Public Relations, colloquially “PR,” is an important tool that helps businesses broadcast, share, and improve their reputation and boost credibility. To boil it down: Public relations is about creating strategies and campaigns to showcase your brilliant work and get noticed by the right audience at the right time.
As marketing and PR professionals, we’re often asked what the difference is between the two. It can help to think of PR as part of an overall marketing mix. But it’s absolutely a relevant question to ask, because PR and marketing are intertwined and share some overlapping objectives. Both work to improve the standing of the company, and both work to build customer loyalty and positive perception of the brand.
The difference between marketing and PR is that marketing is focused on driving sales; it does this by promoting a specific product, service, or idea. Public relations is more focused on the maintenance of a positive reputation of a brand via the media, and amplifying reach about company news and developments.
There is one large distinction between marketing and PR. Unlike paid marketing efforts such as ads or advertorials, PR uses unpaid (“organic”) communication channels to focus on earned media. Examples of these unpaid, organic channels can include:
PR is a crucial part of any integrated marketing strategy because it gives a firm, via its spokespeople, the opportunity to establish credibility and demonstrate expertise. In contrast, a firm that doesn’t do PR relies on its website and other self-created collateral to establish its credibility.
Unsurprisingly, earned media opportunities garnered from PR efforts hold the most weight of any type of marketing and are the best way to establish credibility. Unlike with traditional advertising, when it comes to earned media opportunities, others do the talking. This builds trust and credibility like nothing else can, since the vetting comes from a neutral third party. It’s the difference between tooting your own horn and someone else tooting your horn. If a trusted media outlet chooses to quote you or publish your article, you are seen as an authority in your field. In this way, earned media is the most legitimizing kind of marketing out there. It’s seen as more trustworthy and authentic than advertising – particularly amongst millennials, who tend to distrust traditional advertising methods. At the end of the day, all audiences crave genuine methods of advertising.
Each PR “win” you secure starts a cascade of positive effects. For example, people searching this topic online will find your quote/story/appearance in the media, and you’ll come across as a credible, trusted source of information. Also, press citations set you apart from your competition, so that’s a very important benefit from a business differentiation standpoint. In addition, Google prioritizes news, so your name will come up high on the search engine results page (SERP) when someone searches for you. And, finally, these authority-building, visibility-building citations are likely to lead to more press mentions in the future, which will help you shore up your role as an industry leader and may even position you to be considered for awards in your field.
In the long run, all of the above contributes to the growth of your business.
Despite PR’s importance, it’s often overlooked. Small businesses are sometimes reluctant to spend money on PR and unsure how to weave it into their overall marketing strategy. But every business, regardless of its size, relies on reputation to guide success. PR is absolutely essential, and businesses of all sizes should prioritize it.
Yes, it’s true that PR takes time and legwork. Building a strategy and seeing the fruits of your labor won’t happen overnight. But, on the flip side, earned media won’t cost you nearly as much as paid advertising. And the trust and credibility you’re building is worth more than your ad spend in the end. And, one thing all small businesses know is that word of mouth is crucial; a bad review can have negative effects. For this reason, a PR strategy that includes a crisis management plan is important to have at the ready.
Measuring traditional return on investment (ROI) from PR activity can be an inexact science. But public relations success is still quantifiable. In today’s digital age, you can see exactly what coverage has been achieved for an activity and measure against agreed objectives. Depending on the goal of the campaign, PR success can be measured by:
Of course, knowing the data behind the messages distributed helps determine what is and isn’t working and clarifies areas for growth.
Public relations professionals have media contacts and relationships with journalists that can be leveraged on behalf of their clients. PR professionals also have access to tools that allow them to communicate quickly with the press. An agency can amplify the reach of your messages and give them greater impact. And, because PR can be time-intensive, hiring a PR firm saves you time that you can then devote to other aspects of your business.
PR is a long game. It takes time to build relationships, and along the PR journey you’ll encounter many “no”s. So it calls for stick-to-it-iveness. But with sustained efforts, you will see results. And there’s no doubt about it: a solid PR strategy elevates the brand platform, builds validation, and, when the time comes, makes buying/ hiring an easy choice. In this way, PR helps a business grow.
Horowitz Agency is a full-service integrated marketing and public relations agency with over 15 years of experience in the professional services industry. Our team boasts a deep bench of talent that allows us to craft individualized PR approaches uniquely catered to our clients’ needs. We can help your firm optimize business strategy and grow exponentially. Reach out to us and let’s discuss ways we can help.