PR is so much more than getting press coverage

If you, like many people, equate public relations with getting news coverage, then you just don’t understand PR.    

True PR is about helping to create positive, mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics (internal and external). Media relations is just one of many ways of doing this. If you’re limiting your PR efforts to media relations, then you’re not getting the full benefit of PR – or your money’s worth for that matter.

Effective PR, like marketing, starts with a strategy and a plan. You’d be surprised to know there are PR “experts” out there delivering four or five bullet points of advice and calling it a PR plan. I don’t think I’ll ever forget one that I saw that was a creative brief being passed off as a PR plan.

A PR plan should include:

  • an assessment of the external environment
  • a view of the industry
  • background and history about the organization
  • analysis of the product/service/issue
  • a look at promotions, including past successes and failures, competitors’ activities, and ad/PR/marketing strategies, themes and campaigns
  • a look at market share
  • a review of the competition
  • available resources, including current attitudes and opinions that are beneficial
  • a SWOT analysis
  • a thorough breakdown of public profiles
  • specific, measurable, time-bound objectives to support the accomplishment of a goal
  • a selection of communication channels and tactics for reaching each public

The news media is just one option that’s available. It’s certainly not the only one and, depending on the plan, it may not be the best choice. Staged events, workplace communication, social media networks, tv, radio, video, billboards, blogs, landing pages, and mobile communication are some of the other many PR channels that are available.  Solely relying upon media relations, or leaning on it too heavily, probably won’t achieve the best results possible as far as desired stakeholder responses. A posting last summer on the Mopwater blog explains this well:

People so often say “get me on CNN” or “get me in the New York Times” without thinking it through…it’s like why? Why do you need to be on CNN? How does that fit into your strategy? How is that helping you meet your goal? It’s just an empty wish you think you should have because everyone says you should have it. UNLESS you think CNN is the key to showcase all the work you’ve done up to this point and you’re ready to move to the next place.

So make sure the PR advice you’re getting has examined all of the options – and don’t confuse PR as simply news coverage.


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