Public Relations (PR) is a profession aimed at effectively managing the flow of information between an individual or an organization and the public. This plays a significant role in marketing.
PR is used in marketing mostly to maintain good media relations and public image, build brand awareness, and engage with potential brand promoters – from sponsors to influencers.
Today, we talk about all-things-PR – what it is and how it boosts your marketing strategies.
What is public relations?
Public relations is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public.
Public relations professionals are responsible for building and maintaining relationships with the public, as well as managing communications between various parties.
The goal of public relations is to shape how people think about a company, product, service, or person. It’s about telling a story that resonates with your target audience and engages them in a professional dialogue that is consistent with the company’s culture and values.
Are public relations and marketing the same thing?
The simple answer is: no. But, sometimes the difference is not that obvious, so let’s explain it.
Marketing is the process of promoting a product/service/company/person in order to reach various goals, such as:
- generate qualified leads
- raise brand awareness
- increase revenue
- boost brand engagement
to name just a few examples.
There are two main marketing methods, inbound (focused on reaching out to potential leads through content) and outbound (focused on reaching out to potential leads directly).
Depending on which method they use, there are various marketing fields, such as product marketing, content marketing, influencer marketing, email marketing, advertising, etc., which vary in their activities and main goals.
Although there is a similarity between PR and marketing processes, they differ in their end goal. While marketing is primarily focused on promoting your products and services to generate leads, PR is primarily focused on maintaining your company’s public image by nurturing your relationship with the media and current clients.
PR and marketing can sometimes overlap in these processes. This is where the difference between them gets misunderstood.
While PR activities do contribute to results similar to those of marketing, it’s actually a more narrowed-down niche.
PR is a subset of marketing that focuses on building relationships with the public in order to create a positive public image for a company or organization. It also has different disciplines, such as corporate communications, internal communications, marketing communications, crisis communications, etc.
PR specialists focus on improving the image of their clients through communication and media channels such as TV, print, social media, and radio. Thus, one of their main goals is also preventing and handling PR crises.
Since the job of a PR person can be somewhat exhausting and time-consuming, there are various tools to automate it.
For example, a controversial social media post concerning your brand goes viral and attracts lots of negative attention. With media monitoring and social listening tools like Mediatoolkit, you could have an overview of all online mentions of your brand and the sentiment surrounding it to predict and prevent any PR crises.
We’ve covered this topic in our previous blog Social Media Crisis Management Guide – What to Do When a Disaster Strikes if you wish to read more about crisis management.
Marketing vs PR in an example
The consequence of all your activities should be the same – an increase in a number of people who use your services or products. But, every team, including PR and marketing, gets there via different routes.
Let’s use a simplified example. Let’s say you’re launching a new product. The overall goal of your whole company is to get people to use the new product. While both marketing and PR have the same goal of promoting that product launch through various platforms, their promotional activities will differ.
Your PR team will focus on getting media coverage for the launch by sending out press releases and, say, arranging interviews for your managers. The PR team will primarily send out a message about you as an amazing company that is launching a new product. On the other hand, your marketing team will focus on social media promotion and paid advertisement on various platforms. They will primarily send out a message about your amazing product.
With a clearer understanding of the difference between marketing and PR, let’s focus on the importance of the latter.
When to use public relations?
Public relations is a powerful tool. It is one of the most effective ways to engage with the public to get it to talk (positively) about your brand.
Public relations is a vital part of any company, no matter its size and niche. PR helps establish and maintain a good public image and reputation of companies. It also helps to manage any negative publicity that companies may face.
PR can be used for various purposes, such as:
- improving, building, and protecting brand reputation
- communicating with the public via various platforms
- portraying company values and strategies to stakeholders
Where does PR fit in marketing?
But how to actually put PR into practice to use it in sync with your marketing efforts? There are various practices that companies use.
Here are the most popular ones:
#1 Events are great for networking, raising brand awareness, finding influencers and leads
Public events are a great way to boost your marketing efforts and maintain a good relationship between your company and the media. They are very effective for companies looking to create awareness about their products or services among new people, too.
While organizing or attending events, you get to promote your brand, connect with your audience and broaden the pool of people who know about your brand. Remember – the first step to becoming a customer is hearing about the brand.
