Public relations (PR) is often misunderstood. Some believe it is only about getting the press to write about you. Others think it is more to do with crisis management. But PR is so much more than that and is an integral part of any business that wants to succeed.

PR is about sharing the most impactful information to the right places and people at the right time. It helps build your brand reputation, gain exposure, and build trust with your customers. PR agencies not only help you build your image in your chosen industry, but they also help you promote your agenda. When used appropriately, PR can give you the power to overcome almost any obstacle.

Here are a few ways PR can help you achieve your business goals. Let’s get the obvious one out-of-the-way first.

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PR will increase the visibility of your products and services

This is the area most people think of when they talk about PR. A PR agency will help you identify the right angle, build a press release, craft an exciting pitch, and send it to the right journalists at the most relevant publications. If all goes well, you’ll end up with one or more articles about your news in significant publications, and the impact of that can be the difference between make or break.

Slack, for example, generated massive exposure and reach with pre-launch reviews from publications like VentureBeat, TechCrunch, and Inc. Slack received 8,000 user requests in the first day and 15,000 by the second week. Only six years later (and several more milestone articles in between), Slack now has 12 million daily active users, and 156,000 organizations subscribe to the app. While its PR campaigns cannot be wholly praised for Slack’s growth, they were undoubtedly an integral and significant part of its marketing strategy and success.

Good PR won’t only land you new users and prospective customers. If you have a business that will succeed faster by forming partnerships, finding ambassadors or affiliates, or two-way business and promotion arrangements, being featured in the press will help make those opportunities happen.

PR will strengthen your brand

PR doesn’t only give you an outlet for your launches and milestones. It helps you connect these stories with your brand’s core messaging and your tone of voice. It not only allows you to paint a picture of what you stand for, but it reflects the way you want to address your customers and partners.

A good PR agency will help you in this regard, either taking your existing tone of voice or helping you develop one. And they’ll work your brand values, messaging, and principles into every pitch and press release. The result? Consistency across the board, not just in your advertising and marketing materials, emails and communications, and website, but in your approach to journalists and the answers you give them to any questions they answer. Some PR firms even run media training sessions to help you ensure that your answers reflect your brand values from start to finish when faced with an in-person interview.

PR adds value to existing clients

One often-overlooked weapon in the PR armory is the ability to tell your clients’ stories – not just your own. Anyone that works on creating great angles, crafting eye-catching pitches, and writing engaging press releases can also work with your customers to tell their story, and craft case studies that keep your prospective clients’ attention from start to finish.

PR helps you raise funding

Getting funded is an art. You need to have everything lined up, including an impactful idea, a fantastic team, the right advisors, initial traction, a compelling story, and more. PR can make a massive difference to whether you get that initial or next round or miss out to another startup.

Firstly, a great PR agency can help you craft a story that captures the attention of your target investor. Then, just as using PR to strengthen your brand, the same storytelling approach can help you make sure every slide of your pitch deck and every word you use to illustrate it will make people sit up, listen, and ultimately give you the funds you need to grow. And, of course, getting an article published in a major online media will go towards legitimacy and trust. Imagine walking into a VC with not only a great pitch but published articles from everyone’s favorite publications.

PR helps you land the best talent

Think about it. You’re looking around the industry for your next role, and it comes down to two target companies. Both have been around for the same length of time. Both have traction. Both are in the same niche. But one of these appears in Google News searches, and the other has no visibility at all. One has unique educational content and thought leadership articles, and the other is invisible. One has consistent, clear messaging, and the other seems to be shooting from the hip.

Which one would you focus on? A good PR agency will show you how to apply everything they help you achieve to multiple areas of your business, and that – in turn – will help you to attract the best talent.

PR helps manage your reputation

PR isn’t all about sending out positive messaging. Sometimes, PR is about crisis management and dealing with significant issues as they arise.

Yum! Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, was being sued over the contents of its meat. The lawsuit alleged that its “seasoned beef” was only 35% beef. It went on a PR offensive, stating that all claims were false, and it shared its percentages openly and publicly (if you want the details, “seasoned beef” is 88% beef and 12% secret recipe). It also shared the ingredients used in the secret recipe. A multi-platform PR campaign followed, and Taco Bell’s existing consumer base responded positively across every channel. Less than four months later, the lawsuit was dropped.

PR really can help with your business goals

There are so many more ways PR can support your targets, requirements, and needs – way more than we can cover here.

Just remember: it isn’t all about getting press in your favorite publications. PR agencies, executives, and assistants are incredibly well-placed to assist you in many marketing communications and crisis management areas, so use them accordingly.