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Don’t be fooled by these PR myths

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It’s easy to be fooled by the myths about public relations. So this April Fools’ Day, we debunk some of the biggest misconceptions about PR.

Myth number 1: We don’t need PR

We get it. Hiring a PR professional or agency is another cost, and some smaller or medium-sized businesses may think it’s a cost they can do without. They may think that simply creating a brilliant product or service is enough to make a success of their business.

But think about it. All businesses are doing public relations whether they like it or not. They have a public audience in their potential customer, and they must form relationships with them in order to do business. If a crisis happens, they may speak to journalists and try to manage the situation. If they launch a new product, they will tell people about it in some way.

The fact is that in whatever way they are making those connections and putting out their message, they are carrying out some form of public relations activity even if they don’t think of it in those terms.

So, the question is not whether you need it, but how you carry it out.

Most growing businesses get to a point where they will employ or buy in to the services of a tax specialist or an IT specialist, because it is more effective and more efficient and less time consuming than attempting to muddle through and do it themselves. It’s the same with PR – you’ll have an easier time and a more successful outcome if you bring in the experts.

Myth number 2: Advertising is more effective than PR

Advertising and PR are different beasts. With an advertising campaign a company will create the words and visuals and pay for them to be publicised in their chosen media – online, in print, on social media, television, radio, cinema, or whatever suits. With PR, publicity is generated by creating relationships with people – in the media, across social media and other audiences – and working with them to create a story.

Each type of publicity has its place and paid advertising is appealing to companies because they can entirely control the message. By creating an advertising campaign, they can publicise their wares. If they spend enough, and in the right places, they can put that message in front of a large and targeted audience. PR is slightly less predictable, because it comes without these guarantees, though by building good relationships and understanding what the audience wants, PR can share messages with impact.

Through media relations in particular, the biggest difference is that when a story appears as part of an editorial piece, the audience views it differently to an advertisement. An ad is an ad, and people understand that whether it is a billboard on a street corner or a paid-for post on social media, it is only there because the business has paid for it. Whereas if a journalist develops an article based on a media release or pitch from a PR professional, it becomes a story in itself. The audience understands that the material has been judged by the media outlet to be newsworthy and interesting, and this gives the piece credibility. PR can create truly impactful results that people engage with, that are it highly effective and trusted, without incurring the costs of paying to place an advertisement.

Myth number 3: We’re not launching a product today, so we don’t need PR

Do you want to be that person who only gets in touch when they want something? Of course not. And being in business is a bit like that because if you only speak to your audience when you have a new product to sell, and maintain radio silence in between, they may not be very receptive. They may not even know who you are.

With a PR strategy you can maintain the relationship with your audience, rather than hitting them with a hard sell every six months when you want to relieve them of their hard-earned cash. PR can create those exciting moments of intense interest in a brand, but it is also a slow burn, generating trust, understanding and knowledge of your business.

It’s about the long haul rather than the instant fix. It’s not just saying, ‘this is what we are selling,’ it’s saying, ‘this is who we are’.

And with the guidance of a PR expert, you can reach the people you want to reach, give them a reason to engage with you and ultimately make it more likely that they will be open and receptive when the time comes that you are launching that new product.

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