PR means a lot of things to a lot of people these days. For some, it means putting ads in newspapers. For others, PR involves social media and blogging. Others think of PR as placing quotes and securing interviews in print, online or TV news by “legitimate” reporters guided by an editorial staff.
So who’s right? And what are the goals of PR anyway? Turns out everybody’s right in some form or fashion – except for the one about buying ads in a newspaper, which (last time I checked) is still called advertising. PR informs brand awareness in so many mediums and formats that it defies easy categorization: blogs, Twitter, magazines, listicles, forums, speaking opportunities, TV news, Facebook, print newspapers, tech trades. The list goes on.
The lines between PR and marketing have blurred in recent years in large part because the Internet has created new ways for a brand to engage with various audiences. Ten years ago PR limited its professional reach to the media, which is to say engaging with the media in hopes of getting them to say favorable things about a brand. Today’s PR professional is as likely to pitch a reporter at the Wall Street Journal as create a series of tweets supporting a product launch in advance of SXSW or write a contributed article for a trade publication or boost a post on Facebook promoting an upcoming event.
Whereas marketing is about filling a sales funnel with leads and clicks, PR is about getting a future buyer passionate about a brand after learning about it from a variety of “objective-leaning” sources. So while the goals of PR are many all come back to a desire to grow awareness for a brand by building its credibility, reputation and authenticity.
The results of a PR campaign can and should be measurable, encompassing some of the following:
- Website clicks: every PR campaign should result in additional clicks to your website or another online assets
- Social media: there should plenty of social engagement which lead to tweets, Facebook posts likes, LinkedIn visibility, even Instagram likes
- Traffic: PR can stimulate good old-fashioned foot traffic and phone calls for a retail or services company
- Speaking: one goal of PR is still to book speaking opportunities as part of a thought leadership campaign
- Expert quotes: solicited interviews and expert quotes happen when a PR thought leadership campaign creates relationships with media outlets interested in content related to a brand
- Industry, business and community awards: accolades in the form of awards bolster a brand’s credibility and put it in the eye of potential customers and media.
The last goal of PR is perhaps the most important? Revenue growth! Caveat: every dime you spend cannot be tied directly to specific leads. This isn’t sales, after all. What you will notice over time, however, is an incremental growth in revenue due to the influence PR has on your brand. Nothing fires up interest in a brand, be it a product or a person, like glowing coverage in the news and its corresponding buzz in social media.
The extent to which a brand benefits from sustained PR is not only determined by how skillful the PR campaign is built and executed but also by how daring a brand is at courting attention through its various marketing activities. So now you know that the end goal of PR is nothing short of your business’ growth and market domination through the skillful use of stories that media and customers can get excited about. What happens next is up to you.