The Ultimate Guide to Public Relations in 2018

Written By Jami Oetting

Discover how to use public relations to increase the visibility of your brand and drive views to your campaigns.

Inbound PR Templates
Free Download: Inbound Press Release Templates

+ Bonus Newsworthy Guide to Public Relations

Download Free Templates

Are you looking to expand your business’s reach and expose your brand to new people who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer?

Welcome to the world of public relations.

Commonly abbreviated to PR, public relations defines how a company communicates with people. It’s how brands manage the spread of their information, so it’s similar to branding. The only difference is it’s more focused on communication and reputation, rather than relying on visual elements (like logos).

And yes, it’s about more than press releases!

Read on to learn more about public relations, or click below to jump to a specific section.

Media: Owned vs. Paid vs. Earned

Public relations can be split into three categories: owned, paid, and earned media. Each works towards the same reputation-building goal but use different strategies to get there.

Guess what? Your PR strategy should be using all three.

Owned Media

Defined as any content that your business controls, owned media is often the go-to strategy for businesses looking to build a PR campaign.

And, rightly so: It’s arguably the most important type of PR-related media that you should be focusing on because you have total control (unlike the other two tactics).

Owned media can range from:

  • Social media posts
  • Blog content
  • Website copy

It has the aim of acting as a virtual home for your PR activity. People writing about your brand or products are likely to reference owned media in their own coverage.

Paid Media

You likely already know that paying to promote your content is pretty standard in the marketing world. That’s no different when it comes to PR.

Paid media refers to paying to make your content visible. It’s common practice to use this to promote owned media, and can be done through:

  • Social media advertising
  • Influencer marketing
  • Pay-per-click (PPC)

Putting a bit of cash behind PR content is becoming increasingly popular. Since the majority of social platforms are reducing organic reach for business accounts, it’s a fantastic way to make sure your content gets in front of the people you want to see it.

Earned Media

This is the type of PR strategy that comes through word of mouth. Defined as the tactic to boost conversation around your brand, there’s a chance that you’re already collecting earned media from your owned content.

But, earned media is the hardest type of PR strategy to execute. That’s because you need to do something before you can get it. It takes a lot of effort and hard work — hence why it’s “earned”.

Having said that, earned media is the best tactic to build your reputation.

Let’s face it: If you see your business, product, or services being:

  • Reviewed on industry blogs
  • Praised in customer testimonials on social media
  • Ranked highly in a search engine

… it’s bound to make a great impression on your prospects!

 Public relations and inbound marketing are closely related and using them together drives the best results.

That’s because people don’t buy products, they buy brands. If someone is willing to buy your product (through marketing), it means they’re already connected with the brand (through PR).

This explains why the average revenue increase attributed to consistently representing a brand is 23%. You could be seeing similar results by combining both strategies.

Marketing and PR … they’re a perfect match!

What’s Inbound Public Relations?

Inbound has been named the future of PR. It combines the biggest strength of PR (content) and inbound (measurement) so you can prove the ROI of your public relations strategy.

Inbound PR works so well because you can see what’s working — and what isn’t.

For example, if your business was struggling to collect backlinks from your coverage, the inbound PR approach allows you to identify this and tweak your strategy in the future.

Here’s a great presentation by Iliyana Stareva, originally presented at the Inbound 2016 conference, which shares everything you’ll need to know about inbound PR:

In short, inbound PR is a surefire way to build brand awareness, generate leads, and convert those leads through your public relations strategy. Don’t underestimate it!

What Does a Public Relations Manager Do?

Thinking of becoming a PR manager?

Whether you’re planning to work in-house or for an agency, here’s a typical day in the life of a public relations manager:

Core Activities of PR

Typical day-to-day tasks of a PR manager can vary massively. However, they often focus on:

  • Writing press releases to announce company-related news.
  • Creating fact sheets about the company to be sent to media teams to build their brand.
  • Giving media training to both in-house and external teams.
  • Speaking at industry events.
  • Finding and analyzing media coverage and promoting that content through owned and paid media channels.
  • Attending industry events and representing the brand at trade shows, recruiting events, etc.

