The varied world (and myths) of PR

There is often confusion around what PR is. PR stands for public relations and enables a business or individual to cultivate a positive reputation with the public through various unpaid or earned communications. Essentially, maintaining a favourable image and building beneficial relationships between an organisation, public communities and relevant groups.

While conventionally PR communications have followed channels such as traditional print and digital media, social media, and in-person engagements, in Covid times businesses have had to become bolder and more creative with their PR strategies, re-defining the very practice.

All businesses require some form of PR, especially if they want to grow and compete effectively with the competition. However, without professional and experienced help this can prove quite a struggle.

Confusion and myth seem to surround the marketing industry and in particular PR. Some imagine PR to be a luxury commodity and it seems to be the first thing businesses ditch when the going gets tough. Others envisage the world of designer clothing, long liquid lunches and jargon talk. I imagine people picture the Absolutely Fabulous characters Eddie and Patsy, or the Don Draper character from Mad Men. Nothing could be further from the truth and the following dispels some of the PR myths.

PR is easy, I’ll do it myself…

Many business leaders think they can do all the PR themselves and have the “any fool can write a press release” mentality. There is a lot more to PR than emailing a couple of newspapers then sitting back and waiting for customers to beat a path to your door.

You wouldn’t buy new windows for your home and then try to fit them yourself, you’d hire an expert to do it, safe in the knowledge that it has been done correctly and efficiently.

Maybe one of the most time consuming and tricky facets of PR is striking the right balance between what editors want to publish and what communication a business wants to convey. Most publications are keen not to publish editorial that is ‘sell’, ‘sell’, ‘sell’.

This is where the value of a thought leadership piece or a case study can be highly beneficial. The former could discuss a particular subject, theme or a common problem, and is by-lined by someone within the business. This portrays the business as knowledgeable, engaging and supportive to target markets. Using our unique editor outreach network and our innate knowledge of, and relationships with editors in the B2B media landscape, we are able to steer our clients towards gaining strong media coverage time and time again.

Case studies, on the other hand, focus on promoting application stories, specifically highlighting a company’s capabilities in a more in-depth informative format. These can assist in building recognition of core values, as well as highlighting the features and benefits of a businesses’ products or services.

There is little point in having a great, potentially market leading product or service if you don’t tell ‘everyone’ about it. Hiring a reputable experienced and well connected PR agency to handle things for you can save you money, by ensuring your story spreads far and wide, not to mention saving you time. After all, can you really set aside enough time every week to identify target media, liaise with editors, take calls from advertising executives, and much more?

Effective PR is not something that happens as an afterthought that can be crammed into the last 30 minutes of your working week. It’s all about creating a brand, communicating effectively, building relationships with the right media and fostering an in-depth knowledge of your sector and the audience you are pitching to.

All you need is a press release…

A newspaper or magazine can receive hundreds of press releases a day, so if you are thinking of submitting something it needs to be pretty special. It has to be relevant to both the publication and its readership; while giving it a catchy subject title will help it stand out in the editor’s inbox.

Both press releases and feature articles are fantastic ways to get your messages across to your target audiences and encourage new business opportunities. However, there seems to be confusion among some as to the difference between these two marketing tools. Each have strong benefits but also key differences which make them more suitable for distinct types of promotion, product or service.

Press releases are used to inform a wide audience of your company’s external news via journalists. Successful press releases are succinct and objective, and must be newsworthy or timely. For example, announcing the launch or a new product/service or contract win.

Feature articles are more opinion based and used to cover a specific subject in depth, and can often be more subjective. They are a useful way to impart knowledge, views and raise key issues/topics to your audience. This gives the audience the view that your business knows the industry fully and is an authority on particular topics.

Case studies can also form a key part to any PR strategy, as they provide the opportunity for you to shout about your successes, tell everyone that a major customer has used your product or service and what positive effect it has had on their business. Through offering the customer an insight in to a real-world situation of the usage of a product they can feel reassured and confident in the purchasing decision making process. This of course can then lead to further case study opportunities for you.

PR is all about sales…

Not at all. PR is actually about changing how people feel about a product or service, which in turn should lead to leads and sales. It’s about generating a good reputation and positive public image by means of editorial coverage through a variety of mediums including newspapers, magazines (digital and print), social media or blogs.

Businesses need to use PR to generate credibility which makes it easier for sales teams when they are conversing with others about your product or service. Effective PR is not meant to replace your sales team, but rather support it throughout the entire B2B buyer’s journey.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that  the best press coverage cannot guarantee sales will immediately soar overnight. But communicating your client’s message to the right audience, nonetheless, will increase awareness over time, long after any advertising campaigns have ended.

PR is free…

Yes and no, is the short answer. PR does differ from paid advertising, however putting together a carefully thought-out brand strategy takes time and effort and can incur other costs such as professional photography printing and event planning.

It does on the other hand offer great value for money. People take more notice of editorial than adverts and trust stories more than paid-for adverts.

PR is one of those services where you really do get what you pay for and where a good investment is worth every penny.

Print is dead, so there’s little value in PR…

In today’s technology filled world B2B PR is about covering both traditional print and the digital experience. One that encompasses a variety of shared content including articles appearing on high domain authority websites.

And although many will have you believe print is dead, despite the digital revolution, traditional print media, particularly in the B2B environment, still has a very important part to play in the marketing mix.

In fact, many people still prefer the feel of a tangible magazine. it’s why so many B2B trade journals continue to print editions of their online media.

The future of print remains bright as long as there is a need for businesses to communicate and to stand out from the crowd those that now simply focus on digital content. With print being able to morph into 3D, VR or AR related collateral, print has an enduring power that will always give it a firm stance in a global communications marketplace.

And to sum up…

Great PR is about not only understanding your target audiences and the media they trust, but also recognising what makes a good story for the editor and the wider readership. All this is time consuming…so is it not worth approaching an experienced, well-connected agency to steer your PR in the right direction?

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