What makes PR a distinct—and critical—comms practice

by | Jul 20, 2020 | Public Relations

Too few business people understand what PR is really about, let alone how best to integrate it into a marketing strategy. PR can be an especially effective marketing aid for medium and large businesses, helping to increase wider brand knowledge and improve sentiment in your target market. If you are curious about how PR can help your marketing efforts, here’s what you need to know:


PR is persuasion of an audience. It is a business that involves strategic communication to build relationships between organizations and an audience. PR teams generally persuade using stories—they create narratives that contain a message and communicate it through a variety of different channels.

Companies can use PR to help improve their reputation and brands can use PR to help create messages that form the crux of their branding. PR often works by creating publicity, working a brand or company into a narrative that the media picks up upon, exposing the message to a very large audience.

PR vs. Advertising vs. Marketing

Advertising and PR are facets of marketing, but they are different. Modern marketing services involve web design, SEO, PR as well as advertising (source: TheGist.org), and it’s a combination of these that makes a highly effective marketing campaign. However, there are some very key differences between PR and advertising.

Sentiment and awareness that rises from PR is unpaid and earned and tends to be more credible. Advertising relies on paid awareness, bought sentiment and often leaves the target audience more sceptical. With PR, media promotes your brand of their own accord because that narrative is so compelling. PR can also be cheaper than advertising, as very creative PR firms don’t come with the cost of buying a full-page advert in a magazine (which can cost hundreds of thousands).

The tools of the trade

In PR, various tools are deployed to aid the public relations process. These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Writing pitches about a firm for journalists
  • Writing and distributing press releases
  • Writing optimized speeches that convey the narrative properly
  • Recommending and creating special events that increase outreach with the public or media
  • Doing an audit of the firm’s perception and messaging
  • Helping to expand the business network of a firm or individual using networking, sponsoring and events
  • Helping companies get themselves out of a public relations crisis
  • Helping to write blogs that promote the company

How is PR measured?

PR is a little difficult to measure. There isn’t a clear answer and many different companies have created different models to try and measure impact. The Barcelona Principles are a popular measurement guide. They consist of 7 guidelines that the Institute for PR have developed to measure the efficacy of communication campaigns. These include:

  • Goal setting and measurement is fundamental
  • Measuring communication outcomes is recommended over only measuring outputs
  • The effect on the performance of the client organization should be measured when possible
  • Both qualitative and quantitative methods should be used
  • Advertising Value Equivalent figures aren’t the value of PR
  • Social media should be measured consistently with other channels
  • Measurement and evaluation should be consistent and honest

Steve Conway
Steve Conway is a content marketing professional and inbound marketing expert. Previously, Steve worked as a marketing manager for a tech software start-up. He is passionate about discovering new software that will that will advance his already well-honed digital marketing techniques.


11 ways outdoor brands can leverage PR for success

11 ways outdoor brands can leverage PR for success

The call of the wild resonates with many, and outdoor brands hold the coveted key to the door of adventure. Amidst a bustling marketplace brimming with tents, kayaks, and hiking boots, the challenge lies in ensuring one's brand stands out, resonating with the current...