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What exactly are “public relations” and “publicity?”

Uncategorized May 07, 2020

Typically when I’m on a call with a potential new client I ask them what exactly they think “Public Relations (PR)” is.

I don’t do this to be snarky or seem holier-than-thou… I do it because the answers are so incredibly varied.

“Press releases?”

“A thing they do on ‘Mad Men’.”

“Honestly, no idea.”

And I think it’s important to clear the air about what PR and publicity are, so that everyone can move forward in the same direction, with the same expectations.

In my opinion, the goal of any public relations work is to increase your brand credibility. 

With that definition, PR can include anything from awards to crisis communications - and everything in between. I’m talking about relationships with investors, employees, your community, etc. 

And, one of the BIGGEST ways PR helps build your brand credibility is through media relations, otherwise known as Publicity.

See how it breaks down below. 

Hopefully that gives you a nice breakdown into what exactly PR is and how publicity falls under it. 

But let’s take breaking down publicity a step further. Why is it so important?

Well, in short, people believe it way more than they believe advertising… to the tune of 70% of consumers wanting to get to know a company via articles [or podcasts] over a series of ads (Consumer Marketing Institute).

Think about the business (or even lifestyle) influencers you follow - did you find them through an ad or because someone else mentioned them (either word-of-mouth, podcast guest or as an affiliate)? Why did you give them your trust? Sometimes it’s from an ad, but I bet more often that not you found them through a trusted third party. 

Does this mean that doing other kinds of advertising or marketing are a waste of time? Absolutely not. But publicity should ALSO be a pillar of any brand’s campaign. And unfortunately, many people place it on the backburner because they just don’t understand it. 

Ads - and even marketing - make more sense to our logic-driven brains. There is a very distinct ROI, whereas PR has more of a “tipping point.” 

Of course you can do some media value equations, but it isn’t precise - what you WILL see with publicity is that you start to get more people on your list, more clients and MORE MONEY FASTER because their buy-in is quicker than from a straight ad. 

This could happen over 1-2 big hits, and other times it comes from consistent features in media outlets (publications, podcasts, etc.) - and it’s a result of many pitches that either you - or your PR rep - send out on your behalf. 

Hopefully this helps you get a grasp on what exactly PR and Publicity is, and how they play into your marketing plan!

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