20 Mar Spotting good business PR in the publicity jungle
Want to uncover the mystery behind PR? PR is often confused with marketing and some of its other forms, such as publicity and advertising. So in this blog series we are shining a light on what PR is and how it differs to other marketing tools. First taxi off the rank is PR versus publicity.
Ah, PR and publicity- many businesses think PR and publicity are one and the same. However, while both are attractive options for gaining audience attention and those critical new and repeat customers recognising you in a crowd, publicity and PR have two very distinct roles and some fairly important differences.
Let’s take a closer look at the PR versus publicity conundrum.
What is PR?
Public relations (PR) is the management of communication between an organisation and the public. The aim of PR is to preserve or enhance the reputation of that organisation, and to foster dialogue with an organisation’s various audiences.
PR has a multitude of functions but one of its most powerful is promotion. As part of promotion, the PR agent adds credibility and facilitates positive image through media coverage, social media and other communication channels. PR is also employed to limit brand damage and take care of all communication, for example if there’s a public outcry about an organisation’s activities or an accident occurs at a job site. At the core of PR is ensuring a strong consumer and business relationship through clear, informative, two-way communication.
As the name suggests, PR is about making sure public relations are kept positive through providing information and distributing it via channels that appeal to the audience in mind. It’s about keeping the public informed as well as listening to them so the business and the consumer can build a relationship.
PR versus publicity
Largely, PR is about getting the right message across and influencing key stakeholders to become advocates of your business. It’s not just about getting your name in the paper: it needs to be strategic and influential, and it must absolutely represent your brand well.
One common misconception is that PR is just publicity, but it’s more complex than that. PR is a way of managing a relationship. As such, it works towards creating a mutual understanding between a business and its stakeholders, including customers, potential customers, other influencers and decision makers such as sponsors or members of government.
In order to demonstrate the relationship between PR and publicity, let’s take a look at a fictional business example, ABC Paint.
Example: Supplier ABC Paint hires a PR agency because it wants to secure a solid mid-market customer base. The PR agency suggests ABC becomes the ‘people’s choice’ for paint and devises a campaign where ABC Paint runs an annual competition to find the Colour of the Year. The competition is based on a shortlist provided by colour experts and then voted on by the public via its website and social media. When ABC Paint announces the Colour of the Year, media commentators from the design and interior decorating sectors always remark on whether they agree with the choice or not.
Publicity is the buzz campaign to get people talking. The media coverage and hype surrounding the Colour of the Year competition and announcement is the publicity element of the strategy.
PR is the story behind the competition. ABC Paint wanted a mid-market customer base and the PR agency thought being ‘people’s choice’ would help it capture that market. ‘People’s choice’ was the branding strategy, the publicity campaign, through Colour of the Year, was one of its tactics.
Gaining publicity for your business and business activities can give you the opportunity to be on the radar of new customers, remind existing customers that you are around, and highlight your profile in the wider business community.
PR is about extending your relationship with customers and managing that connection to create trust through an ongoing story. PR is also a source of consumer information and reassurance when times are tough for your company. PR gives your customers confidence in what you do and what you stand for.
When executed correctly, every business benefits from PR, and there aren’t many businesses that wouldn’t benefit from publicity.
In our next ‘spotting the difference’ blog, we’ll take a look at PR versus marketing.