Things People Need to Know About Public Relations
- February 2, 2016
- Public Relations
The industry of public relations makes an appalling job over its public relations affairs.
Most of us do not really understand the job of a public relations person. This leads to people asking what is a pr agency? Or, perhaps, what is your average day like?
If you work as a construction worker, a cowboy or a policeman, people would easily know your occupation.
Being in the boutique PR business, I always have to clarify that we are not into producing dishy radio jingles, we do not go around buying advertisements, or mandate journalists to come up with favorable articles for our customers, and we don’t give away free samples at every mall there is. In contrast, with the advertiser’s way of promoting clients, products and services, we convince our inner and outer circle of audiences by way of voluntary or earned schemes. We rely solely on our trusted sources when it comes to communicating with our audiences, whether through social media, traditional mass media or through speaking engagements.
In order for the general public as well as for people behind this industry who need to describe their occupations family, friends, and even strangers, to completely grasp what PR is all about and to know how to competently use such skills, here are Five Important Things People Need to Understand about the World of Public Relations. If you are interested in having a career in Public Relations, or have recently been offered an interview then you must make sure that you are prepared. You might want to have a look at answers to these questions so you have an idea of what they will ask in an interview and how you should respond to have a better chance of landing the position.
I.What actually is Public Relations? Public Relations or more commonly known as PR is in fact the Persuasion Business. You have to convince or persuade your audience to want to buy your products and services, promote your ideas by using products like the ones found at super cheap signs, recognize your accomplishments or support your position whether it is within your community, your group of family and friends or even the whole town. As agreed upon by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) after thousands of submission – “Public Relations is essentially a strategic process of communication that builds valuable relationships between organizations and their main publics”.
People in the PR business are considered storytellers. They basically make storylines in order to enhance their strategy and plans. An effective Public Relations practitioner will make an analysis of the organization, look for encouraging and constructive messages, and turn these messages into positive pieces of writings. However, when information is critical, they can devise the most effective response and ease damage.
According to the Princeton Review – The PR specialist is an image booster. Their task is to create favorable publicity for the enhancement of the reputation of their client. They inform the public about the affairs of government agencies, handle political campaigns, and clarify policies. A company public relations officer may handle employer-employee relationships as well as consumer relations.”
Included in our tools are the following:
- Speech Writing
- Market Research on the company or the company’s messaging
- Write and hand out press releases
- Pitch writing(less proper than PR’s) about a company to be sent directly to the press.
- Blogging and writing on the web whether external or internal sites
- Set up special events made exclusively for public outreach programs and media relations
- Crisis PR schemes
- Expansion of industry connections thru personal networking or sponsoring of events.
- Social media publicities and reactions to negative opinions on the web
II. How do Public Relations differ from Advertising? It can be a comparison between credibility versus skepticism, voluntary versus paid, or earned versus bought. Public relations have a satisfying flavor while advertising has a less filling taste.
As the saying goes: “Advertising is something that you pay for while publicity is something that you pray for”.
Public relations are gained media while advertising is funded media. PR means you need to convince print journalists to come up with a positive narrative about you or your customer, your endorsed candidate, or your preferred brand or issue. The story comes out in the editorial section of a newspaper, magazine, website, or a TV station while advertisements appear in the paid media section. Your narrative therefore is more credible as it was impartially substantiated by a reliable third party instead of being bought.
Here is a comparison chart of PR and Advertising
|Built in trust||Exposure builds up|
|Media provides 3rd party confirmation||Skepticism from the viewers|
|There is no guarantee and media needs to be convinced||Placement is guaranteed|
|The media controls the ultimate version||Overall creative control|
|PR makes use of language||Most ads are thru visual aids|
|Less costly||More costly|
|“This is essential”||“You must purchase this product”|
One huge distinction of PR from Advertising is the price. Public Relations companies usually charge monthly retainers fee or they can be employed for certain projects. It is a fact that advertising is very expensive.
There was a former customer that bought a one full page advertisement from a weekly magazine priced at $125,000. Numerous conversations, viral media exposures and a wave of phone calls is what he expected, but alas he got none whatsoever. On the other hand, getting cited in Forbes, Reuters, and New York Times gave rise in several national speaking invitations, phone calls from existing and new clients as well as firm credibility. Advertising is really costly if you compute the time and space allotted, not to mention the production costs and creative designs along with it. Mostly ads are repeated many times for the consumers to be convinced. And, not everybody can afford to pay $125,000 just for ads.
To be able to sell more ads, people from the advertising industry tell their customers what they want to hear, but this is only for the advertisers’ best interest. In contrast, PR people tell the clients what they need to hear from a realistic point of view taking into consideration all the factors that need to be completed before the public can be convinced. Factors like image enhancement, adversities along the way, and creating long term relationships with the media before the clients are accepted and recognized.
III. The News
It is very important to comprehend the structure of news. It is a must if you want to start your own PR agency or need to hire one. Keep in mind that there are 2 ways to create news.
First is to make your own storyline or fo llow another storyline. If you are truly interested in pursuing public relations, you need to really understand, carry it out, and make full use of it. Before committing to your boss or client that you can get them on the front sheet of the New York Times, you need to analyze the scenario and ask yourself what kind of story you will be working on, how will it benefit you and the audience, or how can it have a positive impact on the public as a whole? You have to see it in the perspective of the majority.
