If you are going to call yourself a marketer today, you’ll need a strong grasp of what Public Relations can do. If you think PR is becoming a thing of the past, you couldn’t be more wrong. In the big picture, PR is an absolutely essential messaging channel for brand development and product marketing. Virtually every campaign in any medium requires a PR component to achieve success. Social marketing is not pushing PR out. It’s not said much, but the real secret to a strong social media campaign is a PR jolt to tap into a more significant audience. Social media needs PR and vice versa.
Public Relations is “earned media.” It is the practice of using influential voices to communicate a message through news and editorial media channels. Think of it as a megaphone that will take your ad campaign message and accelerate its buzz factor. These influential voices are the writers, producers, editors at print and broadcast outlets, websites, and blogs. When they pick up your story you become part of a larger conversation because they bring credibility and implied endorsement. They make the news. The thing about these folks is that they know their audiences. When they choose to write about you it is because you have presented them with something interesting and noteworthy — “mediagenic” is the term that we use. You “earn” the media coverage you get by becoming mediagenic and catering your efforts to their needs.
With so much potential to be tapped, it makes sense that all your marketing should be designed to be mediagenic. Don’t think of PR in a vacuum. Run everything you do through this mindset. In many cases the idea is to make news around your product or brand. This can be accomplished in a variety of unique ways. Common denominators seem to be the imaginative employment of events, promotional concepts, social media applications; even creative websites, videos, and ads will earn coverage. Of course, really smart work that presents an issue or information on a topic in an organized and fresh new way will also work. It doesn’t have to be wild and crazy, just really interesting.
Every strong consumer marketer knows that PR is essential to a brand’s success. PR is often the lead channel, creating interest even before paid advertising has begun. It is a vehicle for branding. It offers the consumer an important, alternate insight into a brand’s persona. PR is used to extend the reach of campaigns far beyond what the paid budget will allow; we’ve had ROI hit as high as 15:1 and gotten media hits on topics that you wouldn’t think possible. Be patient. Earned media takes time and consistency.
Don’t let anyone tell you that digital media or social marketing is removing the need for PR. This has only increased the value of mentions and features because information about brands is readily available online. As with every marketing discipline today, there are blurred lines of demarcation. Is media relations different than blogger relations? The answer is yes and no. In both cases we are trying to achieve relevance and advocacy. In both cases our chances of being picked up are increased by being more interesting and by customizing the appeal. Both require a commitment of planning and execution. If you’re smart, you’ve got both covered.
Your greatest potential for success resides with an integrated marketing design that leverages many marketing channels for what they do best — promotion and social marketing for engagement, paid advertising for imagery, digital as source of interaction and reference, and PR as the megaphone. Make everything you do mediagenic and build relationships with influential voices.
Brian Bennett is the President and Owner of Stir Advertising + Integrated Messaging in Milwaukee, WI. His career includes key positions at some of the top advertising agencies in the country, as well as marketing management positions at two Fortune 100 companies. The scope and diversity of these experiences helped shape Stir, and today provides ongoing benefits to the agency’s clients.
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