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Public Relations: What you didn't know you didn't know

By Erika Kelland & Erin Molloy, Twine PR


What is public relations?

Public relations (PR) professionals may wear a dozen hats, but at the core, their role is to communicate an organization’s, government’s, or individual’s story to the right audience, in an authentic way that lifts their reputation. PR is not spin doctoring; it is not covering up a story, and it is more than news releases. Public relations is about strategic relationship-building with each group of stakeholders that is or may be impacted by your business.


So, what is the difference between public relations and marketing?

Some people respond to this question by saying, “well, marketing is the one I pay for.” You can imagine our disappointment that some business professionals aren’t versed in how they can effectively employ and capitalize on PR strategies as they do with marketing. While in an effective business strategy both disciplines should complement one another and work in tandem, they each have different objectives, tactics, and return on investment (ROI).


Traditionally, it has been said that marketing seeks to sell a product or service through placement and advertising sales, whereas public relations seeks to position the company or brand through stakeholder communication and reputation management. Marketing tactics reach existing and potential clients, while PR is more inclusive of stakeholders with a vested interest in the brand, regardless of their intention to “buy” the commodity.


Public relations is a two-way, relationship-building communication that is seen through media, government, community, and investor relations, as well as public affairs, crisis management, etc. Marketing builds exposure; PR builds trust.


Marketing typically involves a defined campaign with direct investments made toward promotion and advertising. Your ROI is more easily measured by the conversions from these activities and the direct sales they generate. Public relations, however, is an activity that continues to pay dividends after the campaign period has ended. While it can be challenging to measure the direct conversion of a PR tactic, the belief or emotion tied to your brand as a result of positive public relations efforts does not have a defined timeline and will continue to compound as you engage with your stakeholders.


Why should public relations matter to me?

Employing a public relations strategy adds value, whether it is in times of pro- or reactivity. PR efforts such as relationship-building, community initiatives, thought leadership, and positive media coverage contribute uniquely to trust-building and brand credibility. Consumers are savvy, so businesses must find understated ways to communicate the value of their brand to their audiences. Effective PR does just that.


Your brand reputation matters, regardless of the size of your business or where you are in your growth strategy. Setting the building blocks for a strong brand early on will prove beneficial for long-term growth and resilience. In times of crisis, your PR plan is even more crucial. Organizations with thoughtful PR plans have stronger, more trusting relationships with their stakeholders, and can facilitate the difficult conversations that will get you through that time. Don’t wait for a crisis to arise to lean on your strategy—you need to start laying the groundwork before a crisis occurs.


How do I know if my PR efforts are effective?

While many organizations have tools, strategies, and formulas to measure their public relations efforts, that measurement is not an exact science. It can be challenging to evaluate the emotional qualities of reputation. There are, however, accessible options for businesses of all sizes. Pre- and post-campaign surveys can indicate how your audiences view your brand. To accurately evaluate your impact, it’s important to benchmark where feelings sit before your PR efforts. Other available quantitative metrics include media coverage, website/blog traffic, social media mentions and engagement, event attendance, and community support.


Want to learn more about how you can weave these insights into your day-to-day business? Visit twinepr.com to watch our latest vlog.


Erika Kelland & Erin Molloy,

Twine PR

Erika Kelland and Erin Molloy are the partners and owners of Twine PR, a public relations firm on the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Twine brings together two or more pieces to form a stronger bond, which is the drive behind every client relationship and project. “We get to know you by starting all projects with helping you identify and define your direction and by analyzing and assessing your current and previous goals, needs, and results. Whether it is through public relations strategy and counsel, strategic planning, or experiential marketing and communications, Twine PR pushes beyond the smoke and mirrors to focus on what matters—you. Our approach is mindful of all business goals, and the integrity of your company is not only honoured, but strengthened.”