“I don’t need public relations.” No falser words have ever been spoken.
All too many companies believe, for various reasons, that PR isn’t for them. More often than not, however, these reasons are simply the result of popular misconceptions, and PR is the missing piece that would help the company reach a new level of success.
Don’t let PR myths get in the way of achieving your goals — beware of these common misconceptions.
Myth 1: PR Is Only for Large Corporations
For a lot of people, the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “PR,” is a fancy spokesperson in a suit, handling a press conference for a multibillion-dollar international company. But, while large corporations certainly do benefit from PR, it’s just as important for the little guys.
PR is about building meaningful connections with your target audiences (your public). Generating brand awareness and inspiring your audiences to remember, care about and trust your organization is essential — for small companies, public entities, local businesses, nonprofits and large corporations alike.
Myth 2: PR Is Only for B2C Companies
Just as PR benefits organizations of all sizes, it benefits organizations in both the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) worlds. It’s important to remember that in the B2B market, it’s ultimately people who make the buying decisions. Sure, they represent the company they work for, but as people, their individual opinions, moods and perceptions factor in.
Strategic PR efforts go a long way toward shaping these opinions, moods and perceptions in your favor — in ways marketing and advertising alone simply can’t. When your audiences hear about your company from a trusted third party, such as a familiar media outlet or a friend, they are likely to place greater value on the information. If someone has read good things about your company in the news, seen positive conversations about your brand on social media or listened to your stellar presentation at a trade show, they are more likely to consider purchasing your products/services — for themselves or on behalf of their business.
Myth 3: PR Only Matters When Something Bad Happens
As important as PR is in times of crisis, it is also absolutely vital to communicate day-to-day “good news” on a regular basis. If the first, or only, time the public hears about your company is when “bad news” happens, the impressions they form will be based on that alone. And if you don’t already have positive relationships with your audiences, the media and other key influencers, the middle of a crisis is a terrible time to try to form them.
On the other hand, if you already have well-established connections with the media, and the public is familiar with your company from a “good news” standpoint, you will have an easier time communicating, and controlling, your messages if times get tough. Not only that, the more good news you share with your audiences through strategic PR efforts, the more awareness and positive perception you’ll generate for your company in general. Being proactive pays off!
Myth 4: PR Means ‘Spinning’ the Truth
PR professionals are often referred to as “spin doctors” (read, “ruthless liars”). In reality, while there are certainly those among us with questionable ethical standards — as is the case in any profession — PR is not a dishonest activity. In fact, when it comes to PR, honestly is truly the best policy.
If your company genuinely offers good products/services, you don’t need to lie to promote them — you just need to launch the right PR campaign to get the word out. Or, in the event that something less than positive happens, transparency can also do wonders for mitigating potential reputation damage. It is always best to take responsibility for your company’s role in the situation, develop a plan for how to repair any damage caused, and avoid making excuses and hiding the facts. Chances are, the truth will come out eventually, and your company will look much worse for being dishonest. And, once your integrity has been in question, it’s difficult to change that perception.
Myth 5: PR Will Make My Company Go Viral Overnight
Let’s be clear — there is absolutely no magic bullet that will make your company go viral overnight (and in case you were wondering, that shake won’t make you lose 50 pounds overnight either). However, public relations does offer a wide variety of highly effective tools that can, given the right amount of time, do wonders in terms of generating awareness for your company.
The key is patience. When you first begin implementing public relations efforts, it can take several months to really see the return on your investment. Building relationships with the media and other community influencers takes time, but as you begin to build rapport, you may even find that what was once a one-way street, with you always initiating opportunities, turns into a two-way street, where media outlets begin reaching out to you for content and influencers mention your company without being asked. As you gain momentum, your PR efforts will continue to fuel additional opportunities and your investment will pay off more and more.
Convinced you need PR, but not sure where to start? Contact us for more helpful tips — we’d love to hear from you!