Business experts advise spending 10-12% on marketing and public relations. But surely with access to social media, marketing is as easy as downloading an app, right? Actually, that’s wrong, mainly due to the internet’s robust development over the last five years. Public relations can be defined as the means through which your business engages with the public primarily by sharing information with consumers about its product, service, or company. This is most often achieved through press releases and advertisements, but it can also be achieved through new forms of media, such as podcast appearances, live video streams to a target audience, or an ad placed on social media. And public relations campaigns function as the formal introduction your company, product, or service has with the public.
Consumers influence the market more now than ever before, and they do so through easy access to comment sections, captive audiences, and algorithm traction. While it is impossible to control every message ever shared about your business or its offerings on websites and social media, it is possible to get ahead of the conversation by being the conversation starter. A well-crafted public relations campaign helps you achieve this. By starting the narrative about your product or service, you assert the upper hand over public opinion by introducing something the public previously has not seen, or has not seen your variation of. This is also your opportunity to let them know why your offerings are better than that of their competitors, and this is where public relations campaigns can really shine.
Unlike in marketing or advertising where it’s important to pack your message into the shortest time span possible for the greatest impact, public relations can include long-form correspondence, such as articles and white papers. In auditory form, these would be press conferences held with the public where one or more representatives speak about your product, service, event, or other noteworthy development. In this way, your business has a chance to impact the larger story taking place around your company’s latest development or announcement. With the right momentum, it can have lasting benefits for your company and its brand(s).
For example, leading up to the start of worldwide lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic, Uber had a questionable reputation among drivers and riders. Reports of unfair price hikes, wage withholding for drivers, and documented mistreatment of women (as passengers and drivers) had many wondering about the rideshare giant’s plans to turn things around. But in April 2020, Uber launched its “Thank You for Not Riding” campaign – an effort aimed at spreading public awareness of the necessity to shelter in place, and also a supportive campaign in which Uber committed to providing 10 million free rides and food deliveries to healthcare workers, senior citizens, and essential workers. Uber saw an increase in revenue following this campaign, which can likely be attributed to the public’s increased reliance on its services as lockdowns and restrictions were put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But Uber’s campaign certainly did more to help its reputation than hurt it. Uber executed its campaign through a series of well-placed videos, and was able to turn its image around and adjust the public’s trust in it back in the other direction, and all because of a well-executed public relations campaign with clear messaging and well-placed content.
As you consider your business’s budget and spending, remember not to skimp on public relations efforts. As your company, its products and services, and its values grow and develop, you can continue to scale your efforts by remaining in good standing with your target consumers, and well-crafted, intentional public relations campaigns are a great way to secure this.