More than just a press release

Over the years, PR has gradually had its meaning narrowed, with many thinking its simply short for press release.  But to those in the know PR is so much more!  In this, the first of a new series of blogs for our readers, we clarify what PR is and what it can do for your business.

What is PR?

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations defines Public Relations as:

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 public.

Whether you are a small or a large business, reputation is everything.  Anyone you come in to contact with; clients, suppliers, referrers, or businesses associates, will develop an opinion of you and your organisation.  Their view will ultimately determine the success (or failure) of your business.  If their perception of you is not good, not only will they not buy from you again, but they are likely to tell others not to buy from you too.

Remember, we live in an age of online reviewers with sites like Trip Advisor, Google Reviews and Amazon Reviews.  Further, as a business, people are far more likely to believe what others say about you than what you say about yourself.  You only have to assess your own buying behaviour to understand this.  Would you buy a product that had a bad online review?

This is where PR comes in to play.

Effective PR not only helps to communicate what it is your organisation has to offer but it should also be building your reputation with a variety of stakeholders.  In an ideal world, everyone who comes into contact with your business should gradually become an independent ‘brand ambassador’.

So what does PR include?

Management of your reputation encapsulates a wide range of marketing disciplines.  You need to consider all the different groups that interact with your organisation, what they need from you and how you can meet those needs?  To some extent, the clue is in the name: Who are your publics and how can you develop your relationships with them?

The media may be a great way of communicating with one group of people (and a press release may be ONE way of doing that) but other channels, such as social media, websites, newsletters, focus groups and good old-fashioned telephone and face-to-face communications, may be more appropriate for others.

Bear in mind the following:

  • Do you really understand your markets: where you fit; who your customers are; where they source information; what they think of you and your competitors; what your customers need; and how you can help them?  How can you address this in your marketing communications?
  • A great website that keeps its audience at its heart (customers, investors, partners etc);
  • Social media – not just a presence but actual engagement.  To be truly effective, you need to be clear what you are using social media for: to raise profile, improve or develop customer relations, research, showcase your business, engage with clients or referrers or something else;
  • Consistent branding and actions.  Do you practice what you preach?  Would someone interacting with one department have the same experience working with another department?
  • Customer engagement including complaints handling, speed of response, testimonial gathering or customer rewards for loyalty.
  • Smart SEO (search engine optimisation) to improve your visibility (and reputation) online;
  • Corporate image, including community engagement;
  • Eye-catching marketing campaigns;

The key to making it all work is to ensure your communications are tailored to each group’s wants and needs.  Not only this but they need to be co-ordinated across your organisation so there is genuine consistency in the messages delivered, the timing of these messages and people’s individual experiences of your brand, wherever and whenever they come into contact with it.

Many people saying the same thing about your organisation is far more persuasive than a one-off news item or recommendation.  You need to make sure those experiences are consistent, which also means looking at what is happening culturally and operationally within your organisation, not just at the external communications function.

So, how does all of this help your business?

PR should be a main focus for your business.  Without it you are unlikely to attract new or retain existing customers.  Without customers, there is no business.  We’ve already mentioned the power of the independent brand ambassador.  If the things we have mentioned (media relations, websites, corporate image, social media etc.) are handled well, it’s not hard to see the positive effect this can have on your business – more raving fans, resulting in more customers, who spend more, who return more often and refer more often.

You could almost say that marketing is why someone buys from you but PR is why they come back or tell others about your services.

For help with any aspect of either PR or marketing for your business including strategy, media training and crisis management please do contact us for a no obligation chat on 07740 872852 or e-mail

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