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Do I need Public Relations for my business?

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Insight:

Public relations (PR) is an essential tool for businesses looking to build a brand, enhance their reputation and communicate effectively with their target audiences – be they customers, clients or staff.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to leverage PR for your business.

Understanding PR and its Importance

At its core, PR is about storytelling and shaping perceptions. It’s a strategic communication process. Businesses which invest in cultivating a positive public image do better in terms of value, perception as an employer and sales.

As Hubspot states: “PR is not just about handling the media; it’s about building relationships that benefit both the company and its stakeholders[i].

“Long-term strategic communication strategies are designed to yield greater returns for shareholders over time, as opposed to short-term gains. A company’s image and transparency, shaped by PR, can improve share price performance”[ii].

Developing a PR Strategy

A robust PR strategy aligns with your business goals and targets the right audience with the right message – and at the right time. It can be a balancing act but get it right and the value it adds to your business will be clear. As with any plan clear objectives are vital – you need to know the direction of travel and how you will measure success and impact.

Spend time understanding your audience and their motivations. Then decide on the best platforms and channels for your message. Make sure any communications strategy is flexible enough to adapt to changing market or business circumstances and measure the effectiveness of your PR activities.

Utilising Research in PR

Research plays a pivotal role in PR. It provides insights into your audience’s preferences, behaviours, and media consumption habits. Recognised research firms like YouGov or MORI offer valuable data that can inform a PR strategy and ensure brand messages resonate with the target audience. With the internet offering a plethora of data and information at your fingertips good, solid desk research can also produce supporting information and reference sources for any PR campaign.

Crafting Your Message

This is critical to the success of any PR activity. The main mistake that most people or firms make is to make assumptions on what their audience wants to hear OR and more common to focus on broadcast style messages which are sales led and not insight based.

Messages should be clear, concise, and consistent across all channels. They should reflect your brand’s values and speak directly to your audience’s needs and interests. Use storytelling to make your message more engaging and memorable. Apply the ‘so what’ test to any materials before launch – who cares what you are saying, why do they care and what solution are you offering to a problem?

Engaging with the Media

Media relations is a significant aspect of PR but by no means the only element.

Building strong relationships with journalists, bloggers, and influencers can help you secure earned media coverage, which is more credible and cost-effective than paid advertising. Media pitches should be well crafted and tailored to the interests of the media outlets being targeted and provide them with newsworthy content that’s relevant to their audience.

It’s important to note that media relations works best over time, allowing for momentum to build and awareness of you as a credible PR source for media outlets and journalists. One hit wonder stories do not add long term value and are unlikely to yield much high value coverage – unless you genuinely have a world first or ground breaking story.

Managing Crisis Communications

No business is immune to crises. Having a crisis communication plan in place is crucial for mitigating damage to your reputation. Be prepared to respond quickly, transparently, and empathetically during a crisis. Monitor the situation closely and adjust your communication strategy as needed.

A poorly managed media crisis can do irreparable damage to your brand, wipe value off the share price and cost people their jobs. It might feel like an unnecessary insurance policy to spend time and resource on crafting a crisis preparedness plan but if you need it, it’s worth its weight in gold. As part of this process make sure your spokespeople are properly media trained – this can make all the difference to overcoming negative attention from a negative issue.

Measuring PR Success

Lastly, it’s important to track and measure the success of your PR efforts. Use KPIs like media coverage, social media engagement and community growth, website traffic and analytics and lead generation to evaluate the impact of your PR. Also evaluate the prevalence of key message coverage and the types of media and online sources you are referenced in. This holistic approach will help you understand what’s working, what’s not, and where you can improve.

PR professionals track an average of eight metrics, including story placement, reach/impressions, key message pull-through, revenue impact, website impact, and share of voice.[iii]

PR can, if used well, impact positively on sales.

About 29% of PR professionals demonstrate the impact of PR on lead generation and conversion rates, aligning PR efforts with business objectives[iv].

And finally…PR is a powerful tool that can help businesses of all sizes achieve their objectives and build lasting relationships with their audiences. By following these guidelines and incorporating insights from recognised research sources, you can create a PR strategy that drives success for your business and is worth its weight in gold.

Sources:

[i] How to Do PR: The Ultimate Guide to Public Relations in 2023 (hubspot.com)

[ii] Corporate public relations & its impact on public share prices – Agility PR Solutions

[iii] 20 Most Important PR Statistics for 2024 (meltwater.com)

[iv] PR Statistics 2024: Trends and Challenges in PR – Determ

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