How to get clients to take PR seriously

Have you ever wondered how two people connect? They connect over conversations that involve stories. These stories inform or are relatable. Bestselling author Seth Godin has rightly said, 

People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.

Public relations or PR professionals have been trying to convey this to organisations since long now. Brands need to build relations with their audience – not by aggressively marketing their products and services, but by valuable conversations. Customers and clients want to feel important; an emotional connect with your brand through PR is what is needed for instant connection with them. However, this advice is often neglected.

Neglecting the importance of PR can be detrimental for various reasons. But, how do you convince clients about this fact? There are ways.

First things First: Build an Understanding of ‘PR’

While organisations and brands are aware of the term PR, not everyone seems to have a good understanding of it. As per a definition by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA),

Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually-beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics.

Public relations or PR helps cultivate stories about your company, products, ideas, and accomplishments. These stories are shared through traditional and digital media to help you get recognised and build a positive image in the eyes of your audience. When clients have a clear understanding of the role, they will pay attention to PR. After all, brand recognition and a positive reputation are essential for success.

Marketing and PR: Two Different Functions

Often, PR is confused with marketing. They may be similar in actions, but their goals make them different. The objective of PR is to boost brand awareness and reputation. It helps you promote your brand indirectly through activities like trade shows, speaking at events and media coverage. Marketing, on the other hand, is about driving sales and boosting profits. Organisations must understand that PR does not guarantee customers, but plays an important role in improving sales. People buy brands, not products. When people are willing to buy your products, it means they are aware about you through PR. If the public is not aware of your presence or does not trust you, your marketing efforts will not be as successful. And, awareness comes through PR initiatives.

Saviour in Crisis: PR

Crisis is inevitable. In an age, where rumours take seconds to spread, a crisis can be a dangerous situation. A simple sorry on your social media page will not work during such times, as it did not in the case of H&M. When their reputation was at stake, they resorted to PR efforts to communicate their apology in the right way, save their brand image, and gain back the trust of their customers. Communication is key during disastrous situations. And, the message has to be sensitively crafted and strategically communicated. PR executives help strategise communications, thus mitigating the risk of the damage done.

Let PR Goals Direct ROI

With companies tightening their budget and online data becoming accessible, the demand for measurable returns is louder. And, we know that most PR professionals face the challenge of providing ROI! The answer to your challenge is ‘goals.’ Knowing the end objective of a company’s PR campaign will help you measure its success. Is your client’s goal increased site traffic or is it brand mentions? Depending on your goal, you have tools like Google analytics, Mention, CoverageBook, PR Fire, etc. to help you measure the returns on investment. When clients start getting substantial returns through PR initiatives, they will be ready to invest more.

While digital marketing are important, PR is equally important to help you gain recognition on online or traditional platforms. So, share your story, have conversations, and build a brand. Even Bill Gates vouches for PR – ‘If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on PR.’

The views expressed here are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Reputation Today.

Asif Upadhye on Twitter
Asif Upadhye
Director at SPRD
Asif Upadhye is the Director and The Dark Knight at SPRD | Stories.PR.Digital, a new-age Public Relations think tank backed by ideators, wordsmiths and design junkies focussed on delivering bespoke services. He sees SPRD as a Digital First Communications agency that partners with Public Relations & Corporate Communications teams to spread the good word!

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