Public Relations Agencies - The Basics
Posted: Apr 09, 2014
So, you think you need to hire a public relations agency and you’re probably right. There’s so much that a great public relations contact can do for your company. But you might be wondering what exactly that is. After all, you already know something about advertising, but that’s not public relations. And while you are pretty sure you need a good PR agency to work to your full potential, you’re a little nervous about contacting one and revealing that you’re not entirely sure what you need. Not to worry! This guide to public relations basics will help you understand what a PR agency does, what questions you can ask, and how you can benefit from hiring one.
Understanding Public Relations
Understanding what public relations actually are will go a long way toward demystifying a PR agency’s purpose. The primary focus of PR agency is to promote your company, brand, or product through what is called earned media. Earned media is different than advertising. When you advertise, you’re essentially buying a platform to say "My product is great!" or "Our brand is the best!" When your product is promoted through earned media, it means you (or rather, your public relations agency) has set the wheels in motion for other people to honestly present your product as one that they support.
The secondary focus of good public relations is to interpret or "spin" any less than glowing coverage your product get so that it has a positive (or less negative) effect. To this end your PR agency may set up interviews or produce press releases for damage control.
Great Public Relations in Practice
So how do you go about getting people to positively present your product without overtly paying them to do so? This varies by industry, of course, and by what you offer and how it’s distributed to consumers. Often, the role of your public relations agency at this point is to come up with a plan which you’ll set in motion yourself. For example, you may offer a contest on your company’s social media page which encourages participation from your customers in a positive way. Another method might be to offer free samples of your product and then highly visible way to review these samples. Blind taste tests are popular, if you know your edible product will outperform the competition.
When it comes to damage control, a truly great public relations agency can really shine. For example, if you have to issue a recall on a product, it might initially seem like a disaster. You’ll have to admit to a mistake, and quite possibly annoy or inconvenience your loyal consumer base. However, some well written press releases and few well timed interviews with the right interviewers can actually turn such an event into a positive promotional opportunity. Instead of painting a picture of a flawed company which has made a mistake, your public relations agency can show that you care deeply about your consumers, and you’re honest and upfront with them.
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