One thing people always ask is, what is PR? To answer this is to ask, what is sport? What is literature? The answers could keep going on and on.
A more relevant question these days could well be, what is the most effective form of PR? There’s so many approaches that you can easily burn yourself out if you try them all.
The humble press release was once the mainstay of PR, and while it serves a purpose and often forms a huge part of many a campaign, but to think of public relations as just this these days is short-sighted and frankly, a missed opportunity.
The variety of ways you can get your message across is myriad these days. Podcasts, opinion pieces, newsjacking, features, social media content, specialised video content, subscription services, event management and much more all make up what is a fast-diminishing line in what constitutes PR and what constitutes marketing.
A marketers job is to get the product in front of the right customer, a PR professional’s job is to tell people why and to provide the story behind it.
So where to start? Rather than spread yourself thinly and try everything under the sun, first review what it is you want to express. Is it simply to sell your product or is it more reputational? Do you simply want to shift units or do you want lasting brand recognition that is backed by your own specialised, unique knowledge? PR can do both, but the focus should always be on the latter. Establish yourself as the leader in your industry and sales and enquiries will be their own reward.
What is it that makes your business stand out? What strikes you as unique about what it is you do? Finding that elusive line is essential. Once you know this, it’s simply a case of sizing up the market. What can you do to amplify that message? Where are your audience most likely consuming the media? If you can be the go-to person in your niche, then you are more well-placed than anyone else in your industry to encourage naturally-occurring enquiries and sales, simply by becoming trusted.
Think about what is happening in your space right now. Is there a subject that only you will be an authority on? Find out which publications and news sources are open to opinion pieces or contributions and offer your fountain of knowledge. Be the person they want to talk to and turn to when they need a comment. Don’t also be afraid of contributing to subjects your business might not be directly linked to as well. A perspective from another expert is always appreciated and adds to a news source’s credibility.
Ways in which you could contribute include:
The key with PR is to keep things as contemporaneous as a journalist or reporter would. Contemporaneous means to be timely, relevant and as true to the present day as possible. Lose that relevance and you may as well be talking to yourself. If you can remain essential as a source, then PR will be a relatively easy win for any business. The difficulty comes with consistency. You have to become a constant creator, a tireless machine that can keep up with trends and know what to say, to who and when.
It’s a fine balance, but PR can be one of your best marketing tools.