Sponsorships and media coverage that usually come with events are another great way to raise awareness about your brand or strengthen your public image. Not only that, public events help you build your PR network as you meet new people and broaden your network of contacts which varies from CEOs of other companies to influencers or journalists – all of whom you can link with again in the future.
Your network may be the most important asset to you as a PR professional. It’s important to constantly nurture it and expand it.
#2 Press releases are your go-to activity for promotional purposes
A press release is an official announcement about a company, organization, or person. It is usually sent to journalists in a form similar to a newspaper article. It is a great, “classical” way of sharing your news with the public with the help of journalists.
Press releases are often used by companies as a boost to marketing efforts in announcing and promoting new products, services, projects, etc. They can also be used to announce important events, new hires, changes in management, etc. Press releases must not be forgotten in your employer branding efforts.
#3 Blogging is a meeting point of PR and content marketing
Blogging is where PR and content marketing meet.
Blogs are a sort of a usually longer, digital-only equivalent of press releases. Although, most press releases nowadays also come in the digital form.
They are a form of content marketing that is used by companies to promote their products and services online. Blogging has become one of the most popular ways for companies to reach their target audiences and interact with them through blog comments or social media comments, as blogs can (and should) be promoted on social media and various other channels, depending on where your target audience is.
Companies use blogs for various purposes, such as to educate customers about their products or services, to provide tips and advice on how to use them, to share information about the company, to create a general knowledge base of best practices, and more.
#4 Social media enhances both your PR and marketing activities
Besides sharing your blogs on social media, there are various other ways to use social media to enhance your marketing activities, and it is often the field where PR and marketing overlap.
Social media networks can be used as platforms on which to promote your products, services, company culture, etc. via organic and/or paid posts.
It has become essential in the last decade because of the rise in the popularity of sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
Social media marketing is a relatively cheap and easy form of digital marketing. It does not require major investments, and gives you an opportunity to connect directly with your community. If you’re interested in reading more about the advantages of social media, find out How to Strengthen Your Digital Marketing Strategy with Social Media Monitoring.
#5 Newsletters are a great way of generating leads
Last but not least, let’s not forget about the power of newsletters. A newsletter is a publication that is typically sent out via e-mail to a group of people who have subscribed to receive it. It can be sent out on a regular basis, such as weekly or monthly, or just occasionally.
A company might send out newsletters as part of their PR and marketing activities – to enhance brand awareness, introduce product launches, announce special discounts or inform the subscribers about a company’s public activities. It is a great way of keeping clients and, especially, gaining new ones.
There are numerous ways in which PR can be a great addition to marketing – the key is to know how to execute it properly.
Advantages of PR
You may be surprised to learn that PR is actually a better-performing field than many marketing tactics. For example, Forbes reports it to be 90% more effective than advertising alone. The reason is simple – people are more likely to believe a third party’s opinion of a certain product, brand, etc.
Here are some general advantages of PR.
Increasing brand credibility
Your business will gain more credibility through public relations as the content is more authentic and informative. There is evidence that PR provides greater visibility and credibility among consumers than advertising, which is perceived as “only” promotional.
Building your brand image
Public relations is often misunderstood as all about promoting items or special offers. In reality, PR drives your business to greater success and constant growth.
A properly executed PR campaign can create a more positive brand image in your consumers’ minds. Investing in your PR activities will provide value to your brand and your customers, helping to shape all aspects of your business.
Reaching more people
Lastly, PR activities enable you to reach a pool of various people. A single press release can be sent to multiple newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, blogs, and networks. Once the story is published, media outlets may pick it up, increasing how frequently it’s read or heard.
Besides that, this is where the aforementioned PR contact list comes in handy. Think about it. PR professionals build their network for years. People in their network can, at one point or another, be willing to collaborate on promoting your brand.
Get the most out of your PR and marketing efforts with media monitoring
We hope you enjoyed this short blog and managed to see how PR and marketing differ, but also join forces in promoting your company and products. We believe that combining the two is the best solution for your business.
To put all this theory into practice, and really get the most out of your PR and marketing activities, remember to use the help of media monitoring and social listening tools such as Mediatoolkit.
Mediatoolkit can help you:
- find out all that is being said about you online
- raise brand awareness
- find influencers and new leads
- prevent PR crises
- create media reports in minutes
- track competitors and industry topics
Best of all? You can try it out in a free 7-day trial. Start tracking your mentions today and see why this powerful solution is the go-to helper of your PR and marketing team.