advertisement stand out on a page filled with other ads. The average television show caters a third of its air time being set aside for advertisement. (You’re really only watching 22 minutes or 44 minutes of your favorite show) Even changing the radio station during commercials has become effortless with the button being located right on the steering wheel. Effective media and public relations mingle these traditional methods with current day trends. By creating content that’s usable and promotable on all platforms, efficient exposure is created.
Using Social Media to Its Fullest Extent
Do you remember when My Space launched? It was only ten years ago, in 2003. Six years later, Facebook replaced it as the most used social media network used globally. Social media has only been around for a decade and it’s expanding and changing quickly. Users can easily follow or look up a company’s social media page and depending on the activity of the company, instantly see updates and promotions. It also provides a means of conversation, a huge part of public relations. Social media can either be a company’s best friend or worst enemy. If a company wants to utilize social media, it must do so with full responsibility and complete dedication. Inactive or barely updated company pages do not present a positive image nor does it create a healthy conversation. Having interactive and fresh content publishing creates buzz that keeps consumers interested. Public relations steps in to monitor the content that’s published on these sights and stays focused on the customer.
As you can see, public relations involves a little bit of everything. It’s no longer just reaching out and making connections to get coverage. Public relations are about creating a reputation through media relations, marketing, advertising, journalism, and online understanding. It’s almost a science. Today’s society feeds off of instant gratification and the past decade’s technological advances must be used effectively to create a final product, or image, that relates to target customers. Audiences want a reason to like or support a company these days. With so many available options or substitutes in today’s market place, having your company represent something will make all the difference in standing out amongst the crowd.