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PR & Communications


PR & Communications

What are the roles of Public Relations and Communications

Public relations is your public image in the marketplace. It’s a big part of your business’ value, by some estimates as much as 63%. If public image sounds a lot like your brand, it’s because they’re closely related and both belong in every marketing plan.

A public relations campaign is generally event- or activity-specific–a variety of activities that support a common goal, generally promoting an event, a new product or a person—a new hire or a well-known person who may be working with you or giving a presentation. Public relations campaigns generally have a timeline and may have deliverables assigned to members of a team.

Why PR is important in marketing

Public relations is the carefully orchestrated process of managing the release and spread of organization-related information to maintain a favorable reputation. When big corporations release a new product, they put a lot of thought into how to maximize its exposure. It may be at a tradeshow or other high-profile event.

When there’s a mishap or when the company’s reputation breaks down, it affects the company’s entire corporate existence and related affiliates. It takes four-seven years to overcome a negative reputation. The costs of damage control can be overwhelming, and some companies never reclaim their position in the marketplace. Think back to 2016 and Chipotle’s ongoing E. coli outbreaks that resulted in tumbling stock, stalled sales, and a federal investigation. This was a damage control situation that required skilled PR teams.

Good public relations practices focus on:

  • What information should be released—identify any sensitivity.
  • From whom should the messaging be coming—CEO, Product Manager, COO?
  • What media/format should be deployed: Should this be a newsletter, press release, text message, etc. Is this so big that it requires a press briefing and an announcement from the CEO?

What is the objective of public relations?

The main objective of public relations is to maintain a positive reputation of the brand and maintain a strategic relationship with the public, prospective customers, partners, investors, employees and other stakeholders. This leads to a positive image of the brand and makes it seem honest, successful, important, and relevant.

Types of public relations

  • Media relations. Developing media contacts and establishing ongoing relationships. Become the point person for the company.
  • Investor relations. Managing investor events, releasing financial reports and regulatory filings. Interacting with investors, analysts, fielding media queries and complaints.
  • Government relations: Representing the brand to the federal and state government to meet policy requirements for matters such as corporate social responsibility, fair competition, consumer protection, employee protection, etc.
  • Community relations: Handling the social aspect of the brand and establishing a positive reputation in the social niche like environmental protection, education, etc.
  • Internal relations: Counselling teams about policies, course of action and responsibilities.
  • Customer relations: Handling relationships with the target market and lead consumers. Conducting market research to know more about interests, attitudes, and priorities of the customers and crafting strategies to influence the same using earned media. If testing the health of the brand, it may require focus groups or surveys.
  • Marketing communications: Work closely with marketing team to support campaign efforts relating to product launch, special campaigns, brand awareness, image, and positioning.

Functions of public relations

While public relations and advertising both fall under the marketing umbrella, public relations is distinct from advertising. Public relations agencies don’t buy ads and they’re not researching keywords and working out the costs of a Google ad strategy.

Public relations deals in communications–establishing media contacts to build mutually beneficial relationships with the public. Advertising is paid communications with the goal of influencing someone to buy. Marketing is the umbrella under which these communication divisions lie.

Promote and protect the brand

Using editorial content that appears in magazines, newspapers, news channels, websites, blogs, and TV programs is completely within the purview of the PR person. Other routine functions of the PR person include measuring brand health and drafting strategies to support or improve it. Writing and distributing press releases, speechwriting and planning and executing public outreach and media events. Developing and executing damage control strategies. Updating websites and other media with important messaging or breaking news. PR teams also work with internal employees, advising them how to interact with the media. A good example of this is with sports—they’re coached on how to respond to questions on sensitive topics.

Public relations examples

Damage control is one example of the role of public relations teams. Other examples demonstrate how companies are using PR campaigns to raise money for good causes while raising their own visibility.

  • Google’s Fight Ebola campaign. Google stepped up during the 2014 Ebola crisis that quickly spread internationally—hitting developing countries especially hard. Google pledged to donate $2 for every $1 donated to the cause through its website.
  • There doesn’t have to be money involved. In response to the tragic shooting in Paris in 2015 that resulted in more than 100 deaths, Facebook added a France flag filter–users could apply the filter to their profile pictures to show their solidarity. Millions of Facebook users around the world applied this filter.
  • State Street Global Advisors’ Fearless Girl statue in Wall Street, became a symbol of the financial sector’s lack of gender diversity, as well as the women working to change it.

Advantages of public relations

  • Credibility: We seem to trust information that comes from a third party—that’s not perceived as advertising. In general, the public has maxed out on ads.
  • Reach: A good public relations strategy has the potential to reach nearly unlimited markets. Limited only by imagination.
  • Cost effectiveness: Public relations leverages free media contacts.

Disadvantages of public relations

  • No direct control: Unlike paid media, there isn’t a direct control over the content distributed through the earned media. Once you forward content to your media contact, there’s no guarantee that that person will publish it untouched.
  • Hard to measure success: It is really hard to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of a public relations campaign. Increased traffic to your website and social channels has to be a measure of success.
  • No guaranteed results: Publishing of a press release isn’t guaranteed, as the brand doesn’t pay for it. The landscape for press releases has changed dramatically over the years. These days, we publish press releases through many of our own channels.

Public Relations. It’s still a great way to reach your target audience. Contact Top of Mind Marketing. Let’s talk about PR strategies for your business.