Public Relations is often defined as “free advertising”, sending a simple press release to local newspapers or curating a productive message to the media. This misleading interpretation of what public relations truly entails can lead businesses down the wrong path in handling their own PR practices and discredits the hard work of PR professionals.
At D3, we define Public Relations, or PR, as your business’s relationship with your public. These relationships cannot be bought, they are earned through strategic communication with your audience and lead players in your community. It’s engagement with your audience in order to build mutually beneficial and trusted relationships.
Why Public Relations is Important for your Business
Public relations should be a complete segment of your marketing plan, working together with other elements to drive your business to where it needs to be and to reach specific company goals and objectives. Due to its comparison to advertising, true public relations is often the most misunderstood marketing tool, which makes it important for your team to work with a professional to create a public relations strategy that takes your business to the next level prepares you for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise.
Public relations is opportunistic. Having a great public relations strategy means establishing ongoing relationships with important community influencers such as business leaders or local dignitaries, and therefore their audiences. Your communications with your audiences and leading members of your community do not always need to be about your business. Offering a two-way relationship establishes trust and builds credibility, so if and when a crisis arises, you already have strong, established partnerships that will back your business. Listed below you’ll find excellent examples of well-known public relations campaigns which were productive and worked well to achieve the goals of the organizations, as well as practical examples of how you can quickly boost your public relations to add value to your business!
Building PR-Driven Partnerships
Partnerships have been a core component of marketing for decades. Rather than buying partnerships through advertisements or sending out a complex letter of intent to executives, public relations shapes lasting partnerships that are hard-earned and mutually beneficial. In order to build these relationships, you must think about each of these partnerships as a client. Consider their personal business objectives, and nurture and construct a relationship that is unique to them.
It is important to consider who you are choosing to partner with and therefore associate your business with. Consider not only the words and actions of these community influencers but also the words and actions of their audience, because, with time and good care, their audience will become your audience as well. Be sure that you are partnering with well-respected community members, and that their audience aligns with your target audience.
Building these partnerships and relationships within your community takes care, persistence, and an openness to allow the relationship to evolve and change. When your business partners with community professionals such as business leaders, educators or local dignitaries, it helps frame your business’s position within your community.
How Your Business Can Benefit from Public Relations
Public relations can help your business earn positive media coverage, generate brand awareness, and gain exposure to a new audience. Public relations isn’t just positive storytelling and building awesome relationships, it’s also used as damage-control for any situation that could negatively impact your business's reputation.
Assess Your Vulnerabilities
When you’re in business, it’s often clear as to what your company's strengths are. You know what you do well and how your team members work to keep things running smoothly, but what happens when a crisis emerges that you were not prepared for? No business expects their company to be the center of a crisis or scandal, from a natural crisis to a crisis of organizational misdeeds, it is imperative that your company first assesses its leading potential vulnerabilities, and second evaluates how to handle misbehavior or misconduct within your company.
Establish a Plan
Unfortunately, most businesses will eventually face a public relations crisis. From bad reviews to a serious scandal, just one negative incident can have a lasting impact on a company’s reputation. In order to efficiently and effectively handle a crisis situation, it is important to establish a strategy so you can continue business as usual in the event of a public relations crisis.
“Having an agency behind you in the event of a crisis is critical to continuing business as usual.” -Jenni Pastusak, Director of Public Relations
In the event of an emergency, working with a seasoned public relations professional can help you be prepared for a potential crisis, and organize appropriate responses for any unexpected incident. Being prepared with tools such as an emergency email list, a print / digital press release, and the tools to shut down a website and social media can be extremely beneficial to you and your company.
Examples of Effective Public Relations
Having “good” public relations does not have to cost your business a lot of money. In many cases, the best public relations your business can create is showcasing the positives that you are already doing for your community. From collecting school supplies for local children to success stories and testimonials, oftentimes your business is already doing valuable PR work, just not showcasing it. See great examples of good public relations campaigns below;
Client: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
In February 2018, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was the victim of a school shooting that devastated the community and the nation. Instead of the grief-stricken survivor's disappearing from the spotlight, they stayed in the six o’clock news and used social media to stay ahead of their fight with the NRA, the student group raised $3.5 million for the March For Our Lives demonstration.
JetBlue and Crying Babies
Babies cry on airplanes; an unfortunate but inevitable fact of life. In order to sympathize with both the passengers and the mothers, they came up with an idea to make baby-crying a win-win. On a JetBlue flight from JFK to Long Beach, whenever a passenger witnessed a baby cry they received a 25% discount. The video that they created for their Facebook page has garnered over 1.3 million views and has been seen 1.6 million times on YouTube
Examples of Ineffective Public Relations
Bad public relations can happen in an instant. It can be as accidental as a social media misstep, a string of bad customer reviews, or it can indicate deep institutional problems that have come to light. In any case, it is important that your business has a plan to fix these blunders quickly and effectively before the reputation of your business is permanently scarred.
See examples of public relations blunders below;
Facebook chose to stay silent for three years after they learned that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed information on millions of Facebook users. After this information was leaked, the social media giant took continuous missteps in dealing with this crisis, including failing to release an immediate statement from CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook's decision to not disclose all information is what ultimately hurt them because, in any situation, the truth will emerge.
Live for Now Moments Anthem; Pepsi Ad
In 2017 Pepsi release a tone-deaf advertisement starting model Kendall Jenner, its gist was that we should all unite and “join the conversation”. In the now pulled advertisement, Jenner walks out of a photoshoot and joins a protest, and ultimately brings the protestors and police officers together by handing an officer a Pepsi. Within 48 hours the video received nearly 1.6 million views on YouTube and received plenty of social media backlash. Pepsi quickly pulled the ad and issued an apology statement.
Practical Approach to Boost Your Public Relations Strategy
A good public relations strategy begins by establishing an image for your company with a singular voice. Building your company’s image doesn’t have to be difficult, it’s free when you capitalize on organic content that you and your customers are already creating!
Check out some Helpful D3 Tips on good PR for small businesses below!
Showcase your good reviews! Make time to thank your clients for their visit and be sure to invite them back! Turn a good review into free advertisement for your company by posting on your social media accounts, the front page of your website, etc.
Advertise what your business is already doing for the community! If your company makes a charitable donation or is collecting donations for a local charity drive - post it! There’s nothing wrong with showing what your business is doing for the community in a tasteful way!
Address the bad reviews too! You cannot control what the public has to say about your company, but you can handle how you respond! Admit your mistakes and apologize for their bad experience, try to make it right by the customer by inviting them back to try again, offering a discount on their next meal, etc.
Creating an effective public relations strategy does not need to be difficult! Reach out to a public relations expert and allow them to assist you in evaluating your company's vulnerabilities and overview your PR goals! For the month of September, D3 is offering a Free Consultation with our Director of PR, Jenni Pastusak! Allow our seasoned Director of Public Relations to help you determine the best practices for your business!
Offer valid through September 30, 2019. To schedule an appointment, call 410-213-2400, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.