Series: How to Optimize Public Relations for your Business Growth (Article 2 - PR)
Updated: Oct 12
In our business communications series we’ve been tackling the ins and outs of the detailed differences between sales, marketing, and public relations. You may lead a team of three and have your fingers in every pile - we get it. If your business is a bit larger, you may have the ability to have varied departments handle each and every angle, and, of course, regardless of size and profit margin, there’s always the option to head outside your own four walls and seek the talents of others. Regardless of your impending needs - we’re here to help guide you in the direction of all things public relations.
What is PR and when is it used?
According to the Public Relations Society of America, public relations is defined ‘as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics’. The role of a public relations professional is vast. You’ll find those individuals tackling things like: writing press releases, media story pitches, garnering speaking engagements for their clients, creating talking points, forging relationships with media and industry insiders, focusing on a company’s messaging, and putting out fires when necessary. Their success metrics are measured by speeches, positive press notions, awards, social media and industry buzz, and an uptick in the public’s knowledge about the company and its mission. PR is more of a long term endeavor than instant gratification. It takes more than a minute to develop media relationships and enhance a company/organization’s positive public image. Engaging in a public relations campaign is just that, a relationship with the public and if successful, the results are endless.
How does PR differ from sales?
As we know from our previous endeavors, sales is about an exchange of money for products or services, yet both involve relationship building. While that sale does involve some form of relationship, the one cultivated by the PR professionals is with a larger audience of the public, the media, and potentially other businesses and organizations. The sale itself collects money, the public relations, for all intents and purposes, collects image, brand equity, and a place in society. One begets the other. A positive relationship with the public can help to establish a brand and enhance a reputation which may, in turn, facilitate an influx in sales and an increase in the company’s bottom line. Public relations is more that intangible nuance that while it may be difficult to measure, it’s quite noticeable when it’s absent.
How does PR differ from marketing?
In many organizations, marketing collides with public relations. However, the two are definitely different. We know that ‘marketing supports the sales team; PR supports the larger brand – marketing handles advertising; PR handles press’. Yet, in the new world of social media, the merge between the two is murky at best. Put simply, public relations handles image while marketing promotes products and services. The former maintains public perception, the latter, market research and advertising. Without question, while, ‘PR does help amplify your marketing efforts...that’s only a fraction of the true benefit. PR isn’t just a marketing function; it supports all areas of your business if done right’. In truth, regardless of which camp you may sit in, there is a symbiotic relationship between the two.
When would you choose to outsource PR?
Each and every business/organization is different. While each will naturally benefit from sales, marketing, and public relations - one may have a small team with a small budget while the other a global entity with a budget of epic proportions. However, when you can’t go it alone, it’s time to ask for help. When it’s too much to tackle all the minutiae of it all, bring in the professionals. They’ll help ‘establish a business as part of the community’. Perhaps, it’s the act of delegating some of the roles to the PR mavens who can boost those relationships, enhance your image, and place your business/organization in the positive perspective of the public. With one more thing off your plate, you can get back to what you do best.
Public Relations is not a momentary act - it’s a lengthy commitment to that powerful creation of brand equity. It’s that ‘brand equity [that] affects not just the entire funnel from top to bottom but also other areas of your business, from executive visibility to recruitment to funding to customer retention’. Consider the difference between Usain Bolt’s under ten second Olympic sprint and the gold medalist in the decathlon. Both hold auspicious records and have pride of place in our record books - yet one does not overtake the other. Public relations is the decathlon of business communications. ‘A well-positioned, contiguous marathon campaign can make your brand and executives true thought leaders [and] your stakeholders instantly more interested in your messages’. The benefit of public relations is understood by first time entrepreneurs and big time mega moguls. Bill Gates reminded us all of the power of that image and equity when he said, ‘If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations’. And, since many of us have heard of Bill Gates and his little company called Microsoft, it’s definitely worth the effort.