As a business owner, how do you keep your stakeholders happy, and ensure positive brand perception among your customers?
Well, clearly, you’d think the same way you would in any relationship — clear, effective communication, the best way to foster a healthy relationship! So what we should ask ourselves next is: how do you effectively bridge the gap between a business and its stakeholders?
Enter public relations (PR).
What is PR?
The long version: PR is a set of techniques or strategic communication processes that focuses on managing the spread of information and messaging about an organisation or individual.
The short version: PR involves managing how others see and feel about a person, brand, or company.
The takeaway: PR focuses on maintaining a positive individual or corporate image, while handling media requests and shareholder inquiries. It relies on using selected communication strategies to develop a positive brand image and disseminate industry-impacting information.
These methods can range from media relations and event planning, to social media management, and — when needed — crisis communication.
A PR strategy’s target is to enhance an organisation’s image and reputation, promote its products or services, and build trust with its stakeholders.
In other words, PR aims to make you, or your business look good and communicate this to your stakeholders (your customers, investors, etc.).
So yes, PR has a vital role in business growth and development — which makes the number of persistent misconceptions about the field surprising. Unfortunately, these misconceptions are enough to discourage businesses from investing in (and reaping the benefits of) a strong PR strategy.
But, no fear — that’s why we’re here to shed some light on the situation.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right into Elliot & Co’s Myth-Busting 101: Debunking Popular PR Myths.
PR Myths Vs. Facts
Myth #1: PR is the same as advertising
Reality: No it isn’t! Advertising and PR are distinct fields which share a common goal; to increase brand visibility.
Advertising involves paid media and focuses on driving sales through targeted ads, while PR involves earned media that builds trust and brand reputation through networking and other communication methods.
Put simply, advertising involves direct publicity, and is driven by profit generation. PR consists of organic publicity for a brand or business by creating awareness of a company or brand through networking or other similar methods.
(Still a little fuzzy on the difference? Get a more in-depth look at how paid and earned media differ here!)
Myth #2: PR is just about getting media coverage
Reality: Nope, PR is actually about relationships.
It involves building and maintaining relationships with stakeholders, namely customers, employees, investors, and the media — developing effective strategies of branding and communication to curate a specific corporate image which positions the client to their best possible advantage.
More than that, PR strategies aim to build trust and improve a client’s credibility in the eyes of its stakeholders.
Myth #3: PR is only for big corporations with large budgets
Reality: There’s no size limit to investing in PR.
PR campaigns are a cost-effective method of marketing, giving you results while saving funds — something businesses of all sizes and budgets can benefit from.
Small businesses can use PR to build brand awareness, carry out product positioning, and generate publicity to develop credibility with their target audience. It’s all about using strategic communication to build relationships with local media, develop effective media plans, and create compelling content.
Myth #4: PR is just about spinning and manipulating the media
Reality: PR professionals do not control the media (as much as we wish we did).
The relationship between these professionals and members of the media is one of mutual respect, where we work to build honest and transparent relationships with the media and other stakeholders.
Rather than controlling the flow of information, we aim to provide accurate and timely information to communicate with the press and public in a smart, effective way.
Myth #5: PR doesn’t directly impact a company’s bottom line
Reality: Contrary to popular belief, effective PR campaigns can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.
An effective PR strategy sets you up for positive long-term returns, from boosting a company’s reputation and brand image, to possibly driving sales by positioning the company as an industry leader.
This generates more publicity, which then drives customer engagement and increases brand loyalty, ultimately boosting revenue for the business.
Myth #6: PR is a one-time event, not an ongoing process — you only need that one hit
Reality: PR does more than leave you as a one-hit-wonder!
In order to work as effectively as possible, PR strategies of branding require consistent effort and attention to properly plan and develop compelling stories and messages to share with the right audience.
Think of it as a flower — you have to nurture it with the right amount of water, sunlight and fertiliser in order for it to bloom.
At the same time, strategies need to evolve alongside the company’s growth and changes, while staying relevant by keeping track of public sentiment in order to be effective.
Myth #7: PR is only important during crisis situations
Reality: You don’t need to wait for trouble to come knocking before investing in a solid response strategy, especially since only reaching out during a crisis is more likely to give your brand a negative reputation.
Not all publicity is good publicity — and the last thing any business needs is to be referred to as the brand that’s always having some sort of crisis!
PR is all about developing a good reputation and strategic product positioning — effectively showcasing a product (i.e. the business) in the best positive light.
However, curating brand loyalty and trust, which converts into awareness, is an ongoing process and one that takes time.
Having an established PR strategy in place can go a long way towards establishing this. Additionally, if a crisis occurs, PR can help protect your reputation by combating negative publicity — with professionals using expert experience in navigating the media to conserve your business’s positive image.
To get to the heart of it, PR is more than just a marketing strategy and more than its myths!
What it truly is, is a multidimensional discipline that requires consistent effort to build and maintain stakeholder relationships.
PR campaigns work to uplift small businesses and SMEs in many ways, including building brand awareness and enhancing the reputation and credibility of a business.
PR campaigns also generate media coverage and increased visibility — which in turn drive traffic and sales towards a business — while developing and strengthening relationships with stakeholders.
By understanding the reality of PR and the truth behind the common PR myths, businesses can instead understand the many benefits of PR and use them to their advantage as they work to achieve long-term success.