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What Is Public Relations?

Essay by   •  September 11, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,519 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,748 Views

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Just what is public relations? And how does it differ from advertising? Public relations is the opposite of advertising. In advertising, you pay to have your message placed in a newspaper, TV or radio spot. In public relations, the article that features your company is not paid for. The reporter, whether broadcast or print, writes about or films your company as a result of information he or she received and researched.

Publicity is more effective than advertising, for several reasons. First, publicity is far more cost-effective than advertising. Even if it is not free, your only expenses are generally phone calls and mailings to the media. Second, publicity has greater longevity than advertising. An article about your business will be remembered far longer than an ad.

Publicity also reaches a far wider audience than advertising generally does. Sometimes, your story might even be picked up by the national media, spreading the word about your business all over the country.

Finally, and most important, publicity has greater credibility with the public than does advertising. Readers feel that if an objective third party-a magazine, newspaper or radio reporter-is featuring your company, you must be doing something worthwhile.

As your business grows, it naturally becomes a more prominent element in your community and your industry. That means that what it does naturally becomes more worthy of notice. And that means improved opportunities for using public relations as a bigger part of your marketing mix. PR is an excellent tool because it gives you exposure you don't have to pay for directly. The term "directly" is chosen carefully here. True, you may not have to cut a check to a broadcaster or publisher when your company is mentioned in a news report. But good PR rarely happens without effort. Getting good publicity usually requires careful planning, persistent effort, and, often, spending money for press release mailings, copywriters and PR consultants.

The good news is, as the founder of a growing company, you're in a prime position to be listened to by consumers and the news media. All you have to do is let others know you exist and that you are an expert source of information or advice about your industry. Being regarded as an industry expert can do wonders for your business. But how can you get your expertise known?

Start by making sure you know everything you can about your business, product and industry.

Talk to as many groups as possible. (If public speaking strikes fear in your heart, you'd better get over it. This is one skill you're going to need as an entrepreneur.) Volunteer to talk to key organizations, service clubs, business groups or anyone else who might be interested in what you have to say. Do it free of charge, of course, and keep it fun, interesting and timely.

Contact industry trade publications and volunteer to write articles, columns or opinion pieces. (If you can not do that, write a letter to the editor.)

Offer seminars or demonstrations related to your business (a caterer could explain how to cook Thai food,

Host--or appear as a regular guest or contributor to--a local radio or TV talk show.

Do all this, and by the time you contact media people and present yourself as an expert, you'll have plenty of credentials.

Why do some companies succeed in generating publicity while others don't? It's been proved time and time again that no matter how large or small your business is, the key to securing publicity is identifying your target market and developing a well-thought-out public relations campaign. To get your company noticed, follow these seven steps:

1. Write your positioning statement. This sums up in a few sentences what makes your business different from the competition.

2. List your objectives. What do you hope to achieve for your company through the publicity plan you put into action? List your top five goals in order of priority. Be specific, and always set deadlines. Using a clothing boutique as an example, some goals may be to increase your store traffic, which will translate into increased sales, and create a high profile for your store within the community.

3. Identify your target customers. Are they male or female? What age range? What are their lifestyles, incomes and buying habits? Where do they live?

4. Identify your target media. List the newspapers and TV and radio programs in your area that would be appropriate outlets. Make a complete list of the media you want to target, then call them and ask whom you should contact

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