What is PR and Why Do You Need It?Dec 05, 2023 11:23AM ● By Nisha Patel
In today’s world of fast-paced digital ads, TikTok videos, and trendy influencer social posts, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and wonder: Where do I start? Believe me, you are not alone. I get asked all the time, where should I start in promoting my business and what is the best way to do it? The No. 1 answer I always give – public relations.
First, businesses – small or large – must understand the true meaning of public relations, or as most refer to it, PR. According to the Public Relations Society of America, PR is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. Some major functions of PR are corporate communications, media relations, internal communications, crisis communications, content creation reputation management, speechwriting – just to name a few.
When starting a business or brand, organizational leaders look to spread the word as quickly as possible about their product or service. Traditional advertising, or in today’s world, digital advertising is typically the first thought that pops into most minds as it is a surefire way to get your business out in front of your target audience. We call this paid media. Paid media channels include television and online display ads, search ads, influencer marketing, sponsored content, and more. By paying, you are guaranteeing a placement in these media platforms.
There are many advantages, but I think the best would be, you can have measurable results delivered from the platform showing reach and results. A big disadvantage, especially if you are a small or startup business, would be the cost. Paying for advertising can be extremely costly depending on the size and length of your message or campaign.
Public relations falls into the earned media category, and the most important result of the earned media prize is trust. Building trust with your consumer is truly priceless. Earned media is the result of storytelling, and PR professionals do that very skillfully. We listen to your story, share your story with media professionals, and they share it with their audience, which in turn builds trust with a consumer – allowing them to hear from other credible sources on your brand or business. This type of media is truly priceless as it builds brand reputation and shares YOUR special story to a large audience. Earned media can be shared through all types of avenues: TV, radio, print, digital, social – you name it.
Now that we understand what PR truly is, the second most important thing for businesses to understand about sharing your story is what is actually newsworthy. “Newsworthy” is a term that can hold a lot of power and yet a lot of confusion. Something might be newsworthy in Greenville that wouldn’t even get a blink in Atlanta and vice versa and/or get a front cover in smaller town. That is why it’s important to consider hiring a PR professional or firm that understands how to navigate the media landscape. A PR professional will be able to understand your target market and determine what PR tactics should be implemented.
Are grand openings and ribbon cuttings always newsworthy from a media perspective? Most of the time yes, but sometimes you must be able to share more than just, you are opening your doors for business. You need to share why it is important to the community you live in and the impact you will make. Whether that is serving up local cuisine from a chef who grew up in the community, received training from all around the world and returned to his home town, or it is a new corporation opening and adding 300 jobs to our local economy. Each of these businesses has a story to tell, and you must share it in a compelling way for the media to take interest.
To summarize, public relations can be an extremely effective tool when getting your name out there. It’s one of the best ways to get your message communicated to a large audience without spending a ton of money. There are various tactics to be implemented in PR such as press releases, pitches, contributed articles, and press conferences. But it’s important to start with a PR strategy that may or may not utilize all of these tactics. It all depends on your end goal.
Nisha Patel is the founder of NPatel Communications, a boutique marketing and public relations firm based in Greenville, South Carolina. With more than two decades of experience, Nisha specializes in building awareness and credibility for businesses through strategic communication practices. For more information go to www.npatelcommunications.com.