You’ve done the research, developed the strategy, fine-tuned the messaging and created the campaign. But with months of work under your belt, it’s important to include a crucial component supporting your brand: an integrated public relations effort.
Why so many talented marketing and advertising professionals continue to leave PR on the sidelines in their brand-building efforts is a bit of a mystery: some say it hearkens back to the days when those functions were siloed within organizations and multidisciplinary agencies were rare (indeed, these functions are still siloed in many companies). Some blame the PR industry, and not without evidence – many old-school PR practitioners wanted to keep an arm’s length from anything related to marketing or advertising to retain credibility with journalists who were often wary of their PR pitches.
But whatever the reasons, times have changed, and integrating PR into your marketing practice is essential for a successful brand. Not only does PR provide strong return on investment, but including PR can also make marketing work sharper and smarter from the start, while helping consumers find your brand’s story in another forum.
The Value of PR
PR is a high-impact element of an integrated marketing approach, because “earned media” through PR offers external validation for a brand and credibility for consumers. A 2014 Nielsen study showed that PR plays a major role in boosting a brand’s credibility with consumers during their decision-making process, proving that PR builds trust in addition to exposure. One of the major benefits of an integrated marketing plan is the ability to reach a number of different audiences in the most effective ways to help change behavior, and PR does just that—creating new avenues to connect with potential customers who might not be exposed to your brand otherwise.
In an era where content creation is paramount, positive media coverage garnered by PR efforts results in third-party content that can boost the brand. Articles, radio or podcast interviews, and video segments can be repurposed into social and website content and shared with prospective customers as a proof points of the brand’s value. In addition, these placements can live on for months, even years, delivering value and bolstering search marketing efforts for a brand. Effective PR also creates a “snowball effect,” where coverage leads to more media inquiries, increased visibility and then even more coverage (and more content!).
Finally, perhaps the best argument for a PR campaign that is integrated into the larger marketing effort, is that the media will continue to tell stories with or without you—in other words, if your brand isn’t receiving media coverage, then there’s a good chance your competitors are.
PR Makes Your Marketing Stronger
In addition to the value of PR to a campaign and brand, incorporating your PR team into your marketing process brings a different point of view to the table, which is beneficial for both sharpening your story and avoiding pitfalls, in a number of ways:
Messaging: When refining and distilling your brand’s key messages and making sure all elements are working in concert, an experienced PR practitioner can be invaluable, as they spend their careers counseling clients on speaking with a united voice to please a discerning audience known for asking tough questions. PR pros offer that additional perspective to “battle test” your messaging, which helps your customer to not only remember your brand, but the value your brand delivers to them. Integrating PR also ensures your message is consistent across all efforts to the audiences you’re looking to reach.
Spotting Opportunities: While marketing teams are skilled in spotting societal, pop culture or social media trends, PR pros are experienced at curating different storylines, identifying media opportunities or events, calling on media relationships, and finding unexpected ways to expand publicity for your brand, extending its value beyond paid media and marketing.
Avoiding Missteps: It happens to even the best of marketing teams—a creative campaign or client initiative gets derailed by unexpected public or online backlash from a key audience: consumers, stakeholders, or the press. There are dozens of recent examples of campaigns gone awry that could have been easily avoided if even one PR person had been in the room when the campaign was developed or reviewed. Why? Because PR pros are experienced with counseling clients in dealing with negative feedback and media attention, they can often spot a potential hot button or thorny issue when someone on the creative team might not, since PR pros are trained to think through both best-case and worst-case scenarios.
While integrated marketing has rightfully taken its place as the industry standard for effectiveness and efficiency, giving your PR team a seat at the table can help ensure your brand’s growth and success both in the near-term and for years to come.
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