A good public relations (PR) strategy can be one of the most cost-effective marketing tactics to grow your business. Many startups and entrepreneurs often overlook or are unclear about the benefits of PR when creating their business plan. When properly implemented and at the right time, effective PR results in long-lasting relationships, credibility and trustworthiness of your brand built over time.
Marketing vs. Public Relations (PR)
The distinctions between marketing and public relations (PR) have blurred with the emergence and shift to digital media. Today, both disciplines share similar objectives and activities. In many organizations PR falls under the marketing umbrella. Marketing includes the full range of brand communication from advertising to sales through public relations and corporate social responsibility.
Public relations encompasses tools, processes and external relations used to engage and communicate with the public. The goal of PR is to establish credibility, create and build brand awareness, generate interest, provide information, and stimulate demand.
In 2012, the Public Relations Society of America developed a crowd-sourced definition:
"Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics." – PRSA
How Public Relations Can Help Grow Your Business
The power of PR is the ability to establish credibility of your business from a third party. When consumers observe media coverage of a product or service, it has much more perceived value than traditional advertisements. People are six times more likely to pay attention to news stories and more likely to believe endorsements in editorial content nine times more than advertisements making the same claims. Good media placement can dramatically increase sales and contribute to your overall bottom line.
Public relations (PR) and search engine optimization (SEO) have become very similar and go hand in hand. Both SEO and PR rely on credible third party endorsements. They are both about getting attention from people as well as raise positive awareness of your brand and building trust. Since part of the way search engines rank your site is by the external links pointing to your website, public relations helps with SEO by getting mentions and links from reputable publishers.
Is Your Business Ready for PR?
Knowledgeable marketing and PR communications consultants know when it’s the right time for your brand to connect with the media. Engaging with publicity services when you are not ready could result in disappointment, waste of valuable time, unnecessary expenses and can damage your long-term communication plans.
Here are some things to ask yourself and your team before launching a PR campaign:
1) What are the objectives of the project and public relations initiatives?
2) What makes your brand unique and stand out from the competition in the marketplace?
3) Do you have proven results and/or proof of concept?
4) Can you handle the traffic that the media can bring? (Customer service, production, server technology, etc.)
Many new business owners, first time entrepreneurs and startups don't fully understand marketing and public relations. Good marketing and PR consultants know what needs to be done, when things should be done and how much should be invested in effective PR and the right media outlets to maximize your ROI.