PR is such a catch-all term in business these days. For some, it means getting into a newspaper by buying ads. For others, it involves social media and blogging. Still others think of PR in more traditional terms involving media coverage in print, online or TV news by “legitimate” reporters guided by an editorial staff.
So who’s right? And what are the goals of PR anyway?
Turns out everybody’s right in some form or fashion – except for the one about buying ads in a newspaper, which (last time I checked) is still called advertising.
The fact is PR impacts brand awareness in so many mediums and formats that it defies easy categorization: blogs, Twitter, magazines, listicles, forums, speaking opportunities, TV news, Facebook, print newspapers, tech trades. The list goes on.
In recent years the lines between PR and marketing have blurred in large part because the Internet has created new ways for a brand to engage with various publics. Ten years ago PR limited its public engagement to the media, which is to say engaging with the media in hopes of getting them to say favorable things about a brand.
Today’s PR professional is as likely to pitch a reporter at the Wall Street Journal as create a series of tweets supporting a product launch in advance of SXSW or write a contributed article for a trade publication.
Whereas marketing is about filling a sales funnel with leads and clicks, PR is about getting a future buyer passionate about a brand after learning about it from a variety of “objective-leaning” sources.
The goals of PR are many but all come back to a desire to grow awareness for a brand by building its credibility, reputation and authenticity. The results of a PR campaign can and should be measurable; as such, included in the definition of PR goals are some of the following:
- Website clicks: every PR campaign should result in additional clicks to your website or another online assets
- Social media: there should plenty of social engagement which lead to tweets, Facebook posts likes, LinkedIn visibility, even Instagram likes
- Traffic: PR can stimulate good old-fashioned foot traffic and phone calls for a retail or services company
- Speaking: one goal of PR is still to book speaking opportunities as part of a thought leadership campaign
- Expert quotes: solicited interviews and expert quotes happen when a PR thought leadership campaign creates relationships with media outlets interested in content related to a brand
- Industry, business and community awards: accolades in the form of awards bolster a brand’s credibility and put it in the eye of potential customers and media.
The last goal of PR is perhaps the most important? Revenue growth!
Caveat: every penny you spend cannot be tied directly to specific leads. You will, however, notice over time an incremental growth in revenue due to the influence PR has on your brand. Nothing fires up interest in a brand, be it a product or a person, like glowing coverage in the news and its corresponding buzz in social media.
The extent to which a brand benefits from PR is always determined by how skillful the PR campaign is built and executed and also by how daring a brand is at courting attention through its various marketing activities.
So now you know that the overarching goal of PR is nothing short of your business’ growth and market domination through the skillful use of stories that media and customers can get excited about.
The next step is up to you.
About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded Manzer Communications, an Austin PR & content marketing agency for startups and fast-growth businesses in 2009. He specializes in highly integrated PR & inbound marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare, consumer and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. If you have any PR questions about your startup or small biz, feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or email him at dave(@)manzercommunications.com.