In PR we always get asked how we can build great brands, and whether PR can they do this better than traditional marketing or advertising.
There should never be a competition between marketers, advertising agencies and PR people. At the pr shop we work with some great creative agencies, all working towards the common goal of building great brands. But what is PR’s role and why is PR an important part of the marketing mix?
We liken a brand to more than just your company image (and even those fancy squiggles called a logo!). It also includes your customers’ experience and the expectation you set when doing business with your company. In short, a brand is also a promise. Just thinking of brands like Apple, you know it will promise (and deliver) on innovation, or thinking of Volvo, the brand equals safety.
A brand should tell a story and that story will include the good and bad bits, all the history the public is aware of. As PR should be a master storyteller, it has got to be fundamentally aware of how to tell these good news stories and minimise the bad. And needless to say here, when we say storyteller, we mean the ones of the truthful variety!
Public relations is a formidable brand builder because it harnesses the power of third party endorsements in the media. It delivers a tremendous return on investment for brands because the articles and stories generated in the media are credible, as people are more likely to believe what they read in a news story than in an advertisement.
At the pr shop, this media relations is our daily bread and butter. We rely on our relationships with journalists to put our clients’ best foot forward. This isn’t done by chocolate bribery (although this would be easier!), but rather our method of success is working for straight-up companies, whose products we believe in, are nice people (like us!) and who have something worth saying.
PR helps the public understand a business and its products, and allows these companies to tell their story in a thorough and authentic way. As much as PR people are jokingly referenced as “spin doctors”, PR helps a company achieve transparency, which is what society demands in today’s economy. This approach is reflected in the pr shop’s “no bullshit” modus operandi, and our media friends love us for it. In fact, we even treat journalists like smart, intelligent human beings (shock horror!) and simply, this straight up “keeping it real” attitude really does work.
Creating a successful brand doesn’t have to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Targeted PR is cost effective and has been proven to be an effective method of generating excitement and awareness for brands both big and small.
But beware – brands are not set in stone. Instead, brands are constantly evolving. Brands that are strong and healthy can wither and die quickly if the company stuffs up in the eyes of society. It’s important to remember that on a daily basis your company is either building or reducing its brand perception to clients, employees, customers and shareholders.
PR gives you a consistent and regular voice in the media, and you can be sure that when the savvy, expensive marketing falls over due to a dodgy product or an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, then PR will be called in to save the day.
Alysha Dingle, on behalf of the pr shop