The power of PR – the secret weapon to brand presence10 minute read
PR is just about writing press releases, right?
Wrong. Public relations are a multi-faceted discipline which underpins every aspect of marketing and brand or business communication.
Think of PR and marketing as an onion. Pull away a layer of marketing, you’ll find a layer of PR right there underneath. If that makes you cry a little because you haven’t valued, implemented and appreciated PR enough, do read on. And keep the tissues handy.
While the campaigns are rolling and the strategy is playing out, PR is there; drip feeding presence, earning reputation, building relationships and influencing opinion and behaviour. It works hard. Very hard.
While marketing is traditionally a one-way push to promote a product, brand or service, PR is very much a two-way conversation, skilfully storytelling and evoking emotion, reaction and response.
Before we delve into exactly how it achieves all those impressive attributes, let’s look at why it’s so essential / amazing.
Why is PR so important for brands, businesses and organisations?
Every organisation from global corporations to SMEs, relies on reputation and presence in order to succeed and indeed survive.
Everything said, done and written has a sliding scale of good or bad impact.
Clearly, we’re striving for good PR to raise awareness and build positive relationships with the target audience to achieve the end goals – earning brand trust, increasing presence and commercial gain.
Clearly bad PR is what we’re aiming to avoid and if it does happen it’s usually the result of bad planning, thoughtless communication or poor internal comms. Not always, but more often than not.
In those situations, crisis management kicks in and despite being well drilled to handle it, it’s what every PR team dreads.
Some of the most touted and quite frankly devastating bad PR of all time includes Gerald Ratner turning his multi-million-pound family jewellers empire to ashes in seconds in 1992 with a throwaway remark about its products being “total crap”.
Commenting on the fallout in the aftermath of an oil rig explosion in 2010 which killed 11 workers and caused ‘the worst environmental disaster in US history’, BP CEO Tony Hayward caused absolute outrage when he commented: “I just want my life back”.
That on top of a series of other PR gaffs amounted to plummeting BP stock prices.
While these are monumental examples, bad PR can seriously damage a brand or business of any size.
They certainly highlight the power of PR – just not in the way you’d like to brandish that power.
Negative or bad PR can be hugely detrimental, which is why it pays to take it extremely seriously to ensure it is planned, well executed and on point.
The importance of PR
Creates brand presence
Influences opinion and behaviour
While it’s POWERFUL, PR should also be EMPOWERING for a brand or business and that takes strategic skill, know-how and insight.
Take these PR campaigns – a strategic roll out of activities designed to give maximum and sustainable publicity.
Our first example seems a surprising one.
Surely Spotify’s annual Wrapped campaign, which offers subscribers a deep dive into their listening habits throughout the year, is simply another marketing ploy?
It’s actually a very clever, enduring PR tactic which is not only creatively conceived in the graphics and copywriting stakes, but also highly personal and sharable.
It’s outside-the-box PR thinking which is emotive – provoking music memories for its users – and has become a pre-Christmas tradition which goes viral every year.
It also has its rivals sobbing into their mince pies and mulled wine (sorry Apple and YouTube).
Skincare brand Dove’s Real Beauty and #TheSelfieTalk are textbook PR campaigns.
Based around the beauty industry’s impact on self-esteem and body image, it challenges the need to look perfect and champions real women’s bodies and natural beauty instead.
This has gained the brand an army of fans and followers, joined in the solidarity of empowerment, self-confidence and positivity about the way they look.
How to harness the power of PR
Effective PR relies heavily on alignment between marketing and communications teams.
Although that seems to be trickier to manage in-house, for full service marketing agencies like Cornerstone it’s all part of the natural process.
With brand image and reputation more essential than ever due to highly competitive markets and a shift in consumer expectations, that alignment is critical.
Today’s audiences demand credibility, relevancy and trust and that’s where PR takes centre stage.
Whether it’s press releases, social media, blog posts, or well-written advertising messaging, PR is the conversational glue that holds marketing strategies and campaigns together.
It sets the right tone and instils credibility and trust that advertising alone can’t achieve.
So, ultimately what are we saying?
We’re saying for a brand and business to grow and succeed it has to rely on reputation.
Reputation has to be earned, fostered and managed and PR is one of the most effective ways of doing it.
Carefully aligned with marketing strategies it has the power to reach, the power to influence and the power to change.