PR Fish Bowl

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What PR Can Do – And What It Can’t

whatprcandoBrand marketers often look to public relations to accomplish a great deal of “heavy lifting” in terms of creating awareness. When done well, a strategic PR program is good at achieving certain objectives while other disciplines fit different needs.

PR is most effective at:

Packaging a company’s story to resonate with reporters. The seasoned PR team knows how to reach media with a pitch that lets them know this subject matter will interest their audience, without reading like an ad.

Augmenting a sales and marketing effort. A good PR campaign is informed by and reflects messaging from marketing efforts but should never supplant those efforts. Look at the campaigns as complementary. For more on that subject, revisit this post from our Impressions blog.

Helping shape an image for a key executive. An exec I worked with once told me he didn’t exist until he saw his name in print. Good public relations takes an exec’s POV and character traits and introduces them to the world through a combination of personality profiles, owned content, a social media presence and speaking gigs.

Making news during “quiet periods.” Every company has downtime between new product and other  announcements. It is PR’s job to fill the space with “constant content” such as byline articles, lifestyle surveys, white papers and blog posts.

PR is least effective at:

Substituting for advertising.  When a company wants to control the content of the message, the amount of space or airtime and the frequency of the message, they choose advertising. When they want to achieve third-party, unbiased editorial coverage, (that can’t be bought) they seek PR.

Overcoming a bad product or faulty design. All the excellent PR strategy and close personal media contacts can’t solve the problem of a product or design that just doesn’t cut it.

Operating in a vacuum. PR output is as good as the input. We need to have ongoing conversations ideally up and down the organization about everything going on in a company’s business to be able to develop timely and creative story angles and effective bylines.

Guaranteeing outcomes. The final outcomes of any media relations effort are never 100% predictable. What the best PR pros can guarantee is 100+% effort to generate positive coverage, along with reasonable expectations based on a number of factors. And setting reasonable expectations is something the best PR teams always do.

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