What do you think of when you hear PR? I am going to dispel three myths I come across regularly.
Myth 1: PR stands for press releases
PR does not stand for press releases, nor is it just about working with the media. It is short for Public Relations and that covers everything you do and say as a business. This includes how you and your employees act as a brand, how your projects and your business are perceived by the outside world and how you are perceived by your audience. It encompasses everything you promote, everything you say and all the content you put out. It's arguably at the very heart of your business.
The word 'public' in public relations, in that sense, is everybody from people in your supply chain to your customers, to your staff, funders and shareholders.
Press releases on the other hand are one tool in the wider PR and, specifically, media relations tool kit. And they're aimed at informing journalists about news regarding your company, product or service. That is the sole purpose they serve. It is to connect with and inform journalists of your company news. And they are an excellent tool when written and executed well. But public relations is not something you only use when you have something newsworthy you want to share with the media.
Myth 2: PR is all about promotion
Actually, this is wrong too. Public relations is primarily about reputation. What does that mean? It's about affecting every single way your business is perceived and impacted by every single person or entity you interact with, as they form an opinion about you based on that interaction.
When you interact with brands or buy their products or services, you form an opinion about that brand and it drives why you buy that product or service. Public relations activity can help manage that opinion, protect your reputation and promote your brand, so it's really important.
Myth 3: PR is about spin
When I was a post grad in 1999, one of the books on the reading list was called 'Toxic Sludge Is Good For You'. It was very much of its time (!) but it sums up this misconception about PR really well and how we feel as the general public about trust and large corporations, and why, to a certain extent. The art of spin or the term 'spin doctors' has become synonymous particularly with UK politics in recent times. But generally speaking, spin in this sense is not a good approach to public relations for your growing business. It's not a best practice approach. Creating a positive brand experience is.
What do I mean by that? We live in an age now where people can find out stuff about us. Stuff about you, your business at the swipe of a finger on a screen. So don't pretend, don't lie and never falsely spin a negative situation into a positive one if it really isn't or there is no different angle. Be open, honest and transparent if something goes wrong, and be clear, honest and ethical about what you do, even if you work in a challenging sector. Your customers place a high value on trust and so should you.
So what is PR?
Put simply, it’s paying attention to everything you say and do in your business, managing your reputation, building trust, and being open with your customers, your team, your suppliers, everyone who comes into contact with you. It’s a hugely important part of your business.
What does PR mean to you and how do you use it in your growing business?