The Best Public Relations Results from an Exceptional PR Firm
Public relations is both an art and science. The best metrics and results come from a PR agency that understands that relationship. But what is PR? What advantages and benefits does it offer for a company? How does a public relations firm or PR agency help an organization? Let us share the Voxus PR perspective.
Many sources, such as Wikipedia, describe public relations as managing and disseminating information from an individual or organization in order to impact public perception. That’s certainly true, as far as it goes. But it also leaves a lot out, and makes the work of a PR firm sound largely transactional in nature. At Voxus, we think that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
A good public relations firm helps an organization craft and share a compelling story. Whether that be around the company, its leaders and employees, products or services, and most importantly, its customers. PR communicates the challenges that need to be overcome, the obstacles in the way, the opportunities ahead, and a vision for the future. PR agencies don’t just explain what a company does, they help people understand why it matters.
Human beings are drawn to stories. It’s why movies, books, songs and other media dominate the culture. There are many different sizes and types of PR practitioners, from global agencies to boutique PR firms like Voxus to independent freelancers and contractors. But in general, they all have one thing in common. At it’s core, a good public relations agency is a collection of energetic and enthusiastic storytellers.
For a company, the story the PR agency is telling reflects key messages. Such as: customer needs and challenges, product benefits, value proposition, competitive differentiation and more. These elements come together to create a compelling narrative. Which, in turn, can increase brand awareness, improve leads, attract new hires, build a positive corporate culture, manage crisis, and ultimately help a company grow.
How does a PR firm help a company communicate this story to the public? In most cases the work of a PR agency boils down to media relations, and the closely related work of analyst relations, conference speaker placement and awards programs. These four venues – media, analysts, events, and awards – serve as the conduit for communicating the story to your target audience.
When it comes to the media, public relations agencies pitch company news and product press releases, help tie a company and its products to larger trends, respond to relevant articles or competitive announcements, and help clients build a reputation for insightful thought leadership. A good PR firm would never think of just blasting out a press release over the wires and crossing their fingers for coverage. They actively pitch the story to select journalists and other media targets who are likely to cover it based on their audience. At Voxus, we believe it’s our job to help publications find the stories that will interest their readers. Perhaps more importantly, we believe a good PR firm will help craft and share a story that is interesting – to reporters, to readers, and ultimately to prospective customers, employees and partners.
Thought leadership is a closely related discipline for public relations agencies. It is the strategy of positioning a company and its leaders as subject matter experts on relevant topics – an authoritative source that the public can turn to for deeper understanding and expert guidance. This is typically accomplished through media interviews, where company executives are quoted for insight on a particular topic, or through placement of contributed articles. In this latter case, a publication will publish an article that’s “bylined” (authored) by a company’s subject matter expert. This article must be vendor-neutral and non-promotional; it’s an educational opportunity, not a sales piece. The right PR agency partner will not only help a company uncover and land these thought leadership opportunities, it will help craft the content itself. At Voxus, we write and place hundreds of these articles every year.
When it comes to media, a good public relations firm will understand that there are different types of publications, and treat them accordingly. These can include large national outlets that cover broad news, consumer or business topics; publications that are relevant to a client’s particular market (for Voxus clients, that’s the technology industry); and vertical publications that focus on particular customer segments. These customer verticals could be related to specific segments of the economy (healthcare, finance, automotive, aerospace, energy, etc.) or a particular function (marketing, HR, sales, IT, operations, etc.).
A closely related aspect is analyst relations. Industry analyst firms such as Gartner, Forrester and numerous others help companies track and understand industry trends, product functionality, market leaders or best solutions, and more. A good public relations agency will work with these analyst firms to position a client’s products and services within larger reports, or work with them to validate a company’s offerings. While analyst firms often have paid relationships with different vendors, individual analysts also have a need to better understand company solutions and future plans so that they can incorporate that insight into future analysis; these informational briefings generally occur outside of paid relationships.
Speaker placement presents another opportunity for thought leadership, in this instance through a live audience presentation at an industry event rather than a bylined article in a trade publication. Public relations firms will work with conference organizers to understand the session tracks and topics, and submit a company’s subject matter experts as speakers or panel participants.
Industry or product awards present an opportunity for validation – a chance for an outside party to confirm that this is a company that’s getting it right, that this story matters. Awards can cover everything from Best Places to Work, to Fastest Growing, to Best Product or a host of other related topics. PR agencies will identify and track these opportunities, then work with the company to craft and submit a compelling application.
Sometimes in business, as in life, things don’t go as planned. PR crisis management can help a company clearly and authentically communicate what went wrong, what management is doing about it, and a timeline for correcting the problem. There are entire books on just the topic of PR crisis management, making it well outside the scope of this particular article. Suffice it to say that it’s good to have a PR team in place when a crisis hits.
If your company or organization needs to build brand awareness, establish thought leadership and deliver a clear and compelling message to employees, partners and customers, working with the right PR agency can help you achieve your objectives.
Interested in collaborating with one of the best boutique public relations firms in the US? Fill out the form to start the conversation.
For more information on how to drive results and measure PR success, check out some of our work.