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PR - more than just winning words

How do you persuade sceptical colleagues of the benefits of PR? Clear's PR and Content team offer advice to help convince doubters that PR can be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing communications armoury. 

We're big fans of PR. In fact, we'd go so far as to say we agree with Bill Gates who once said: 'If I was down to my last dollar, I'd spend it on public relations." We're not alone in this conviction – PR is very much on trend. But, despite this, we do still find ourselves having to explain the benefits of PR again and again. We know that many of our clients face the same challenge.

Like us, you may be a great believer in the power of PR to establish and maintain positive brand perceptions, both internally and externally. But perhaps you have doubters in your organisation who question PR's effectiveness – maybe because they don't perceive a direct and measurable return on investment, or because previous efforts have relied on dull and inward-looking press releases. If this sounds familiar, read on to discover all the arguments you need to help your colleagues understand the power of PR for themselves.

What PR actually is

If you are PR savvy then please skip ahead of the basics, however, if you would like a refresher then here goes …

Essentially, PR is about building, enhancing and protecting the public image of your business – with your public being everyone who comes into contact with your brand, particularly customers and prospective customers. It does this via editorial coverage on websites, blogs, newspapers, trade publications or social media. This is often referred to as 'earned' or 'free' content as opposed to 'paid' content such as ads or advertorials.

As PR specialists, here are few examples of the work we do to bring PR to life:

  • Research into your business, your competitors and the industry in which you're operating in order to develop messages and potential 'stories'
  • Writing and selling in 'stories' via press releases, feature articles, thought-leadership editorials and blogs
  • Designing and writing speeches and presentations for events, conferences and campaign or product launches 
  • Media networking, including pitching to journalists to sound out and build their interest in your story
  • Preparing, managing and hosting press events and press briefings
  • Developing social media campaigns and building relationships with relevant online communities and social media influencers

It's all about storytelling

The real magic of PR lies in the way it tells stories and makes connections between your products and services and the real life needs of the business people who would benefit from them.

Good PR practitioners are storytellers

People who can see the world from your customers' viewpoint and use this understanding to create a story that connects what you are doing to what's happening out there in the wider world, particularly the world of your customers and prospective customers.

In short, effective PR sets your product or service in a ‘real world’ context of industry trends and other developments affecting profit, growth and sustainability in your sector.  And it shows how your product or service can help offer solutions to these trends and developments.

What PR gives you

This brings us neatly on to the question of the benefits of PR and how these benefits can be measured. PR raises awareness of your company. It builds trust and relationships with opinion formers, develops changed perceptions, improves your online presence (so helping with SEO) and helps attract new business. And, through the positive endorsement from a third party, it enjoys credibility – much more so than for advertising.

It can also pull all internal stakeholders together in being more consistent in how the brand, organisation or products are portrayed – ideally having drawn their input and crafted the story for PR, when this is shared back internally it can have a massive influence, elevating everyone’s perception, understanding and support for what you do. Sales teams can also share PR articles and thought leadership pieces directly with customers and prospects through emails or as talking points. These indirect benefits of PR work are often hugely important to an organisation’s success.

How benefits can be measured

Public relations is about bringing that touch of magic to a brand’s story, and all of these benefits can be measured. Digital analytics and magazine reach figures both play a key role.  Stories can feed back to landing pages with trackable URLs... leads analysis can reveal how customers heard about you... content analysis can show the extent to which your key messages are being picked up... and market research can shine a light on more subtle outcomes like shifting loyalties that do not translate easily to numeric quantification.

We can help you build a business case

Hopefully, this article will have given you at least some of the ammunition you need to convince doubters in your organisation. But if you still feel you need help, do get in touch and we can help you build a business case. One final word of advice: if you're thinking about trying out PR, make sure you get great storytellers on board with you, people that care about your business as much as you do, are immersed in your industry and know what will resonate with your public. We can't say it too often – the power is in the story.

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