A Simple Guide to Public Relations
Welcome to the fast-paced, ever-changing world of Public Relations!! If you’re reading this, then you probably want to know more about what Public Relations or “PR” is, isn’t, and answers to other Frequently asked Public Relations Questions. Well, you’re in the right place. We answer everything you want to know and if we don’t, please contact us through our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you!
This guide will explain the ins and outs of clients, day-to-day work, why it’s important for businesses, how we bring on new clients and everything in between. But everyone is different…it’s much different to work remotely out of your home office (like we do!) compared to a large PR firm or even a boutique PR agency. But one thing is the same…all publicists are trying to garner publicity, exposure and overall buzz for their clients on a consistent basis and sometimes it feels like a rat race. Some days are full-filling and other days are stressful, but isn’t that all industries? Happy reading 🙂
What is Public Relations?
Public Relations (PR) is about storytelling, building awareness and shaping a brand’s image through different forms of communication. Fun, right? As experienced publicists, we connect with the ultimate gatekeepers, our media friends, to target audiences across the globe and craft newsworthy story angles. We love what we do because it’s about promoting other entrepreneurs like ourselves and we take pride in helping businesses organically grow. We also love it because the benefits of PR are real and substantial!
Perhaps the greatest ROI of PR is the earned communication it delivers, meaning “not paid” like advertising or sponsored content. It’s the most unbiased, honest depiction a brand can receive, making it the most credible type of coverage! Everybody wants it, but no one has control over it because it is through the eyes of the media. As publicists, we provide as much information as possible, connect the media with our clients and craft the message. But after we’ve delivered and the media personally experiences the service or tries the product, it’s their words. And that’s when the excitement & roller coaster ride begins!
What Public Relations Isn’t
PR isn’t guaranteed. A lot of people confuse PR and Advertising, so when we get questions about if we can guarantee a story in the New York Times, we need to break it down and explain. But the short answer is no. PR has no guarantees. Publicists use their relationships with the media to offer up pitch angles and story ideas in hopes that they will want to write about them or tell their story. Sometimes it’s a full feature, other times a quote or mention, but a lot of the time, nothing. This is why publicists have to constantly come up with new ideas to pitch the media.
When it comes to Advertising, businesses can purchase ad space or advertorials, which are editorials that are paid for. They also completely control the content to be featured. That is a guarantee. But you can’t guarantee that it will translate into sales or create buzz for a business. These are all tactics used for a greater goal…to generate more awareness about a product or service.
What Do PR Agencies Do For Clients?
PR is how we communicate a message to an audience. We’re storytellers. Managing how you tell it, where and to whom is our strategy. Media is the bee’s knees, but there are other methods to the publicity madness. For our clients, we leverage all forms of marketing to cultivate a positive image, brand recognition, credibility and the coveted “word-of-mouth” referral.
Media placements including TV segments, magazine features, print interviews and more are top, but there are other ways to have your voice heard. Speaking engagements is a powerful tool that can not only bring your message to a large audience at one time, but it also positions you as an expert. Being a leader in your industry garners a lot of attention and we help to make you the authority of your particular field. Strategic partnerships are very helpful for businesses. Cross promotions and working together with other businesses, community organizations or charities allows for each entity to penetrate the other industry. It expands your network and grabs the attention of different audiences besides your own.
In a nutshell, PR agencies work to:
- Position their clients in a positive light
- Build brand awareness
- Position them to the right audience
We do this by using several proven PR tactics such as what we mentioned above, plus working synergistically with marketing, social media and branding efforts.
What It’s Like Working With PR Agencies?
Working with a PR agency can be what you want it – you can work closely with them as an extension of your team or you can choose to work with them on one-off projects here and there. It depends what your businesses’ needs, goals and objectives are to determine how closely you will work with your agency. I will tell you that the clients we work the closest with are by far the most successful. When we have all of the information we need and we receive it in a timely manner, we have the best chance of media success!
What’s The Onboarding Process for PR Agencies Like?
The onboarding process is basically getting to know your new clients and collecting as much information as possible. After contracts are signed, PR agencies dive in to discover what makes your brand unique, ask questions, collect brand assets and gather as much information that they need to tell your story. We use this time to learn about your goals, objectives, struggles, successes and overall, what you are looking to achieve.
- What is your message?
- What are you trying to promote?
- What story are you telling?
We help you determine what is newsworthy and the best approach to communicate your message.
Once we have all of the needed information and materials, they work on a strategic plan and start writing press materials including:
- Press releases
- Fact sheets
- Product line sheets
PR Agencies and clients go over the plan together and decide which initiatives you’d like to implement. All press materials are sent to the client for edits, additions and approval. Once you are locked and loaded with a working plan and approved press materials, PR agencies can begin reaching out to the media and telling your story!
What’s the Day-to-Day Working Relationship With PR Agencies Like
PR agencies work very closely with clients so communication is key! No one knows your business better than you do, so we will be looking to you for the information or as we call it, ammunition to do our job effectively. Especially in the beginning as we get to know your brand.
As for day-to-day, clients need to appoint a PR client services associate for all your needs to make sure all information is received in a timely manner and media requests are efficiently facilitated. This is important for agencies across the board as it makes our job easier. Typically, weekly/bi-weekly calls or meetings are scheduled to touch base and make sure we are alerted to all internal updates.
Media placements are sent in real time along with a clip, so clients can see immediately and promote on social platforms. Most PR agencies will provide a monthly or quarterly media/activity report, which is a comprehensive list of all placements and includes calculated impressions, circulation and audience numbers for a TV or radio station, newspaper, magazine or online outlet.
When working with an agency who is reaching out to the media constantly on your behalf, please remember…if the media contacts you directly, you NEED to let us know ASAP. This happens often and we need to be kept in the loop as we’re actively pitching all media. Even if they receive a pitch from us, they will sometimes contact a client directly.
How Do PR Agencies Measure Success?
We use the goals set in place during onboarding, to develop how we measure your brand’s results and the overall impact of your campaign. For PR, we want to look at media metrics such as audience reach, impressions and print circulation, while for Social Media we focus on engagement, reach and conversions. At the end of each month, we send a full report including these measurements and earned media.
But, these are strictly numbers. The other side is word of mouth and overall buzz. Are people talking about your restaurant organically on social media? Are people coming in after seeing you on TV or reading about your restaurant in the newspaper? Publicity doesn’t necessarily translate directly into sales which makes the measuring process tricky. It’s also not guaranteed.
PR is part of the overall marketing strategy, which can include:
- Social media
- Digital & Content
- Internal Promotions
- Strategic Partnerships
- Off-site events
All of these tactics and forms of marketing work together to create buzz, so the question of measurement is a difficult one. Businesses have to look at all forms of marketing as an investment and a gradual build over time. One promotion might be successful, another one not so much, but you have to be consistent and keep trying. It’s a marathon, not a race and keeping those media opportunities flowing will build your presence over time.
What’s The Offboarding Process for PR Agencies Like?
When clients are wrapped up, whether after a project or long standing relationship, PR agencies will compile their press kit and other collateral to send back to the client. They will also provide a media recap, which includes:
- Spreadsheet list of all media placements with links
- Media metrics (i.e. calculated impressions, circulation & audience numbers)
- Media clips
Depending on the project or client, some agencies develop a more in depth recap which showcases all of their activity to date, areas of growth, ways to improve and overall PR successes during the campaign.