Entrepreneurs dream of having their company appear on the front page of a major publication or doing an interview on a major network. Public relations can certainly create breakthrough moments, but in most cases it is simply an important part of an overall marketing strategy. Many marketers see public relations as only handling rudimentary communication activities, such as issuing press releases and responding to questions from the news media. But in reality, in a time when customers are inundated with thousands of promotional messages everyday, public relations offers powerful methods for cutting through the clutter.
What is Public Relations?
Public relations involves the cultivation of favorable relations for organizations and products with its key publics through the use of a variety of communications channels and tools.
Traditionally, this meant public relations professionals would work with members of the news media to build a favorable image by publicizing the organization or product through stories in print and broadcast media. But today the role of public relations is much broader and includes:
- building awareness and a favorable image for a company or client within stories and articles found in relevant media outlets
- closely monitoring numerous media channels for public comment about a company and its products
- managing crises that threaten company or product image
- building goodwill among an organization’s target market through community, philanthropic and special programs and events.
Objectives of Public Relations
Like other aspects of marketing promotion, public relations is used to address several broad objectives including:
- Building Product Awareness. When introducing a new product or relaunching an existing product, marketers can use a PR element that generates consumer attention and awareness through media placements and special events.
- Creating Interest. Whether a PR placement is a short product article or is included with other products in “round up” article, stories in the media can help entice a targeted audience to try the product. For example, around the holiday season, a special holiday food may be promoted with PR through promotional releases sent to the food media or through special events that sample the product.
- Providing Information. PR can be used to provide customers with more in depth information about products and services. Through articles, collateral materials, newsletters and websites, PR delivers information to customers that can help them gain understanding of the product.
- Stimulating Demand. A positive article in a newspaper, on a TV news show or mentioned on the Internet, often results in a discernible increase in product sales.
- Reinforcing the Brand. In many companies the public relations function is also involved with brand reinforcement by maintaining positive relationships with key audiences, and thereby aiding in building a strong image. Today it is ever more important for companies and brands to build a good image. A strong image helps the company build its business and it can help the company in times of crises as well.