Almost everyone’s response when I tell them I work in Public Relations (PR for short) usually goes something like this: aggressive nodding, a slight look of confusion, then a pause as if they’re deciding whether or not to ask for clarification. So, if you don’t really know what PR is, don’t worry – you’re not the only one!
Well, it’s kind of hard to explain. In the simplest of terms, it’s about effective communication to the public or to internal stakeholders. PR professionals are responsible for communicating news and story angles to produce earned media. We help businesses or individuals cultivate a positive reputation communicated via the ‘media’. The term ‘media’ encapsulates everything from traditional publications like newspapers or magazines, digital media like online sites and those who influence the masses like celebrities and social media influencers. PR is sort of like advertising but is considered more authentic. It also requires a detailed knowledge of marketing because the lines are quite blurred when it comes to who does what.
Let me explain further using some popular PR tactics…
Most people have a general knowledge of a press release or a media release (they’re the same thing) so I won’t spend too long on this. A press release is essentially the bread and butter of PR, the thing we use to communicate the message. Personally, I think press releases are a little outdated, but they definitely serve a purpose. It’s a cost-effective outreach tool that provides the media with all the information they need. It’s the who, what, when, where, why, how of the message you’re trying to sell to the media.
PR events can vary depending on the nature of the work or what the brand needs to achieve. Events are often used as a way to promote the brand to the media or influencers – this is called a Media Launch. A Media Launch allows the brand to showcase what they’re about, detail the selling points of their products and provide the media with assets (whether that be physical product samples, press releases, images or even personalised gifts). It is also a great way for PR professionals to nurture their relationships with the media. Other PR events can range from Guerrilla Marketing style events where a brand essentially piggy backs an event or location (for example when Nikon highjacked a Seoul subway station with an interactive billboard) through to things like express facial hubs found at Fashion Week, or fundraisers, or pop up shops.
This is when a brand has physical products to sell so we use the images (or send samples of the product) for the media to take images of it. An example of product placement can look like the below:
Similar to product placement, editorial is when a PR professional sends samples of the product for the media to use in their editorial. An example of this is a fashion brand having samples of a dress sent to Vogue for them to put on models for a photoshoot that appears in the magazine.
Partnership and collaboration are a great way to leverage someone else’s success for your own promotion. Musicians do this all the time, like when Ed Sheeran collaborated with Taylor Swift. Doing this allows you to tap into another customer base and align yourself with their personal brand. Brands also do this all the time, for example when Supreme collaborated with Louis Vuitton. This collaboration generated a substantial amount of news and also allows each brand to tap into each other’s customer base.
Similar to partnerships, using an ambassador as a tactic when a brand leverages a prominent person’s fame or reputation for their own benefit. An example of this is when Nike partners with famous sporting athletes like LeBron James. Having LeBron as an ambassador helps to sell their shoes by building Nike’s awareness and capitalising the LeBron’s positive public image. Nike can use LeBron to create branded assets and also offer him as a spokesperson that the media can interview. In addition to this, having LeBron endorse a specific product can give the impression that his physical performance is a result of the shoes he wears.
Opinion pieces are used when a brand’s representative (founder or CEO etc) writes a letter to the editor style narrative that then gets published in the publication. This usually needs to be less about selling the brand and more about a specific opinion on a topic. This can extend to providing the media with exclusive quotes or think pieces around relevant topics that end up promoting the brand as a result.
DATA AND RESEARCH
Media love receiving new data or research that is relevant to their publication. Brands can do this by conducting their own research or using the findings from their own data. This is also a great way to position the brand as someone with authority or expertise.
This is essentially something most brands and individuals want to avoid however unfortunately sometimes it is inevitable. Crisis Management is when a PR professional does damage control on an event or situation that threatens to harm the brand’s reputation (or worse, do damage to the brand beyond repair). An example of this is when Pepsi released a controversial ad with Kendall Jenner that portrayed brokering peace between protestors and police with a can of soda. Needless to say the ad received a substantial amount of backlash for its insensitivity and Pepsi had to say sorry and remove the ad. Saying sorry, communicating the initial intention and removing the ad was likely the advice they received from their PR representatives.
Influencers have become a huge part of public relations. Whilst they’re not necessarily relevant for all brands, most of the time their power can be leveraged. It is when a brand uses an influencer to endorse a product, or seed the product which can then appear as a form of product placement on the influencer’s platform. It can also be used as a way to generate publicity, especially if the influencer has media interest, such as someone like Kylie Jenner.
Tahlia Crinis is the Founder of Boss Media PR. Do you have more questions about PR? Contact Tahlia here: https://bossmediapr.com.au/contact