Whether you are a corporate leader, author, entertainer, athlete, or seeking to influence public policy, you know that you need public relations. Yet despite this, many people are uncertain of what the benefits of public relations are.
First you have to understand what public relations is. A basic definition of what public relations does for companies, authors, entertainers, athletes, organizations, and brands is it shapes and molds their public image. It utilizes the right strategies to allow for you to be heard and seen, through media outlets.
So, what are the benefits of public relations?
- Target market. A well-crafted and orchestrated public relations campaign targets the media and events that your target market utilizes. If you are a toy company making board games, a public relations campaign will target the media that people who like board games read, watch, or listen too. The campaign will also target trade shows and events that will give your product the maximum exposure, as well as, obtain celebrity endorsements that will carry weight with consumers. If you are a romance author, public relations will allow you to reach readers who purchase romance books through media interviews, book reviews, book signings, and speaking engagements.
- Businesses, authors, celebrities, brands and any organization conduct public relations not just to promote something but to build a better image. Effective public relations allows your brand to attain a positive image both online and offline, which benefits you for the long haul and brands your image in the public’s consciousness.
- Public relations such as a media interview, review, or media profile, carries weight with the public. It is seen as a third party (the media outlet) endorsement. The public knows that such media mentions are not paid for by the company, unlike an advertisement. Studies show that consumers give a media mention over 7 times the credibility they do an advertisement.
- Public relations is more cost efficient than advertising. The rates for public relations along with the results it produces, are between 30% to 50% better than doing advertising.
- Lead Generation. The media placement from public relations is long lasting. This is especially true with Google, company and media outlets websites. While you will see the greatest number of leads after the media mention appears, the leads continue long after as people find the media story online during searches.
The benefits of public relations are immense. It is long lasting with the impact felt long after the initial campaign.
A very common question asked when considering public relations is, do I need a public relations agency? The answer is yes, you do need a public relations agency for a variety of reasons (and not just because we are a public relations agency).
Why you ask do you need a public relations agency? Let us count the reasons why:
- The media receives thousands of pitches a day. Having a public relations agency make the media contact adds credibility to you and what you are promoting. It shows the media that you, your company, service or product are credible and you are placing money behind it to promote it. Trying to do it yourself lessens your credibility in the eyes of the media.
- It saves you money and time. In business, everything revolves around the bottom line. In this alone it is smarter to retain a public relations agency. Public relations is not just press releases, press conferences, and media appearances. It also includes the social media aspect of maintaining a company’s blog, and social media pages. This would require several salaried people. In terms of salary alone, you are losing out as with a retainer with a public relations agency you have a team of professionals on your account that handle each aspect of that public relations campaign. For small and medium sized organizations, the savings is even greater. Not only are you saving money, you are saving time and remember time is money. There are not enough hours in the day for a small or medium sized business to do everything that needs to be done. And time away from your core business means lost opportunities.
- The personnel at a public relations agency are the experts in their field. They bring their expertise in writing, social media, media relations, branding, and special events to the plate. They know public relations. They know how to position a client for the maximum exposure. They have the contacts with the media. They know which reporters will cover which topics and also how to package a story that the media wants. Many people think of an interview in terms of sales, it isn’t. If a reporter suspects someone is just trying to sell them something through their story it will never see the light of day. An experienced public relations expert knows how to package a story so that it is newsworthy to the reporter while still being of marketing benefit to a client.
- Crisis Communications. Most people think of public relations as positive news. It is, until disaster strikes. Businesses always have a plan for when a crisis strikes in how to handle things except in terms of publicity. Working with an agency means a preliminary crisis communications plan has been developed beforehand that can be altered to fit the crisis. Agency personnel have the skills and experience to objectively evaluate your business, clearly assess its strengths and weaknesses, and figure out how to use them in crisis communications.
- By bringing in someone from the outside you are bringing in someone who can be more objective and doesn’t have the emotional commitment and blinders that an owner or company employee has and can assess what ideas will work and what won’t work.
- A public relations agency tends to be more creative in developing story ideas and teasers to induce the media and can think outside the corporate box. An agency constantly monitors the news and often sees opportunities that others don’t. For example, our agency represented a marriage counseling service and when the Anthony Weiner story broke during the 2016 campaign, went into pitching mode to have our client discuss why powerful men cheat which resulted in coverage on FOX News Channel, CNN, HLN, Good Morning America, People Magazine, and the New York Post.
