Public relations’ potential impact is limitless, but results can be limited

The potential impact of a strong public relations campaign is limitless. You can seismically shift public opinion, deeply endear employees to a company or start a social justice movement when PR tactics are executed perfectly. But there are just some things that PR can’t accomplish or challenges we can’t overcome.

As budgets tighten and the value of data rises, public relations professionals need to be honest with clients about exactly what PR efforts can and cannot do, what can and cannot be tracked, and how we intend to measure “success.” So, what can and what can’t public relations do?

PR can completely change the image of an organization.

Branding and image maintenance is the bread and butter of public relations. We can deliver your brand to the public on a silver platter. We work with you to make your brand a living, breathing entity that can grow and change over time. Public relations professionals can develop internal processes to enhance your customer interactions, design a website that is easy to navigate and create a media relations plan that speaks to your target audience.

How can we track success? The options are limitless. Social media engagement, positive reviews, website traffic, referral rates, and organic media mentions are all ways that we can track how audiences feel about your brand.

PR cannot fix broken business operations.

Your public relations team can give you all of the pieces you need to succeed. They can tell you how to interact with your consumer, answer the telephones and handle online reviews. But if your internal team is not equipped to enact these policies, the PR team’s work is not impactful.

PR can save organizations from impending crises.

Businesses are bound to face crises, and public relations professionals are able to quell the most difficult situations. When you involve your PR team on the front end, and when you’re wholly honest and transparent about the crisis, you can expect your PR team to smoothly guide you through any crisis.

How can we track success? During a crisis, your PR team can closely monitor press coverage, accounting for positive and negative words used in articles. Your PR team will look for verbiage that mirrors information sent out from your company. If the media and the public cling to your message, you’ve found crisis success.

PR cannot reshape an image without making changes internally.

Your PR team can’t help you if your company has traversed a crisis without making the necessary, but difficult, changes to practices that led to the crisis in the first place. Inevitably, the public or media will begin to question business decisions, and your PR team will have to be tactfully reactive rather than proactive.

PR can bring awareness to your product.

Bringing a new product to market, be it a restaurant or a handbag, can be incredibly expensive and challenging. A strong public relations team can help you make a splash, generating public interest and excitement for your brand.

How can we track success? This one is simple – any mention of your company is a success. Your PR team can track mentions on social and traditional media.

PR cannot sell your product.

Public relations cannot dictate your pricing structure, delivery process, availability, attitude of your sales team or product quality. If any one of these categories does not meet the needs of consumers, your product may not sell. Even if you receive great publicity, your sales tactics need to be stellar and prepared to meet demand.