Public Relations (PR) Management
What is PR and PR Management?
As defined by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), PR is:
“…all about the way organisations communicate with the public, promote themselves, and build a positive reputation and public image. The way an organisation is represented in the media has a huge impact on how people perceive it. PR professionals try to influence the media to represent their organisation positively and communicate key messages.”
You may often hear of PR opportunities, these are not just written pieces, but often are curated activities or situations which lead to a story which becomes “newsworthy”. You want to create a piece of content the public relate to (hence public relations). Any good PR piece (like any piece of content) should be:
- Have a point and purpose.
- Targeted for the audience.
PR is often referred to as “unpaid” or “earned media”. This means, the aim of PR is not to pay for promotion in traditional or digital mediums but to earn it, therefore “earned media”. Advertising is referred to as “paid media”, where you literally pay for the space and promotion you want and can control it exactly as you need. PR, through the nature of being “earned”, is constructed to encourage others (journalists, influencers, industry authorities etc.) to pick up on the story or article, in order to give it editorial time and space in their media.
So as an example, you could be a toilet paper company, looking to increase awareness of your brand. If your company worked to research, write and release a report on how people liked to prepare their paper for the “wipe” i.e. scrunch or fold or a bit of both, or how many pieces they use (I can tell you’re thinking about this now), and maybe linked it to what this might say about them as a person, this may gain interest from different media. They would then recieve space in their media and comments from their networks of readers, hopefully reaching some of their audience.
As the author of the report, your brand would be mentioned and you may even get the opportunity for key management or voice of authority from your business, to comment on the findings. This again is helping to raise your companies authority of voice and brand awareness. By the way, a certain high-profile toilet paper company did a paid campaign very similar to this not so long ago and it did spark some PR from the resulting paid campaign.
Why do I need PR and why do I need to manage it?
PR will help you get your message out and cultivate positive relationships with the public through:
- Traditional media (papers, print, radio, TV)
- Digital media (social media, blogs, vlogs, video channels and online publications)
- In person opportunities (events if we ever get to do them again)
However PR can be your main support in the good times and your main defence in times of crisis. That is where the management of your PR becomes crucial. Carefully managed PR can be the main way to turn stories and situations from negative to positive with the public.
Managing your PR requires understanding, like your content, it needs to be based around research, have a strategy to using it and results of its impact should be measured. Like any marketing activity it should be part of your overall marketing plan and marketing mix. It shouldn’t operate as ad hoc activity; to be its most effective, like any marketing, it needs to be consistent and credible delivering what your clients and audiences want and/or need to hear about in the way they want to hear it.
Strong PR for positive situation can be the main support of a great brand identity and generate more brand awareness. For example, take Red Bull. They are masters of using PR as an integral part of their marketing mix. Linking their brand to exciting activities and endeavours, which reflect the brand values and aspirations. These links create newsworthy opportunities that their clients, and wider audiences (including the social and traditional press) want to hear about, such as record attempts and extreme sporting endeavours.
What benefits will my business see from good PR management?
The main benefits of great PR management can include:
- Increasing brand credibility, authenticity and authority (link to brand awareness or building a brand).
- Increasing visibility and brand awareness (link to brand awareness).
- Developing a strong and positive brand identity (Link to building a brand page).
- Improved social proof of your authority in your industry.
- Enhancing your customer relationships (better communications and engagements).
- Increasing short and long-term lead generation (link to Pipelines and or finding customers).
- Improved SEO results due to other site mentions (link to SEO page).
…and most importantly…
- It’s cost effective by its nature (you do have to invest in the PR – but time, money and effort in producing good PR can be very low). You can work out the effect of this cost on your ROI.
It is great to talk about your successes and promote the good bits of your business with PR, but equally it is really important to ensure you have well managed PR to deal with times of crisis too. In these times, PR can be the best tool in your communications armoury for managing bad news or difficult situations.
