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You’d be surprised at the common misconception of what PR is, what it can do, and its power to bolster sales and produce ROI.

By Karla Jo Helms

Public Relations.

You’ve seen it on TV, you’ve seen it promoted all over the internet and you’ve heard from fellow contemporaries that it’s not exactly a sure-shot way to improve your business.

Well, I’d ask you to think again.

The term ‘public relations’ is so common and you would think that there would be a sound understanding of what PR really is, however, it may surprise you to know that most people think PR is all about writing press releases.  While this is true to some extent, it is only one piece to the puzzle in a public relations strategy.

Recent studies have shown that a percentage of people incorrectly think PR is all about advertising your business so more people will buy your product or service where another percentage believes it is about promoting what your business is about and advertisements that sell what you do.  A high percentage of people feel that PR costs a lot of money and they are not sure it is worth it because they never seem to get the results they are seeking.

The interesting part about this is that these perceptions are the result of PR when it is not done properly.

How PR Can Be Very Effective When Done Properly

 While it is true that a public relations strategy is important to marketing it is not actually marketing itself.  Instead, it plays a specific role in making your marketing campaigns successful.  PR is much different than marketing and many people do not differentiate between the two concepts. This is the primary reason their PR campaign fails to produce the results they are hoping to achieve.

Marketing refers to promoting and packaging your product or service so it sells on the market. A great public relations strategy creates the third party credibility that your business needs to increase your return on investment for your marketing campaign.

For example, if a business has a great reputation, provides quality services, and gives back to the community, chances are it has good third party credibility as a result of making all of this known via a successful PR campaign.  If you already know this for a fact about the company, then would you do business with another company that you do not know much about?  Chances are you would not.  And neither would other people because a good PR strategy will sculpt the reputation of the company to the general public well in advance of promoting the product or service.

The company that has great public relations may not always be as good as the competing company that doesn’t have good PR, however, most people by nature of what they are already familiar with will choose the company that has great PR.  Why?  Because people tend to go by the word-of-mouth referral that a good PR campaign generates for a business.

Another example of this would be if a stranger walked up to you on the street and said to you,” Would you buy this widget?”  Chances are you would kindly tell them to get lost and keep on walking.  But what if someone you know says to you, “Hey you should buy this widget.  The company is great and provides a quality product!”  Your reaction is going to be much different because it is coming from someone you know is trustworthy and has a great reputation.  Even if the stranger had the better widget, you will tend to buy the same widget based on your peer’s recommendation and perhaps pay a slightly higher price because it is from a referral.

PR should create a good reputation for a company and present any other aspects of the company in a positive light based on concrete facts.  Once you have that third-party credibility this increases your return on investment to your marketing dollars because it works through word of mouth and by referral.

Public Relations is just as the name implies, it is all about knowing how to reach out to the public to establish your credibility and show genuine concern for others and it is less about peddling your product or service.  Most people fail to understand this including most PR companies. This is why a high percentage of people feel that they must engage in a PR strategy, however never feel like they know or can predict the results they are going to get.  This is why a PR company who understands what PR really is will be the best investment you will ever make in your business.