PR or Public Relations has changed in the past few years. Today, PR has grown manifold to include several other aspects. In simple words, PR is a persuasion business.
But, when asked, very few people can explain the job profile and functions of PR professionals. Nonetheless, a public relations firm helps forge the path for the journey ahead.
Here are the five essential things about PR that you should know from the get-go.
5 Essential Things To Know About PR
# 1 PR is about storytelling
PR professionals create a narrative for the business or brand. They protect, enhance or develop reputations using social or owned (self-produced) media communications.
It takes a lot to put forth a good PR initiative. First, the professionals analyse the company and then find their unique selling propositions (including professional accreditations). The PR team then works around finding positive messages and then translating the same into positive stories.
To give you an example, the Body Shop recently promoted environmental sustainability and biodiversity, along with supporting and raising awareness towards abusive conditions. They did this by transforming their stores into activist hubs to support gender equality. Now, this is branding. And next to branding is putting forth a breath of positive air in the public eye. That is where PR comes in.
Alternatively, when the news is negative, it is PR, once again, to the rescue. A profound example is KFC, the fast-food chain, which, in October 2017, decided to end its relationship with Bidvest Logistics and join forces with DHL.
DHL failed to fulfil a just-in-time order, and that caused a crisis for KFC. KFC, using classic wordplay, rearranged the letters of its brand to FCK on the chicken buckets. The result? It made for a breakthrough campaign.
The above examples align with the idea that public relations specialists are image shapers.
# 2 PR uses an arsenal of tools in getting their message out
As mentioned above, press releases are still crucial. A press release is an official report that is delivered to the news media for informational purposes. Press releases can involve direct announcements for a public release.
Another tool in the mix is speech writing. So, whether you are a motivational speaker, a member of parliament, a celebrity, you would need a well-articulated speech to entice and engage with your listeners.
Public relations also cater to writing pitches about a brand or business and sending the same across to journalists directly. However, the tonality is less formal than press releases. Another form that PR can take is writing and blogging for the internet.
The job of PR professionals also extends to events. There are different types of events; some cater to public outreach and others to media relations. Organizing networking events that help people build their business contacts also forms a part of PR.
Lastly, PR helps with crisis management strategies and social media promotions and responses to negative opinions.
# 3 PR and advertising are not the same
Both these are at polar ends. It is unpaid versus paid.
First, understand that advertising is paid and public relations is earned. PR involves convincing reporters or editors to write a positive narrative about you or your clients, candidates or brands. It could also be about an issue or the latest development.
Whatever be the form, the PR write up features in the editorial sections of magazines, newspapers or websites. This is opposed to the paid media section that caters to advertising messages. The editorial makes the story more credible through independent verification by a reputed third party.
Advertisers and public relations professionals differ on the modus operandi. It is in the advertisers’ best interests to sell you more ads as they earn via commissions.
Hence, advertising agencies tend to tell clients what they want to hear. PR professionals deal with crises and, more so, the creation of long-term relationships. With that said, PR folks will tell clients what they need to hear.
# 4 Traditional media is relevant even today
In today’s day, where social media takes up a lot of our time, the popular perception is that blog posts and tweets are equivalent to quotes in the New York Times or on Forbes. Well, this is a hoax! Although social media augments and amplifies PR efforts, traditional media such as press releases are irreplaceable.
When it comes to social media, you are better off interactively tailoring the announcements for each of your social network audiences. On Twitter, for instance, you will need a breakthrough announcement in 257 characters, leaving 23 characters aside for the link.
Digital PR caters to developing relationships with all the players across the social spectrum. Doing so requires using various techniques such as SEO, social media, online newsrooms, websites and media coverage and others.
When integrating these tactics, note that social media takes care of the content and conversations. Digital PR supports the efforts through research, social audits, identification of influencers and content distribution.
# 5 Ethics are an important consideration
Stakeholders and consumers are seeking authenticity. So if your actions and the company vision and mission statements are in discrepancy, they will not support your brand.
Hence, you should dutifully adhere to the company values and perform your responsibilities with integrity. Fake news should be especially avoided at all costs.
PR professionals have yet another duty to fulfil – understanding irrelevant information and mitigating any controversies.
Public Relations is vital to brands and businesses. Since PR is earnt, it is often a challenging endeavor for brands to attain. But with commitment, integrity and honesty, PR will offer its support and give your business the credibility it deserves. So do not underestimate the power of PR; it stands as the most effective brand-building tool.
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Author: Jessica Davidson