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  • Writer's pictureTaylor O'Brien

What PR is… and what it isn’t

“But will PR increase my bottom line?”

The only way to answer that question is by understanding exactly what PR is… and what it isn’t.


Public relations so often gets lumped into the same category as marketing and advertising. While all are functions of a strategic communications plan, each function carries the team in a different way. Overall, your PR goals and outcomes should integrate into your marketing strategy.


While PR doesn’t prepare your products for the marketplace or initiate paid promotions directly to consumers, we do take the role of telling the market that your new product is available, sharing both what it does and why the market needs it. PR’s job is to bring awareness to all that your company is already doing and amplify your expertise in the market—not create new ways for your company to do great things (you’re already doing that!).


Now I want you to think about your various stakeholders. You have your customers, your shareholders, employees, companies you partner with, and influencers in your industry like the media, analysts — anyone who has the potential to advocate for your brand.


Reputation amongst these stakeholders is important, right? Even though you can’t quite quantify the relationship between a positive reputation and the bottom line, you do know that maintaining a positive reputation with the stakeholders listed above will have an impact on your company’s performance in the market.


What PR professionals do is help build and maintain your company’s positive image. And there are many ways in which we execute this. Our job is to generate interest in your company’s news and point of views by engaging with relevant media to convey the significance of your company and its perspective on the market, and showcase why their audience will care about it. The goal from that effort is earned media. Unlike paid advertorial content that a marketing team might secure, earned media refers to free editorial coverage that elevates your company’s voice on trends in your market and industry.


To do that successfully, we spend time building and maintaining relationships with media and analysts. But not every news story is relevant to every press person covering the industry. To tell your story at the right time, to the right audience, we also take the time to understand how your organization’s goals align with the market.


This is also how PR can integrate into your marketing strategy – again, two separate functions, but we think they go pretty well together. Here’s why: marketing and advertising work together to share direct messages to customers. The goal is to motivate, but PR’s goal is to inform. Your PR team would take those messages and bring them to the right influencers in your industry. We’ll dig into your campaigns to find pieces of it that we think could be developed into a storyline. And if we’re right, we amplify your marketing campaigns to an even wider audience. Not every marketing campaign can be supported by PR, but if your PR team has a pulse on the news and trends in your industry, we have a better chance of pulling out the right stories.


Speaking of stories, you may have heard the term “storyteller” when describing what a PR person does. We disagree with that. We aren’t the ones writing or even telling the story. You are the one with the story to share and an editor usually has control of how the story is being told in the press. But what we can do is help you shape your story based on which aspects are most important. That’s how we craft your stories into press releases, blogs, and social media posts.


To answer our earlier question, yes. Adding PR activities can absolutely make an impact on your bottom line and directly support your business goals – hopefully in more ways than you could have imagined. Now that you know what PR is (and what it isn’t), do you have a story worth telling?


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