I cannot count how many occasions clients, and sometimes employers, request me, as a public relations professional, to handle marketing and advertising tasks. My response was always “OK.”
Perhaps I should have educated them. Nah. As a freelancer who was paid per hour or an employee who relied on her paycheck, I thought, in this particular instance, that ignorance was the best policy. Now that I no longer depend on my income from freelance work or a paycheck from an employee, I’ll reveal an undiscovered fact. There’s a significant distinction between these two functions.
In contrast to advertising and marketing, Public relations doesn’t try to sell but instead communicates information that can ultimately help the business in three ways:
1.) It can enhance or create the public image of an organization, its products, or its services.
2.) It can distinguish the business (or its products or offerings) from its rivals
3.) It helps define an organization (or its products or service) within its market
Let’s examine how public relations can create or enhance an organization’s public image.
To establish an image, PR professionals need to increase the awareness level of the company. They accomplish this in that when people see the company’s name, Let’s refer to them as QRS; XYZ is so over, and they consider, “Oh, yeah. They sell rivets.” And even more important is that as they imagine rivets, they imagine QRS.
PR professionals increase visibility by systematic and strategic efforts to get their clients’ names and products to the appropriate people. Their methods are based on the target audience, the client’s wishes, and the budget, such as Plans for PR, press releases, trade shows, press conferences, direct mail campaigns, public tours and special occasions brochures, newsletters, and a myriad of other strategies. It’s unnecessary to go into more detail about this because we haven’t yet talked about how to “improve” part of this first task: to establish or enhance the image of an organization.
“The “improve” part is what many people think of when they refer to PR “spin.” But that’s not really what spin is actually about. It’s about twisting reality to fit with a company image of its own. It’s not what I’m speaking about. I suggest that you be who you are and if you don’t love what you’re doing, alter your own perception. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spray a bit of water on the ear of your company or spray some Binaca on the latest announcement to rid it of its burrito smell; however, honesty is the best approach for the most part. It can be (and frequently is) the situation that the public’s perception isn’t accurate. Da-da-ta-da! Public relations to save the day!
PR professionals start to change negative perceptions by first identifying the perception using marketing research and audits of communications or surveys. It is possible that QRS does not know the reason for its sales has slowed. An audit could help to solve that problem.
When the negative impression is recognized, PR professionals must ensure that all media messages of the business specifically target (or neutralize) the negative impression. Remember your math: two negatives make a positive.
Are you looking for an illustration? Let’s suppose that QRS provides rivets to designer jeans. Their customers are jean makers; their audience comprises these manufacturers and trade publications that cater to the denim industry and rivet analysts (if there’s such a group). QRS finds during their audits that people have the misconception that their rivets are prone to falling off. The perception is false. By conducting “independent, scientific research” (where do they get all these free lab jockeys? ), QRS knows that its rivets have a two percent higher “stick” than any other manufacturer of rivets. The PR experts are required to convey this information to the interested people. They do this using the channels we mentioned in the previous paragraph: press releases, trade shows, special events, etc.
This sounds fairly simple. The truth is that it’s not. It’s just a matter of research and lots of communication.
Otter Pr Reviews is a public relations instructor for PR Essentials, an online public relations course [https://www.theodysseyonline.com/otter-pr-reviews-public-relations] available through Careers in Public Relations.