Integrating Public Relations
Companies may think about conducting public relations if they have an image to improve or uphold, a crisis to defend or a news release to distribute. But, if they think that’s all PR is for, their thinking is so 1995. While today’s marketing focus tends to be fixated on the digital activities (web presence, SEO, blogging and social media), integrating public relations is key. Why? Because PR is the area of marketing that is focused on how a company communicates and relates to the market. While marketing is focused on reaching your target audience, PR is the process of building mutually beneficial relationships, not only with customers but also with partners, employees and shareholders.
While one of the primary, acknowledged goals of public relations is still publicity and getting press coverage, there are numerous areas in which PR comes into play and serves as a major contributor to your overall marketing efforts.
Where Integrating Public Relations Impacts Your Marketing
Conveying Your Core Messages (What You Say)
Those of you who read my articles regularly know how much I talk about developing your unique selling proposition and unique value proposition. While these are pure marketing concepts, PR ensures they are focused on the target audience and are part of your “core messages,” which should also include what differentiates you from the competition (particularly your strengths) and basically convey “What’s In It For the Customer.” PR is responsible for ensuring your core messages are incorporated throughout all communications (your website content, blog articles, social media posts, and other marketing content, as well as press releases) and distributed through all the media channels that reach your target audience.
Increasing Market Awareness
By consistently promoting your news, educational blogs and articles and customer case stories through multiple channels (e.g., traditional and social media, emails campaigns, etc.), you will place your business more firmly on your target audience’s radar. It’s as simple as that.
Launching and Positioning Your Business, Product or Service
To get the word out about a new product or service offering, or to position your product/service as a leading solution, PR is your go-to marketing strategy. Through distributing a press release and conducting media relations, you can get the market attention and third-party validation that comes with media coverage. Through publishing valuable thought-leadership pieces in your blog and online publications, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field. And, through conducting relations with influencers (industry analysts, academics, authors or key journalists), you can get corroboration of the leadership or power of your business, product or service. (More about that below.)
Generating Interest and Buzz Around Your Product, Service or Brand
You know that word-of-mouth you hope to capture? It’s only achieved through getting your core messages out there and communicating them to your target audience through multiple traditional and social channels on a regular basis, especially if those messages are connected to a campaign to push a product/service, an event or activity, a special promotion or a trend or movement. With PR, you can be creative and innovative with your communications (e.g. by creating anticipation, mystery or surprise) to not only build excitement around what you are doing but also build and maintain momentum.
Managing Your Reputation
Public relations is still concerned with improving and maintaining public image, perception and standing. Reputation management has always been a PR buzzword, but it has taken on a major role across marketing with the growth of the internet, social media and the 24/7 news cycle. Companies need to watch what they say not only in press releases and press statements, but also in all their web content and in social media posts, comments and responses. They also need to pay attention to activity on review sites and search engine rankings, as both have a major impact on public perception. As we know, one errant tweet can go viral and create a firestorm with long-term ramifications. As always, PR ensures you say not only what you want to say but also only what you should say.
Influencing Specific Target Groups
As mentioned above, public relations is about conducting relations with numerous groups. One of those groups, what we call “influencers” (industry analysts, academics, authors or key journalists), are the people your customers may listen or look to for evaluation, recommendations, advice and an unbiased opinion. Influencers can validate your leadership, your market standing and the strengths (and weaknesses) of your business, product or service. For that reason, PR ensures this group is aware of who your company is and receives its core messages and communications. Like the media, influencers should be part of a company’s outreach.
Connecting and Resonating with Your Target Audience
As mentioned, marketing is focused on reaching your target audience, while public relations is focused on connecting and building relationships with them. PR does this by not only ensuring the core messages are laser-focused on what’s in it for the audience, but also by communicating those messages consistently, presenting a genuine image, establishing trust through educational content and sharing stories that make the company real.