Public relations (PR) is the relationship your business has with the public. A PR campaign publicises your business and builds up a good reputation. Done well, PR creates positive awareness and drives sales.
Sponsorship often works hand-in-hand with PR. Supporting a good cause or an industry event, for example, is also an effective means of publicising your business, not least because these are the kind of activities that the media like to cover.
Favourable media coverage is worth its weight in gold. To the public, a positive mention in an article is far more powerful than an advertisement because editorial - reviews, articles and so on - is seen as more trustworthy. PR pays off because it has more credibility than advertising. Getting the media to say a good thing about your product or service is smart marketing.
As well as generating good publicity, PR is also about avoiding and handling bad publicity. Publicity is created and generated by the media. If you can write great press releases and create good media relations, you could get a lot of free publicity for your business.
However, what the press wants to publish may not necessarily be your business goals - your good news could be deemed trivial. In short, getting good PR is not always easy.
Getting good PR takes skill, time and effort - but it does not need to cost a lot of money. In fact, with a little ingenuity you can get free PR. If you do your own public relations, the cost is your time rather than cash. Using a PR agency may save you time and deliver results - at a price. And if you do use an agency, keep them busy - they should be pushing your message constantly.
For new enterprises, PR is especially useful. The media is usually well disposed towards a new venture so you should make the most of this PR opportunity to spread the word about your business while you've got a good story to tell. However, PR is a long-term strategy and getting good press takes time.
To get the most out of your PR strategy, you need to do some groundwork. Make sure your company is ready for the publicity. Can you handle more demand for your services, are your products ready and are your employees fully briefed? If your product is not available when the coverage appears, you'll lose sales and risk driving customers elsewhere.
Understanding your market is vital. Successful PR is about reaching the right people with your message at the right time. You must understand your target audience and find out which publications they read.
Do your homework before you contact the media. You need to have a good idea what different publications are looking for. Make your message as clear and concise as possible. You have to grab a journalist's attention quickly - then give them all the facts, figures, materials and images they need.