We believe that Public Relations is an integral part of a fully-rounded marketing campaign
PR is an essential marketing tool—no more essential than any other but, when used as part of a concerted marketing campaign, it enables organizations to take a particular marketplace stance or explain in detail the (sometimes intricate) facts of a message. PR is not free advertising and should not be viewed that way. While editorial space or digital media does not have a direct cost, the planning and preparation of a themed PR campaign can take as much time and effort as the creation of an advertising campaign. PR, of course, can be implemented extremely quickly if required—helped by the most recent advances in digital distribution, delivering the PR message to journalists who we know are checking for news and can be reached directly in a matter of hours.
In that context—by utilizing PR as one of many marketing tools—we develop a Public Relations Communication Plan in the same way as we formulate an Advertising Communication Plan. Particularly in a PR situation, there is invariably a specific problem and a resultant opportunity based on a particular situation that has arisen. As a result, we can identify a quantifiable (often short-term) objective. Knowing this, it becomes easy to identify the key target audience and the exact message to be addressed to them. The tactics available are chosen carefully to successfully deliver the objective with precision. The available budget is always paramount and, whenever possible, we evaluate the work undertaken.
It is often necessary for a spokesperson to be used to represent an organization. If that person is not experienced in talking to the media we offer straightforward media training by experienced experts.
The vehicles now available for a PR campaign are wide and numerous—simple announcements, classic press releases, feature releases, webcasts, PSAs, Op-ed articles, press conferences, media tours, special promotional events, speech writing, newsletters, crisis management and, of course, social media.
Social Media is primarily the responsibility of Public Relations
Social Media is now referred to as “the future of public relations”. Indeed, social media has changed the face of PR. The standard press release has always been a somewhat one-dimensional news device, but when brought into the realms of, say, a Facebook page (that we have maneuvered into having a huge number of key ‘friends’) it becomes a living and breathing entity and very believable. We use Twitter with caution as it can be both positive and negative depending on the task to be achieved. This is a huge subject. Suffice it to say that with prudent use of social media tactics, even our clients with quite modest marketing budgets can quickly, economically and very successfully enter the media marketplace.
By tailoring our use of social media, as a flexible and measurable marketing tool, we connect with the identified target audience in two ways: via journalists who we can ‘talk’ to quickly and in a tone they appreciate; and directly to the key members of the public who, because they accept digital communication, are more willing to accept serious messages aimed at them. It should be noted that the use of social media does not alter the traditional cornerstone of public relations—building lasting relationships with the most influential and relevant members of the press. Therefore, successful social media is achieved by a two-pronged attack.
As one more method of marketing communication, to be consistently effective, social media above all else must communicate directly and simply in an uncluttered way—making use of key tonal aspects of the intended target audience. One does not approach the potential purchaser of a motorbike in the same way as one would approach the potential purchaser of high quality tableware—not that the same person might not use both, but it’s a case of the mindset they are in when considering specific purchases or services.
Obviously, social media is the buzz of the moment. But, in reality, it is merely an extension of the ‘social hub’—people who are charismatic, socially active and trusted by their peers. Whether in large, metropolitan communities or smaller, closer-knit towns, these people can be rallied to extend the intended PR message. Identifying them is part of BFT’s Account Planning process.
Utilizing the available PR budget to the fullest
Because BFT is a full service marketing and communication agency we approach PR targeting utilizing ‘psychographic variables’ (attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests and lifestyle), the same way we approach all communication. This process dovetails all our public relations work seamlessly with the relevant advertising, website and even promotional aspects of an overall campaign.
Marketing elements—like advertising and website creation and production—usually have fixed budgets. Public relations can be somewhat open-ended in that one element tends to lead to another. As with all our work, BFT provides fixed estimates for all PR assignments. It is key to set sensible expectations within the limits of the available budget and the bounds of the marketplace being approached.
We work very closely with our clients—successful PR has to be a partnership. The road to success means our clients must be flexible to take full advantage of opportunities as they arise. Some opportunities are never repeated.
Evaluating the results
Measuring the success of a PR campaign has become a science in itself—using formulas like ‘Advertising Equivalency’ (AE) and ‘Media Impressions’ (MI). These should only be used as a guide because such measurements can only be comparative. Just as one can know exactly how much is spent on an advertising campaign, one can never totally quantify its impact. So it is with PR. Usually having significantly smaller budgets, PR campaigns have to fight for impact and cannot be compared to carefully placed advertising. Nevertheless, the results of a fine-tuned PR campaign can be witnessed quickly by clearly visible changes in the target audience’s actions—perhaps voting on an issue, rallying to a cause or reevaluating a wrongly-perceived attitude. While advertising can be hugely successful over the longer term, PR can literally produce immediate results.
Woody Allen said “Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.”
We say “Ninety percent of success in life is showing up with the right message.”