A well-crafted public relations campaign is a key to every business’s marketing mix.
There was a time when a good reputation alone – spread by word-of-mouth – was enough to create and maintain a successful company. Those times, however, are long gone.
More than ever, positive public awareness is vital to a business’s success and this positive public awareness is best achieved today through a public relations (PR) campaign rather than traditional advertising.
An effective PR campaign, which generates favourable exposure through newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and the internet, has a wider reach than word-of-mouth alone. And the public lends more credibility to articles they read and stories they hear about your business than they do advertisements.
A carefully crafted PR campaign will raise media and consumer awareness of your business.
People often confuse PR with advertising, but the two are dramatically different. Simply put, advertising places adverts while PR places news. Both are designed to generate consumers’ interest in product or service. Both often use the same media – print, radio and television and the internet. But this is where the similarities end.
PR builds credibility, advertising breeds scepticism
PR helps form a favourable public opinion through the ‘implied endorsement’ of non-biased industry authorities - print and broadcast media journalists. Consider what holds more weight - an advertisement about a new shop, hotel or restaurant opening or a positive article, written in editorial style about the hottest new place in town?
PR generates news coverage and news coverage builds credibility. People believe what they read in newspapers and magazines, what they hear on the radio and what they see on television. People are skeptical of what they see in an advertisement. It’s easy to toot your own horn. It’s more difficult to get someone to believe your claims through advertising alone.
PR allows personalisation of your story
Because they are costly, advertisements do not give you ample room to personalise the story of your business. A public relations campaign does. By generating multiple story angles designed to reach different media – such as business journals, trade publications for your sector, daily and weekly newspapers, city and regional magazines and major national magazines – you enhance the number of published and broadcast stories about your business. And each of these stories educates the public of what your product/service is all about.
PR is cost-effective, especially compared to advertising
Compare the cost of a direct mail campaign or an advert in a publication with the cost of writing and distributing a press release. There is no comparison. The cost of hiring PPR to produce press releases and get them placed in media is a fraction of what you pay for advertisements. In addition, the articles the press release generates may be viewed by a larger audience since consumers tend to pay more attention to stories than advertisements.
An article builds credibility and generates awareness without the costly inefficiencies of traditional advertising.
PR’s life span is longer than advertising
To the typical consumer, an advert is like a butterfly. Its life span is short-lived. This isn’t the case with PR. A well-placed story can reap benefits for an extended period. The fundamental PR strategy is to place a story in one publication and move it up the ladder to another magazine or newspaper, or transfer it to another medium such as radio or television.
Consumers often cut out and keep articles they read. Also, a copy of the publication containing your article can be passed around, mailed or generally distributed to customers and other contacts. This is another way to ‘touch’ customers and prospects. They like to be informed about special accomplishments and kept up-to-date on both you and your company.
Exposure in local publications is valuable too
A major misconception of PR is that media exposure is only beneficial if it appears in the national media. Landing a story in a national publication or a prominent television or radio show is certainly reason to cheer – and it will provide valuable publicity that an advertisement could never achieve – but an effective public relations campaign starts closer to home.
Chains of small weekly and daily newspapers, major metropolitan newspapers and county magazines are among the media outlets that are ideal targets for stories. Remember, the goal of a PR campaign is to create and maintain a buzz about your business, build your credibility, position you in the market place and save you money over traditional advertising.