Understanding the power of public relations is critical for any business that wants to remain competitive, especially in today’s marketplace. Public relations is a rapidly growing market, with an estimated value of $129 billion by 2025! It is clear that public relations in marketing are no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘need to have’ system for businesses of all sizes.
As technology advances and how we consume information changes, public relations can be integral to your marketing strategy when used correctly. Read on through this PR marketing guide to learn how public relations can be used to achieve your marketing goals.
What Is Public Relations?
Public relations is building a favorable brand image and maintaining positive relationships between an organization and the general public. The public relations industry has evolved significantly over the years. In the past, companies would mainly use PR for crisis management. If a company made a mistake, PR would work to control the damage and repair the company’s reputation (for instance, in case of a cultural blunder).
Nowadays, public relations is used for much more than damage control. A business can use PR to build relationships, create a brand image, and generate leads, amongst many other things, such as:
- Social media management
- Event management
- Media Relations
- Internal communications
- Corporate and social responsibility
Ultimately, public relations is about developing sustainable relationships with your customers and ensuring your brand is perceived how you want.
Why Your Company Needs Public Relations
Public relations is essential if you want to develop loyal relationships with your audience. There are several benefits to using public relations in marketing; you would be surprised how PR can help you achieve your marketing goals.
Build Trust and Credibility
PR in marketing can help you build trust and credibility, which are essential for any business. If your potential customers don’t trust your company, they will not do business with you. To build trust, you need to be transparent and authentic. You need to show your audience that you’re a credible source for the product or service they wish to purchase.
Any PR department aims to ensure that the public perceives the company positively. If you can build a positive brand image, you’re more likely to win over new customers and retain existing ones.
Connect With Your Audience on a Deeper Level
You can turn customers into brand advocates by building relationships and creating connections. Brand advocates are customers who are passionate about your brand and are more likely to recommend your business to others. After all, word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools available.
Increase Brand Awareness
Building brand awareness is one of the key roles of public relations. If people don’t know about your brand, they can’t become customers. PR can help increase brand awareness by getting your company in front of the right people.
Improve Employee Morale
Your employees are your company’s biggest advocates. If they’re happy and engaged, they’re more likely to share their positive experiences with others. PR can also help improve employee morale by communicating company values and messaging to employees.
These internal communications work to ensure everyone is on the same page and striving towards the same goals.
Are PR and Marketing The Same?
While public relations and marketing share some similarities, they are two distinct fields. The main difference between public relations and marketing is that public relations concentrate on brand image, while marketing focuses on advertising products or services.
Marketing is all about persuasion. It’s about convincing people to buy your product or use your service. Public relations, however, is about curating your brand story. While public relations can lead to sales, it’s not the main focus. In a report by Forbes, they found that PR is 90% more effective than advertising, which shows you shouldn’t sleep on PR for your business.
For example, let’s say your business wants to increase sales of a particular product. Your PR team would focus on spreading the word about how great and trustworthy your company is, while your marketing team would create ads and promotions to sell the product.
With this being said, public relations and marketing complement each other. A solid public relations strategy can support your marketing goals and vice versa. This is why it is imperative to have a sold PR base within your marketing strategy.
What Is a PR Strategy in Marketing?
A public relations strategy in marketing is a plan that outlines how you will use PR to support your marketing goals. You must be able to measure the success of your public relations campaigns to create an effective PR strategy. You can do this by setting measurable goals and objectives, such as having a successful product launch or increasing your social media presence by X percent.
You may want to develop a PR strategy that lasts for a specific period, such as 6 months or a year. Alternatively, you can create an ongoing public relations strategy to be continuously tweaked and improved.
You should design your PR strategy to help you achieve your overall marketing goals. To do this, you must understand what your goals are. Once you know what you want to achieve, you can develop a public relations strategy to help you get there.
How To Build a PR Strategy in Marketing
You’ll need to take a few key steps to develop an effective public relations strategy, but first, let’s start with some basics.
Explore Your Audience
Before you can start developing your public relations strategy, you need to understand who your target audience is. Once you know your target audience, you can consider what type of public relations activities will appeal to them.
Understanding what type of messaging will resonate with your target audience is also essential. What are their pain points? What are their needs? Answering these questions (which should also be captured by your USPs) will help you develop public relations campaigns that speak to your audience and generate a positive buzz around your brand.
Analyze Your Current PR Efforts
Once you understand your target audience, it’s time to analyze your current public relations efforts. Looking at your historic PR efforts will show you what has previously worked and what hasn’t.
Take a close look at your public relations campaigns and ask yourself the following questions:
- What type of message are you using?
- Are you working with the right influencers?
- Is your target audience engaging with your content?
- Do you see any positive results from your public relations campaigns?
If you do not see the results you want, don’t worry. This just means you need to adjust your public relations strategy. Keep in mind that it takes time to see results from public relations campaigns, so be patient and keep at it.
