In every city in every country, Media and PR agencies sprout out of the ground.
Sitting on every creative corner of every street, they can be found nestled amongst vegan coffee lounges and minimalistic art studios like modern day gods seemingly holding the keys to profitability and success.
In the meantime, companies sit dreaming. Wondering what it would be like to hit the big time and see their name in lights like their competitors and all that’s separates them is an advertising budget. Right? No. It’s much more than that.
Every business wishing to hit the top needs someone either in or out-house to at least, cultivate and review the image the company is portraying to the outside world. Banging out a dozen marketing ads in a few publications, even on a regular basis, is not going to make your business the next big thing. You need a sound PR strategy.
(And this is the point where most businesses roll their eyes and say it’s for bigger fish.) That’s not true either. It is for everyone and anyone. Big or small.
So, in this post today, I attempt to set the record straight on PR and why businesses can’t do without it.
But first, let’s look at the difference between marketing and PR. Why? Because although one is very important and integral to the success of a business, the other is vital.
Marketing vs PR – What’s the difference?
Marketing is the communication between you and your customers, investors and suppliers. It is the channel by which you inform them that you exist. It is the conversation you have with the outside world.
PR on the other hand is NOT what YOU say to your customers, investors and suppliers, it is the conversation THEY have amongst themselves. Marketing is important because it’s your voice. PR is vital because it’s theirs.
While marketing will help you discover what your customers want, their pain points, their values and demographic, it is PR that will create the image, the persona of your business and it is this, that sticks hard. Marketing can be changed instantly, but PR has a greater impact because it is the one thing that the business cannot control.
So, what is PR?
Every self-styled PR guru has an opinion what will be the next big phenomenon. Fashionable 20 somethings in glass high rises gossip over the next big concept that will change how the world thinks, and that the next British Gas advert will be the one that will save the planet.
That might be only a fraction of what PR is, but it certainly isn’t the whole story. So, what what’s the rest of it?
Is it the glossy images on the front cover? The stepping out of Harrods just as a TV camera shoots by? Scanning the airwaves for a topic which fits in with your client neatly and seamlessly? Well, no. It’s a combination of all of these things.
The idea that PR is simply the right look, the right word or the right angle on something is only half the battle. That said, if PR is a battle then you’re doing it wrong. Good PR is effortless.
PR in itself is essential to anyone or any business wishing to set out into the world their message. If you have an idea about any business, regardless of industry, one of the easiest things to do is shout about it, but make sure you are shouting at the right audience. There’s no point waving your arms up and down in the middle of a busy high street. If you’re not striking a cord, then you might as well be shouting at no one.
What’s your message?
Get clear on your message and even more so, ask yourself ‘why should anyone listen to what I have to say?’ We all buy with emotion and justify with logic later. Someone doesn’t buy a 63″ TV because they want a 63″ TV. They want the experience that goes with it. They want the clarity, the colour and sharpness of the picture. They want to feel as though they are IN the picture and away from their lives. They certainly don’t consider the price. They worry about that later.
Understand what it is you are selling and figure out the emotional pull you can lever behind it. Your customers won’t ever remember what it is you’ve said to them. They will even forget the discount or the offer that you gave them on purchase. What they WILL remember is how you made them FEEL.
The cheaper option
When someone buys something from you, you want them to go away and become a raving fan and gush to their friends how much they love your brand. That is PR. It is the shouting the public do about you to each other.
Every business, big or small needs an element of PR. It is the most over looked corner of marketing and advertising yet remarkably, the cheapest. PR when done properly won’t cost you a penny yet it is surprising the number of businesses who simply advertise without any form of PR strategy. It’s money down the drain for nothing.
The key to remember above anything else is that every business is human to human. It doesn’t matter if your client base are members of the public or other businesses. You are dealing with human beings on a daily basis.
Connect with them and they will become your marketing department.
Now that’s good PR.
Michelle has won awards for her contribution to Communications and PR for several high profile clients and projects, including the London 2012 Olympics. She holds a total of 5 Diplomas in Marketing, PR and even Business Psychology. She currently works as a PR Manager and lives in Wiltshire with her 3 cats and son, Jon.