With the digital world growing and encompassing more of our everyday lives, talk of the impending death of public relations seems to be the public opinion, from Forbes articles to personal blogs. Yet, this idea has been going around for decades, and as the print industry wavers, public relations agencies continue to thrive. If PR is dead, then how have public relations experts been keeping the practice alive? And why is public relations important?
Why is Public Relations Important, and What Makes for Good PR?
PR agencies continue to grow and survive because they are able to continue to adapt to the changing media landscape. Print media is on the up and outs, but digital media is only getting bigger. PR specialists must evolve to stay relevant and adjust their strategy accordingly. Traditional mass communications is a thing of the past with the rise of social media and influencer marketing. People are also losing trust for major organizations and media outlets due to an increase in fake news. On top of that, PRWeek reports that “over the last decade, the number of full-time journalists and reporters in the U.S. declined by more than 50% while the number of national and regional news media outlets fell by over 30%.” With these changes, what makes “good public relations” has also evolved.
These days, good public relations is integrated. Combining public relations strategy with marketing is a great way for PR firms to stay relevant. PR is about brand awareness, and the best way to reach a target audience is by finding out where your audience is devoting their time. Social media is now a huge portion of daily life for many people, with Statista finding that “the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amount[s] to 145 minutes per day.” This means that connecting your digital PR activity with a marketing strategy is a key part of good public relations.
If Everything Is Digital, Why Is PR Still Important?
Public relations helps build an online presence across multiple platforms – social media, earned media, paid media and more. Public relations is important because it involves storytelling. Advertising and marketing can only go so far, and can become bothersome at times, turning consumers away from the product. This is where PR comes in. No one will want to read about an organization if they lack a good story, or if there’s no story at all. Public relations crafts a story using newsworthy information to create an inspiring, educational and compelling piece that draws people in voluntarily. When an organization has a good story, this creates brand visibility, which is ultimately only going to improve business for that organization.
It’s About Trust.
It also takes time to build brand visibility and create a good online reputation for an organization. These things don’t happen overnight, unless a brand goes viral. Multiple earned media placements will provide trust and credibility in a way that advertising does not. Anyone can buy advertising, but not anyone can get free media coverage, which requires strong public relations practices and targeted public relations campaigns. In fact, a Nielsen survey found that people trust earned media sources more than advertising. This is because advertising is generally trying to persuade the consumer to buy a product, whereas earned media articles are something that consumers seek out for their own educational or entertainment purposes. Tapping into the mutually beneficial relationship between a proactive PR strategy and a comprehensive marketing plan is a sure-fire way to promote positive brand awareness.
Public Relations Is More Than Just Media Coverage.
While much of the work that public relations agencies, specialists and professionals do centers around forming successful media relations to secure earned media coverage, there are plenty of other elements that go into a well-thought-out PR strategy. Different companies want or need different things, including public relations plans and public relations practices, to attain brand awareness or authority within their specific industry, and there are multiple ways to achieve this.
- Thought leadership: Thought leadership involves positioning a company executive as a leader or authority in their field for timely news, information and facts about that industry. This can greatly increase company credibility and help a company stand out amongst its competitors, which can be done through PR campaigns.
- Speaking Opportunities: This is another way that a company can get its voice out there. By attending industry conferences, an organization can connect and interact with thousands of other professionals and potential customers.
- Award Opportunities: Winning a prestigious award is a definite way for an organization to distinguish itself in the market.
These are essential ways that a company can achieve its goal of reaching its target audience and improving brand awareness. Coming up with public relations plans and securing these PR campaign opportunities can expand the company’s outreach and allow it to connect with more customers.
Okay, You’ve Convinced Me. How Can I Start?
From product releases to crisis communication, devoting time to forming an authentic community relation for your brand is a must. Now that you know the answer to the question, “why is public relations important?,” you can properly understand how to strengthen your PR strategy. With your business goals in mind, starting with a PR agency could be a great fit to develop a comprehensive public relations strategy that will ensure coverage, awareness, credibility and trust for your brand.