WHAT DOES PUBLIC RELATIONS MEAN TO YOU? BY LIESL SIMPSON, MD AT EVOLUTION PR 5 June 2019

Many companies have a perception of what Public Relations (PR) is. More often than not, they confuse PR with marketing, branding and advertising. A key challenge that PR agencies face is presenting and explaining what PR is and the value derived from engaging with a PR partner. So, what are some of the perceptions of PR, what is it in reality and how can it help your business?

We already have a marketing department that does this...
The most common phrase used by prospective clients before an explanation can be provided on PR is as follows: "We already have marketing person/department that does our Advertising and Website."

Although PR is a component of the greater marketing bouquet of services, PR does not fulfil all of these departments' functions. This lack of understanding often flows through the entire organisation.

Public Relations - Defined
Wikipedia has a lovely definition of PR. It is described as the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organisation such as...' This continues for another paragraph or two and by the third sentence, confusion sets in.

The promise of PR
Unfortunately, it is usually the companies that reject PR that need it the most. When a company experiences financial difficulties, PR is one of the first budgets to be cut. Even when these companies end up understanding the concept, they find themselves questioning the value PR can bring to their company. PR can assist with negative media as if a PR and communications strategy is in place, the company would already have a positive reputation in the media and their industry which can soften the "blow". Additionally, the PR agency would also have a plan in place to off-set the negative focus in a proactive manner. However, the main goal of PR is to build the business' reputation.

To PR or not to PR
Remember, PR is not advertising or marketing, it brings its own value to the business table. It adds credibility to anything directly communicated from the business itself and humanises it in the process. Although you may know that your business is ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest trends, PR makes sure that your customers know too. This highlights PR's use in facilitating how a business creates and sustains relationships with its markets and enhances its reputation, leading to healthy profit margins and long-term sustainability.

The value PR can bring lies in the picture it depicts of your company. For example, a smaller company can be positioned as a larger, more formidable business with significant knowledge and experience.

It's all about telling your story in your own words
PR allows a company to shape the perception of their business in a positive manner by reaching the appropriate target markets through the media. It tells the story of the company, its value proposition, the company culture and why it exists. It provides a platform for customers to tell the intended target markets how great the business is and importantly, creates top of mind awareness. Keep this in mind next time somebody calls and asks if you require a PR agency.