Whether that is financial, personal, organisational, technological or natural issues which cause the crisis, if you have well managed PR you can often find the right way to create the right message, tone and delivery to help respond to that crisis and still remain on brand. By not managing your PR correctly you can loose more than a few sales and your business could suffer terrible damage. Here are some examples of poorly managed PR issues with larger companies. By managing your PR well, through sticking to your values, reaffirming your credibility, admitting to issues, explaining and creating, and informing your audiences of solutions, you can change disaster to triumph. You can read about some examples of success from 2019 here.
John D Rockefeller once said:
“Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing.”
That sums up good PR management and the art of earning your credibility with the press and public both in the good times and the bad.
How do I manage PR?
With all areas of PR it is, like your content (insert link to our content pages), important to ensure the PR you are creating is “newsworthy”, this means asking:
- Why does it matter to my client/the public/the press?
- What benefit does the public get from this?
- Who cares about this information?
- Where should I use and place this information?
- When should I publish this information?
- How do I release this information?
If you can provide positive answers to all the above, you should be able to answer the key question for any PR; “so what?”. Answering this means you have thought objectively and from the clients point of view about why this story is interesting to them and how to get it in front of them and the appropriate media (press for want of a better description).
To ensure you manage it correctly you need to know how this fits with your:
- Marketing research
- Marketing strategy
- Marketing communications and design
- Marketing measurements
You should also then ensure that your PR works alongside all your other marketing plans. PR should never be used in isolation. It should, as with all parts of marketing, be part of the overall strategy and work in partnership with paid advertising and promotional activities, and always adhere to your brand identity, your values, goals and objectives. If it doesn’t, don’t do it. As with all marketing credibility comes from consistency. It is okay to adapt and evolve, but ensure it follows a well-formed strategy and is based on solid research and its affects are clearly measured.
If you would like to discuss more about what PR is free of charge and how it can work for your business, get in touch here.
What else do I need to know?
Understanding “newsworthy” and the “editorial press”
If you can’t answer “so what?” then you don’t have a newsworthy story. For example, a new website is not, I hate to tell you, news. Sorry it isn’t. It is great, fantastic for you and your business, and hopefully you have considered and invested in ensuring excellent website usability (insert link to our page) and therefore your audience are going to love it more than ever, but if you haven’t really created something utterly new then it isn’t news.
New sites are launched every day, you can put it in your news feeds, but unless it’s something that makes people really go ‘oooh’ excitedly, it isn’t news. However, if you have engaged a top celebrity to blog on the site, incorporated drone delivery technology within the hour, or holographic viewing of products, then getting the wider digital and traditional media to see your new site as news worthy might be possible, but it really must be that different or groundbreaking. Remember you aren’t paying them to publish or comment on your story, they need to want to do that because it’s “newsworthy”.
Also the way the editorial press works (journalists and writers of these digital and traditional media) is totally different now to, say, even 10 years ago. These people who make up the press are seriously busy, overworked and stressed content writers and managers, who need to know the key information about the news story or invitation to a PR event in one email usually.
Key information in a press release to the press should include:
Title of the story/event
This should reference the reason for the event – don’t worry about clever titles, but make it concise and relevant.
Dates, times, locations, URLs/links
This should cover everything they need to know about the event, activity, news to support the story and report on it – so if it’s an online launch, the date, time, method, link and passwords etc.
Short first information filled paragraph
This should include in just a few lines, all the editorial press the reader should need to understand in brief; what it is about, when, where, how, why, when and who. It should give enough to want them to read on passed this paragraph.
More detailed paragraph(s), quote(s) and statistic(s) – but keep it to the point
If they have read past the title and paragraph, use this next paragraph or two to capture them with more detail on why it is unique and newsworthy and introduce a quote from say key authority in the business, the industry or the wider public to reinforce the stories news worthiness. But don’t go passed more than a couple of paragraphs and a quote.
End with the contacts and pictures/videos/supporting information
Ensure you close off the piece with easy access for contacts for more information, links to supporting information, images and videos they may find useful and more importantly they could use if they wish. Ensure the information here is the information you want them to reference in the piece and clearly and easily set it out. However, remember, this is “earned” or free editorial, so you can’t necessarily control what they will and will not use.
“Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.”