Historically, public relations has been boxed into delivering awareness and driving “publicity.” Oftentimes, as a function, it’s been an afterthought in the marketing mix as brand marketers prioritize paid tactics that allow for controlled messaging and more easily measurable results.
As digital media landscape has become increasingly connected and cluttered, consumers are inundated with more brand messages through more channels than ever before. In fact, digital marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day. That makes earning consumers’ attention more important and impactful than ever.
And it’s not just about earning attention – public relations can drive business results. A recent survey by leading public relations agency Edelman found that 44% of consumers were influenced by positive press to choose a brand.
The Case for Powerful PR
Online eyeglasses brand Warby Parker offers a compelling case study in the power of PR. Founders Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa were working with a shoestring budget when they launched the brand, a fraction of which was earmarked for marketing. They chose to spend their limited dollars hiring a PR firm.
As Blumenthal explained to Business Insider, “We were building this fashion brand and we wanted to be in the best men’s book, which was GQ, and the best women’s fashion book, which was Vogue.” After feature stories ran in those publications, Warby Parker hit their first-year sales targets in three weeks and sold out of their top 15 styles.
Putting the Plan to Action
Why was this approach so successful? Impactful PR provides information, ideas, opinions and recommendations that people actively seek out from credible sources they trust. It combines what a brand wants to say about itself with what the target audience cares about to create relevant earned stories and content. There are a number of ways PR can benefit brands:
- Drive Awareness: PR can be a cost-effective way to create awareness for a brand. Through customized story angles, unique assets and content opportunities, brands can make themselves relevant to a wide range of media verticals and influencers that reach their target audiences.
- Increase Shareability: PR can further amplify a brand campaign by driving social shares digitally. People are more likely to share and engage with news or information from media, influencers, thought-leaders or another trusted source than from a brand.
- Build Advocacy: PR can help brands create advocates. In the case of Warby Parker, the founders chose not to tout their brand messages themselves, but leaned into the third-party endorsements from two highly credible media outlets that aligned with the brand they wanted to be. That advocacy translated to sales.
- Change Perception: PR has the ability to influence consumer perception. For example, reading positive earned coverage or an earned endorsement from an influencer can lead to a more positive perception of the brand.
Each of these benefits helps lead consumers down the path to take action. So, when developing your marketing and communications plans, consider how you can harness the power of PR to drive impact.