PR is often associated primarily with media relations, which means that many people disregard this area. Nevertheless, it is worth realizing that without public relations it is very difficult or even impossible to create a positive image of the company. Marketing alone is not enough to establish lasting relationships with customers. What does public relations mean?
Public relations – definition
Not everyone can explain what PR means, and it is worth knowing this concept. In short, it is a communication strategy that allows you to build a relationship between the company and its environment. They are not only customers, but also the local community and employees. It is also interesting that there is no single definition explaining what exactly this area does. The oldest ones, from the 1920s, focus primarily on the information function. Over time, other aspects were also taken into account, including analytical and consultative. One of the most popular definitions today is that of the American Public Relations Association. It puts emphasis on building relationships and commitment, and not only on creating opinions and publicity for the company.
PR and marketing – what are the differences?
In addition to explaining what PR is, you also need to distinguish between it and marketing. They are not the same, although the areas complement each other. Public relations is closely related to the company’s information policy, its relations with the environment, culture and management. In turn, marketing focuses on those activities related to the market and customers that are to increase the production process and create demand. This area is mainly aimed at meeting the needs of consumers and at the same time increasing the company’s revenues
PR is a narrower concept. It supports the marketing strategy, and sometimes it is also its important element and indirectly increases the interest in the offered products or services. Therefore, public relations can complement marketing and jointly achieve the goals set by the company. It facilitates building trust in the company, and this is important when it comes to making purchasing decisions. This PR largely creates its image, as well as informs about current events, which may be, for example, entering new markets, expanding operations or introducing new products to the offer.
Why is PR sometimes confused with marketing? This may be influenced by the fact that it is used as a communication tool between the enterprise and the community. It is therefore crucial to distinguish between the tasks carried out by these two areas. This is important especially from the perspective of entrepreneurs, because only then is it possible to develop an effective strategy ensuring success on the market.
Public relations – what for?
Well-thought-out, well-conducted PR activities mean that the company ceases to be anonymous. It gains recognition and thus can achieve its goals, and especially increase profits. Thanks to public relations, you can effectively distinguish yourself from the competition and gradually build a positive image, while gaining the trust of an increasing number of people. By combining this area in a skillful way with marketing, you can get closer to customers and meet their expectations. This is conducive to creating good opinions and associations.
There are still many companies that neglect PR. Sometimes this is due to a limited budget, but sometimes it is related to a misperception of this type of activity. There are people who wrongly equate public relations with lies and manipulation. Literally translated, the term means public relations. This area includes all activities that allow for contact with the environment and creating positive associations in the context of the company. They are aimed at two groups:
– Internal recipients – includes people within a given organization. This includes supervisory board, management, employees, shareholders, trade unions. In this case, PR is primarily used to integrate and motivate the entire team, but also to increase awareness of the mission, identity and goals of the company.
– External recipients – includes all people who are not directly related to the organization. These are mainly clients (including potential ones), media and various institutions.
In addition to the information and image function, PR also performs several others:
– coordination – allows to harmonize the activities undertaken in the company,
– stabilization – in crisis situations it helps to stabilize relations with the environment,
– persuasive – strengthens the positive attitude of recipients towards the company,
– contact – allows you to maintain good contacts with the environment,
– preventive – prevents problems from developing on a larger scale, allows them to be solved at an early stage.
Public relations activities
In fact, PR activities are very diverse. The most important are:
– Media relations – in other words, cooperation with the media. It is public relations that deals with maintaining contact with journalists, thanks to which information about the company, its achievements, etc. appear in the press, television and other channels. events.
– Crisis management – actions carried out in sudden, difficult and unexpected situations that may adversely affect the company’s image. Their goal is not to cover up the truth, but to take action that will remove the effects of the crisis or reduce them as much as possible.
– Corporate Identity (CI) – in other words, creating the identity of the organization. This area includes all activities that allow to build and consolidate a strictly defined way of perceiving the company among recipients. Attention to detail and consistency play an important role here. CI means, for example, logos, stamps, business cards or colors used by the company.
– Own publications – all publications issued by the company relating to its daily operations. It is not only leaflets and folders, but also financial reports, annual reports and even a website.
– Lobbying – activities aimed at gaining the favor of the media, authorities and other interested parties. They can be conducted both on a local and national scale. Lobbying helps to disseminate ideas important to the company.
In order for PR to help a company, it must be based on a carefully prepared strategy. Each step should be well thought out as a seemingly small mistake usually costs a lot. It should be noted that public relations activities are based on dialogue, i.e. two-way communication. This distinguishes this area from regular advertising which is one-sided and does not expect feedback. Currently, PR participates in communication with clients and is helpful at every stage of the company’s activity. It provides a lot of support during its establishment and building awareness, as well as later, when introducing new products to the market, conducting social campaigns and rebranding.
Public relations goals
The goals of PR can be divided into:
A specific image of the company is a strategic goal. It determines the state that should be achieved by implementing the developed plan. Motivates and shows the correct course of action. An example of such a goal may be to improve the opinion about an organization in the industry or to strengthen the relationship between it and customers. Strategic goals focus on managing problems, image and relationships. They mostly influence and complement each other.
The operational goals are more precise, and their implementation facilitates the achievement of the set strategic goals. They are formulated taking into account the SMART principle, that is:
S – Specified,
M – Measurable,
A – Ambitious,
R – Realistic,
T – Time-Bound.
An example of an operational goal is to increase the number of members of the company’s loyalty program by 40% within 6 months. Each must be worded in such a way as to be detailed and, at the same time, measurable. It is also important that the operational goals motivate the company to act and develop. However, when establishing them, you need to make sure that you have the tools to implement them.
Formulating the goals that the company is to achieve through PR in the right way is important, because it is on this that the subsequent measurement of their effects depends. For the evaluation, you need tools that allow you to track the progress of organized campaigns and give you access to various statistics. Which are worth using? It largely depends on what exactly the company wants to achieve through public relations activities. For example, Google Analytics or Brand24 may prove useful (especially for media monitoring). When verifying the effects, certain indicators should be taken into account, such as:
– the number of mentions of the company, both on official channels and on internet forums, blogs, etc.,
– range of published content,
– traffic on the corporate website.
There is no single, strictly defined method for analyzing the effects of PR, which can be quite a problem for companies. In addition, this area is gradually entering other areas, supplementing them (e.g. marketing), and this is an additional obstacle. Although analyzing the effectiveness of public relations is not always easy, it is worth taking on this task to see if the company is actually going in the right direction.
Keep in mind that PR plays a very important role. Currently, the reputation and perception of the company are extremely valuable. Often they are the ones that largely allow you to achieve success in the industry, and one mistake is enough to lose your position that has been built for many months or years.