Public relations (PR) is communication with the public through different channels to build a positive brand reputation. PR managers use social media, videos, and other materials to communicate a brand’s story, including an idea, product, or accomplishments, to reach the public, win its attention, and change its perception of a company.

In this article, we’ll uncover the importance, objectives, functions, and types of PR. Next, we’ll determine the distinctive features of public relations and marketing and review some strategies and tactics. Afterward, we’ll talk about PR KPIs, tools, and successful examples.

The importance of public relations

Let’s find out more about the benefits of PR that companies can reap. First of all, it’s worth mentioning that effective communication with the public through unpaid or earned media helps improve credibility. After all, people need to trust a brand to become loyal customers. Public relations allow companies to gain trust by communicating a company’s story, idea, or product. It helps restore the trust of a brand’s customers during a crisis.

Secondly, it improves brand visibility. Excellent blog posts, positive stories about a company, and product reviews will remain visible on search engines for a long time. That’s why companies’ teams need to do their best at building a good image that brings in leads and growth. Thirdly, PR builds connections with communities. It also helps establish relationships with influencers that can promote a brand. Besides, PR can enhance a company’s online presence and increase sales volume.

Now that you know about the importance of public relations, let’s proceed to its objectives.

Objectives of public relations

Companies hire experts in public relations to perform certain tasks and achieve the following objectives:

  • build brand awareness;
  • inform a brand’s target audience about its products;
  • increase demand;
  • maintain strong relationships with customers;
  • reinforce a brand;
  • awake interest;
  • establish a positive reputation of a brand.

The goals are clear now, so it’s time to walk you through the functions of PR.

Functions of public relations

PR aims to establish trust among customers and build credibility. Public relations managers help increase brand awareness and determine and communicate your brand’s message to the public. Moreover, effective PR develops positive promotion and helps maintain a company’s reputation during a crisis. Let’s now review the responsibilities of a PR representative in more detail:

  • prepares and presents news releases;
  • tells a company’s story and answers journalists’ questions;
  • measures a company’s news coverage;
  • becomes a spokesperson at various events;
  • creates content, reports, and speeches;
  • represents a business in front of stakeholders;
  • manages a company’s social media accounts;
  • develops and maintains a company’s favorable public image;
  • organizes press conferences;
  • searches for cooperation with other companies in the industry;
  • pitches stories to the media.

Now that you know the responsibilities of a company’s PR manager, let’s jump into the types of public relations.

Types of public relations

When it comes to business, everyone shares a certain opinion, including customers, business owners, stakeholders, government, and the public. There are many types of PR that help express different viewpoints, and they are as follows:

  • strategic communications (creation and development of certain strategies that PR managers follow to achieve a company’s goals);
  • community relations (direct engagement with a certain audience or community through different communication channels);
  • media relations (communication with media aimed at conveying a company’s main message to its audience);
  • public affairs (establishing and building relationships with politicians, governments, and other decision-makers);
  • online communications (choosing the best digital platforms to build online presence and relationships with influential blogs and opinion leaders to attain a brand’s objectives);
  • internal communications (developing certain programs to keep a company’s employees satisfied and loyal);
  • crisis communications (managing a company during a crisis and developing a clear crisis communications plan);

In the next section, we’ll figure out the main features of PR and marketing that set them apart.

Public relations vs. marketing

Since PR and marketing have several similar functions, it can be difficult to differentiate between these two terms. Let’s start with their definitions and then move on to their key differences.

Public relations is the process that primarily focuses on shaping a positive reputation of a company by using different techniques. When building public relations, PR managers target all parties involved: stakeholders, customers, media, and the public.

Professionals implement messaging on different communication platforms to enhance brand awareness and build good relationships with companies and stakeholders. With the right messages, PR can change minds.

Positive results of PR campaigns include additional brand exposure and change in people’s perception of a company. The primary responsibilities of PR managers involve speech writing, managing releases, press pitches, and building and developing good relationships with media and opinion leaders.

Marketing is the process that encompasses advertising, email campaigns, client research, and sales strategies aimed at promoting products or services and increasing sales. It has three main purposes that include capturing attention, educating leads about a product or service, and converting them into customers. The main target audience of marketers is prospective or current customers.

Marketing has the power to sell. Professionals do everything possible to achieve the best results in selling. Namely, they create unique advertising campaigns, develop strategies to attract customers, and approaches to sell their goods. Companies’ owners measure the success of their marketing strategies by tracking and analyzing some positive changes in their sales and revenue.

In a nutshell, PR focuses on establishing a company’s positive reputation, whereas marketing helps promote a particular product or service and increase sales volume. Next, we’ll talk about PR strategies and techniques.

Public relations strategies and tactics

  • Enhance your social media presence
  • Share compelling stories and information about your company
  • Consider partnerships
  • Celebrate anniversaries creatively

To kickstart your PR campaign, you should know at least several strategies. We have prepared a few effective PR tactics to help you do that, so let’s explore them right away.

Enhance your social media presence

Modern brands often use social media platforms to reach and communicate with their prospects and customers. To do it, you need to create accounts on the most popular social networking services like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Messenger, and Telegram. These mediums will help you reach out to the public, announce special events, contests, and publish informative and interesting blog posts, videos, or photos. Besides, you should answer customers’ questions and provide them with support.

