You probably already know the value of being on social media, or content marketing, or getting company news covered in third-party media outlets. But did you know that these tactics are actually part of a broader strategy called public relations or PR?
For the majority of people, PR invokes popular magazines or news channels. So they wouldn’t settle for anything less than the cover of Forbes when it comes to PR.
Truth is, PR entails all the communication efforts that build a positive relationship with your target audience.
So anything related to blog posts and SEO, podcasts and videos, social media, email marketing, guest posts, interviews, third-party reviews, etc. that has any impact on how your target audience sees you is considered public relations.
The aim of PR is to optimize these channels to create a positive perception in the minds of your target audience.
What is PR and why it’s important
Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines public relations as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
PR (public relations) is an essential process used by organizations worldwide to manage strategic communications.
It enables businesses to manage their online and offline perceptions and create positive brand associations. You can also use PR to enhance your company’s credibility, improve brand awareness, and boost your marketing.
88% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know more than any other channel. And PR done by an organization is instrumental in creating public perception and improving a brand’s visibility and engagement.
PR is a highly effective tool for elevating brand image and boosting public confidence in the product. It also allows businesses to reach a global audience and generate new leads.
Furthermore, companies can use PR to answer common queries regarding products and services. It is very useful for brand activation and strengthening brand authenticity.
PR strategies help businesses control the brand narrative and increase awareness on third-party channels.
This can be very helpful for companies who want to establish their expertise in the industry. That’s why, as per Statista, the global PR market is worth $107 billion in 2023 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.7%.
PR Media outlets
PR uses multiple outlets for sharing information and improving brand visibility.
They might include offline venues such as public gatherings (meetings, speaking events, etc.), TV/radio (e.g. interviews), or social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.), newsletters, websites, blogs, and more.
Whether you decide to invest in any of these channels (or all of them) depends on where your audience is and how you can reach them.
So obviously a B2B brand with a niche product might not benefit from TV programs. On the contrary, a consumer brand might decide that TV and radio programs are just what they need to reach their audience.
The first step is to identify which media outlets work best for your business. If you’re a B2B brand, your PR strategy is mainly online, and you want to target the outlets that your target audience follow.
Some of the most popular PR media outlets are listed below.
1- Social media platforms
As per Statista, there are 4.95 billion social media users worldwide. That’s why many companies use social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, X (Twitter), Linkedin, etc, to communicate with their customers.
Most businesses tailor their PR approach to their ideal customer profile on different social media platforms. This enables them to engage with their desired audiences in a more personalized manner.
Social media channels also help companies avoid PR issues by enabling them to respond to user queries in real-time. Furthermore, you can use social media channels to seamlessly create and share PR content to maintain a positive brand image.
PR vs. advertising on social media
PR and advertising on social media might sound similar, but there’s a big caveat here. Social media ads seem to be more aggressive and intrusive than PR content.
They’re typically labeled ads and their aim is to increase sales. As a result, they might seem repulsive to some people and might even backfire if done aggressively.
PR content, on the other hand, is less intrusive and focuses on creating a positive brand image. Businesses typically focus on increasing content engagement, encouraging user-generated content, forming partnerships, and responding to people’s opinions on social media.
PR on social media is closely tied with brand management. Brand management allows you to monitor people’s sentiments about your brand and manage your online reputation.
Using a brand reputation tool such as Mention, you can get alerts when your brand is mentioned online or on social media. Once you observe a negative sentiment, you can get involved personally and address the issue before it gets blown out of proportion.
2- Online publications/blogs
Online publication platforms are very useful for providing targeted exposure to businesses and establishing their brand authority.
Companies use them to generate audience interest via different content forms such as blogs, informational articles, Q&A style articles, product reviews, etc. Many companies also use thought leadership blogs to showcase their expertise in a particular field.
Some popular online platforms to share such content are industry-specific blogs, personal blogs, PR publications, and platforms such as Quora and Reddit.
Blogs, especially, are a very effective form of marketing and PR. Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13X likely to have a positive ROI for their efforts.
3- Video platforms
Video platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo are highly effective for delivering promotional content through visual storytelling. They also enable businesses to leverage the popularity of existing content creators (YouTubers) through sponsorship and collaborations.
These videos can also be shared on other social media platforms to further extend their reach. Such content provides third-party validation to your brand and positions you as an expert in your field.
Including video platforms such as YouTube in your PR efforts is very important, since 122 million people visit YouTube daily.
Many companies nowadays create and publish promotional content such as video testimonials, executive interviews, and event previews to generate audience interest.
Even though podcasting is a relatively new medium, it is quickly gaining popularity. Podcasts are easy to consume and enable businesses to control brand narrative effectively.
Podcast marketing is highly effective, and enables companies to leverage the popularity of existing industry leaders and use them to connect to niche audiences. It also helps them generate interest in new products.
