I’ve practiced public relations for a long time now, and I’m still baffled by the amount of marketing people I meet who still have no idea what the discipline is all about. Advertising, they get. Direct marketing, they understand. But a basic understanding of what public relations is, and how it can help a brand, eludes them.
Probably more than any other marketing tool in the box, public relations is all about the relationships. Relationships between the company and its customers, relationships between a brand and the media, relationships between managers and employees.
Inc.com recently posted an article about “Why PR is Becoming the Future of SEO.” Perhaps the line in this piece that resonated with me the most was, “PR pros have unique insight into what an audience wants to read.” That insight is what generates interesting conversation points between a company and its customers. It’s what helps build those long-term relationships.
Unlike paying for an advertisement and having the ability to control your outgoing message, public relations efforts stem from your relationships to generate authentic conversations, trend articles and blog posts about a brand. Can you still practice public relations without those relationships? Sure, but it’s a lot like swimming uphill through molasses — terribly slow and incredibly sticky.
When you hire a public relations agency, or cultivate an in-house PR team, what you need to understand is how they value their contacts within the industry you serve. Do they know media on a first name basis? Are they familiar with the trends affecting your industry right now? Do they know what the influencers are blogging about at any point and time? How plugged in are they to the social media chatter?
The most effective public relations programs are built on solid relationships. Think of your PR team as your company’s ear to the ground, always listening and following the trends impacting your business, and providing insight into conversations you want to share with your customers.
How are you building your brand’s relationships today?