Public Relations: Definitions and Execution

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I am struck by the fact that most CEOs and business leaders do not even know the definition of public relations. They cling to amorphous ideas about glamor and something to do with Washington without realizing that most market experts say you should devote half your promotional budget to advertising and the other half to PR.

Do this thought experiment: what do you pay more attention to: a giant advertisement or a small interesting news story on the same page?

Public relations is simply defined as “unpaid publicity.” That immediately distinguishes it from advertising (paid publicity) and justifies the use of PR firms for online PR. Blogs are unpaid publicity; social media is unpaid publicity; SEO is unpaid publicity. Facebook ads are not.

People are so jaded these days that it is questionable how effective advertising is at all. Many benchmark PR as 10 times as effective as advertising per column inch. It may be even more. Do this thought experiment: what do you pay more attention to: a giant advertisement or a small interesting news story on the same page?

In any case, most businesses would benefit from a rigorous public relations program, especially if they have not previously pursued this area. Granted, it is often harder to measure the benefits of a public relations program, but even though that makes PR more intangible, it is no reason to neglect it altogether.