So, based on these reasons, the answer to whether you need a public relations agency is quite simple and emphatic. Yes, you do.
Businesses seek to attract attention to their newest brand, product or service. With about a quarter of a million new product and service launches globally each year, and countless established brands seeking coverage, it’s not always easy for a new company get the publicity it seeks. But, it’s possible to break through the clutter.
Here are a few ways to achieve it:
- Get key stakeholders involved early.
- Use several ways to get your message out.Media Relations
- Social Media
- Stakeholder Involvement
- Give the media various ways to cover your news.
- Know your story and what makes it unique.
- Utilize a variety of storytellers in getting your message out.
The challenge for any new business is getting the word out and attracting customers. That is why the roll out is so important. Without the proper public relations campaign, you may have the greatest product or service ever but nobody will know about it. Following these basic strategies will ensure that people do learn about it.
Business leaders know that their companies need public relations. It increases a company’s visibility, assists in marketing efforts to increase profits, and helps establish a strong brand identity in the market. Regardless of size or type of business, public relations is essential to any business.
The benefits of public relations for business success are immeasurable. Among the benefits are:
- Today’s consumer is more savvy than ever before. They start their search for a product or service online. Not only do they check a company’s website, but they search social media, reviews, and news stories about the business. With public relations, companies have a strong social media presence as well as credibility through media stories about the company and its products and services.
- Brand Identity. Public relations creates brand identity with the public. This is done through media relations, social media, community relations, and other public relations tools. This means that that the consumer is aware of the company and what its brand stands for in terms of values and service (and today many consumers search for brands that share their values).
- Public relations doesn’t equal sales. What it does is reinforce marketing efforts. Studies show that companies that use public relations see an increase in the success of their marketing efforts by 45%. Don’t just take our word for it though, recall what Bill Gates said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”
Public relations is critical to business success and growth. Every company needs a public relations strategy and needs to keep it continuous to reap the benefits.
The past several days have been a public relations nightmare for United Airlines and it does not appear that things will be improving for the embattled airline and its CEO, Oscar Munoz in the near future. The United saga began when Dr. David Dao was violently dragged off a Chicago, IL to Louisville, KY flight due to the flight being overbooked and room being needed for 4 flight crew. The entire incident was filmed by other passengers with their smartphones. Dr. Dao was so badly injured that he will need reconstructive surgery. Compounding the damage was the tone deaf response from the airline, particularly its CEO, Oscar Munoz, to the incident. Munoz originally praised United’s employees and blamed Dao for the incident. After an international furor aroused, fueled on social media and late night television, Munoz apologized to Dao finally and made an appearance on Good Morning America that made him look anything but sincere.
Added to this debacle were fresh news stories of other passengers who had been threatened when United had overbooked flights, allegations that United Airlines was behind negative stories appearing in the media about Dao’s past, and reports that United was considering suing passengers who had recorded the Dao incident. United is of course facing lawsuits. The company’s market share has dropped by an estimated billion dollars. United’s public image is in ruins.
Soon things will get even worse for United. In the next few weeks, United will announce Munoz’s annual bonus that is expected to be $10 million or more. The cause for the bonus is raising United’s short term profits. How did Munoz achieve this? By having the airline sell more tickets for flights than they have seats (overbooking) and refusing to pay passengers enough to voluntarily give up their seats. The core reasons that led to the crisis United is facing.
So what should United do to begin repairing its image?
- Announce that it is deferring Munoz’s bonus. Or even better, have him announce he is rejecting it or donating it to charity.
- Announce that it will discontinue overbooking. Yes, the practice is legal and other airlines do it but this practice is now lethal for United.
- Munoz needs to do more interviews apologizing not only to Dao but all customers and announce what steps the airline is taking to assure better customer service.
- Announce a companywide customer service training program for all employees.
- Take out full page advertisements in leading newspapers across the nation apologizing and announcing again the steps the company is doing to improve the customer experience on all flights.
United needs to realize that the damage its reputation has suffered has been severe. It isn’t fatal but the longer the company takes in moving forward with its crisis recovery program, the worse its reputation will be.
The other day, I wrote a crisis communications strategy for the Trump White House. It was the conventional crisis communications strategy that would normally apply for any Administration facing the issues that President Trump confronts. Yet in another sense, he doesn’t need a conventional crisis communications strategy and if he followed one it would actually do more harm than good.
