One of the first things people ask when I say I work in PR is, ‘So what is that then?’
There isn’t a straightforward answer.
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations use this definition:
Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.
Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.
However, this isn’t the only definition. In fact, Wikipedia have dedicated a whole section to it.
There is a common thread running through them all though – building a relationship. Rather than pure advertising, where you’re essentially shouting at people to buy your product, use your service or otherwise act in the way you want them to, Public Relations is about building a relationship with the people you want to engage with. This includes customers, but can also mean their friends and family, shareholders, board member, MPs, Councillors, staff, media…. The list goes on.
Why is this more effective? Think back to a time when you’ve asked people for their opinion. It could be posting on social media, looking at online reviews, or when you were picking out that lovely new pair of shoes in the shop. What did you pay the most attention to? The advert you saw about the product? Or was it a more personal experience – the opinions of people in your peer group, the review from the person who uses it regularly or the expert staff in the shop? I suspect it was the latter.
Who do you trust?
Public Relations helps your organisation build that kind of relationship with the people you engage with. You are trusted as the expert in your field and they can rely on you for accurate information and advice, not just a product. This leads to a longer-term relationship with your customers, who can then become repeat customers and your organisation’s advocates – so when their friends and family ask for their opinion, you’re at the front of their mind.
In an age where people are increasingly distrustful, if you are the organisation they can rely on, it’ll pay dividends.
If you’re looking for a PR practitioner on a permanent or freelance basis, look for someone on the CIPR’s Public Relations Register (where you’ll find me!). The CIPR have also put together a series of guides to help you recruit or invite pitches from your perfect PR match.
To discuss what you need from a PR practitioner, get in touch.