Public Relations

Why it Pays to Approach PR Strategically

By Mandi Kane, APR, Media Relations Director

Recently, there have been more and more people who claim to be public relations (PR) professionals popping up and offering to develop public relations tactics such as press releases at low rates. It’s a tempting proposition. Why hire an agency when you can have someone whip out a press release for less than you’d spend on dinner on a Saturday night?

In some cases, it makes sense. For example, if you’re a nonprofit organization with an event to promote, a tactical approach will probably get you the results you want and within your budget. However, if you’re trying to grow your business, increase sales, or shift perception, it’s going to take more than a press release. However, all too often, businesses let their finances make marketing decisions, and it can be incredibly damaging.

Here’s why I’d encourage you to think twice about approaching your PR tactically:

Expertise is Best Left to Experts
You may think you need a press release, but do you really? Maybe what you really need is a meeting with the right person, or a phone call to the right reporter. Without a background in public relations, it’s hard to be able to look at a menu and know what to order. A trusted PR strategist can provide the counsel needed to guide you in the right direction, so you get the results you want.

Relationships Matter
Yes, it might be more economical to purchase a stand-alone press release. But do you know who to send it to? More importantly, do you have a relationship with the journalists at the publications you’re trying to reach? Without those, it’s really hard to get coverage from a press release, or any other PR tactic. Hiring a team that has relationships that will get your story noticed is worth the investment.

Messaging and Voice Should Be Consistent
Your brand should sound the same through every channel, but this is particularly important in your PR efforts. Every tactic that you deploy during a campaign is an opportunity to incorporate key messages that tie back to your overall objectives and support your business goals. When you approach your PR initiatives as individual pieces, there’s a lack of consistency that can be confusing to the media, as well as your customers and target audiences.

PR Should Be Integrated
While PR can be utilized as a stand-alone strategy, it’s more useful – and successful – when it augments, and works in tandem, with other marketing strategies. PR is one piece of the puzzle, and all the pieces – advertising, marketing, social media – should work together to further reach and amplify messaging. Ultimately, integrated approaches have stronger results.

PR isn’t About Outputs, it’s About Outcomes
PR is more than press releases, or advisories, or fact sheets. It’s about engaging with your audiences to create changes. PR is a great vehicle for raising awareness about issues or causes, and providing important information to audiences so they can make decisions about who to vote for, or what they need to know before they change their health insurance plan. PR is more successful when you’re focused on the big picture, and are clear on what you’re trying to achieve.

Your reputation is one of the most important and valuable things you have. Do yourself a favor, and protect it by working with people who understand your business goals, and who make them their own.

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