Public Relations usually gets its whispered mentions in conversations about marketing, communications, advertising, crisis management and the like. While most folks would agree that much of that list is a necessary and even essential part of business function, sometimes PR seems more like a play-cousin. Nice to have, but not essential.
But what about in your particular case? What’s in it for your [insert just about any type of business here]? Do you even need PR, or is it reserved for the Fortunate 500, celebrities, or clients of Pope & Associates?
At its core, Public Relations is simply (as penned by my wise professor Sheldon Rose) “Doing good things and telling others about it.”
Here are a few PR basics and how it can indeed be of use to you (yes, you!):
1. PR will help you communicate better with your audience(s)
Allow me to wax academic for a second. The Canadian Public Relations Society defines Public Relations as (paraphrased):
“The strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics through communication, achieving mutual understanding, realizing organizational goals and serving the public interest.”
In short, PR helps you identify your peeps and speak to them appropriately. Whether you offer a service or product or run a charity, incorporating public relations ensures your business reputation is built on a solid foundation of core values. PR folks can help you make sense of your goals and express them in a way that captures your core values in your unique voice, craft them into an outcome-driven plan, and then share them so that each one of your audiences not only understands but is drawn to.
2. PR will help you avoid becoming the next negative hashtag
Just about every week, another brand finds itself in the news for all the wrong reasons. For the most part, the problem seems to be a lack of diversity in the decision-making process. People are missing from the table. It’s PR’s business to make sure you identify each of your stakeholders (see point 1 y’all) and uncover those you may have missed or may have been ignoring. Paying attention to everyone with a stake in what you do will ensure you stay on the pulse, and the right track.
3. PR will help you evangelize your Big Idea
Above, we mentioned communications, marketing, and advertising plans. By now, you’re getting that PR should absolutely be part of that mix. The key is that PR is a path to marrying each of these areas’ focus into a smooth succinct flow across multiple platforms. That means through media, social, digital, traditional and everything in between. Identify the core value you have to offer, and use PR to share that with the world – clearly and consistently – while feeding your bottom line.
4. PR will help you keep your integrity
To point back to point 2 (yeah, I know, I do that a lot), the way many businesses and brands end up in trouble is through oversight. Sometimes it’s glaring, but many times it’s subtle and has happened over time. You’ve moved away from your core messaging and purpose or initial convictions. Perhaps you can’t quite remember the original goal, the pure and straightforward reason you started your business. Well, this falls into the PR wheelhouse too. Ethics is an enormous piece of public relations pie. Despite lingering negative stereotypes, it’s the job of competent PR practitioners to ensure that every action, strategy, and tactic under their umbrella is done with integrity and with ethics at its core. Having someone with this focus on your team can help keep all of those moving pieces on the up and up, and it’ll be handy to have a voice like that in the war room.
5. This isn’t really 5.
Instead, it’s a handy list of what PR is not so that when (that’s right, no ‘ifs’ up in here), you add PR to the mix, you’ll be BFFs with your PR pro by lunch.