Research Your Competition
In order to develop an effective public relations strategy, you need to understand what your competition is doing. Researching your competition will give you insights into what’s working well for them and what’s not. You can then use this information to help improve your public relations campaigns.
With this data, you can start developing public relations tactics to help you stand out from your competition. Keep in mind that it’s important to be unique and offer something different than what your competition is offering.
Examine Potential External Influences
Some external factors can influence your public relations strategy. These include current events, industry trends, and even the weather. It’s crucial to be aware of these external factors to make the necessary adjustments to your public relations strategy.
For example, if there’s a natural disaster in your area, you may need to adjust your public relations campaigns accordingly. Or, if there’s a new industry trend, you may want to consider incorporating it into your public relations efforts.
Developing a public relations strategy is not a one-time event. It’s important to monitor and adjust your system as needed continuously. By doing this, you can ensure that your public relations campaigns are always relevant and practical.
Set Measurable Goals
Without goals, it will be difficult to measure the success of your public relations campaigns. When setting goals, it’s vital to ensure they are specific, realistic, and achievable.
For example, a goal such as “increase brand awareness” may be too vague. A better goal would be “increase brand awareness to customers aged 18-25 by X percent.” This is why knowing who your target audience is comes in useful, as you can develop goals that are specific to them.
Analyzing metrics is essential to running a business, and public relations is no different. Your goals also must be able to break down into trackable milestones. Once you have your goals, you can easily monitor progress and make necessary adjustments to your public relations strategy along the way.
Track Your Progress
Without tracking your progress, it will be challenging to know if you’re meeting your goals. You can better understand what’s working and what’s not by tracking specific metrics.
You can track many public relations metrics, such as website traffic, media coverage, and social media engagement. Let’s look at some valuable key performance indicators (KPIs) your PR team should be tracking.
Measure Website Traffic
Website traffic measures the number of people who visit your website. If you’re seeing an increase in website traffic, it’s a good sign that your public relations campaigns are working. Once a new public relations in marketing campaign is launched, measuring website traffic allows you to gauge its effectiveness.
While you may not have heard of it, the share of voice is a fundamental PR metric. Share of voice shows you how well your company performs compared to your competitors. If you have a higher share of voice, it means you’re getting more media coverage than your competition.
Analyze Media Coverage
This metric measures the amount of media coverage you’re receiving. If you’re getting more media coverage, it means you’re getting more exposure for your brand.
You can see brand mentions in various places, such as:
- News and magazine articles
- Television reports
- Radio conversations
- Social media mentions
- Social shares
It’s also essential to track the sentiment of this media coverage. You can do this by conducting a media analysis, which will give you insights into how the public perceives your brand.
Track Pitches Sent and Received
This metric measures the number of pitches your public relations team sends and receives. A pitch is a brief message that’s sent to media outlets in an attempt to secure coverage. If you’re sending successful pitches and receiving more media coverage, your public relations efforts are working.
If you notice an increase in sales following a PR campaign, it’s a good sign you’re on the right track with your public relations in marketing. Sales are one of the most important metrics to track, as it shows you exactly what is working and what isn’t.
If you don’t see an influx in sales following a PR release, don’t worry. Remember, PR in marketing is about increasing brand awareness and brand image. While your most recent PR efforts didn’t result in an immediate increase in sales, they may eventually lead to more sales down the road as your brand gets in front of more people.
Note Key Dates For Your PR Campaigns
You have probably heard the phrase ‘right place, right time’ before; this is especially relevant in public relations. When planning your public relations campaigns, be sure to keep key dates in mind.
For example, if you own a fashion brand, you’ll want to align your public relations campaigns with major fashion weeks. Or, if you’re launching a new product, you’ll want to ensure your public relations efforts are timed correctly around the product launch date.
By aligning your public relations campaigns with key dates, you can maximize your chances of success. Corresponding your campaigns with certain public holidays or big moments for your brand allows you to capitalize on any current events, for example, Christmas.
Public Relations in Marketing: The Types of PR
In this digital world, the types of PR in marketing have evolved. Gone are the days of print media and fax machines, and your PR efforts also need to embody a digital strategy. You can easily use digital PR and traditional PR to work together to create a well-rounded public relations campaign, although traditional PR metrics are much harder to track.
No matter what type of public relations you focus on, each will fall into one of three media types. Your PR strategy should include each kind of public relation media known as earned, owned, and paid media.
By far, the most valuable type of public relations is earned media. Earned PR is publicity you have not paid for – it’s essentially free advertising.
Examples of earned media:
- News stories
- Mentions on social media
- Blog posts
- Customer testimonials
- SEO rankings
While it is the best type of public relations in marketing you can get, you have to work hard to earn this type of media. The reason for this is that you rely on someone else, such as a journalist, blogger, or customer, to speak positively about your brand.
