Most business executives dub PR as 'free advertising.' This could not be farther from the truth. It neither is advertising, nor is free. As a matter of fact, it may be costly, VERY costly, depending upon how it is used, because it's a time consuming and labor intensive process. Still while it almost is cliche; today, PR may make the claim that it'll give your business the best return for its marketing budget.
Public relations works through intermediaries
Due to it being compared with advertising, PR is maybe the least understood of all marketing tools. The basis of PR includes using intermediaries to communicate with your audience and influence them. Those intermediaries may be industry spokespersons, stock analysts, investors, trend setters, industry analysts, customers, employees, and even the electronic and print media. Typically your business has very little control over those influencers, or intermediaries, which will make public relations so difficult.
Public relations is messy
Advertising, on the other hand, provides you that control. You won't just get to create your organization's messages, match them with a supporting graphic, then place them where you desire your audience to read them and as you desire them to read them. Plus, you'll pay for that control. In order to get individuals to hear you, you must persuade many important influencers that your business, its services or products are worth their time to consider. You must have your act together. They do not have time to spend on incomplete ideas. Getting your act together for a key influencer will mean that you:
Public relations is personal
You might have demographics for your audience in advertising. You might even have performed focus groups and market research to pin down their necessities. However, as individuals the audience remains mainly anonymous to you. You'll communicate to them more as a circle that shares common interests, instead of as individuals. Advertising, by its nature, includes a mass communication.
Public relations builds up credibility
Public relations boosts an organization's credibility, because it'll operate through numerous trusted intermediaries. Plus, these intermediaries communicate to a certain audience which looks to them to filter out all nonsense. If messages are chosen to be communicated, they'll gain credibility due to the intermediaries' credibility.
Public relations is precise
With advertising, it's possible to calculate the responses and audience impact which you have. It is similar to a controlled experiment which is being done repeatedly. Public relations is less predictable due to you having to get the intermediary to comprehend your important message points and reiterate them in his/her messages. It means cautiously aligning them with an intermediary's messages. It'll mean knowing his needs and your audience's needs and where your business and its messages fit within that environment.
Public relations is based on relationships
Great public relations means setting up ongoing relationships with many important influencers (and therefore their audiences) and knowing how your business may become an excellent data source for the influential. However, this relationship is based on your organization's capability of providing these things:
Public relations is opportunistic
Your public relations communications with influencers do not always need to be about your business. Offering accessibility to your consumers in order for the influencer to see how they're solving issues using your organization's services and products is a vital method of offering more data. Absolutely the influencer understands that you are not going to give him a consumer who is unhappy, yet without your assistance, he isn't likely to gain access. Plus, he'll have the chance to speak with your customer about your competitors and see what they're doing more broadly than only your business.
Public relations is not free advertising
It is a time consuming and labor intensive effort. It'll mean opportunistically thinking and evaluating 'what is news worthy' concerning your business with a keen eye. If your business is able to do this, PR may help it look more influential, bigger, and more important than it may otherwise be.