Public Relations: What It Is & What You Need to Know

Public relations can mean a lot of different things and be seen in many various ways.

What do you think of when you hear the term, “public relations“? Maybe you think of a celebrity’s publicist, or a major company’s spokesperson. Perhaps you think of an organization’s strategy on their social networking sites or your mind automatically goes to media relations or a press release. The truth is, public relations (PR) can mean a lot of different things and be seen in a many various ways.

Public Relations Defined

Earlier this year, the Public Relations Society of America led an industry-wide campaign to modernize the definition of public relations. They came up with, “public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” So basically it’s how an organization communicates with people. This can be done in a wide variety ways, including:

  • Media relations, whether through a full campaign or just pitching queries as appropriate.
  • Content creation, which can include anything from email marketing (developing e-newsletters) and blogging to developing white papers and other various collateral.
  • Social media, which often includes managing various social networking sites.
  • Event management, such as hosting or promoting events.
  • Advertising, either through traditional ad buys or through mobile and online channels.

What You Need to Know About Public Relations

As a small business owner, it’s important to know a few basics about the public relations field before you hire a firm or consultant to manage your media relations, social networking sites or any other component of your company’s PR.

  1. Public relations is a slow and steady approach. Don’t expect to begin a PR campaign and end up with sales shooting through the roof overnight. Remember, public relations helps an organization communicate with the public, which means your brand awareness and name recognition should increase over time. For example, building a strong presence through social networking sites can take a while. In addition to setting up the page, you need to attract fans and keep them engaged over time.
  2. Look at more than the bottom line. Simply looking at your company’s sales won’t give you the full picture of how public relations is helping your business. It’s also important to look at your website analytics, mentions in the media (especially if media relations is part of your strategy), customer interaction and much, much more.
  3. You get what you pay for. I get it – budgets are tight, especially for small business owners. But depending on an unpaid intern or a college student you hired for the summer isn’t going to be a good long-term approach for your company’s public relations efforts. If your heater broke, would you fix it yourself or hire a professional? The same is true for PR. Public relations professionals are trained in effective content creation, media relations and more, and they have experience working with different audiences via social networking sites, blogs, email and phone. Although you might be able to handle some public relations for your company on your own, your time as a business owner is a valuable commodity and it’s often worth the resources to hire someone that will help you communicate with the public effectively and accurately.

What other questions do you have about public relations? Do you need help with media relations, managing social networking sites or a full PR campaign? Contact us today so we can help!

Special Offer: Three Girls Media & Marketing Inc. loves working with small and emerging companies to raise their brand awareness and name recognition. We offer a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation with our CEO and can answer your questions and discuss your specific brand marketing needs. Email info@ThreeGirlsMedia.com to make your appointment today.

Photo Credit: Horia Varlan

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