The How-To: Harnessing The Power Of Public Relations

Before delving into what public relations is, here are three things it is not. PR is not advertising. PR is not a copy-paste job. PR is not spin.

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With its origin tracing back to ancient civilizations, the “big bang” moment when PR came into existence is debatable. Not drawing the line there, the very definition of public relations leads to heated discussions at many an office conference table, networking cocktail party and dinner table.


Before delving into what public relations is, here are three things it is not. PR is not advertising. PR is not a copy-paste job. PR is not spin.

So, what is PR?

Public relations is something tech mogul and billionaire, Bill Gates, famously said he’d spend his last dollar on. Public relations is what dug McDonalds out of its grave in 2018. Public relations is what brands resort to in a time of crisis.

What distinguishes public relations from advertising is that it earns its space in the media. The coverage that clients receive in a neat little report every month is the result of diligent networking and relationship building, hours of email and telephone follow ups and a career’s worth of expertise.

PR professionals are masterful storytellers and can create strong emotional ties to something as simple as a bar of soap. While it can normally function independently, it is best when complimented with marketing. Just like ketchup is a decent condiment in its own right but reaches a whole new dimension of flavor when paired with mustard.

What is the power of PR?

Underestimated, that’s what it is.

The value of PR tends to be overlooked with companies scrapping their PR budgets when revenue gets a little rocky. In the digital age, a client’s activities have the potential to go viral with PR on their side.

While advertising and social media campaigns approach targeted viewers, PR has an open door policy and everyone is invited to the party.

Capitalism has created an unending barrage of new products that all need to make their mark and tell their story. Without the PR industry’s relationship with the media, marketing budgets would witness a significant increase.

Research conducted in 2018 revealed that the average person in the US spends 11 hours every day interacting with media. Attention is a valuable asset in this industry and you mustn’t settle for anything short of wow.

Navigating through the digital PR landscape

If public relations conjures up mental images of telephoning your media contacts with a pitch, you may have some evolving to do. While the telephone is still where media relationships flourish on a daily basis, engaging with the media over email and social media will also prove fruitful. Exploring these digital realms for brand promotion is also necessary with the modern consumer spending more time on social media than with a newspaper.

There is scope for professional development for non-millennial PR professionals. With the rapid rise of digitization, it’s survival of the most agile.

While public relations is a fast-paced and socially-demanding industry to work in, where coverage can never be guaranteed, it’s all worth it when you catch someone say, “Oh yeah, I read about that in the papers the other day."

Related: The Five "Knows" To Public Relations Prowess