Before you can properly pitch your public relations services, you must make sure your prospect knows what you do. The common definition of public relations has absolutely nothing to do with what the practice is all about. In general, public relations in the everyday parlance of the English language means a slightly dishonest manipulation of public opinion for somewhat dubious ends.
In reality, public relations as an industry simply connotes any form of unpaid publicity. Thus, any form of publicity that does not involve a direct payment, that is advertising, is public relations. In common practice, public relations involves the generation of news articles by pitching reporters or editors of a publication. In the Internet age, public relations has expanded to include other forms of unpaid publicity such as blogs, e-newsletters and the distribution of online press releases.
Most experts suggest that the ideal marketing budget for any company should include about 50 percent advertising and 50 percent public relations. In my opinion, public relations is even more important. For example, what are you more likely to read, a large display ad or a small interesting news article on the same page?
Once you overcome the resistance to public relations, you are faced with another conundrum. The impact of public relations is notoriously hard to measure. While advertising can be measured by the response rate, the impact of a public relations campaign can be much more amorphous. Public relations involves reputation management, and its effects general involve a more long-term impact based on publicity over many months. But clients typically become restless, and many expect immediate results.
This difficulty can be easily solved in the sphere of online public relations. In my post next week, I will discuss the best way to measure the impact of public relations online through Google Analytics, which can be used to quantify both search engine optimization and client engagement.