What is PR? (Meaning + Definition) & Why is it Important?

You might know of PR or associate it with common services, for example, crisis communications. But do you know how versatile PR truly is? This article aims to answer questions like "what is public relations?" and "what does pr mean?". It also aims to explain what public relations in marketing is and how it is different from advertising. Hopefully, after having a quick read, you are also able to better explain what is meant by public relations.

November 18, 2021 |

6 minutes

Photo of Matias Rodsevich, CEO of PRLab

CEO of PRLab

Cover photo for the article why is public relations important

1

What is PR?

You’ve probably heard someone use the term “public relations” before, but what does PR mean exactly?

To give a brief definition of what is meant by PR: Public Relations is a strategic communications process that sets out to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between two or more parties.

For example, this can be a relationship between a company and their publics (customers, consumers, general public), a business-to-business (B2B) relationship, or a relationship your company has with specific journalists.

1. What do you mean by public relations?

What is PR: Public relations is the process of managing and sharing information from an individual or company to the relevant public or target audience to influence their perception. PR also aims to generate mutually beneficial relationships by engaging with third parties for various purposes. In this sense, PR tactics are also famously implemented to develop, grow, enhance and protect reputations.

2. What is PR in marketing?

Considering the holistic spectrum of communications, we have what’s called the “Integrated Communications Process” or “Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)”. Companies use this process to organize communications by following a customer-centric approach, ensuring that a clear connection is visible across all marketing and communications channels & platforms. This way all marketing and communication objectives align.

Within IMC, we have PR as a tool to support the overall marketing communications. So, the meaning of public relations in marketing is that PR focuses on promotion via editorial content. For example, thought leadership articles featured in magazines, online news channels and blogs is most likely the result of PR efforts.

Key to remember is that PR is not the same as advertising. In marketing, PR sets out to secure publicity through third-party endorsements and to gain earned media attention. This is different from advertising where you would pay to definitely get your advertisement featured.

In this case the benefit of PR is that third-party validation is gained, showing that other sources of information already support you. To have achieved this, someone has had to authenticate your content, giving the final PR product an added level of trustworthiness.

Advertising
Paid
Exposure
Skeptical audience
Guaranteed media placement
Visual contents
Convinces to buy
Public Relations
Earned
Trust
Third-party validation
Must convince media agents
More use of language (educational value)
Shares value

To give a practical example of non-paid marketing, a PR agency could establish a relationship with a journalist (endorser) and then get backlinks via guest blogging on their website (earned media). The relationship benefits both parties - the agency gets featured on the journalist’s site (good for SEO and market reach) and in return would share exclusive stories with the journalist.

It’s always good to think strategically about what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts, in some cases PR would be the first option to achieve your set goals, another time advertising would be the main priority and public relations could act as the supporting measure.

SUMMARY

Within the IMC process, PR implements various techniques and tactics to help meet the holistic communication goals. In this, PR has a different set of objectives than marketing, the main difference being that PR focuses on promotion via editorial content and sharing value-adding materials that enhances the overall marketing plan.

2

Why Public Relations is important

The main reason behind why public relations is important is that it establishes trust. The PR agent will work, on behalf of their clients, to increase the credibility of the person/brand/company, within their given industry. This can also be referred to as 'reputation management'. 5 reasons behind why PR is important Public relations is important for multiple reasons, here’s a short selection of some PR benefits:

1. Reputation management

There’s a number of different ways in which PR grows and nurtures reputations. Crisis communication is a popular example to use when it comes to this. Although, image and reputation management is a long-term process and not something that can be achieved with a once off campaign.

2. Brand values

Public relations is strongly oriented towards communicating brand values, afterall, it is implemented with the notion to create added value. PR is also about creating shared meaning, through connecting with those who share the same values as the person/brand/company.

3. Community relations

The above ties into how community relations are strengthened by PR. Another example of how PR builds community relationships is when a company scales their business globally. Usually, a PR team takes care of building community bonds in the new and current market.

4. Compliments marketing activities

PR demands attention from the public. How? By supplying the market with value adding information. PR communication materials are created with the aim of supporting holistic marketing activities, by supplying educational; inspirational and compelling content.

5. Enhances online activities

Through PR, it is possible to gain increased online brand visibility. The benefit is that digital content lives longer, meaning that online articles can generate continuous exposure. It is also possible to get backlinks from other online sources (blogs, news articles, reviews, etc.) for your own website.

In PR, media relations is an important tool to have as part of your communications kit. Not only can valuable media connections help build brand awareness, it also aids in increasing credibility and managing reputations.

The media acts as the middleman between a company and its audience. This is why PR managers aim to get positive, quality coverage (earned media) for their clients. This is why healthy media relations are important in PR - to assist in the process of getting valuable news to target audiences.

Why do companies need PR?

In order to grow your business, you need to optimize your visibility, credibility and brand reputation - this is why PR is important for brands. Regardless of industry, a good PR strategy is a valuable asset for any communications plan. Let’s look at how PR benefits the technology industry and its sectors:

1. FinTech

Fintech is one of the most disruptive, as well as competitive sectors in tech. As the sector develops, competition will only tighten. Luckily, fintech PR strategies ensure that you are implementing the right communication methods to overcome various market and media challenges - to help stay ahead of the competition.

2. Telecom

Telecommunications shares an important common goal with PR - to establish valuable connections. Telecom PR emerged as a specialized field of work, due to the industry’s nature of being highly technical. It requires experienced PR professionals to take the intricate workings of telecom and to communicate the service deliveries in an understandable way.

3. High-Tech

High-tech PR strategies are defined by a highly technical industry. The PR team you employ needs to understand the “language of the industry”. This requires the PR managers to become familiar with the clients’ service deliveries, stakeholder expectations, investor relationships, etc. This makes planning a High-tech PR strategy very complex. The outcome of which should be easy to understand.

4. HealthTech/MedTech

With innovative technologies influencing almost every industry, health & medtech has become one of the fastest growing sectors when it comes to improving quality of life. With this growth acceleration, PR also needs to keep up in terms of the latest industry trends and developments to make sure information sharing is accurate and up to date. Not to mention, developing specialised HealthTech PR strategies.

5. Corporates

PR for corporates works a little differently from PR for startups and scaleups. This is because corporates have different priorities and goals to meet, in terms of long term reputation management and their industry relationships. With bigger businesses, the effectiveness of internal communications and relations also becomes a priority of the PR team.

SUMMARY

Different industries and their respective sectors all require different styles of communicating. This is why PR is responsible for deeply understanding specific industry operations - to make sure communications flow effectively and are efficient in getting clients’ messages across. On this, brands need PR because industry operations can get highly technical and needs to be simplified to establish a common understanding among all audiences.

4

Conclusion

Hopefully this article helped you to better understand what is meant by PR and assisted you in answering “what is public relations?”. Public relations carries many different roles and responsibilities, when it comes to meeting the overarching communications and marketing goals (IMC process). It's important to remember that PR focuses on earned media and third-party endorsements to gain credibility for people, brands and corporates. No matter the industry, public relations is a highly beneficial tool to have as part of your communications kit.

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