My small, woman-owned public relations/marketing firm, Advice Unlimited, has been serving the Federal government marketplace for nearly 30 years to help companies with innovative technology get their solutions to the government. Every month, I’ll offer unlimited advice on how to work with this unique market. Please email me with questions or comments.

Advice Unlimited

Advice Unlimited

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Power of Pure PR

There has been energetic debate about the definition of PR. What is public relations, and why is it important for accomplishing the goals you have for your organization? The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) recently initiated a crowdsourcing campaign and a public vote to establish this new and concise definition:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

To define more clearly what public relations is, it may help to delve deeper into two aspects of the PRSA definition: strategic communication and beneficial relationships.

Strategic Communication:

Just about anyone can communicate. But effective communication requires thorough planning, connections, and craftsmanship. There is a common misconception that the only way organizations can communicate to the public is by dispersing their message to as many people as possible through as much advertising as possible. This method works for some organizations, when the target audience is broad based, undefined, or difficult to define. “Inbound marketing or content marketing,” an approach used by many PR/Marketing professionals, is the purposeful placement of your organization's message in a way that earns the attention of your customers and entices your customers to come to you.

To break things down practically -- the world each and every one of us navigates is entirely made up of information delivered in different forms and through different venues. Each of our decisions, especially regarding business, is based upon the information that we’ve come across throughout our navigations.  As we go through life, we find ourselves maneuvering through this world of information overload as efficiently and effectively as we can; avoiding information we deem useless and holding onto information we regard as useful (or potentially useful). Sometimes we hold onto information simply because it’s fun, sometimes we ignore information that might be good for us because we don’t trust or like the messenger. We will only hold onto the information that we find valuable enough to keep and we can only hold onto the information we find during our daily maneuver-filled navigations. For an organization to be successful it needs to disperse information in a way that can and will be retained, using communication channels your target audience uses and trusts. Public Relations presents your information so that your target audience can find it and will hold onto it.

Pure PR is when the message and the outcome desired drives the communication channels used. The strategic PR professional will determine which media or communication channels are most used and trusted by your target audience, and most appropriate for the type of message you’re delivering. This ensures your message reaches your target audience in an environment that they respond to, where they’ll read and absorb the message, and in the language and format that resonates with your audience and inspires your desired action.

Beneficial Relationships:

The advantage of this strategic communication is magnified by ongoing proactive PR; which leverages the PR professional’s relationships with respected journalists and helps build beneficial relationships between you and your audience.  When you’re doing it right, PR becomes a key channel for developing a positive relationship with your audiences. A PR professional gets your information to the places it needs to be in order to get the optimal retention from your audiences. Continuous PR gives your target audiences frequent and varied positive encounters with the information they need to better trust, understand, and respect your business.

An essential factor in any organization’s growth is reputation. What people say and who is saying it both play an immense factor in making any monetary decisions. Pure PR communicates your organization’s trustworthiness to deliver on the expectations you establish, through communications channels that your audience views as trustworthy and capable.  

Having your solution or service talked about as news in the right publications is at the heart of what makes public relations so valuable. This third party credibility is validation that your organization does what it says it does. Positive press coverage builds trust in your organization.

When a consumer reads a particular publication, it is out of the trust, respect, and credibility they associate with that publication. They rely on these publications to serve as a trusted distributor of news they care about. When your organization’s successes and visions for the future are articulately expressed in an article, readers transfer the esteem they give the publication they’re reading over to the businesses mentioned – this establishes credibility via association. This pathway to credibility is particularly valuable in the government sector, and in any industry where there is a trusted pool of influential media, and balance, fairness, and third party credibility are crucial in procurement decisions.

With good public relations, organizations are properly presented to relevant audiences and audiences are pleased to be introduced to relevant organizations. Pure PR is the symbiotic element added to the organization/public relationship. Proactive PR -- continuous strategic communication -- is an invaluable tool to engage, educate, and influence your target audience regarding your products, services, and vision.