What is public relations? Why do people lump marketing, advertising and PR into one bucket and expect them to function interchangeably? Why is the singular goal of creating sales forgotten when attempting to define what each does?
This column will focus on public relations and all of its attributes. How it can be used to raise awareness of a person, company, service, product, business leader, community cause and the list goes on. How at its very basic, public relations is a third party endorsement, and that fact in itself lends tremendous credibility.
Each month a business owner, a senior member in a marketing department of an organization or an executive in a not-for-profit will discuss a strategy they have used successfully or ask a way to unleash the power public relations can bring.
For years public relations has hidden under the marketing umbrella. Seen as nothing more than a creative way with words – a press release, a speaking engagement - positive fluff. It felt like the step-sibling to marketing and advertising practices. Not any more. Would it interest you to know that research has shown public relations is a low-cost, highly effective way to accomplish business goals? It is an invaluable tool in creating favorable public opinion. It differs from advertising in that it is an unpaid endorsement of a company, a person, a product or a service.
In a June 2006 webinar hosted by PR Week, Dr. Hans Bender of Proctor & Gamble discussed P&G’s “Statistical Modeling Efforts to Determine the ROI of Public Relations.” Surprisingly, P&G found that PR:
- Drives sales, often on a par with advertising
- Delivers stellar ROI, much greater than advertising
- Provides a halo effect over other marketing tactics
- Overall, P&G found about a 275% ROI for public relations
- Delivers ROI on relatively low levels of spending
Now we know the magic public relations delivers. Why is it so often confused with or lumped together with marketing and advertising. According to Susan P. Ascher, Founder, President & CEO of The Ascher Group, a WBE-certified company and an Inc. 500 contract staffing firm headquartered in Short Hills, NJ, “A business owner has three options at their disposal to use in order to help their company garner awareness and generate sales. One is marketing, one is advertising and one is public relations. The ultimate goal of all three is increased recognition and sales. To me, sales means training, making sure my employees understand our services and can communicate them. Marketing is institutional, usually advertising to control and get the word out. Public relations is more about helping to build a brand and to solidify it in the mind of the consumers. To me, utilizing all the tools in the public relations toolbox has created the most dramatic and lasting effect”.
Public relations is a low-cost and effective way to tell your story and gain tremendous bang for your buck. The companies that use this tool well are the ones you hear the most about. I would love to hear your own story.
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