What do you think of when you hear the term public relations? Maybe you think of a celebrity’s publicist, or a major company’s spokesperson. Perhaps you think of an organization’s strategy on their social networking sites or your mind automatically goes to media relations or a press release. The truth is, public relations (PR) can mean a lot of different things and be seen in a variety of ways.

Public Relations Defined

According to HubSpot, public relations is defined as, “A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” It’s how an organization communicates with people. This can be done in a wide variety of ways including:

  • Media relations, whether through a full campaign or just pitching queries as appropriate
  • Content creation, which can include anything from email marketing (developing e-newsletters) and blogging to developing white papers and other various collateral (brochures, direct mail pieces, etc.)
  • Social media, which often includes managing various social networking platforms
  • Event management, such as hosting or promoting events
  • Advertising, either through traditional ad buys or through mobile and online channels

What You Need To Know About Public Relations

A public relations strategy requires a slow and steady approach.

As a business owner, it’s important to know a few basics about the public relations field before you hire a firm or consultant to manage your media relations, social media marketing or any other component of your company’s PR.

  1. A public relations strategy requires a slow and steady approach. Don’t expect to begin a PR campaign and end up with sales shooting through the roof overnight. Remember, public relations helps an organization communicate with the public, which means your brand awareness and name recognition should increase over time. For example, building a strong presence through social media can take a while. In addition to setting up the page, you need to attract fans and keep them engaged over time.
  2. Look at more than the bottom line. Simply looking at your company’s sales won’t give you the full picture of how public relations is helping your business. It’s also important to look at your website analytics, mentions in the media (especially if media relations are part of your strategy), customer interaction and much, much more.
  3. You get what you pay for. I get it – budgets are tight. But depending on an unpaid intern or a college student you hired for the summer isn’t going to be a good long-term approach for your company’s public relations efforts. Public relations professionals are trained in effective content creation, media relations and more, and they have experience working with different audiences via social media sites, blogs, email and phone. Although you might be able to handle some public relations for your company on your own, your time as a business owner is a valuable commodity and it’s often worth the resources to hire someone that will help you communicate with the public effectively and accurately while keeping up with the latest trends that may help you reach your target audience even better.

What other questions do you have about public relations?