This post has been a lo0o0o0o0o0o0oo0ong time coming folks. I should have started with this post actually when I was transitioning my content to be more biz-focused but whatever. Better late than never, right?
Listen. I’m not here to tell you that this is relevant to everyone in the world…but it kind of is.
What is public relations?
Public relations is the act of representing yourself, your products, a brand, a brand’s products to the public through media relations. Bottom line. That’s a terrible definition by Merriam Webster standards (see above for what THEY define public relations as) but I HATE their definition because it doesn’t actually…explain anything.
But don’t worry, I got you.
Public Relations (henceforth referred to as ‘PR’) isn’t the most straightforward profession to understand because it ebbs and flows based on the industry that the PR person works in, if they work representing a BRAND in-house or if they represent MULTIPLE BRANDS at an agency, or if they’re PR-ing their own small business.
Lots of ground to cover, eh?
Generally speaking, PR is about relationships. It’s about working with people who put out content (any kind of content really, from website articles to magazine articles to YouTube videos) and introducing them to your products in hopes that they will include them in their content and reach their audience. Ideally, they’d hit key marketing points like why your product/service is better than the next guy…but because you AREN’T PAYING them it’s a hit-0r-miss situation.
That’s the biggest difference between advertising and public relations by the way, no money (like dollar bills) actually changes hands for product placement.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that we don’t try and entice media to enjoy our product in other ways.
- Press events are parties/ breakfasts/ cocktails/ activities that are organized by the PR person and designed to reinforce product messaging to media in an organic or indigenous way.
- Press mailers are product mailers that are shipped out to media and deliver your products right to their desks to test out.
- One-on-one entertaining (otherwise known as editor dates) are also effective ways to bond with media, take them out for mani/pedis so you can spend 10% of time talking about work/ your product and 90% of the time getting to know the media member.
I’m going to dive into each of these three approaches in separate posts (because it get’s overwhelming trying to explain why all this ish works and we don’t have all day here folks) but generally…
Public relations is important for building brand awareness, which translates into sales.
The more media members include your product in their magazine, web article, or YouTube video, the more people learn about what your brand name is and why your product is the best on the market. That validation hopefully is enough to convince a consumer to go out and purchase…also known as “driving purchase intent.”
…and THAT is why you should care about hiring or being a better PR person. Everything that a PR person does should be fueled by driving purchase intent and contributing to the company bottom line.
So now the million dollar question right? How do you be your own best PR person?
I feel like this should get a post of it’s own but to start, let’s assume you have a well-established personal business. Maybe you’re a fitness instructor, let’s use that as an example. How can you “PR yourself?” to help drive sales?
Well, go to your local magazine stand and pick up every fitness magazine that you’d like to see yourself within the pages of, let’s say one of them is Women’s Health. Read through it, and find an article that you like in which a fitness expert was quoted. Stalk the internet until you find a contact email for the editors of that magazine.
Next, pitch yourself. More about pitching in this article here, but in a nutshell…you can start off by emailing the editor that wrote the piece that included a quote from a fitness expert. Introduce yourself and compliment them on the article. Then, offer yourself as an expert that’s available to be quoted if the editor is ever under a time crunch and need an expert quickly.
You’re gonna have to send a LOT of emails before you get even one response, but that’s how you gotta do it Set aside a small budget for entertaining, so when you do get a response you can offer to take the editor out for a manicure or something to get to know them better. Start to build that relationship. Hopefully, that editor will then think of you the next time they’re on a deadline and ask you for a quote. That quote will land within the pages of that magazine (or even better, in an online article that might go viral) along with a tagline about you and your fitness business.
That one inclusion can lead to dozens of sales if Susan in the town next to you sees that article and wants to hire a trainer.
Services (like a fitness instructor) is harder to pitch than a good (like a jumprope or something) because you have to paint yourself to be an expert in order to get within the pages of that magazine.
It’s been said that PR is more valuable than advertising because all of the reviews, anecdotes, and people vouching for the product haven’t been paid to say what they feel…making them a much more reliable source than some billboard or advertisement in a magazine.
Now, I know I’m about to get mad people jumping down my throat asking about YouTube and content creators in general… and trust me, I’m gonna dive in to the entire world known as influencer marketing in a separate post because that’s what my day job actually is and it CAN BE a function of public relations depending on if we’re talking about earned or paid influencer marketing.
In the meantime though, I hope I was able to clear up the actual function of public relations… let me know if you have any questions on the subject. More than happy to answer ’em!