Public relations is more than just issuing press releases.
It is the art of communication.
First of all, let’s dispense with one myth about public relations, it is absolutely not just about issuing press releases.
Yes, they are an important part, but a good public relations practitioner will do a lot more than that to raise their client’s profile in the local and business communities.
They will seek partnerships for the client that are mutually beneficial, they will seek out sponsorships in areas where the client wants to grow their business, they will seek out platforms which allow their client to speak directly to the required audience.
A public relations specialist will seek alternative ways to communicate – such as video and social media – and dovetail with the client’s marketing and business plans, to contribute towards the growth of the company.
They will also engage with the media, getting to know them, building relationships and trust - trust based on the fact that you only give them meaningful content.
Press releases are then used to reinforce all the key messages and directed at the different audiences the client wants to reach. It may be trade publications, it may be mainstream press or it could be specialist publications.
Hopefully that goes some way to dispelling the myth and shows that PR is about public relations, media relations and communication.
It is about helping to build a strong relationship with the client’s customers whether that is B2B or B2C, it is about establishing your clients as the experts in their field and the ‘go to’ person for media and those looking for the client’s services.
It also about helping your client feel comfortable with the media, offering advice on how to handle a call or giving training in interview techniques to make sure all the client’s key messages are conveyed.
At its core, public relations is about altering people’s perceptions. Perceptions are people’s reality, so it is about altering or reinforcing perceptions, helping to build a positive image and credibility.
Because most public relations practitioners are recruited from journalism they have an immediate and innate grasp of how to communicate. Nowadays they are also usually adept at using social media either to communicate their story or to find stories.
They are used to, and not afraid of, multi-media platforms and understand the necessity of using more than one platform to get their story across.
Public relations and media relations are often used to mean the same thing, but they are substantially different.
As already mentioned, a good public relations practitioner will build good relationships with key journalists in a range of publications. Public relations is the relationship your client has with their targeted public.
Once you have set up an interview for your client or you have issued a press release or the press is reporting on a speech, you have largely lost control of the content.
But by building up relationships with the media – and by giving the media what they want (ie content that is relevant to their audience) at a time that suits them, by thinking in multi-media terms and by writing well, goes a very long way to mitigating that loss of control.
Of course, occasionally taking them for a beer helps as well ...!