Public Relations can help businesses in a number of ways, from generating goodwill and trust to steering public conversation and opinion, can it help you?
What is Public Relations?
Public relations (PR) involves deliberately managing the release and spread of information between a business and the public to influence the public perception. It involves persuading the way the public perceives the business through earned or unpaid methods, which is what separates PR from marketing and advertising.
The reason PR professionals operate is to build narratives that protect or build their business’s reputation. They do this by finding messages within the organisation and translating them into positive stories to give to the public.
PR is very important for small businesses to grow and for consumers to find out about them and be influenced to purchase their product or service. It might involve writing press releases, speeches, pitches to journalists, planning special events and forming crisis strategies.
The key difference of PR compared to advertising is that PR is earned where advertising is purchased.
What are the benefits?
There are many benefits to implementing a PR strategy for your business. Small businesses might not think they need PR, but it is a lot more important than you might realise!
Upset customers can really diminish a business’s reputation – especially small ones. One of the key elements of PR is crisis management and monitoring, so you will have strategies in place to prevent negative attention getting out of hand and squash it right at the source.
The biggest benefit and purpose of PR is to be your own news source and have a level of control over what is being said about your business. It is an opportunity to tell your story in front of your target market and increases visibility of your products or services so you have more opportunities for sales.
PR is the best way for businesses to create trust. Customers are more likely to use businesses that they trust and PR can really foster that. The earned nature of publicity such as word of mouth, customer testimonials and editorial content are more trustworthy and effective than paid advertising methods: Who are you more likely to trust, the person who made the product or someone who purchased it?
Utilising PR can also raise your profile so you can become one of the go-to organisations in your field. PR tools like media articles, blogs, speaking engagements and social media interactions are a great opportunity to show off your expertise and cement yourself as an industry leader.
Basically, when your business gets positive publicity, it will earn people’s attention, establish credibility, raise brand awareness, complement advertising efforts, attract new customers and assist in growing sales.
How can you go about it?
There are many different public relations tools and strategies you can use, and which ones are best will depend on your business type, goals and target market.
There are many ways to implement public relations through the media, including writing expert articles and opinion pieces, pitching potential stories to journalists and sending out press releases.
You could also try promoting your awards and achievements on social media, showcasing examples of work and taking advantage of public speaking opportunities. These are great ways of influencing public perception and having a great deal of control over what is said, you can even respond to negative comments promptly and strategically.
An important tool for prompt responses to what is being said about you in the media is to turn on Google alerts for your business. This means you will be notified every time your business is mentioned online.
Sponsorships or partnerships are a great way to grow your audience or generate goodwill and loyalty, depending on the sponsorship. A way of doing this is sending your product to a public figure, who then may tell their followers about it. If they recommend your product, it can gain you the trust of their loyal followers.