So What is PR Exactly?


Liz Wilkins

March 30, 2015

Being an integrated marketing agency, we’re involved in all parts of the marketing mix – advertising, public relations, promotions, social media. All of them have their role, but the one that seems most misunderstood is PR.

If you ask friends or colleagues to describe PR, you’re likely to get a myriad of answers.

Is it about pitching story ideas? Is it securing celebrity endorsements? Is it managing a crisis situation? How about publicity stunts? Or social responsibility programs? The answer is yes…PR encompasses all of those areas. But the biggest misperception regarding PR is that it’s about “spin.” Good PR practices do not involve lying to or misleading your audiences.

PR should be dedicated to building the long-term reputation of your brand. That’s achieved by honest, accurate information combined with creative, engaging ideas that resonate with people. Yes, PR strives to position brands in the most positive light, but it’s not believable if it isn’t tied to your brand’s core values and aspirations. The press and the public have never been more sophisticated – or connected — so the validity of your message is more important than ever. Sometimes there are misperceptions that need to be changed or mistakes that need to be corrected, and PR can help brands navigate through those challenges.

Fortunately, more brands are recognizing the value of PR even if some may not fully understand its scope. In a recent study by Wakefield Research and the New Jersey chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, 43 percent of local executives said they plan to increase their PR spend in 2015. The top two PR objectives were “reputation building” (85 percent) and “increasing brand awareness” (82 percent). Yet, PR activities that help drive brand image and reputation ranked much lower, such as “corporate social responsibility” (25 percent), “executive positioning” (18 percent) and “crisis management” (12 percent). Clearly, more work needs to be done to help brand’s leverage the different aspects of PR to connect with people. But one thing’s for sure, the strength and validity of your message is something today’s savvy consumers can easily see – and won’t hesitate to share.

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