Today's post is from Tara Goodwin, owner of our PR Collaboration Partners, Goodwin Consulting.
Although public relations is a well-established industry, people often misunderstand what it actually entails. Hint: we’re not advertisers, or marketers.
I’m always keen to differentiate my job from other communication services like advertising and marketing hat also promote businesses and brands. So, what exactly is PR? At its core, PR uses strategic communication to create mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and communities.
Still confused about what we really do? You’re not alone. Here are the most common questions I get about PR—and answers to demystify what PR people “do” once and for all!
Top 6 Questions About Public Relations
1. What does PR entail?
PR professionals are essentially storytellers with one primary goal: getting good publicity for our clients. We help businesses achieve brand recognition by telling stories about why a product is special or better than its competitors.
The channels we use can be as broad or as limited as your time, budget, or focus allows:
- Print/digital media (e.g. newspapers and websites)
- Social media channels
- Trade publications (e.g. byline articles, thought leadership)
- Events (e.g. charitable fundraisers)—yes, these can be virtual during COVID-19 and still have an impact!
2. What’s the difference between PR and Marketing?
There’s a famous saying that in marketing/advertising you pay for space, and in PR you pray for space. Though marketing and PR are closely aligned (and often work hand-in-hand), marketing is direct-to-consumer. PR, on the other hand, shouldn’t be overly promotional.
While marketing tells you what and where the sale is, PR tells you why you want to shop somewhere. Combined, these two functions are a powerful one-two punch. But I will tell you that in my 20+ years of experience, most agencies that claim to do both marketing and PR usually only excel at one of them.
3. How much does PR cost?
Monthly retainers for longer-term engagements average around $5,000/month or higher at most PR firms, though some solo practitioners will price lower. Keep in mind that what you’re really buying from a PR firm is time. Clients that determine how to maximize that time will get the most value from a PR relationship.
4. How do I measure results?
First, find a PR firm that engages in strategic initiatives with measurable results. My advice is to focus on a few key metrics that are both quantitative and qualitative. Are you getting feedback on coverage? Are you hearing from new customers as well as people you haven’t heard from in a long time?
It also helps to broaden your definition of success. Perhaps a PR engagement connects a client with someone who works on government tax incentives and the client ends up saving thousands of dollars. Wouldn’t you consider that success, too? I certainly would!
5. How long does it take for PR to work?
I’ll be honest with you: PR initiatives can take longer than other marketing efforts to yield results. But that’s just the nature of the business, so don’t feel discouraged. Stick with initiatives for at least a quarter, then reevaluate their effectiveness. I’ve seen plenty of media hits catch fire (and bring in business) 6 months after publication.
Think of your PR engagement as you would any new relationship: it can take a while to develop, but soon enough you’ll see results and know that it’s working.
6. Can I do PR on my own?
You absolutely can, though you probably won’t benefit as much from it. PR isn’t rocket science, but it does require time, effort, and strategy. As a business owner, you’re already doing what you do best: driving your business forward. So leave the strategic communication and storytelling to a professional.
You may find initial success handling your own PR, but you won’t necessarily experience the consistent, strategic and long-term results you’ll get from the right PR firm.
Building and executing a successful public relations strategy doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why it literally pays to engage a firm that can do the work for you. If you want to learn how I can help you and your organization succeed, give me a call!
About the Author
She is considered an expert in crisis communications, media relations, strategic events, and effective content development and curation. Learn more about Tara here >