Good public relations (PR) is a carefully planned, sustained effort to establish a corporate identity, maintain credibility and promote communication between an organization and its public. In other words, it’s keeping your name and good deeds out in front of the public.

Many people think press release when thinking about PR. Press releases are good and do have their place, but one of the major functions of PR is media relations. This is maintenance of an ongoing relationship with the media. Developing an ongoing relationship with media in your industry will encourage a reporter to get in touch via phone or e-mail with the spokesperson for your company, when stories are written about your industry. It includes being mentioned and quoted in stories related to your industry, placing stories exclusively about your company and obtaining speaking engagements for appropriate people within the organization. Third party endorsement by the media sells integrity, quality and extraordinary service like no advertisement can.

Public relations is an ongoing, proactive process and hard work. It means getting the word of the positive, newsworthy item that happens at your business to the media so that they, in turn, will tell the story to their audiences — your potential customers. When this happens successfully, the end result is publicity.

Good publicity is any news that is of potential interest to the people in your community or industry. People make news. Employee promotions and awards make news. Events make news — business opening, special promotions, anniversary celebrations, participation in or sponsorship of a community event. Innovations are news — a new product, a new service.

The more your customers read, see and hear about your company’s accomplishments, achievements and activities, the greater the awareness of you and your business in the local community and industry, and a better image will result.

Awareness and a good image are what can set your company ahead of its competitors.

When someone makes a claim, you typically say, “How do you know?” The reply you most likely will hear is “I read it” not I heard it in a commercial. PR has the power to persuade the public.

Read more: What Is Public Relations And How Can My Company Benefit From It?