Star Wars gained the love and respect of movie fans for their tweet congratulating Marvel Studios on their success with “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Public relations

Share compelling stories and information about your company

PR is about communicating the right messages and information to the right people. To establish a positive brand reputation, you should choose your language and tone of voice, creating messages that resonate with customers’ desires and needs. Pick some interesting and engaging topics, and write articles that communicate value and relevance. Besides, don’t forget to create a unique story about your company and its product for the media.

Let’s take the story of The Body Shop, for example. On its website, the brand mentions its social responsibility. The Body Shop pioneers social change and cares about our environment, society, and animals. The company also redefines beauty and empowers women and girls.

Public relation

Consider partnerships

One more great PR idea is a strategic partnership since it opens new opportunities and perspectives. You can conduct contests, create new campaigns, or cross-promote each other. By using your partner’s visibility, you can enhance your customer base and multiply the number of leads. If you need strong local community connections, this is the most suitable PR strategy for you.

For example, BBC Earth partnered with Airbnb to conduct a contest and reward winners with a trip to the Bahamas to spend three days on the vessel used in Blue Planet II.

Celebrate anniversaries creatively

If your company has existed for a long time, think about making this date memorable for your customers and employees. You can provide your customers with special offers or great discounts to encourage people to buy your products. As a result, you’ll improve your brand awareness and reputation and increase sales.

In 2015, eBay celebrated its anniversary with a birthday campaign, “Happy 20th, eBay!”. On its birthday, the famous company provided customers with 20 days of new deals. This way, clients had more reasons to visit the website. Besides, eBay released an updated app to inform shoppers about their latest deals.

Public relations

Source: Merkle eBay’s 20’s birthday campaign

Now we’ll move to the next section to explore PR KPIs.

Public relations KPIs

To find out whether your public relations perform well, you need to track and analyze your KPIs. We’ll unpack some KPIs you should monitor to figure out the performance of your public relations campaigns.

  • Social media engagement. Monitor the number of comments and shares your content gets. It will show you how many people are interested in your company on social media.
  • Media outreach. With this indicator, you’ll know the number of your press releases, pitches, and their performance. Besides, you can find out whether you succeed in building strong relationships with journalists.
  • Sentiment. Look through the articles that mention your company or product. This way, you’ll understand whether your brand evokes negative or positive emotions and associations. This point is crucial since it influences and shapes your reputation within the market.
  • Event promotion. A successful PR strategy captures attention and drives more people to attend a company’s events, gathers media, and builds good relationships with influencers. Check out how many attendees your events have.
  • Domain authority. By placing links on reliable third-party sites, your company improves its domain authority. Consider monitoring these changes with special tools like Ahrefs or Moz.
  • Earned traffic. By tracking the traffic you managed to receive from your earned coverage and links, you can also understand if your business grows. Use special tools like SEMrush, Google Analytics, or SE Ranking to check your website traffic.

Now that you know the KPIs you need to monitor, let’s proceed to the most useful tools to empower your PR campaigns.

Public relations tools

Professionals use public relations tools to improve the reputation of their companies as well as internal communication. There are tools companies leverage to communicate with customers, stakeholders, and media. Let’s review them so that you can establish great public relations campaigns for your business.

  • Press kit. This kit contains all necessary promotional materials about a company. It includes a brand story, marketing assets, media mentions, press releases, and article examples. Brands usually place press kits on their websites so that journalists can learn about them and tell compelling stories citing the primary source.
  • Events. To draw people’s attention to a company’s new products or activities, brands arrange seminars, conferences, contests, etc. These events won’t leave the public indifferent and encourage people to participate.
  • Press releases. They allow brands to announce new product releases, make official statements, and serve as original informants. Press releases guarantee immediate brand exposure and help increase sales. Besides, they drive traffic to your website and have the potential for social sharing.
  • Fact sheets. A fact sheet is an overview of essential information about your startup or an established company. Simply put, it’s a summary of your brand’s activities. The information in it should be concise and easy to understand. A fact sheet includes a company’s mission, vision, position within the market, an overview of its products, customer insights, and key metrics. Sales teams, investors, and PR managers can leverage it for internal and external purposes.
  • Employee relations program. Relationships inside each business are also crucially important. PR people are often engaged in developing employee communication programs and additional materials that support them to improve internal communication.
  • Publications. Brands often publish articles in magazines, share blog posts, and write stories, brochures, and annual reports to develop public relations. They help communicate the necessary information to companies’ target audiences and drive their interest.

Now that you know the tools you can use for your PR campaigns, let’s walk you through some successful examples of PR.

Successful examples of public relations

There are many examples of excellent public relations campaigns. We’ve prepared the most successful ones from brands you probably know.

Lyft & Netflix

The prank from Lyft and Netflix was one of the reasons for all the can’t-miss excitement before the premiere of Stranger Things 2. The Lyft driver took several customers to unfamiliar places and scared them with different strange things happening in the car. As a result, brands obtained even more buzz and hype around the famous TV series.

Old Spice

The company is famous for its interesting approach to its campaign development. Although people probably still remember a commercial with a sporty man on the horse, Old Spice prepared a new ad in 2018. To drive more interest to its latest product, the brand provided readers with red paper blazers that had a smell of Old Spice Captain product.

Public relations

Source: Advertising Specialty Institute Old Spice’s Paper Blazer Ad

Simply put, to establish a positive brand reputation, you need to have a professional to deal with your press releases, publications, and other PR tools. The right approach and strategy will help you inform different people about your company and communicate a compelling story to a wide public.

Resources:

  1. This article tells five things to know about public relations.
  2. In this article, you’ll find the functions of PR.
  3. In this article, you’ll find strategies, tips, and examples.
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