There are specific criteria that need to be considered to make news and here are two of them.
Make a Story
Considered as the most common type of public relations, making a story consists of storytelling. The majority of businesses eyeing to make news will require endorsing something new and fresh, for instance a brand new app, a new car, a merger of two prominent conglomerates, a whole new market that can make significant change, or anything that can greatly impact the audience. Some other types of making news would include content marketing at your own website, social media marketing through tweets, videos, photos or blog posts, and bylined write-ups for independent publications.
There are companies that initiate their own speaking engagements for prominent groups of people or produce their own exclusive events. Although both can be great concepts, the amount of time and money spent for them can be costly and there is no guarantee of coverage. A lot of universities and colleges make news by doing innovative research and surveys. Small companies and entrepreneurs generally cannot afford this type of campaign. It would be easier to conduct email and telephone surveys from suppliers, peers, and clients, or provide short questionnaires that can make light of a particular issue and that would be worthy of media’s attention.
Pursue a story
This is when you see a certain story in the news that has a major impact with the public and you respond to it. The story could be a huge drop in the stock market or the global economic effects of calamities, storms or droughts, or even a political scandal. When it comes to breaking news or flash reports, media correspondents would need a professional to make commentaries in real time via live video feed, phone interview, or video conference. Most of the time journalists contact known and trusted experts and professionals knowledgeable in a particular issue. Having connections can also be a big advantage in gaining media attention. If the story is not urgent, businesses can turn themselves into a trending subject matter. Basically these are feature stories, quite different from the news that’s happening today. Assuming many law firms cut deals for hourly work in return for monthly retainers that are guaranteed, and your lawyer-client signed a huge deal with their major client, then that’s a trend worth reporting.
IV. Can Conventional Media be replaced by Social Media?
Most likely not, although tweets and blog posts are very popular and widely used in this day and age, and are just as good as quotes from the New York Times. The hype for these social platforms is immense and can even boost and help in promoting PR efforts. Here is a piece of advice from the CEO of Muckrack, a website that connects journalists to PR professionals. Greg Galant states “Being boring is off-limits on social media”. Make your announcement in popular social network sites to have more exposure. Speaking of exposure, if you’re looking to increase your social following on Instagram for example, it could be as easy as using an app for instagram followers to make this positive change. This way, you’ll have more people potentially viewing your content, which is what you want. Additionally, on Twitter, try to create an exciting approach in declaring your announcement using 107 characters and keep in mind that you need to spare 23 characters intended for your link. Look for an attractive and appealing image in relation to your announcement to be included on your Pinterest and Instagram posts. You can also do a five-second audiovisual clip on Vine concerning your message. Do not post your PR in social media such as Tumblr and Facebook. You need to rephrase it without including meaningless words or phrases as if describing to a friend the reason for your announcement.”
According to the Princeton Review – “Digital PR is all about building solid relationships among the players within your social structure. The methods used would include blogs, social media, SEO, online newsrooms, online media reportage, and content development. Consumer generated content and online reputation social media can definitely have a fast effect on your precious reputation – either negative or positive.”
“Building relationships Digital PR take advantage of social media networks, platforms and tools to be able to collaborate with people via online as well as build solid relationships. Social media PR is the conversations and content on YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter while the digital share is the support systems needed to make the content and conversations more effective and relevant. These support systems include research, identifying influencers, social audits, research development and distribution of content.”
Main author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, David Meerman Scott lectures about relevance and speed. A digital media guru, Scott proposes these concepts – you can make your own blog about the news, using a reputable hashtag, tweet the news, transmit real time media alerts, directly communicate with a reporter who might be very interested of the news, or conduct a virtual or live news feed.
V. Is PR measurable?
Perhaps, however it can only be measured as estimates. A lot of people and businesses design and use spreadsheets and models as estimate. Some are more effective than others. This can easily be the most exciting topic within the PR industry. Many experts follow the Barcelona Principles where there are 7 voluntary rules created by professionals to calculate the value of public relations publicities. The foremost principles were established in year 2010. This is when PR specialists from around 33 nations converged in Barcelona, Spain. Calculating, judging, and measuring the 7 important principles can be quite complex and costly, not to mention time consuming and can require the expertise of an external firm. However, it still is worthwhile to conduct further study. The Barcelona Principles were last revised in 2015.
I disagree with their elimination of advertising equivalence in the Barcelona Principles due to the following reasons: buyer experience, user experience, and of course free market. When you say buyer experience, it means businesses make the ultimate decision every single day on how to spend their marketing resources on advertising campaigns or PR. It is a more realistic choice, so to speak. User experience is where editorials and advertisements are seen simultaneously, they are inseparable. Lastly, the free market is where millions and billions of dollars are being spent on print advertising, Internet and on television every single year. This is a large industry that seeks to communicate in different ways, a lot of the same campaigns as public relations. However, sensible people can always differ. Any accepted principles that boost the value and understanding of the Public Relations business are worthy. Without these noble efforts, no one would have known what we are doing.
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