In last week’s blog, we discussed the partnership between PR and marketing and defined both terms. Public Relations is defined by the Public Relations Society of America as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” The definition, however, does not truly describe what the role of PR is, which will be the goal of this blog. It is best to define the scope in terms of what affirmative, i.e. what constitutes PR and the negative, i.e. what PR is not.

Believing it is important to end on a high note, we will begin with what PR is not. Public Relations is not marketing. As discussed in the previous blog, marketing is more focused on the customer and direct communication to show the benefits of a product or service with a specific goal of boosting sales. Public Relations is broader than marketing and extends beyond product or service promotion. The commonplace of marketing is that it consists of the four Ps: product, price, placement and promotion, which clearly does not match PR’s characteristics.

Public Relations is not advertising. The content in advertising is fully controlled by the person/company buying the advertising space, who also chooses the time/location at which the message is conveyed. Public relations is not free advertising; much time, effort and budget go into a Public Relations strategy, the only “free” part is that one is not handing money directly to the person or outlet providing the visibility.

Public Relations is not “spin.” While I love my job and am proud of the work I have done in the field for many years, it bothers me that the general public has a misperception of what we do. They either think we intentionally lie and give misleading or false information to the press to form a particular impression, or we glide along red carpets with the Kardashians for celebrity event marketing.

Public Relations is not a cure-all. Nicole Rodrigues is fond of saying, “PR is not the ER, but when done correctly, PR is capable of resuscitating a brand and increasing its lifespan.” A good PR strategy will not replace other ills such as poor customer service, a low-quality product or even worse, unethical behavior. PR will help clients to showcase the positive and to manage messages.

Now that we know what PR isn’t, we can now focus what PR does. In general, Public Relations is about building relationships with influencers who can aid in communicating with the end user, and with the users, investors and other relevant audiences who support the organization in meeting goals. Public Relations pros work to build mutually beneficial relationships with the media and content providers, based on trust that both sides will deliver the resources the other needs. PR does include media relations and writing press releases, but these tasks are not representative of the full package of items that are in the PR bailiwick. Public Relations professionals help their clients to develop messaging and need to work in partnership with clients to help clients to reach their overall corporate and sales goals. Our lives would be much easier if this was true, but public relations is not a magic bullet that delivers immediate results. Public relations needs to be ongoing and consistent backed up follow up.

Public Relations is credible if conducted by ethical professionals who know how to manage the expectations of clients and influences to deliver what both need. After the coverage hits, the impact of public relations can be measured based on exposure, ad value, engagement, visits to website and lead generation.

Public Relations offers high value to clients in helping them to increase visibility, which can lead to increased awareness and sales. It is a crucial part of a company’s marketing and communication strategy. Feel free to reach out to NRPR Group for more information on PR and how an agency can help you reach your business goals.