What is public relations marketing?

By Sue Voyles / January 20, 2023 / , ,

Marketing and public relations (PR) are tightly linked, and while marketing is defined as any form of activity that helps promote and sell products or services, PR is the delicate relationship between the public and your company.

The two forms of communication are essential to any business being successful. Another simple way to look at the difference is that marketing is usually focused on sales, using tools like advertising, while public relations is centered on creating awareness, maintaining reputation and how others perceive your company, product or service.

For the most part these will form the core of your efforts to be successful when it comes to presenting your product or service to the public, other businesses and staff. They also work together to form an integrated approach  to attracting customers and building a successful business.

It is this “hand-in hand” approach that we want to focus on for a few minutes.

Public relations marketing is an idea that combines the strengths of both these communications tools. Linked together, they can help your company in many ways, but we’ll just focus on three for now.

Besides increasing general and specific awareness (more on that later), public relations marketing can improve your reputation and ultimately attract new customers or help build loyalty to your brand. How people think about you and your business is a critical aspect to company performance, one you should pay close attention to.

Awareness comes in many forms

Your single most important audience, the one you want to develop and maintain a close relationship with, is your customers and potential clients. Keeping that audience connected and engaged with what you do is important, but often difficult, requiring preparation and a willingness to be transparent.

Awareness plays a crucial role in this. It’s not just about pitching your latest product or service. Think of it more like creating an interest in “why” your new product or service is both needed and something everyone should want or desire.

In other words, it’s not just about telling the public what you’re doing or what’s new with your company. It’s an awareness that goes deeper and connects people to who you are. For example, a company that is expanding into a new community shouldn’t just have a formal announcement about its upcoming arrival. Instead, the firm could find ways to share who they are as a good neighbor, how they have done just that in other communities, or what they will be like to work with in the new community.

Telling someone you are opening a new plant in their community is basic awareness, but it isn’t public relations. For that, you have to connect – tell your story, share ways you respect the communities your company moves into and make sure you are open and honest with your plans, whether with construction, environmental impacts, noise or job creation. This builds an awareness that you can build on in a deeper way.

Now, briefly, we mentioned general and specific awareness. Simply put, general awareness is focused on the broad audiences – the community, the industry, even potential customers. Specific awareness is directed and guided by your most important connections. These are your current clients, your investors if you have them, staff and even family and friends connected to the company.

The ways to build awareness focused on these separate audiences can vary but ultimately, they should have the same goal in mind, even if the messaging is more tailored to the nature of the specific group you want to inform or communicate with.

How do people think about your business?

What people think about your business – even you – is very important to success. Perceptions often drive a business, even forcing owners to adapt, change or head off in a new direction. Negative perceptions can be a death knell and often require crisis communications support.

Positive perceptions, on the other hand, are what drive success. Consider how you think about such brands as Pepsi or Delta Airlines. What is your perception of their product or service?

Now, public relations marketing can’t always change people’s perceptions, but they are critical to building them in the first place. Developing the right kind of messaging, explaining who you are and sharing your commitment to community, vital issues in the industry and taking care of your staff and customers all drive perception in one direction or another.

Let’s face it, we don’t usually think much about business, or harbor certain perceptions, until we make contact with that company or their product or service. And yet public relations marketing is much like an advance team preparing the way for your encounter. If the job is done effectively, by the time you need that company, you already have a positive outlook on them.

When we choose a company for the first time our reasoning is often built on what we know, or have heard about it from others, from online sources, from Google reviews, from family and friends. All these build a bank of perceptions, so the sources of that information through public relations or marketing must have a solid foundation.

It can be difficult to manage reputation LINK TO online since there will likely always be some negative perceptions of who you are. But it cannot be stated more clearly: developing information, sharing your message, showcasing your brand, and getting the word out to potential audiences will lay the right kind of groundwork based on a clear message, initiated and maintained by you and not driven by what others think.

Public relations and its practitioners can do just that. Period.

The ultimate goal of public relations marketing

Having said all that, the fundamental desire for your business is to attract customers. Sure, you want to also retain your loyal customers and great employees, but what drives ongoing success is expanding your customer base. Public relations marketing can help in this area.

Marketing by its nature focuses on effectively using dollars through things like advertising, trade shows, or conferences to share your company, product, or service. When that is connected with a PR push through media, online and with your other communications channels like a website and social media, you can create a synergetic approach to success.

While marketing comes with a cost, public relations when done well can be an asset of the first kind. PR does come with cost, related to the time and energy to develop and utilize media contacts. It’s about creating a thoughtful space online and in the fast-moving world of social media. It’s about the time for staff or consultants like Logos Communications who need to do the work, make the contacts and score the kind of media notice everyone dreams about.

When it’s all said and done, linking public relations and marketing leads to strong and dynamic brand messaging.

Define your story, sell your story, share your story, and you’ve done all that you can to find success in the public relations and marketing world.