There is an easy answer to that question—public relations. When some people think of PR, they may think of a press release here and there. Public relations is much deeper than that. According to Oxford, public relations is defined as “the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company, other organization, or famous person.”
On the surface, that definition is broad. In actuality, public relations itself is a broad discipline. PR agencies can use a multitude of tools to help companies grow and establish a brand without necessarily spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. PR is a key strategy that help companies develop a competitive advantage.
While marketing and public relations are similar in nature, public relations strays away from the confines of marketing in one particular way: earned media.
Earned media is any media garnered without the company having to pay for it. For instance, if a local newspaper writes a story about your company for their outstanding donation to a local charity, that is earned media.
This type of recognition benefits a company two-fold. First, it saves money because the company didn’t have to purchase an ad to garner awareness. Second, it allows your company to gain a wider audience from a credible source in the media.
But the question remains, does PR really work? If done correctly, PR is a great way to spread your brand to your target audience to establish growth.
For example, during my earlier years working for a company called Clockwork Home Services, I worked on a PR campaign that landed three of our franchise brands on the reality show “The Celebrity Apprentice.” The appearance gained national exposure for all three brands under the Clockwork Home Services flag, positioning the company for acquisition.
Here is an in-depth look at how PR works for business owners.
Distribution of content
Over the years, businesses have come to fully understand the importance of creating engaging content about their organizations. The one problem they come across is the lack of a distribution plan for spreading their content to readers.
Proactive public relations efforts can help create an avenue for that content to find the right audience. This is where earned media comes into play. Pitching these ideas and stories to media publications is a great way to have content distributed without having to pay for it.
Sharing interesting and engaging stories with the media increases your chances of having the story published. The story can also be distributed on your social media, which will ultimately get more eyes on it. There is also a chance the publication will share the news on their own social media—creating an even wider-reaching audience for your content.
When it comes to trusting a business, the public puts more weight into third-party information than any other form of advertising. While advertising helps to increase brand awareness, many consumers are aware that companies pay for those placements. Potential customers are much more likely to trust news they receive from the media over hard sales messages.
When a customer picks up a newspaper or turns on the television and the media are speaking positively about your brand, it comes off as genuine. When consumers see an ad, they are naturally more skeptical.
Loyal customers also play a role in building credibility. Earned media can include more than just publications. It can also include customer reviews.
Your most loyal customers can be your biggest advocates. These customers are more likely to write company reviews, mention your service to friends or rate their experience online. These ratings can be shared to your social media pages or even a company website.
Positive feedback from other customers cannot be bought and is one of the most effective selling points for a company. Customers are more likely to believe other customers when it comes to promoting a brand.
Part of PR is engaging with these customers via social media platforms to build a strong relationship, so they may go out and champion your product.
Using PR to build your brand through credibility and content distribution are prime examples as to how PR works for a business. Taking advantage of these strategies can help a company growing through other avenues in conjunction with marketing.
Heather Ripley is founder and CEO of Ripley PR, an elite, global public relations agency specializing in home service and building trades. Ripley PR has been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as a Top Franchise Supplier four years in a row and was named to Forbes’ America's Top PR Agencies for 2021. She is the author of “NEXT LEVEL NOW: PR Secrets to Drive Explosive Growth for your Home Service Business.” For additional information, visit www.ripleypr.com.