tell the story: public relations and your brand

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Confession: we love PR.

Each of our clients, and even you blog readers too, get a fair dosage of PR from us. You could call us Public Relations Professionals (PRPs…Perps? Too far?). Branding clients are given our marketing perspective as professionals and as consultants, but that perspective is laced, if not inextricably linked to our foundation and roots in PR. There is so much opportunity for creativity to converge with strategy in this field. Public relations is the art of persuasion. We are storytellers. We create buzz out of flat line silence. We erect a brand, amplify its message, and connect others to it by writing and share a story that sticks, reverberates, and influences behavior.

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Divergence between PR and marketing

Let us set the stage: it’s Persuasion v. Solicitation, and there’s quite a bit of jockeying for position. Around DCHQ, even our marketing is under the (heavy) influence of public relations philosophy. As people consume more and more content and are bombarded with more and more digital advertising, often times the most effective marketing is the marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing at all. Enter: persuasion and PR. The story that PRPs tell is the context that gives all your marketing-agenda items that extra Glitter Factor. Glitter’s what you’re going for, after all. You know how any time you’ve been within 50 feet of contact with glitter it’s the same thing as actual contact with glitter? That’s the kind of presence we’re trying to create for your brand. Glitter-like permanence, in addition to being shiny and attractive.

Marketing in its traditional sense and most distilled form is how you solicit people’s attention to your brand and products. Marketing is soliciting your audience to go somewhere/buy something/do All The Things. Most of the time, marketing efforts lack the sort of fore-planning, forecasting, and intensive strategy that PR requires. While public relations relies on storytelling and earned exposure as opposed to paid or manipulated, the primary goal of marketing is to just get as many eyeballs on a piece of content as possible and make sure they all buy all the things. PRPs strategically create stories and share them with Connectors to create organic buzz, telling you why something is important to have, convincing you to buy all the things because you’re already bought into the entire point of view. 

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Intersection of PR and marketing

We would argue (fiercely) that all good marketing is backed by a solid (as a rock) public relations strategy. Our content strategy incorporates both brand management, content marketing, and general marketing and advertising. The brand management portion of what we do informs everything else. Our initial branding with clients walks through identifying their audience and perception, bother current state and future goals. We approach this phase as PRPs first.

In the business of persuasion, it’s important to understand your audience on multiple levels – their basic demographic information, their psychographic information, as well as their triggers for decision-making and emotional response. Moving from there onto discovering your position within your industry (your corner, your niche, and as we like to say, the Alternate Universe Where You Live As A Rainbow Unicorn) and finally, crafting your mission, vision, and values are truly the first stories we tell as our client’s PR gurus (demi-gods of the keyboard). This is the intersection of marketing and PR – the lines blur and no one can tell you what percentage of their work is PR and what is marketing in its purest form. At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter, except that you don’t commit the worst of all marketing offenses, which we’ll cover in the next point.

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Marketing without PR (and why that’s always a bad idea)

The only true marketing (as it pertains to PR) sin is to ignore the necessity of a brand governance and reputation management strategy to marketing content. In the world of SEO keywords and 140 character tweets and paid advertising such as Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, there’s an element of inattention and a temptation to move quickly past strategy and just begin “getting out there.” A solid (as a rock) PRP understands that every opportunity to touch an audience member is an opportunity to make an impression and persuade. It’s not simply an opportunity to flip that exposure into sale. It’s about forging a relationship based on a solid, authentic understanding that person has about the brand. This understanding turns into trust which turns into loyalty with the proper attention to cultivating that relationship long-term. This is public relations.

So, now you know what all the fuss is about. There’s a lot of different names for a lot of different shades of work within the communications/marketing/public relations/publicity/advertising/governmental relations/branding/… but in the end, it is simply important to be able to do three things:

1.     Internalize the necessity for your communications plan to be PR-advised, approved, and underscored.

2.     Identify good PR when you see it and emulate it in your plan and execution unerringly.

3.     Commit to dedicating the appropriate resources to ensuring not only that your message is “getting out there” but also pitch-perfect and on point every time.

So there you have it. Up next week: Share the News: Connecting with the Media and Generating Big Buzz.

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