Samantha from Sex in the City is still one of the most iconic public relations professionals on network television; an iconic character that is also fictional.
Her profession seemed to exude glamour and excitement. Samantha never failed to mention the lavish parties she attended on Tuesday nights and certainty didn’t miss an opportunity to network with the most attractive men at the bar.
Samantha is not a credible example of a public relations professional. She is, however, a reminder that public relations (PR) is often misunderstood.
So, what is PR and why is public relations important? Let’s dive in!
What is PR?
Public relations sits under the umbrella of communications and marketing. It is considered earned media in the world of traditional media. Unlike advertising, which is paid, public relations relies on a good story and the genuine interest of journalists.
Public relations is the strategic process of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. A successful public relations strategy builds mutually beneficial relationships between the two parties.
Although PR professionals are often referred to as spin doctors, that isn’t the goal of most working in the field, nor is it the role of PR. Persuasion and deception are against the Public Relations Code of Ethics.
Public relations professionals have a commitment to their clients and the public to truthfully promote their clients by third-party endorsements (journalists and media professionals). The Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) definition of PR is “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
What Does a Publicist Do?
Publicists are the middlemen between the public and their client. They strategically target media opportunities and outlets in order to get their clients press. Being a publicist can include daily activities like event planning, pitching producers and journalists, building relationships with the media, and creating social media campaigns in an ever-evolving digital world.
Although not all publicists are a varying version of Samantha, many can experience a somewhat “glamorous” career.
When working with the media or large clients, publicists often have to form meaningful and professional relationships with a wide range of people, many of whom work for well-known brands, news outlets, or networks.
Why is Public Relations Important?
Businesses constantly want to see ROI and functions like advertising are much easier to measure.
For example, if Nike is running an advertisement on ABC at prime time, Nielsen can measure the reach and numbers of the audience tuned in. Although advertising is important to any business, public relations serves a far broader purpose.
In contrast, public relations professionals aim to get their client genuine press coverage and exposure, and this is what makes public relations important, and it’s also one of the benefits of public relations.
When a consumer sees a television ad, they know the company has paid and produced the content. When a journalist writes an article about a client because they have an interesting story or their product is filling a hole in the market, the journalist is giving a third-party endorsement. They’re not paid but rather choosing to highlight a business, brand or person.
As a result, the increase in brand awareness and credibility that comes from this earned media, along with an increase in leads and sales from a business standpoint, are just some of the advantages of public relations.
What is a Press Release?
A press release is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something claimed as having news value.
Press releases are typically issued by government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations and are intended to capture the attention of reporters, editors, and producers. A public relations firm will often prepare and distribute press releases on behalf of their clients.
What is Publicity?
While public relations is the strategic process of managing the spread of information between an organization and its publics, publicity is the unplanned or unmanaged result of that process.
Publicity can be good or bad, but it’s always newsworthy.
For example, a company that’s been in business for years can receive sudden and unexpected publicity when it becomes the victim of a data breach. In this case, the publicity is negative and not something the company would have wanted.
On the other hand, a small business that’s getting ready to launch its first product can go viral on social media, receiving positive attention and an influx of customers it may not have otherwise had.
What is Lifestyle PR?
Lifestyle PR is a type of public relations that focuses on promoting a brand or product by associating it with a particular lifestyle.
Lifestyle PR is often used in the fashion, beauty, and luxury industries. For example, a clothing company might partner with an up-and-coming designer to promote its new line of clothes.
In this case, the company is using the designer’s name and reputation to generate interest in its own products.
What are the Different Types of Public Relations?
There are many different types of public relations, but some of the most common include:
- Media relations: Building relationships with members of the news media and pitching story ideas to them.
- Crisis management: Planning and executing a strategy to minimize the negative impact of a crisis situation.
- Event planning: Organizing events such as press conferences, product launches, and trade shows.
- Investor relations: Managing the relationship between a company and its investors.
- Public affairs: Defining and promoting the interests of an organization to the public.
- Branding: Creating and managing the brand identity of an organization.
Has PR Changed Since COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of public relations.
Many companies have had to change their PR strategies in order to adapt to the new reality.
For example, many companies have shifted their focus from traditional media relations to digital and social media.
Some companies have also begun using virtual events and experiences to reach their audiences.
The bottom line is that PR has definitely changed since COVID-19, but it’s still an essential part of any business’s marketing mix and it’s just as crucial as ever.
How Can PR Help Your Business?
No matter your industry or field, PR can play a tremendous role in ensuring the success of your brand and business. But how? Consider the following top five reasons:
1) Provides Understanding of Your Target Audience: In order to be successful, you need to understand your target audience. You can’t sell anything to anyone if you don’t understand them. It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many businesses make the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone, but a good PR firm will know how figure out who your target audience should be, and then help you find the best communicate with them and get your message across in a way that resonates.
2) Increases Brand Awareness and Credibility: As we mentioned before, one of the main advantages of public relations is the ability to increase brand awareness and credibility. When a company or individual is featured in the news, whether it’s on TV, in print, or online, it creates a sense of trust and credibility that advertising can’t always provide.
3) Increases Sales and Leads: This really goes hand-in-hand with the boost in brand awareness and credibility. The more well-known and widespread your brand becomes, the greater opportunities there are for increasing leads, sales, and revenue.
4) Provides Ability to Influence: While advertising allows you to control the message, public relations gives you the opportunity to influence the message. You can do this by working with reporters and journalists to ensure they have all the information they need about your company or product, which then allows them to write an accurate story that paints you in a positive light.
5) Helps You Save Money: Public relations can be more cost effective than advertising, especially if you’re a small business or startup. By utilizing free press opportunities, such as being featured in an article or on a local news station, you can get your name out there without spending a lot of money. While advertising is important to any business, public relations serves a far broader purpose. In contrast, public relations professionals aim to get their client genuine press coverage and exposure, and this is what makes public relations important.
It’s crucial to know the importance of public relations whether you’re a business owner, consumer or young professional looking to get into the field. Having the ability to determine the difference between paid and earned media is a significant skill for anyone.
Although the common misconception of publicists is that they’re spin doctors and alter the truth to fool the public, we’re here to tell you that our profession is far from such. What a publicist does is work to generate awareness of clients and respectfully earn the attention of the public.
We hope this has answers your questions on what is PR and why it’s important! If you have any more questions, or if you’re interested in learning more about our PR services, reach out online or by phone today.