This is the first step of an effective digital PR strategy. To ensure that your message reaches the right audience, you need to select the correct media outlet for its distribution.
Most PR experts start by creating a comprehensive list of online platforms, blogs, and publications that are related to their desired field and niche. This list can be filtered based on views, the popularity of journalists/influencers, and audience engagement.
You can also use services such as Google Trends to rank your channels. Furthermore, you can visit their social media to track their engagement metrics such as views, shares, and number of posts and understand the effectiveness of that channel.
You can even reach out to PR distribution companies such as PR Newswire, Presswire, or EIN presswire to publish your story.
Some PR experts also suggest doing Google searches for your topic combined with keywords such as write-for-us/contact-us, etc. This will help you find PR portals that accept guest posts.
For example, we have a guest blogging article with our writer’s guidelines.
After completing this step, you can start identifying which individuals you should reach out to.
This can be as simple as doing a LinkedIn search (many journalists who work for a PR company put their professional titles on their LinkedIn page). You can reach out to them, follow their pages, and share their content.
Pro tip: Appreciating their previously published content is an excellent way to establish rapport and initiate a relationship without being too pushy.
Another way of reaching out to potential contacts is via email. You can find the email address of your desired contact on company websites and social media accounts.
You can also use email searching tools such as Hunter, Rocketreach, and Lusha to find the emails for specific individuals.
However, one thing that you must ensure is that you need to avoid spamming your contacts. Instead, focus on building genuine relationships. Engage with their content, provide valuable insights, and establish a rapport before reaching out with pitches.
After identifying your contact and sharing initial pleasantries, you need to pitch your organization’s PR idea. There are several ways to do it.
For example, you can pitch them your brand story, outlining how your business started and what you do. Or you can ask them to do a product review, i.e., an opinion post in which they use your product and publish their findings.
You can also ask them to do an interview/podcast in which they ask you questions about your field, and you answer them (in-person or online).
If you’re into events and are holding them to increase awareness, you can send invitations as part of your pitching process. Email event invitations are particularly effective here.
Make sure to clear your invitation pitch clearly in the email, provide important details, and tell them who’s speaking in your event.
Guest posts can also be a mutually beneficial experience for the two parties. The website gets to publish new content, and you get to create long-term value through evergreen content. Guest posts on different websites are also great for your website’s SEO.
To start this process, you need to create a personalized pitch tailored to your chosen website/journalist. Personalization is important to capture a journalist’s attention and ensure that they open your pitch and read it through.
As per this campaign monitor report, emails with personalization are 26% more likely to be opened.
After you have added personalization elements to your message, you need to create a compelling subject line that is interesting enough to pique your reader’s interest.
In your content body, you need to clearly articulate why your brand story is newsworthy. You also need to include the type of content that you have in mind and why it emphasizes your brand value.
For product reviews, it’s also important to include relevant data or statistics to support your claims.
Lastly, you need to ensure that your messaging is up to the PR portal’s standards, making it easier for them to publish. For example, as per Cision, 16% of journalists want personalized data analysis in their pitches.
This is a time-consuming but rewarding process in your PR strategy. This step includes keeping lines of communication open with media outlets to encourage long-term relationships. You can also use these lines to share interesting insights and relevant content with your contacts.
To nurture these connections and appreciate their ongoing support, you can offer exclusive content access and privileges to your contacts. For example, you can grant them a first look/interview if you’re doing a product release.
Lastly, a little acknowledgment and appreciation will go a long way in maintaining your relationship with your chosen journalists. This is especially useful for businesses that do long-term partnerships with publications.
PR is a long-term strategy:
By now it must be obvious that PR is playing a long game, so you can’t expect easy wins. It takes time to build a brand, and safeguarding it against different kinds of crises is hard work.
There are a few additional tips you need to keep it mind when designing and implementing your PR strategy:
1- Start small and build your way up to popular media outlets. When you’re starting out, you can’t expect a popular social media channel or website to review your product or interview you.
You need to reach out to smaller and more accessible outlets, and then after building a bit of reputation, start pitching more popular ones.
2- PR content is different from advertising. PR content is more focused on creating a positive brand image rather than selling your products. So avoid pitching salsy and intrusive content and work on engaging your audience and addressing their concerns.
3- Don’t spam media outlets. This can’t be stressed enough. You don’t want to have a reputation for spamming editors or content creators. Spend some time to find the right contact, and then send them an honest pitch.
Avoid over-promising and overbearing language, and try to build meaningful relationships.
4- Monitor consumer sentiments consistently. Part of your PR strategy is preventive, so you need to make sure negative sentiments about your brand are dealt with.
Use an online monitoring tool like Mention and keep an eye out for your brand mentions and other critical mentions in your niche. When you observe a negative brand sentiment, get involved and address the issue the right way.