I’ve been working in marketing and PR for (ahem) a while now. And I have worked with numerous copywriters, graphic designers, advertisers, media buyers, creative directors, printers, PR folk and other marketing pros throughout the years. I was at an event recently and ran into many of these long-time peers, colleagues and friends. It was a homecoming of sorts – allowing me to see people I don’t see often, some not for 10 years or more.
Naturally, we talked about how everyone was doing, and it was great to hear that our industry is going strong. But the most exciting thing for me was how many conversations I was in where people talked about the value of PR. And not just that it’s a good thing, which it is, but that it’s now the driving force in marketing.
As a PR pro, I already thought that to be true. But to hear it from designers and advertisers? It was a welcome acknowledgement.
Advertising and PR have long been side by side, working together to increase visibility and build brands. Sometimes they were duking it out to see who would get the marketing funds. For a while it seemed like PR was the afterthought. Ads were getting the majority of budgets, and you wanted the right “ad men” at your table.
That philosophy has slowly gone away. Most companies are no longer putting out ads to the masses and hoping they will hit the right targets. The trend now is to be more targeted, craft a strategic message, determine the specific places where the message needs to go, figure out the best medium to deliver it, tailor it as necessary and send it to the right micro-demographic.
That is PR.
By saying that, I don’t mean that advertising is going away – not by a long shot. But the ad itself, the copy within the ad, the visual for it, where it’s placed, when it runs – that is increasingly determined via the PR team.
Public relations has always been about getting the right message to the right people at the right time. From when pitches were hand-delivered to the media, to when they were faxed, to when they were emailed, to when they were tweeted – PR pros have always worked to tell a story that is valuable to the news outlet and to readers and that helps put the client’s message forward.
Public relations has always been about getting the right message to the right people at the right time.
That’s why PR encompasses content marketing. The skills we employ to determine the right message and verbiage don’t stop at media relations, where we are pushing to get our clients on TV or in articles, though that is still the main work of PR. But we can go beyond that to providing content for social media, ads, bylined articles, blogs, emails, white papers, case studies, POP displays, video and more. That content may be words only, or it may include visuals, or sometimes it may be visuals only – the keys are for it to be informative, tell a story and provoke the desired response.
PR goes beyond content though, because it’s based in relationships. We build relationships with journalists to understand what they need and how we can support them. That allows us to be at the ready to position our client for that quote in the Wall Street Journal. We also further relationships for our clients when we help them with things like advisory boards, speaking engagements and other partnerships.
The best part about PR? The content is found by the people who are looking for it. Meaning, people are seeking out information – maybe to learn more before making a purchase or to gain more knowledge in an industry – and they want to easily find something that tells them what they want to know. PR allows your company to place the right content – whether it’s an ad or an article – in the right place – whether it’s on YouTube or in an industry trade publication – for your targeted prospects to find, while generating interest in your products and services. That’s a win-win.