For better or for worse, every brand has a reputation. Sometimes those reputations swing from good to bad and back again; sometimes they are boringly neutral, in need of a little love. That’s where the business of public relations (PR) comes into the picture.
Think of it like this: Do you admire a particular brand, but have a tough time describing why? Or, are you so connected with a brand that you’re able to overlook occasional negative press? You can probably thank some very skilled PR professionals for that. Let’s explore the special kind of behind-the-scenes magic that is PR.
What is Public Relations?
In short, PR tactfully and proactively manages a person, company, or brand’s reputation. To that end, we promote people, products, and initiatives that help portray our client in the most positive light possible. For example, we help spread the word on important initiatives like the Get Back UP Today movement for Allard USA, which helps raise awareness of a common but often ignored condition called Foot Drop. While we don’t sell the Allard braces that help manage that condition, we’re working to drive awareness and foster goodwill for a community movement directly related to those braces.
In addition to promoting what the company is doing publicly, public relations highlights what the company is doing within their organization. Take a look, for example, at a recent story about local Triad McDonald’s employees graduating from the company’s English Under the Arches program. You’ll notice there’s no mention of the “bread and butter” of McDonald’s (e.g. their food) in the article. Nevertheless, it serves to reinforce their brand and presence in the local community.
Public relations tactfully and proactively manages a person, company, or brand’s reputation.
In the unfortunate event that your brand happens to falter in the public eye, we’re the first people on the scene to manage your damage control. Our job is literally to make clients look like rock stars, regardless of the situation. So not only are we proactive “cheerleaders,” we’re also firefighters when the situation calls for it.
— McDonald’s Triad (@McD_Triad) April 20, 2017
Another common source of confusion for people is the difference between public relations and advertising. The biggest distionction? All press, coverage, and attention generated by PR is earned, whereas advertising impressions are paid placements. There is a time and a place for both tactics, but we are more concerned with convincing others to spread the word on your behalf.
How does Public Relations work?
The foundations of public relations are built on one primary driver: the building and maintaining of relationships, both with the media and a client’s audience and community.
Because we are in the business of earned media, we have to rely on reporters, editors, producers, bloggers, and other members of the media to deliver our intended message. Sometimes messages can get lost in translation from pitch to press, but we nevertheless remain diligent to keep the message on-brand and factual.
Our personal connections with these reporters and journalists don’t just help keep our brand messages sharper and more clearly reported. They also mean reporters are more likely to answer the phone each time we come calling. And when we’ve got a story to pitch, you’d better believe we’ll be spending a lot of time on the phone.
And as social media has changed the way journalists and news outlets communicate to the world, so has it changed the way public relations professionals pitch their stories. While we’re building relationships with journalists over the phone or in-person, we’re also building relationships online. We’re using Twitter to connect with journalists hungry for a scoop; we’re using Facebook to connect with audiences in an intimate, 1:1 conversation.
Outside of these human-to-human connections, a public relations professional makes sure that any new initiative, event, or message, is heard loud and clear by influencers within your community. Tactically speaking, we can deliver that result in a few ways:
- Craft and pitch a press release to targeted media and influencer groups
- Provide enhanced media training to company spokespersons
- Connect brands with their community through engaging events
- Utilize social media as a distribution channel and awareness generator
Our strategy will use these tactics in various combinations depending on each campaign we approach, because public relations is an extremely agile art. But no matter what our methodology may be, we work diligently to keep your brand’s image both positive and top-of-mind for the right media players and members of your community.
What can Public Relations do for me?
So by now you might be thinking to yourself, “How does this help me? I can pick up the phone and call a few reporters, right?”
Public relations isn’t just about knowing who to reach out to, but how to reach out to them. Are you on a first-name basis with your local news anchors? Do you know how to pacify an angry customer when they’ve turned against your brand? Can you make any story shine, no matter how straightforward it might be? (For that matter, do you have several hours a day to dedicate to the pitching process? We thought not!)
Public relations may be more time consuming than paying for an advertising placement, but it offers a special kind of value. It gives your delivered message added credibility through validation from a neutral third party. Rather than using all of your budget to tell the world how great your brand is, we get other people to do the preaching on your behalf.
And because the spread of “fake news” is on everyone’s mind, we can’t overstate how valuable a dedicated public relations team can be when dealing with a story about your brand that is grossly exaggerated, or worse: completely false. In fact, a recent study by a professor at Elon University found that fear of fake news stories is a significant concern among brands today.
Public relations gives your delivered message added credibility through validation from a neutral third party.
Above all else, the greatest gift a dedicated public relations team can give you is peace of mind. While you’re busy with the day-to-day tasks of running your business, we’re keeping a finger on the pulse of your community. We’re making sure that you’re being talked about (and talked about in the right ways). We bring the good stories to life, and we make the bad stories go away.
Want to learn more about what it’s like with a few more cheerleaders on your team?