What is PR, and Why is Public Relations Important?

Why is public relations important?

First things first: PR is short for public relations. But why is public relations important? That’s a much bigger question for us to explore.

The term PR gets thrown around in so many contexts these days that one can hardly make sense of it anymore. For most people, PR is just another buzzword, often equated with advertising and publicity, which is far from being an accurate description of what this field entails. Others may have a slightly clearer idea about what it means, but when it comes to describing the processes and practices that are involved in a PR strategy, they realize they don’t hold a solid grasp on the specifics.

While the lack of knowledge in the area might not pose a problem for the average individual – although it would help understand the world that we live in a little bit better – for public figures, companies, and organizations knowing what PR is and how it can help their brand is absolutely crucial. 

Every business has some sort of PR tactic embedded in its overall strategy or uses techniques pertaining to this field to some extent in order to raise awareness about their brand. However, while some perform these actions unknowingly, others take a strategic approach to it. Since PR is essential for a brand’s success, it’s definitely recommended to follow the latter route and gain a solid understanding of what PR is and what it can do for you.  

It’s impossible to explain what’s behind these two letters in just a few words, given the complexity of the field and the broad range of activities it encompasses. That’s what this short guide is for – to take you through the basics of PR and provide a solid theoretical foundation that can help you shape a successful PR strategy in the future. 

What is PR?

So, what’s the answer to “what is PR?” other than “it’s complicated”? In the simplest of terms, PR, short for public relations, refers to the process of managing and sharing information about a person, organization, or company, using various methods and channels, in order to build, promote and maintain a favorable public image. In other words, PR is all about cultivating positive public perceptions of your brand so you can grow and thrive in your industry. 

A proper PR strategy doesn’t leave anything to chance – it takes care of every aspect that goes into reaching, engaging, and building trust with different types of audiences, from customers and associates to other businesses, the media, and any other party that might be linked to you in one way or another. So, while PR may not be an exact science, it is based on strategic communication, which is a subset of communication science. 

It’s easy to observe, based on the description we’ve provided above, that PR sounds very similar to branding and marketing. This is one of the reasons why people can have a hard time understanding which is while when and sometimes confuse the terms. It’s true that these disciplines have a lot in common, as there’s a certain overlap between the strategies they employ, but they’re hardly one and the same thing. 

There are key differences between branding, marketing, and PR, stemming from the function and the end goal of each. Branding is centered on creating an image for a person or a company and has to do with all the elements that go into building a good reputation. Marketing is about promoting products and services and driving sales. And PR is about communicating and building mutually beneficial relationships between a brand and its many audiences. 

But even if branding, marketing, and PR rely on different methods and strategies, and serve different purposes, in the end, all these components are part of the same ecosystem and work towards supporting your success and evolution. So, if you want to thrive in your industry, you have to cover all your bases and make sure you build a cohesive strategy where branding, marketing, and PR speak the same language. 

Why Is Public Relations Important?

Why is Public Relations Important? 

By now, it should be pretty clear that PR, when done properly, can make a world of a difference for people/companies, which is why PR firms in Los Angeles, where the competition in every sector and niche is tough, are currently thriving. Everyone knows that a brand is only as good as people perceive it to be, so being able to shape how people view you or your business is definitely a decisive factor in reaching success. But building positive relationships and impressions through strategic communication is quite a broad description that doesn’t go into the finer details of what a good PR can achieve. 

So, here’s what a well-crafted PR strategy should be able to do for you: 

  • take control of your messaging and adopt a proactive approach to improving your brand’s image 
  • react promptly and communicate effectively in times of crisis in order to minimize negative effects or turn them in your favor 
  • supervise and assess how your audiences perceive you and adapt your strategy accordingly
  • build and maintain favorable relationships with all stakeholders 
  • build a positive image of your brand in the online environment 
  • use and improve channels of communication to effectively promote your brand 

Looking at all the different elements that PR comprises and the advantages it provides, there’s no doubt that it is a powerful tool – one that should not be missing from your overall strategy. The idea is to make use of all the techniques and practices so that your brand is presented to the public in the brightest light possible. 

Main focus areas of a comprehensive PR plan

As you can see, PR activities take many forms and serve a wide range of purposes. This gives way to a multitude of variations and possibilities, which also means that no two PR strategies are alike. However, although communication strategies may differ widely based on each person/company’s specifics, there are certain boxes, or better-said focus areas, that all public relations strategies should check, as follows.

Media relations

Media relations is often the first thing that comes to mind when people hear the term public relations, and yet this is only one of the many facets of PR. As the name implies, media relations are all about nurturing a favorable relationship with all people in the media, be it bloggers, reporters, journalists, influencers, etc. The purpose is to secure positive media coverage for your brand, which is more or less a way to control the narrative and have someone else do your advertising for you. 

It’s one thing to speak highly of yourself or your brand, and a whole different thing to have someone from the outside praise you. People obviously expect you to say good things about yourself, but when another party presents you in a positive light it helps build trust and credibility. That’s what the media is for and why you should take advantage of these relations. For that, it’s necessary to write press releases, give interviews, organize press conferences, attend events, etc. The secret is to provide relevant and compelling stories about your brand that the media will want to cover. 

Employee relations

One major mistake that a lot of brands make is to focus their entire PR strategy on external factors and forget about what happens in their own backyard. Keep in mind that the relationships you cultivate with your employees are just as important as the ones you establish with clients or partners. This is where employee relations, or internal PR, comes into play.

It’s often said that employees are a company’s biggest asset. If that is true, then you should make sure that your PR strategy also targets your team members. This implies investing in internal communication by organizing events for your employees, creating internal newsletters, or supporting collaboration between staff members at all levels. If you manage to keep your employees happy, they can become your biggest supporters. 

Why Is Public Relations Important?

Community relations

Another aspect that you should pay special focus to is your local, or not-so-local community. It doesn’t matter if your brand has a physical presence or it operates exclusively in the online environment. It’s about taking into consideration how the community that your brand has an impact on perceives you. 

This means you must get to know the people in your community, understand how they think and act, and take interest in the issues that they care about. You might want to donate to local organizations, volunteer, or organize events so you can engage with people in the community, get them familiarized with your brand, and boost your brand’s reputation.

Corporate and social responsibility 

Cosley linked to community relations, corporate and social responsibility (CSR) has to do more with promoting your brand’s ethical and philanthropic values by getting involved in different causes and demonstrating how your core principles and commitment to a cause can benefit those around you. 

CSR is about acknowledging that your brand has the power to make a positive change and you are willing to make an effort to steer things in the right direction. You have to highlight your brand’s strengths and positive actions and minimize negative aspects as much as possible. focusing on sustainability and environmental protection is a good example in this respect. 

Crisis management 

While it’s always better to prevent a crisis from happening than to address it after it has occurred, it’s not always possible to keep unpleasant surprises at bay. A good PR strategy should take these types of events into account and include a protocol for when the unforeseen happens. 

Therefore, when an issue comes your way, your PR team will be quick on their feet to employ the right strategies and mitigate the negative effects of the problem and fix whatever needs to be fixed. The sooner you act, the higher the chances of getting out of a crisis with your reputation unharmed. 

There’s a lot to be said about how good PR can help you on your path to success. So, if there’s one thing that you should take away from this guide is that having a comprehensive PR strategy is imperative for making a mark in your industry.

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