Introduction to PR – it’s not smoke and mirrors
You want more people to know about your business, it’s values, and what it provides. This is where public relations, commonly called PR, comes in.
The old text book model of PR is creating your message, selecting the channels to transmit it, ensuring your message gets through potential barriers between you and your target audience, ensuring your message remains intact, and there’s a mechanism for your audience to provide feedback.
It is about managing the relationships that impact a business. This model is still relevant today.
Annette Ellis, strategic communications advisor and CEO of Cannings Purple says we need PR because we don’t operate in a vacuum. Many people think public relations is more in the realm of the major corporates, but it can add value to small and medium enterprises.
She says many business people think PR is “smoke and mirrors”. Or they think PR advisors are the ones who “in the case of emergency break glass and put a good spin on something”.
To her, that is an outdated view and now businesses have so many stakeholders that it is an art and a science to get the right message to each person from staff, to customers and suppliers.
Centuries ago, news was spread through the spoken word with town criers. Then newspapers became king. Last century, broadcast technology enabled radio and then television to reach wider audiences.
With digital, and more recently social channels, the message can now be specific and targeted. “Therein lies the opportunity for everyone ranging from smaller businesses to large corporates,” Ellis says.
“Previously you had to come up with a campaign and use the shotgun approach to spread your message. Today, using social and digital channels, you can pick who you speak to.
“You can say I want to talk to women over the age of 40 that live in Wanneroo, for example, and with a modest spend you have a high chance of getting to that demographic.
“While the need to communicate hasn’t changed, what has changed is the speed and forensic accuracy with which we can communicate.”
There are three main types of PR, paid, earned and owned.
Paid: This is things like advertising.
Earned: This is where you earn the spread of your message through news channels and journalists. You can use press releases, but the best practice is to build relationships with journalists.
Owned: This is where you can have the greatest impact for the least cost. It is the channels that you own such as social media, website, customer or client databases.