I will never forget attending orientation at the college I was planning on enrolling in and realizing I didn’t really know what I wanted to specialize or major in. When I mentioned to my adviser that I really enjoy talking to people, advertising and creative problem solving, he immediately suggested I look into public relations. When I asked what that was, I’ll never forget his answer: “There is no definite definition.” What in the world doesn’t have a definition? How can you get a four year degree in a subject with no definition?
Intrigued, confused and wanting to learn more, I blindly attended the lecture which introduced freshmen to the basics of the subject. I left the meeting thinking public relations was an umbrella term for a mixture of marketing, advertising and communication efforts. It wasn’t until about two weeks into my Intro to Public Relations class that my professor said, “Public Relations is the art of fixing or upholding an image or persona by being fluent in the ever changing world of advertising, marketing and communication.” That’s when it really clicked and I knew this was the route for me.
Fast forward and here I am now working for Three Girls Media, a boutique content creation and public relations firm out of Yelm, Washington. While thinking of my next topic I concluded that it only made sense to answer the question that I had once asked: What is public relations?
What Is Public Relations?
A public relations professional works with an organization, company, government or individual to cultivate a story that portrays that client’s reputation, idea, product, position or accomplishment in a positive light. So in a sense, you can think of public relations professionals as storytellers. Unlike advertisers, who tell stories through paid methods, these professionals tell their stories through unpaid or earned media.
Public Relations isn’t only used to influence a story after it happens, it’s also used to build the narrative in the first place. Below, author Aashish Pahwa of Feedough lists the primary functions of a public relations manager or agency.
- Anticipate, analyze and interpret public opinion and attitudes of the public towards the brand, and drafting strategies which use free or earned media to influence viewers.
- Draft strategies to support the brand’s every campaign and new moves through editorial content.
- Write and distribute press releases.
- Speech Writing.
- Plan and execute special public outreach and media relations events.
- Write content for the web (internal and external websites).
- Develop a public relations crisis strategy.
- Handle the social media presence of the brand and respond to public reviews on social media websites.
- Counsel employees of the organization with regard to policies, course of action, organization’s responsibility and their responsibility.
- Deal with government and legislative agencies on behalf of the organization.
- Deal with public groups and other organizations with regard to social and other policies of the organization and legislation of the government.
- Handle investor relations.
If you’d like more details about the various types of public relations documents we can help you create, check out this article about eight common PR tools by Three Girls’ Senior Director of Marketing & PR, Emily Sidley.
4 Practical Examples of Public Relations
Here are a few examples of public relations in everyday life.
Let’s say your business just won an award, such as Three Girls Media’s recent, ‘Best Boutique Content Marketing Agency in Washington State’ award. Your business could contract out a team of public relations professionals like our team, and have them spread the news and inform the public in the most creative and effective way possible, such as through social media updates, pitches to local media outlets and a press release
Not only can you use a public relations team to spread the good news regarding your business, but we can also be used for damage control – also known as public relations crisis management. If your business’ reputation has recently been weakened, hire a team of professionals to help. When a company takes backlash from the public about a product mishap or whatever else, their image suffers.
At some point, nearly every business faces some sort of public relations crisis. The way you respond can either give you a much-needed image boost or significantly damage your brand, increasing the risk of alienating your customer base and business partners. It’s especially for your organization to be ready to respond to any public relations crisis quickly and efficiently in this day and age, when news goes viral almost instantly.
In college we actually did numerous case studies on the worst public relations incidents all over the world. Many people remember the Tylenol scandal of 1982, yet the brand is still a trusted resource for consumers in pain. The example of how Tylenol repaired their image and gained public trust back is a testament to the value of public relations as the company hired a team of professionals to recreate their image. If you don’t want to end up on a list of the top Public Relations disasters in history, I’d suggest taking a professionals advice on how to salvage your brand’s image.
Multichannel Public Relations
Multichannel public relations is a joined effort of various different marketing outlets. Reaching the public has evolved from simple print or radio ads. With new age media and influencer marketing, you can get as creative with marketing as you want. Forbes Vice President of Marketing Paul Koulogeorge said, “Today, public relations must be broadened to multiple channels to deepen and expand the reach to target consumers. The message simply cannot break through the clutter when only focused on one medium.”
Return On Investment
In today’s world, consumers are being sold to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether that be on a bus bench, in a public restroom or driving down the highway, we are constantly seeing new brands trying to leave an imprint.
It takes more than a heartwarming story or innovative product launch to earn the spotlight in 2019, however. Increasingly, reporters and publications are being asked to deliver metrics such as article views, clicks, social media shares and likes. Therefore, your brand must be able to offer more than a great story by showing a willingness to help amplify that story across a variety of networks.
This is why our team at Three Girls Media encourages brands to be interested in their metrics so they can be aware of their growth and return on investment with hard numbers. Metrics platforms are helping brands understand their positions by providing a variety of analytics at their fingertips. On a single dashboard, brands can now track things like their share of voice among competitors, true audience metrics and reader engagement with content to determine which avenues and messages are successfully converting. This makes target marketing much easier to track, and allows brands to really analyze their audience.
We know there are no two identical businesses, which is why we create a custom plan for each brand outlining their wants, goals and needs. Looking for more detailed information about implementing an effective public relations strategy? Contact the experts at Three Girls Media for a complimentary 30 minute consultation. We’re happy to discuss tactics that would be valuable for your business as well as ways we might be able to help. Until then, please view our blog for other tips and tricks about the vast world of online marketing.