Owned media is any type of public relations you control entirely, as you own the platform or content. It’s no wonder this is the go-to PR strategy for most businesses, as it is the easiest to manage.
Examples of owned media:
- Website or blog
- Social media channels
- Social media content
- Email list
The great thing about owned media is that you have absolute control over the message. You can ensure that your brand is always portrayed in a positive light and you’re not at the mercy of someone else’s opinion.
While scrolling through social media, have you ever noticed some posts labeled ‘sponsored’? These are paid media public relations, where you essentially pay to have your brand in front of people.
Examples of paid media:
- Social media ads
- Paid reviews or testimonials
- Display ads
- Influencer marketing
- Product placement
Influencer marketing is one of the fastest-growing types of public relations, as it is a way to reach your target audience effectively. Ensuring you have some allowance for paid media public relations in the marketing budget can be a wise business investment.
Examples of Public Relations in Marketing
Now that you understand the different public relations types and how to use them with marketing, let’s look at some well-known PR tactics.
Manage Internal PR
One of the most critical but often overlooked types of public relations are internal public relations. Managing internal PR involves communicating with your employees to ensure they are happy and engaged with your brand.
Happy employees lead to positive workplace culture, improved customer service, and increased sales. You can use a variety of methods to communicate with your employees, such as:
- Staff newsletters
- Company intranet
- Employee training programs
- Monthly or quarterly meetings
- Recognition programs
Customer service is one of the most important aspects of any business, so your employees must be on board with your brand. Investing time and resources into internal public relations ensures that your employees are proud to represent your company.
One public relations tactic that can be very effective in marketing is event planning. Having your PR team organize certain events is a well-known and well-used way to gain positive publicity for your brand.
There are many different types of events you could organize, such as:
- Press conferences
- Sponsored charity events
- Workshops or seminars
- Product launches
If you don’t feel like your brand is ready to plan an event, attending a trade show or industry conference can also be a great way to get some positive publicity.
Get Involved in The Community
Another public relations tactic that is often used in marketing is community involvement. This involves getting your brand involved in local events or causes to generate goodwill among the public.
Some ways you could get involved in the community include:
- Sponsoring a local sports team
- Donating products to a charity auction
- Volunteering at a school or community center
- Hosting a food drive
By getting involved in the community, you can show that your brand cares about more than just making money. Promoting a strong, caring brand image is the key focal point for any PR department, and getting involved in the community is the perfect way to do this.
Generate Media Relationships
Whether it be with a media outlet, reporter, or influencer, having secure relationships with the people who control the public’s attention is essential for public relations.
Some ways you can generate media relationships include:
- Sending newsworthy press releases
- Calling or emailing reporters with story ideas
- Connecting on social media
Building positive relationships with media members will make it more likely that they will cover your story, which is essential for getting your brand’s message out there.
Develop a Crisis Communication Plan
No matter how well you plan, there is always a chance that something could go wrong. That’s why it’s important to have a crisis communication plan in place, so you know how to handle a public relations crisis if one should occur.
Your crisis communication plan should include the following:
- A list of who to contact in case of a crisis
- Key messages you want to communicate
- A plan for how you will communicate with the public
By having a crisis communication plan, you can ensure that you are prepared to deal with any negative publicity in a quick, calm and collected manner.
PR Tools: PR in Marketing Made Easy
Automating some tasks within your public relations department can free up your time to focus on the bigger picture while still getting your brand’s message out there.
Several public relations tools are available to help you with everything from media relations to tracking when your brand is mentioned online.
Some of the most popular PR tools include:
- HARO (Help a Reporter Out): This tool connects you with journalists looking for sources for their stories. You can sign up to receive daily emails with relevant opportunities for your brand, then pitch yourself or one of your employees as a source.
- PRWeb: PRWeb allows you to distribute press releases to various media outlets. You can also track how many people read your release and where it’s picked up.
- Cision: Cision is a comprehensive public relations tool that offers everything from media database access to social media monitoring. It’s perfect for larger businesses with a dedicated PR team.
- Google Alerts: This tool allows you to track when your brand is mentioned online. You can set up alerts for specific keywords, so you’ll always be in the loop when people talk about your company. Google Alerts is also free to use.
- Agility PR Solutions: Agility PR Solutions is a public relations software that offers a wide range of features, including media database access, press release distribution, and social media monitoring.
Final Thoughts on Using Public Relations for Marketing
Remember, public relations is all about building brand image and maintaining relationships. By getting involved in the community, developing positive media communications, and having a crisis plan in place, you can ensure that your brand is well-prepared to handle any public relations challenges that come your way. By following the tips outlined in this PR marketing guide, you can use public relations to market your business successfully. After all, it is clear that public relations in marketing is an essential tool that should not be overlooked.