Want to know what exactly public relations is? Wonder no more. Here's the definitive guide to what is PR, how it sits in the sales funnel and marketing mix, and how it can help your business.
What is public relations (PR)?
Public relations (PR) is all about reputation management and brand perception. It’s how you communicate the right key messages to your target audience, who could be customers, but they could also be employees, investors, the general public or other stakeholders – to make them think or act in a certain way. Businesses and individuals can communicate to their target audiences through paid (e.g. advertisements and promotions), earned (e.g. media), owned (e.g. blog) and shared (e.g. social media) channels.
Where does PR fit in the sales funnel and marketing mix?
PR often gets placed in the first stage of a sales funnel to support brand awareness. Yes, PR is an important part of the marketing mix to get people to know about your business, product or service. But it can also act as a reminder and reinforce positive messages when your potential customers or clients are further along the sales funnel. After all, the ‘Rule of 7’ suggests customers need to see or engage with your brand at least seven times before they buy from you.
What can PR do for your business?
If you’re wondering what PR can do for your business, it can:
1: Raise awareness of your business, products and/or services. This is a vital stage of any business’ sales funnel. If your customers don’t know about you, they can’t buy from you.
2: Manage your brand perception. We don’t just want your potential customers to know about you – we want them to think about you in a certain way. You can help to shape and manage the way people perceive you through the language, images, fonts and colours you use in your branding. The actions and values of your business, as well as the partnerships you develop, will all have an impact on your brand perception too.
3: Help to drive sales and enquiries. In some cases, such as product placements or launches, PR can directly lead to sales. In other cases, PR is a vital start to the sales process. You need to support PR with additional marketing to convert people who hear and know about you into customers. Then, you need to keep up the good work to turn those customers and clients into loyal advocates and fans, as well as encourage repeat purchases.
4: Change attitudes or behaviours. A great example of this recently is the ‘Blue Planet’ effect; so-called after millions of people saw the impact that plastic is having on our world after the popular David Attenborough programme. Over the last year or two, we’ve received lots of different messages from multiple brands and businesses about the dangers and risks of using too much plastic, which has seen a huge drive in sales of items such as reusable water bottles, coffee cups, and household items free of plastic packaging. On top of this, we’ve also seen bars and restaurants stop using plastic straws, new shops opening that sell items with zero packaging, and supermarkets reducing the amount of wrapping on items such as fruit and vegetables.
5: Attract employees, partners or investors. Your target audience isn’t just the people you want to buy your products or services. As a business owner, you may also want to attract the best talent in your industry to come and work for you. Or you may be looking for other businesses to partner and collaborate with. You might also want to raise investment or sell your business. PR can help to raise your profile and engage with potential employees, partners or investors.
6: Build communities of loyal fans and advocates. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Referrals, word of mouth, reviews and recommendations can be priceless. But in order to get these you need to have fans and advocates – people who will sing your praises and talk about you, without you asking. Again, PR can help to achieve this for your business.
Free PR and media course
One way of communicating your key messages to your target audience is through the media. And Twitter is a really useful tool for media relations and finding PR opportunities. The free PR course explains how.
Thinking about how PR can support your business?
You might also be interested in our article explaining how to get featured in the media.