Not many people know what public relations is, exactly.
Oftentimes, it is either confused with marketing and advertising or is completely dismantled from any legitimacy in doing good. The historical development of PR has framed it to be an “unethical spinning scheme” to highlight or dissuade someone or something’s image. And while history has made that PR’s past, today it stands as one of the most critical operations of any organization.
Before diving into the reasons why PR is essential for every organization, a corrected lens must place transparency on what it does.
At its most fundamental level, public relations serves as the link between an organization and the public that bridges respectful, mutually beneficial communication. This communication is built on the trust an organization builds with its public over time which in return creates, cultivates, strengthens, and fosters relationships.
The Foundation of Public Relations is Relationship-Building
At first glance, this relationship appears to mostly yield intangible, messy, and unpredictable results.
However, if used and maintained correctly, good PR allows for any business or organization to position themselves as a valuable resource in enhancing a brand’s image, creating a cohesive brand identity for internal and external stakeholders, and showcasing the evolution of that identity through various media platforms and messaging styles.
Public Relations: A Strategic Communications Tool
PR adds value. A value with explicit and implicit ties to generating new leads, new referrals, new networks, and new opportunities.
PR increases brand awareness, overall sentiment of an organization and its services, and contributes to the dissemination of knowledge that furthers your message to its intended audience.
Public relations is in itself a commodity.
The Science Behind Public Relations
In a 2014 Nielsen study, it was shown that PR was nearly 90% more effective than traditional advertising when it comes to consumer decision-making.
This is to no surprise when you look at PR holistically as an organic, authentic communications strategy. Unlike any other business tool, PR leads the symmetrical dialogue between the public and the organization in a way that is agile, humanistic, and relational, attracting new customers and investors through well-matched relationships and targeted placements.
With advertising, you’re buying space. With public relations, you’re building relationships.
Public Relations Is A Proactive And Reactive Tool
Public relations is a proactive and reactive tool which means a constant evaluation is necessary to produce accurate messaging that aligns with the organization’s or campaign’s overall objectives and goals.
Evaluating PR can be done through both empirical evidence and qualitative analysis. PR practitioners can easily measure the effectiveness of their overarching strategy in tandem with executed marketing tactics by measuring specific data such as the conversion rate, engagement rate, bounce rate, source of traffic, and much more. While these metrics are used to assist the understanding of, and draw an assumptive correlation between social media efforts and brand revenue, it also provides insight into the intangible tactics that are working or not working.
By comparing inbound efforts with outbound results, the high overview picture paints PR as an exceptionally wise investment– even if no numbers are explicitly tied to that one cold pitch, or that one press release.
As a PR practitioner, it can be difficult to know which KPIs to set sight on, because not all can be measured start to finish, and of course, we want to see data that matches cause with effect.
An underlying rule of thumb that will always support any KPI strategy is to make sure that your social media (including website) KPIs should mimic your brand KPIs.
Broken down: if the desired marketing outcome is to increase brand awareness, then your data and content-oriented tactics should aim to increase brand awareness, too.
And while that may seem obvious, unfortunately, more often than not an organization or brand gets too caught up in the day to day metrics of each post such as likes, comments, engagement rate, etc., rather than viewing the high-level strategic investment that occurs through band conversation, referrals, awareness, and word of mouth marketing.
Of course, how many new followers and engagement rates matter, but unless those followers and engagement rates are directly contributing to a conversion lead, then large numbers do very little (which is generally the default of paid advertising).
This evaluation is critical for ensuring that your PR streamlines efficiently and effectively through to revenue. The more efficient your public relations engine is, the better you’re able to control the narrative around your brand, respond to the current social environment, and showcase to your audience where your values lie.
The time we’re living through right now is a perfect example of why both proactive and reactive communications are essential. It feels like every three weeks, we’re living in a fundamentally different world. Things aren’t just changing dramatically, they’re changing faster than ever before making it difficult for brands and organizations to stay abreast of an audience’s needs.
Through tactful PR, an organization can adapt to prevent communication crises, live on the frontier of current events, and respond quickly and appropriately to critiques, questions, or praise. While these efforts can be difficult to measure, maintaining an image you want your audience to see is the ultimate return on investment.
Pigeonholing public relations as just “damage control” ignores the incredible utility it offers.
Invest In The Conversation, Not Just The Messaging
PR, unlike paid advertising, invests in not only the messaging but also the conversation.
In leading ethical, proactive conversations with the public, it replaces the traditional client-customer transactional relationship, with a transformational one. Public relations is a key tool for measuring the intent of an organization’s messaging and how the public’s perception of the messaging differs, allowing for environmental changes to take place to improve communication. In exchange for services, customers who you’ve earned the trust and high regard from will evangelize your brand because they want to. Not because they were paid to.
Conversations where organizations provide both a voice and ear, catalyze earned opportunities as well as the distribution of shared and owned media.
Conversation as a PR strategy ultimately increases an organization’s profitability through good relationships and trusted resources usually at little to no cost except time.
Strategy Meets Service
So what does this all really mean, and how does PR strategy meet service?
While each client is unique, we implement a universal standard of merit to the work that we do at BW Missions. From defining the space, audience, and messaging of our clients to creating content that amplifies and carries those messages to the intended audience, we undertake dozens of different PR services.
While PR cannot function on its own, the following public relations services are supported by marketing and advertising tactics:
- Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned media
- Increase brand awareness
- Press Release
- Book launch
- Communications strategy
- Content Strategy
- Changing sentiment, behavior, knowledge
- Monitoring and evaluation of communications strategies
- Maintain and strengthen brand reputation
- Media Relations
Communication begets a profound impact when used correctly, consciously, and creatively. At BW Missions, our communication efforts stem from our values and core culture of integrity and creativity. We are stewards of missions, and we take that role seriously.
By optimizing the behavior, interests, and psychographics of your target audience, we command and compel audiences to join your mission and rally behind your ideas.
Our media relations and promotional strategies preserve your brand’s identity throughout the entire process. By carefully measuring and constantly re-evaluating, we realign and enhance our tactics and strategies to ensure met ROIs and key objective outcomes.
Showcasing your brand through our own social channels and newsletters is our favorite undertaking. We have placed podcasts with rising entrepreneurs and marketing gurus, a former Ninja Warrior Contestant, and a Comedy Central bad@$$. Our clients have seen exciting results, such as finding their footing as new “Best-Selling Authors” or newfound LinkedIn community leaders. This is all to say: we don’t plan on slowing down.