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What is Public Relations (PR)?

Learn the basics of Public Relations (PR) and understand its importance in managing reputation and influencing audiences. Discover what makes a good news story, how PR differs from advertising, and the role of digital PR in today's digital age.

Public Relations (PR) is a set of techniques and strategies used to create brand recognition, maintain reputation and influence the public through the media.

PR has been around for a long time. Persians, Egyptians and Babylonians used PR to promote themselves as having the divine right to lead. The oldest known record of PR has been found on a clay tablet that promoted advanced agricultural techniques in ancient Iraq, 4000 years ago.

The idea of PR hasn’t changed much since ancient times. What has changed is the ease of use with the developments in self-publishing and AI. However, the core of PR remains. It is about what you say and do, as well as what others say about you. PR is an incredible tool that helps you and your brand get noticed, recognised, and trusted.

PR is about telling your story

PR is different from advertising because any coverage you get is earned media while advertising is paid media. The credibility rate with PR is higher as your message has gone through a filter and is deemed worthy of space.

Communicating your news and message helps put your view or position out to the public and tell your story as a brand. A good news story can be about your business growth or recognition, problem-solving, quirkiness, commenting on news events (Newsjacking), community engagement, or sharing experiences.

Traditional and Digital

Traditional PR gets you published in magazines and newspapers, just as the ancient Sumerians did 4000 years ago. The clay tablets however have evolved. PR is no longer just about getting printed in the press or appearing on TV and radio. It's about using online platforms, news channels, social media, blogs, videos, events to communicate your brand values and messages and anything that can reach to a higher audience. A good PR strategy needs to be a long-term commitment to build and maintain a lasting reputation on all digital channels.

How to do PR the right way

With so much freedom to auto-publish, PR has become a powerful tool that is easily accessible. And getting it wrong can have major consequences.

Planning a PR campaign is essential. You need to build a relationship with the media and the public. Even if you are really busy, make sure to set some time aside to do some research.

  • Think about your main target audience. Are you trying to reach investors? Are you looking to create brand awareness to attract new clients? Once you know who you are writing for, it makes it easier to find the appropriate tone of voice and content type that will resonate with the audience.
  • Think about your message and what you want to be known for. You can tell a story of what you do, why customers need your services or products, and what’s unique about the way you do it. You’re already working successfully in your industry. When you share your news, Keep your content consistently aligned with your core values.
  • Make it Newsworthy. It’s the insights you share that the media is interested in. Your news needs to tell journalists something that is relevant to the news agenda, interesting or unexpected. Above all don’t make your news a sales pitch as the journalist can and will block any further emails coming from your company.

In conclusion

PR It is about what you say and do and what others say about you.

It has been used since ancient times to manage reputation and influence audiences. In modern times, it has become more accessible but its core purpose hasn’t changed; to help you get noticed, recognised and trusted.

PR is not an advertisement, where you pay to showcase a product. Instead, it conveys the full spectrum of managing your business’ image and how you want it to be received by the public through various communication channels. If advertising tells the audience what you sell at what price, PR tells the audience why people should trust your product or services to buy from you.

Most importantly, PR is about building a relationship with the media and your audience. For a successful PR campaign, plan for the long haul. Find out who you want to reach, adapt your content voice, tell what is unique about you and make sure it is newsworthy.

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