WHAT IS PR and WHY USE IT?
There are many possible reasons for using the powerful practice of public relations. First, let’s make sure we are on the same page when it comes to the definition of public relations. Public relations is also called media relations. The terms are used interchangeably though doing so is not completely accurate. Public relations obviously involves dealing with the public, while media relations deals with the media. The terms tend to be used interchangeably because it is through the media that we reach the public using this practice.
I’ve found in my adventures with my small business clients that starting out, most of them don’t have a clue about what public relations is or the power of its use. Small business owners rarely realize that sharing the stories -the news- of their businesses or brands through media outlets exposes their businesses in a way advertising can never accomplish.
Public relations is the practice, the art, of generating public interest in your business, message, product, service or what have you, using the distribution of your message through the media. In this age of information, that now includes “new media.”
This means getting your stories to the press online and off. Whether you realize it or not there are people whose job it is to get stories placed with the media. While media in this context includes social and online outlets, PR professionals are experts in NEWS media. These professionals are publicists and when they achieve their goals… it’s called publicity.
Articles in newspapers, magazines, newsletters, appearances on television and radio talk shows are generated by someone contacting those media outlets and convincing those outlets to discuss, interview, write about or otherwise put the message out there where the public can read, watch or hear it. Event publicity may even include allowing the public to EXPERIENCE your brand through live interaction and/or demonstration. In every instance of public relations, there are established standard practices of doing so and PR specialists, expert at getting it done.
The use of publicity -and PR professionals- is the primary way savvy business people these days successfully launch, grow and brand business.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT: Use Publicity To Get It
Public relations can be reactionary, used in response to current trends or incidents, or to send out responses to company challenges, mishaps and scandals. There is a whole industry of PR professionals who specialize in “crisis management.” Conversely, proactive PR is designed to shape the public’s positive perception of you on an ongoing schedule, not to only produce stories when there is an event or in response to problems. Proactive PR is planned and executed on strategy that brands.
To take advantage of proactive PR, you must first decide what you want to achieve. Whether we’re talking about your product, service, new business model, retail store, organization, vision for change, book, stage play, art exhibit, or web site, whatever it is you’ve got going on, you need to decide what you ultimately what from it right away and into the long-term future.
Do you want to grow from small business to big business? To eventually take your business public or sell it? Do you want local recognition or national fame and fortune? Do you intend to “go global?” To franchise? Are you in or planning an expansion? Think about those things then use the following checklist. This list, though comprehensive, is inherently incomplete. Use the list to trigger your thought process to decide your publicity goals. Use it by completing the following statement; check off and add as many (endings) as you like.
I want my public relations efforts to:
• Increase my visibility and name recognition.
• Increase my company’s visibility and name recognition.
• Increase my income.
• Increase traffic (retail, online).
• Generate recognition for members of my staff.
• Announce major achievements.
• Build (my brand) credibility in the industries I’m involved in.
• Change a misconception.
• Generate interest to attract investors.
• Help expose and build events.
• Generate or increase event attendance.
• Generate or increase membership.
• Expand my customer base.
• Build public awareness.
• Generate support.
• Attract volunteers.
• Enhance personnel recruitment efforts.
• Generate more publicity.
So, when going into business; developing a product, project or brand; expanding a company or planning ANYTHING that involves the need to communicate publicly, THINK FIRST. Your reasons for establishing a public relations program for your business shape your approach for developing, and dictate the angle or “spin” of, each of your publicity messages. Your reasons for using PR guide your message goals, objectives and your means of delivery. The reasons you choose for implementing public relations serve as foundation for, as well as leverage to build on, the marketplace perception you receive and the results you achieve.