What you say? Look at all the negative media coverage the Trump Administration is earning. It moves from one crisis to another (his press conference attacking the media was just the latest example). That is true in the conventional sense. Yet what we are forgetting is that Donald Trump’s presidency, just as his campaign is anything but conventional.
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump was discounted. His attack against John McCain inferring that McCain was not a hero was supposed to doom his campaign yet his poll numbers increased. Trump’s running feud with Megyn Kelly was going to be the end of the campaign, yet it reverberated in Trump’s favor. There was no way he could win the Republican nomination with all of his verbal stumbles yet he emerged as the Republican nominee. Hillary Clinton was a sure winner against Trump, conventional wisdom held. The debates were viewed as a disaster and of course there was the infamous Access Hollywood tape. Yet rather than bow to traditional crisis management, Trump doubled down attacking his enemies and never backing down. On Election Night, he scored the greatest political upset since Harry Truman in 1948.
Trump’s success can be attributed to one thing more than anything else – his brand. The public has known the Trump brand for decades. It is flamboyant, never backs down and bucks conventional wisdom. This is what voters bought into during the 2016 election – the Trump brand. Voters believed in the brand and that Trump was not a regular politician.
For Trump now to follow a traditional crisis management response would go against that brand story that his voters bought into. Based upon polls, Trump’s base is staying with him. In many ways, Trump is like Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty who apologized if his remarks offended anyone but never backed away from his remarks and the public rallied around him because it was consistent with his brand story. For Trump to change is strategy and eschew to traditional crisis management steps would be to go against his brand story.
Brands watching Trump should realize that consumers buy into a brand’s identity during both good and bad times. During a crisis, if a brand approaches a response not consistent with its identity it runs the risk of alienating its consumers and losing its unique identity. Donald Trump understands that lesson and that is why we cannot expect to see traditional crisis management from him.
This Is Us, the drama/comedy on NBC is the breakout hit of this television season. The show centers on the fictional Pearson story and jumps back and forth from the time that Jack and Rebecca Pearson were raising three children in the late 1970s to present day following the three now grown up children. NBC has such faith in the show that it renewed the show for not one but, two more seasons. Brands when developing their brand story can learn from This Is Us on how to develop a strong and compelling brand story that resonates with consumers.
- Stand out from the competition. The whole concept of This Is Us is unlike anything else on television. The concept of jumping back and forth in time with the same family was an unique concept that viewers found compelling and original. In a television landscape that is filled with procedural dramas, sitcoms, and cop shows, This Is Us stands apart. The show is not dark and sinister nor does it tap into any of the polarization and politics that fills the news. It is a feel-good show even if it does cover some of life’s tougher moments. Brands when developing their story need to follow this concept and let their story be unique and compelling that will appeal to their target audience.
- Have compelling spokespersons. Part of the popularity of the show is the appeal of two characters who are spokespersons for the theme of the show. One is the Pearson patriarch, Jack. He is the father that everyone wishes they had and communicates in a simple, effective, yet fun manner. The other is the recurring character of Dr. Nathan Katowsky, popularly known in the show as Dr. K, the replacement doctor who delivers the Pearsons’ children. In every appearance the character gives a quote that resonates with viewers and is tweeted and retweeted over and over again. Like Jack, Dr. K is seen as original and compelling. Brands need to make sure that the person they have telling their story is compelling and one that audiences will relate to when hearing the person speak.
- Keep it simple. This Is Us tackles birth, marriage, child raising, death, illness, family conflict, and much more but it does so in a simple and easy to understand way that the message and enjoyment are not lost. Brands need to remember this when crafting their story message.
- This Is Us creates an emotional connection and reaction from its viewing audience. People report coming to tears when they learned that Jack Pearson, the father, is dead in present day. Others swoon with the romance of the Toby character courting grown up, Kate Pearson. Brands need an emotional connection with their audiences as well. Consumers are not just buying the brand but the brand story and that is why the emotional connection and shared values must be present in the story.
Brands in developing their brand story and communicating with consumers should study This Is Us as it teaches news lessons weekly in communications strategies. And if your current story or strategy isn’t working, it can offer a lesson on how to correct it, for as Dr. K says, “There’s no lemon so sour that you can’t make something resembling lemonade.”