PR is ‘all about the way organisations communicate with the public, promote themselves, and build a positive reputation and public image’, according to the world’s largest professional PR body PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Association).
This definition is simple to understand, isn’t it? And many of us – whether working in, or alongside it – recognise that PR has become an integral part of the media landscape. Nevertheless, there is still confusion about what PR is and what it does, with many misconceptions continuing to pepper conversations PRs hold with those outside the industry.
To help give you a better understanding of PR and what it can achieve, Custard outlines three myths it often hears about PR and sets about busting them.
Myth: PR is just writing and distributing press releases
Busted: Let’s be clear – writing and distributing press releases to the media on behalf of your organisation IS a task undertaken by PR professionals, but it’s just one slice of the PR pie. It is a PR professional’s responsibility to try and influence the media to represent your organisation in a positive light. Packaging up news in a press release, then ensuring it gets to the right people and publications, is one step towards achieving that, but it’s certainly not the only route there.
A reputable PR agency will identify numerous avenues down which to push your organisation’s message to help you build a positive reputation and ensure you are talked about for all the right reasons. These include shaping messaging on your own organisation’s website/s, contributing comment to features journalists are writing on topics relevant to your cause, identifying awards to enter (and writing winning entries), securing you an opportunity to speak at an event and preparing you to talk directly to the media.
That said, you should never underestimate the power of distributing a well-crafted press release to the publications that matter when there is news to share it’s just this should be part of the grand PR masterplan, not the only plan if you want to make PR work for you and your business.
Myth: If you advertise, you don’t need PR
Busted: It’s true, advertising and PR have a shared aim in that they get your brand or product ‘seen’, but the way in which they achieve this is very different and the outcomes of advertising and PR campaigns can also vary wildly, so they should never be considered an either/or.
To understand why you might need both, it is worth looking at what you want to achieve for your business. Advertising, often referred to as ‘paid’ media, is designed to encourage its target audience to buy a particular product or service, whereas PR, known as ‘earned’ media is a more subtle brand recognition tool with additional benefits and added credibility.
PR has a broader remit and should not be overlooked for the quick boost to business you might get from an advertising campaign.
The best way to understand how both can work is to chat through your requirements with a PR agency. And if you need further persuasion, I’ll leave Richard Branson to make the final point: “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.”
Myth: It’s impossible to measure the ROI of PR
Busted: The intangible nature of PR means it is harder to see the direct financial benefits of it than say, when a restaurant invests in a new, more efficient coffee machine. However, PR, when done right, certainly does provide a return on investment and it is not impossible to measure it.
The emergence of digital media – and the development of tools to monitor it – means it is easy to gain a more accurate picture of how many people have read news of your brand and who is interested in it. It is also possible to track links through to a business, allowing you to see how well-placed content can lead to potential sales.
There are ways PR pays off in print too. The uplift in bookings a hotel receives after it has been put forward for inclusion in a relevant feature in the travel section of one of the Sunday papers is no coincidence – it’s thanks to PR.
There is a plethora of tools available to monitor and measure results of PR campaigns, but they are dependent on individual circumstances, so as previously mentioned, the best way to get PR to work for you is by discussing your business’s wants and aims with an agency who understands and who, most importantly, will work hard to ensure you see a return on your investment.
Let Custard bust your PR myths and show how we can help you and your business by contacting the team here