In the wake of the pandemic, the ever-changing political landscape, and the rise of social media in our day-to-day lives, more businesses are becoming aware of the value of public relations (PR) in maintaining their organisation’s reputation. Leading to the question,
Who do you choose to represent you?
If PR has only recently appeared on your radar, managing it in-house may seem more efficient. Whether you choose to handle it personally or share the responsibilities between departments, there is a comfort that your brand is being cared for by people who understand your business. But are they the best qualified to do so?
Marketing is naturally close to public relations, but sometimes the boundaries become blurred, and marketers find themselves having PR added to their workload. From an outsider's perspective, marketing and PR roles focus on communicating with a target audience to meet business needs, so this might make sense.
There are, however, some key differences;
Goals - Marketing focuses on satisfying market demand and directly promotes products, services, and ideas to consumers, while PR builds and maintains a positive perception of an organisation with its stakeholders (customers, employees, investors, the media, etc) through third-party channels.
Brand Reputation - By using trusted third-party channels or mediums, PR builds credibility over time, positively impacting many areas of a business including sales and marketing. Marketing itself, however, is self-promotional in nature and isn’t always perceived as a reliable or balanced source of information.
Among other advantages, a well-executed public relations campaign will create a receptive milieu for marketing efforts.
Treat PR the same way you would any other role by choosing professionals based on:
Qualifications - Like any qualification, PR professionals have an acknowledgment of core skills and an understanding of their industry that can be easily verified. There are also many specialist paths in the industry, such as crisis management, public affairs, internal communications, etc. These specialisms provide additional skills that can influence how you engage with your stakeholders.
Experience - Have they previously worked in your sector? While they may not know the ins and outs of the company the way you do, their experience means they understand how and where to communicate to your target audience and will have built relationships with the media from your industry.
Organisations such as The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) provide resources to continue professional development through courses and accredited qualifications, information on critical topics affecting their industry, and spaces to network with industry peers.
Hiring trained PR professionals is the first step to steadying your business or brand during these uncertain times. Whether you use in-house or an agency, the widening of perspectives and experiences of the team will allow your company to thrive and elevate the efforts of your existing departments.