Public relations can do many wonders for small businesses. When done properly, it can truly enhance your brand’s image, improve the company’s reputation and allow you to reach a large audience.
However, PR isn’t always the perfect strategy for marketing your company. While it’s cost-effective and can provide numerous benefits, PR also has several disadvantages.
Here you will discover the pros and cons of public relations to help you determine how it works.
The Pros of Public Relations
1. Increases Consumer Trust
Many brands believe that a fancy ad on TV is the best way to market their products. However, this isn’t always the case. In a survey by Statista, results showed that only 46% of consumers trust television and print advertisements.
So far, television and print are the most trusted medium for advertisements. Yet, PR is a better way of generating trust with consumers. That’s because public relations consist of third-party endorsements through journalists, editorials and influencers.
Consumers are more likely to trust a brand because it comes from an objective source. While this doesn’t mean TV ads are pointless, PR is a great way to gain credibility and trust from your audience.
2. Viral Opportunities
Public relations can increase your reach significantly with minimal investments. In other words, it allows you to go viral – the tactic that every brand strives for online.
Viral content is necessary to spread the word about your business. Going viral is a dream for many companies because:
- It’s cheap.
- It’s widespread, reaching far more people who may actively share your brand.
- It gives people a reason to respect your brand.
Unfortunately, you can’t plan for your campaign to go viral. But when given a chance, you can become popular in markets you never intended to reach.
3. Public Relations Lasts for a Long While
With advertising being such a high cost, most campaigns generally last for a few months. In turn, it’s easy to forget the ads once they’re over.
However, PR gives you the advantage of lingering in the back of peoples’ minds. With a PR campaign, brands tend to receive attention for a longer period.
PR campaigns last longer — even after the initial widespread attention has died down — because the seeds you plant online can bloom in Google’s search results for years to come.
While a major media website headliner is helpful, you can gain more attention over time with smaller blogs and social media influencers.
The Disadvantages of Public Relations
1. Lack of Control
You have complete control over traditional advertising campaigns. With budgets and time, you can do anything you need to market your business for as long as you plan.
Yet, you have less direct influence over the campaign’s results with public relations. A PR campaign doesn’t guarantee success even if you invest much time and effort.
The most common scenario is where campaigns don’t hit the ground running in public relations. For example, you could send your materials to several journalists. However, journalists can choose whether they decide to write an article about your business or not.
Yet, suppose the journalist may decide to write an article about your brand. They could still opt to put a negative spin on your image.
While lack of control isn’t something you can fix, the best approach is to take it daily. Give things a chance to see how it unravels when uncertain about launching a PR campaign.
2. Difficult to Evaluate
In advertising, the numbers are exact. You can always get concrete feedback and learn how well your campaigns perform. However, PR isn’t always clear in this department.
Since public relations involves reputation, this becomes much more challenging to measure and quantify. Social media in public relations allows you to engage with brand advocates on a personal level.
But how would you calculate the exchange between thousands of Twitter followers and an amazing article in a popular magazine?
Nevertheless, there are a few guidelines you can use to measure your ROI, including:
- Establishing clear goals.
- Tracking two to three PR metrics.
- Monitoring your campaign’s success.
- Using tools to analyze your campaign, such as Google Alerts.
3. PR Is a Learning Curve
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to gaining popularity with PR. In fact, PR can be difficult to master if you don’t have the skills for it.
Think of how long it takes to build a reputation. It can take years — or even decades. Still, one wrong step and a brand can ruin everything within a few minutes.
Yet, when tragedy strikes a business, there’s always a way to recover its reputation. Though, it might be a long road to recovery. You’ll need media training to learn how to speak and act when presenting yourself to the media.
Before making a public appearance, research and practice so you can boost your self-confidence. Or, you could always turn to a PR professional to help you through the entire process.
Either way, this is one disadvantage of public relations you must try to overcome before launching a campaign successfully.
Simple Tactics for Successful Public Relations
Regardless of the pros and cons of public relations, here are a few tactics you can use to launch a campaign and gain positive results:
- Understand journalists: Get to know the journalists you’re targeting. Learn what they want to know, their preferences for receiving information and what they’re planning. Your chances for coverage can increase when you provide them with quality content.
- Distinguish yourself: Consider how you stand out from other businesses and use that to your advantage to become more memorable.
- Know your message: Identify three messages for your PR and marketing department. Every campaign should communicate those messages and be consistent with your brand.
- Build a media list: Research your media contacts, keep a log of their details and list them in order of importance. A list allows you to keep your key contacts in one place and immediately reach out to them for coverage.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Public Relations
When considering public relations pros and cons, you can understand how it works effectively. However, there’s much to learn about PR. Before implementing PR into your marketing plan, ensure you have clear goals, know your target audience and guarantee the message aligns with your brand.
Once you have a good strategy in place, you should always keep track of your campaign and measure the results it brings.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.