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Public Relations Definition and Results

Public relations as an industry simply connotes any form of unpaid publicity.

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.

The General Impression of “Public Relations”

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Working in the field of public relations is sometimes frustrating due to a lack of understanding among the general population. The term “public relations” and “PR” is interpreted in the general society in a very vague and amorphous manner. So when I tell people I run a public relations agency, their faces cloud over and sometimes they even ask exactly what I do.

The term has taken on a relatively negative meaning in the general public, and public relations is viewed as some kind of attempt to deceive people or put out some form of propaganda. In the parlance of Donald Trump, “Wrong!”

In the corporate and B2B world, the marketing department encompasses both advertising and public relations, and most experts suggest you should pay about the same amount of attention to each.

Public relations simply means unpaid publicity, as opposed to advertising which is paid publicity. PR professionals work to generate positive news stories about their clients by drafting press releases, placing bylined articles in trade publications and business journals and more.

The publicity vehicles created by the online revolution transformed public relations. Because if we remember the core definition of PR, unpaid publicity, well, you do not have to pay any money to publish your blog or send out your email newsletter, for example. Google Adwords, on the other hand, or online banners cost money, and they properly belong in the field of advertising.

Public relations is estimated to be about 10 times more effective than advertising per column inch. Ask yourself what you pay more attention to, a large advertisement or a small interesting news story on the same page.

In the corporate and B2B world, the marketing department encompasses both advertising and public relations, and most experts suggest  you should pay about the same amount of attention to each. In reality, most CEOs lean far more heavily on advertising, and they need to be educated about both the definition and the power of public relations.

Public relations professionals need to sound a clarion call against the general impression of their field.