You have probably heard of PR (public relations), but do you know exactly what it entails? If you don’t, you are unlikely to be alone. Unlike advertisers, those in PR don’t buy advertisements or pay for journalists to write a story about the company they work with; instead, they promote their clients, products and services in a different way.

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PR professionals persuade stakeholders, such as the media and internal and external audiences, to take notice via unpaid or earned techniques. Regardless of whether this is conventional media, speaking events or social media, the message is communicated to audiences through trusted and unpaid sources.

To help you understand PR a little better, let’s take a look deeper into what the industry is about.

What is PR?

PR is a persuasion industry, which means you have to try to convince an audience – internally or externally – to promote your idea or message, to buy your product, or to support your viewpoint. PR professionals are storytellers, forming narratives that can be used to protect, enrich or even build status through the media and communications.

A PR professional will examine the organisation, find the most positive messages and turn these messages into encouraging stories. When the news is bad, they can communicate the best response to lessen the damage already caused and prevent any further damage from occurring.

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PR professionals use tools for communication such as writing and distributing press releases, pitches, conducting market research, gathering data, and online blogging.

Are PR and advertising the same?

Although both focus on promoting companies, products and reputations, PR and advertising are different. Essentially, PR is the exact opposite of advertising. PR is unpaid while advertising is paid, and PR is earned while advertising is purchased.

Whilst communicating with the media on the basis of trust, PR gets a third-party endorsement; conversely, audiences in advertising could become sceptical due to understanding that the content has been paid for. It is fundamentally showing that advertising screams ‘buy this product’ but PR firmly announces ‘this is important’.

Can PR be used for all different types of companies?

PR is a great tool to use and many different companies succeed with great PR. From engineering PR companies to food PR companies such as, the PR industry is important in building trust and standing.

According to the PR Census 2016, the leading duties of PR are general media relations, strategy planning, and digital and social media. This means that almost any industry can use PR to help businesses build a better reputation. To support this, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) explains that PR is “the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.”

Now that you have a little more understanding of the importance of PR, you will be able to see why companies choose this method rather than advertising alone.