What is Public Relations?
It’s an industry cliché, but a truth, the PR industry is very bad at its own PR, and PR agencies are worse. So much so that if you asked the partner, parent, friend of anyone working in PR, what they think PR is, you would either get a sort of meh? blank confused face, or the typical “something to do with journalism / media / advertising” response.
The official line according to the PRCA (the PR industry body) is “PR is…the way organisations communicate with the public, promote themselves, and build reputation and image.”
But a simpler way of looking at it is: third person endorsement. With the basic truth that if someone you respect, admire, trust says something positive about a brand / person / product you are more likely to believe it.
An example, in comparison to traditional advertising:
You: “I’m brilliant in bed” (advertising)
Your best mate: “Apparently he is brilliant in bed” (PR)
The Different Types of PR
There are however numerous sub PR disciplines; from CSR, to Social Media Public Relations, News Hijacking and pure Influencer Engagement. But in practice, most agencies provide these as part of their overall offering. At Cirkle we specialise in Consumer, Trade and Corporate comms, but as part of this we also offer, for example; influencer engagement, CSR and social media (and this is by no means exhaustive)
This then divides down even further by sector. From food & drink, FMCG, Fashion, Sports to Utilities, Telecoms, Energy – to literally almost anything you can think of. So, in a nutshell, there is an agency for you. Whether you are a client or considering working in PR, there is an agency or a role that will fit exactly what you want.
The Importance of PR for Brands
PR brings depth and authority to brands and to campaigns. Think about the most memorable campaigns, even advertising campaigns – the best ones, the most memorable.
You probably remember them because you didn’t just see them on the TV, but people spoke about them at work, on chat shows, debated them in social media…. This is the bit that PR brings it add the colour to brands, changes them from services or products into characters. It tells their story. Makes them relatable. Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll wouldn’t be one of the best-selling, most talked about product launches of all time, if it hadn’t been for Piers Morgan taking a bite out of it on live TV, discussing it on Twitter, and a hundred other influencers like him. It is the PR agency that creates these moments.
For all the positive PR, there is negative PR too. The stories that brands don’t want people reading, the times brands (like people) make mistakes, get things wrong. This is the other dark arts side of the industry (covered by our Red Cirkle offering). Providing a balance of preventative measures, preparation and media understanding to limit / avoid damage to the brand. All brands have crisis moments, the difference between the best ones, and the ones that get hit hardest, is down to the prep their agency does, the understanding of media, and influence of their media connections.
The Benefits of a Good PR Campaign?
The best campaigns can be transformative. Huge increase in sales, revolutionise brand perceptions, create awareness, create personality – and all often done for a fraction of the spend needed for traditional media. Good PR campaigns can make a brand – think about the likes of Paddy Power, Dollar Shave Club, Brew Dog, Nando’s, Greggs…these are brand that people understand, and choose, based on what they see online, what they read in media. They are brands built with PR at the core of their comms models, not traditional media routes, and it shows that they are some of the most distinct brands in the UK.