When considering a PR strategy for your business, it is just as important to understand what PR isn’t and what it can’t do as it is to look at what PR can achieve.

Often we hear that PR is the Magic Bullet and the answer to many a marketing prayer. That simply isn’t the case. PR is part of a greater strategy to build a business brand where you are renowned for your expertise.

To help you get the most from PR let’s cover some of the things that PR isn’t as well as things that it can’t do so you have a better understanding when to engage PR as part of your marketing procedures.

PR is not Guaranteed:

Unlike paid advertising or a marketing promotion, PR is never guaranteed.

It’s about reaching out to the media to see whether they find something about your business or story interesting enough to share with their audience.
As much as we would like to, we don’t control the newsroom or set the news agenda. We can only offer story and see if it’s got the ‘legs’ that a journalist considers strong enough to run with.

Often the strength of those ‘legs’ and whether a journalist will consider an item will be determined by a host of factors that vary depending on the events of the day. This means what may get a run one day, won’t get a look in the next because a major story has broken, or another item appeals to a greater audience.

It’s also important to note even if you get coverage, the placement, angle and time spent mentioning you is also never guaranteed. The fact is, it’s enough to just get a mention, because PR is not advertising, it’s about building a brand. Which brings us to…

PR is not Advertising:

PR is a great way to build brand awareness by sharing interesting information about your business or achievements, but it is not advertising and cannot replace marketing.

There are few, if any occasions, where the media welcomes product promotions, ‘plugs’ or selling within their coverage. They will never talk about how fabulous your product is or promote your upcoming event. They will rarely dedicate an entire segment to your business unless there’s a unique angle to discuss.

That is the role of advertising where you control the entire message and pay for the privilege of exposure. That is the function of advertorials, company newsletters, flyers, blogs and electronic marketing. It is not the role of the media, nor the function of PR to just promote who you are and what you do.

Instead, PR is it about building relationships that may result in a mention your brand or an insight into your expertise. It works in a way that sees your name used briefly in a variety of places, adding to your credibility, increasing awareness of your existence and exposing your name to an audience outside your traditional reach.

One of the best ways to elicit this PR coverage is to ensure the message you offer has to add value to an audience, educating and empowering them without “plugging” what you do.
As such, it works within a greater strategy that also includes advertising and marketing for your business. And often they work hand in hand. Advertising allows for a business to promote itself and its offerings, PR is the education, authority and recognition that’s the icing on the cake.

PR is not often quick

It takes time to build media momentum. Part of the process involves forging relationships with journalists and media outlets.
There are sites that can help support you with tools, ideas and ways of reaching the media which speeds things up a little. We can offer insight into the angles the media may find most interesting, and apply it within a context that represents news.

However, finding and pitching the relevant angles within your business story also requires persistent, regular effort. PR is something you can’t do one day and walk away from the next, it takes ongoing commitment and the regular sharing of your story in a variety of interesting ways to achieve PR success.
In the long run, this effort pays off, but in any PR push, there will be days when a carefully crafted media release never sees the light of day.

PR is not Sales

PR is not about plugging products, nor will it convert buyer interest into a sale.

Instead, product promotion comes down to advertising and marketing, while sales always comes down to the business’ ability to provide a superior customer experience and service.
What PR can do is help you boost your brand awareness and boost your credibility by appearing in the media. PR can bring you reviews and placement for your products, but these spaces are limited, so if you want sales then advertising is best.

And when it comes to brand awareness, a small PR success can is worth its weight in gold. Why? Because a mention in the media taps an audience almost inadvertently, adding credibility and prestige to your brand. It highlights you as an expert and sees you become the name that is immediately recalled.
Once that name is out there, the customer experience and sales are down to you.

Where does PR Fit then?

PR plays a vital role in building a business’ credibility and profile, and used effectively it can expose your brand to an audience far beyond your traditional reach.
PR fits in as part of a greater business strategy that includes advertising, marketing, branding and a customer experience that meets their expectations.

Together, these items are the building blocks that promote exposure to your business name but they are factors that must be undertaken together because PR simply can’t do it on its own.

For PR Tips check My Book of PR Tips and the PR Cues Deck