Public relations. It has long held a reputation as an elusive industry.
PR is a bit of an all-encompassing term. It can cover everything from publicity and interviews with key members of the media to experiential events and blogging.
On the client side, you may not be privy to what goes into a public relations campaign – you just know that you want your name out there; you want to be known; you want more leads for your business.
On the agency side, skilled public relations professionals understand real and lasting results don’t come from a quick snap of the fingers. A well-defined strategy is a must. And this strategy must be supported by tactics that will produce results.
What am I saying in laymen terms? Not every public relations campaign is the same and no single tactic will generate results. A good PR plan needs to be reverse engineered based on mutually agreed upon goals. From there, your PR team can develop the best possible plan of action.
But, if you are new to the industry, or seeking to hire a public relations firm for the first time, you may not know what you need in order to help your business grow.
For decades, the public relations industry as a whole has often been mistaken for media relations. In reality, the industry, and the skillsets its professionals possess is much more.
From the nation’s top PR firms to agencies in local markets throughout the United States, public relations specialists integrate communications services to drive results. Why? Consider the impact digital marketing and social media strategies provide from a messaging and promotional standpoint. Not only can PR professionals place stories in influential publications, but they can also take their clients’ messages and amplify them direct to target audiences on various digital platforms.
Now, before we get ahead of ourselves and talk about the integration of PR with social media and digital marketing, let’s break down some key services you should consider when looking to hire a public relations firm.
Remember when I mentioned reverse engineering? This is where strategy development comes in. You must have clearly defined goals when engaging in public relations. It is too easy to get sidetracked or, worse yet, dilute your plan with unnecessary tactics. A good public relations firm will start with strategy development. They will delve into your strengths and weaknesses, ask what makes you unique, identify the core personas you need to engage with, and, most importantly, define what success looks like to you. From there, they can use their expertise to define a communications program that will attract, engage and drive results.
This is where the age-old adage of, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it,” comes in. This is a big part of public relations. The image you create for yourself and how you communicate this outwardly is of the utmost importance. A good public relations team will help you define your mission, vision and, goals in an attractive and compelling way. They will take your competitors into consideration, too. Key messages will be translated into mission statements and elevator pitches, company backgrounders, and words to best associate with the brand. This exercise is very important to media relations. More on that next.
Often confused with public relations as a whole, media relations is an important service PR firms offer. It is how your company or brand engages and interacts with the media. This is often why PR firms are sought-after. They possess the contacts, or access thereof, to take a brand’s core messaging and turn it into compelling stories for the media to cover. The outcome of media relations is often thrilling: a feature in a lifestyle magazine or a TV interview on your local news channel. Media relations is a very time-consuming process that requires diligence, creativity, and an understanding of how the press operates. It isn’t a quick fix, but rather an investment that pays dividends.
Many publicists and PR pros got their start in the industry because they have a background in writing or are former journalists. Content marketing is an important piece of the PR puzzle because of the opportunities that owned content possess. While media relations offers endorsements from the press, which creates credibility, content marketing creates the ability to take brand messaging and translate it into valuable pieces of content that can live on your own channels – websites, blogs, etc. Content marketing helps promote your product or service, attracts consumers, and drives leads. In short, it is an ideal complement to media relations creates by driving authority and credibility in a client’s industry.
Social Media Marketing
Much like content marketing, social media offers a manageable platform for a PR team to grow an audience and amplify a message. A good public relations team will look to their initial strategy and persona identification to determine the appropriate social channels by which to grow and engage an audience. Is the target a millennial market or does it have more of a B2B focus? These questions will help identify where and how to invest in social media to support an overall PR campaign.
Events and Experiential Marketing
Public relations is often about getting people talking about a product or service. To do this, PR firms will look at the benefits of promotional events and experiential marketing opportunities to do just that. Festivals and events like SXSW and Art Basel are key examples of experiential marketing in action. The benefits of engagements of this kind are varied. Brands can connect directly with consumers, grow their audience and build brand loyalty.
With the popularity of the social media landscape, media relations has grown to include outreach with social influencers. For decades, brands and businesses turned to media relations because of the credibility it builds. Today, tried and true tactics media relations tactics also translate to the social landscape and include outreach and engagement with influencers.