In order to create a successful business, a quality product or service might not be enough, presentation and reputation hold the same importance. That unwritten rule does not implement for businesses, it is a general rule that implies any public organization or a private person. Every subject that is in focus of the public must have a certain level of skill and tactics when it comes to outreaching and handling relationships. Lack of public relations regardless of the product, service or any type of quality, in general, can ruin everything and in most cases can present the end of success of any kind. Bad public relations affect the value, and it can take years to overcome the negative impact. That is why investment and care for public relations are one of the top priorities and must be handled by the experts.
Definition of public relations
Public relations represent strategic communication between companies, organizations, and individuals with the public in order to develop and build mutually beneficial relationships.
Public relations are handled by the experts that use mass media to create a strong relationship with the target audience. Their approach and actions are executed through other direct or indirect mediums, and everything is done according to specialized communications plans. The main objective is to maintain a positive reputation and image of the brand, create a strategic relationship with the public, potential customers, partners, and investors. The expected effect of the actions is the creation of the perception that the company is successful, honest, relevant and important.
Public relations are easily mistaken for advertising. PR agencies and experts do not buy ads, they are systematically building brand identity and image in the media with creative content, stories, and actions through websites, news channels, blogs, newspapers, and television programs. The key difference between public relations media actions and advertising is the third party validation. The public can be skeptical about the advertisement, but if the media is not bought then it has more validation and in the eyes of the observer it has more value. One of the examples is the development of the destination in tourism. If you, as an observer, see the advertisement about certain destinations, you might be skeptical about it but if you see the report about beauties of the destination, it might get your attention. Mediterranean city of Split was always a great location for a vacation but somehow it did not attract enough visitors regardless of advertising efforts until bloggers started to write about things to see in Split and after that, the destination explode in numbers.
Importance of the PR agencies
Public relations agencies are key in the presentation of the work and actions of any organization or public person. They are constantly monitoring the situation to create plans and executing actions in order to build a reputation and create a bigger value. Field of action are media, investors, government, communities, and customers.
Agencies are establishing a good relationship with the media and acting as their source of the information. Having good relations with the media is one of the most important things for any organization, if not the most important. Media can build or destroy the reputation of any organization and it is always good to be on the good side.
Another huge role is to handle government relations and presentation of the fulfillment of corporate policies. Social responsibility, fair competition, employee protection, consumer protection, and transparent work is something that the government is monitoring and takes it seriously.
Community matters like environmental protection are sensitive so it is one of the top priorities for the organization to handle social aspects and branding properly. The public is extremely sensitive and if the organization disregard their interest and work in collision with them it can create many issues. Having a negative perception from the public can lead to bad media and government relations as they both serve them.
Customer relations and marketing communications serve the same cause. Customer relations include market research that helps inspect customer’s preferences, interests, and priorities. The more you discover about your customer the better product or service you create. When you create your product or service you need to present it, and then you are working on product launch, campaigns, and brand positioning.
Another important part of the PR department or agency is to handle investor and internal relations. Public relations are not an external process only! The organization needs to present the action and information to the employees and explain to them what is their role in the process. That is the matter of synergy as well. When it comes to investors, you need to handle the relations by organizing events with planned actions and sense, present them work achievements and financial reports.
Key PR actions:
- Drafting strategies for brand support
- Writing and distribution of press releases
- Tracking public opinion and interests towards the brand
- Speechwriting for organization front office
- Executing and planning of the public outreach
- Organization of media relationship events
- Organization of investors events
- Content creation for a website (both internal and external)
- Developing and handling crisis management
- Handling of the companies social media accounts
- Dealing with public organizations and interest groups
- Dealing with government agencies
Benefits of PR
If you create and execute a high-quality PR strategy, you will have more benefits than from regular advertising. The public prefers messages that are coming from a trusted third party than from advertised content. When the message is received through the third party, your brand receives a huge boost and you are building a brand image. The best example is the expansion of day trips from Split (notice: previously mentioned example). Advertising efforts didn’t generate any sales until travel magazines didn’t start writing about the great trips deals, and what happened the next is huge interest in the Blue cave trip from Split. Demand for the trip skyrocketed from 0 to 100 in no time.
If your public relations are good, you are potentially reaching a larger audience than you are able to do with paid advertising and that can be a cost-effective strategy as the total cost are significantly lower. With good PR you can capitalize on the opportunities, those opportunities can be a current public issue and you can scoop media attention by making a statement about it. It is opportunistic but it definitely does the work as the public can be very sensitive on the subject and social media influencers can attach to your message and help you reach larger audiences.
Public relations agencies
It is almost impossible to ignore a need for public relations in modern business, so the only question to ask yourself is how to deal with it. You can do it on your own, but isn’t it risky to do it if you have zero expertise? Yes, public relations are taking time and resources but you should consider it as an investment rather than the cost. Hiring a PR firm will help you and your company to reach a targeted audience, keeps an eye on the marketplace, and builds your brand. This investment will give you huge benefits in the long run, and without it, you are taking a risk of having huge unintended damage.