Public relations can easily go unnoticed, passed over for its more popular (and visible) counterparts like marketing and advertising. Even companies that do recognize the benefits of PR enough to engage a firm sometimes find that leadership tries to put PR on the chopping block when it comes to budget cuts. So, why is PR so often overlooked?
In a world of instant gratification and rapidly shortening attention spans, something like PR – an art that is rooted in the “long game” – can be a harder sell. It’s focused on relationships, something that every one of us knows are hard to maintain and even harder to build. Many businesses don’t have the patience to experience the fruits of PR’s labor – it can be hard to grasp that media coverage and loyal audiences aren’t instantaneous. In the same vein, PR can be difficult to measure. It can prove daunting to perform a cost-benefit analysis on a positive reputation or meaningful connections in the same way you could determine the effectiveness of a paid advertisement.
Along with its focus on relationships, public relations as a discipline focuses on language and words. Without the flashiness of a postcard put together by a graphic designer, it’s hard to see why tweaking the words in a company’s mission statement could make that big of a difference. Some companies consider every employee under the age of 30 a social media expert just because they post photos of their pets on Instagram, so why would they hire professionals to write a caption? Furthermore, those employed by a brand understand its ins and outs better than anyone; they comprehend what it is they’re saying and what they want to say. When you’re so immersed, it’s hard to understand how another person could misinterpret what you stand for or what it is you do – and even harder to understand why you would pay someone outside of your organization to more accurately explain what YOU do.
Just because others may have counted PR out based on the above reasons, fear of low ROI or lack of general knowledge, you don’t have to.
Public relations is storytelling.
Public relations practitioners can anticipate how your brand will be realized by your target audiences, as well as your potential customers. They can tell your story in a way that it will be best perceived by the public, highlighting your organization’s known benefits while also uncovering stories you didn’t even know you had. Creating and relaying your story in the right way will make your brand more noticeable, reputable and trustworthy.
Public relations can handle a crisis.
Just as public relations professionals can tell your company’s story, they can also navigate explaining the not-so-positive stories that have to be addressed during a crisis situation. PR pros can elaborate on complicated or controversial circumstances, while fielding media requests or customer inquiries. They also can make apologies and set the record straight all while maintaining a factual, succinct tone and demeanor. Perhaps more difficult than damage mitigation is the unexpectedness of a crisis. Luckily, PR pros can often foresee issues before they occur, discerning what might be a problem in the future, as well as covering all the hypotheticals. They can create crisis plans and give you key messages and talking points, all to ensure that you’re prepared if a situation does arise and that your brand comes out stronger on the other side.
Public relations improves your relationships
Public relations practitioners have a way of reaching out to a brand’s audience and improving upon those established relationships, perhaps even creating new ones. Part of establishing and maintaining these relationships is using a brand’s online presence to connect with an audience – something PR uses to its full advantage. Yet, these relationships aren’t exclusive to existing or potential customers; they could be positive connections with members of the media, similar organizations or other industry leaders – all of which will help you in the long run.
So the next time you’re tempted to “revisit” the idea of enlisting a public relations agency, think about what all PR can do for you and where you could potentially land without it.