Common Skills of PR Managers

Just like any other job, successful PR managers have a solid set of foundational skills. So if you’re planning to enter the world of public relations, these skills will serve you well:

Great Communication

Remember how we mentioned that public relations focuses on building your business’s reputation? PR managers will spend the majority of their time speaking about their company to do this.

For that reason, excellent communication is a key skill that PR managers should have.

Writing Skills

It’s not just face-to-face communication skills that PR managers have; it’s also beneficial to communicate well in written form.

Since PR managers will be responsible for writing press releases and company-related news, strong writing skills will help other people to understand the message you want to relay.

This is especially useful for online PR where you’ll need to rely on blog posts, website content, and press releases to gain coverage!

Creativity

Just like in marketing, creativity goes a long way in the public relations world.

Great PR managers are creative and know how to create a strategy that stands out from the crowd. Not only will this skill help PR managers in “boring” industries, but it’ll drive earned PR coverage if you can craft a unique spin on a story.

Strong Research Skills

Public relations is social, and people might be talking about your brand without mentioning you directly. Good research skills will help PR managers find and exploit these opportunities.

PR managers will also need to do lots of research when planning their strategy. Because they might need additional information, statistics, and data points to boost the power of their owned media, strong research skills are essential.

Goals of Public Relations Campaigns

Goals help to measure the success of any PR campaign.

Here’s a list of KPIs that you should keep in the back of your mind when determining the effectiveness of your PR strategy.

(Bonus: They follow the inbound PR methodology!)

Brand Mentions

Brand mentions are created when someone mentions your brand in their earned media coverage. They’re often built when news publications cover your story, without linking to your website.

While these are great for building brand awareness, there’s just one issue with brand mentions: They can be difficult to track.

Luckily, tools like Mention scan the internet for any reference of your business’s name. With online tools, you can discover how many people covered your PR campaign — and where.

Generally, a high volume of brand mentions equals a successful strategy — more people are talking about you!

However, it’s important to read each brand mention for context. Remember, we want people to be saying good things about our brand, and it’s not always easy to understand the value of coverage until you read the entire piece.

Backlinks

Similar to brand mentions, backlinks help you to find where your PR story has been covered. The only difference? The sites who’ve mentioned your brand have linked to your website, making it easy for readers to clickthrough and visit your website.

But, it’s not just new visitors that you’ll benefit from when collecting backlinks from PR coverage — you could see a rise in your SEO rankings, too.

Site Traffic

If people are hearing about your brand through earned media and heading to your site, it’s a sign of a successful PR campaign.

Once your campaign goes live, track the number of visitors to your site or page. Check where they’ve come from (was it a particular piece of coverage?) and aim to replicate this in the future.

New Customers

Although the volume of new customers coming directly from your PR activity isn’t easy to measure, it’s worth investigating.

You can find out where your customers came from by:

It goes without saying that a ton of new customers from your PR campaign is a great result.

But, don’t feel disheartened if you don’t see an influx of conversion-ready site traffic. The goal of PR is to raise brand awareness, spread the ideas of your internal thought leaders, and communicate the ideas of your brand, and there’s nothing to say that your new site visitors won’t return and purchase in the future.

Public Relations Tools

Life is always easier with a bit of help, right? That’s no different in the world of PR.

Here are six excellent public relations tools we’d recommend for anyone looking to dive deeper into their strategy:

  • CoverageBook: Use this tool to find and collect any coverage of your PR content. It’s great for PR agencies who’re building coverage reports for their clients.
  • Mention: Track who’s mentioned your brand in earned media coverage.
  • Monitor Backlinks: Track who’s mentioned your brand in coverage and included a backlink to your site.
  • Muck Rack: Collect details of media people who might be interested in covering your PR story.
  • PR Fire: Take tedious PR tasks off your hands. Have your release distributed to journalists and receive a report of results. It’s fantastic for in-house teams who’re doing their own PR.
  • Agility PR Solutions: Provides powerful yet easy-to-use media database, monitoring, and analytics solutions to help identify and connect with influencers, capture coverage, and measure impact.

Conclusion

Are you ready to start turning the wheels on your new public relations strategy? Awesome! We can’t wait to read about your brand in the news.

However, there’s one thing you should keep in mind: PR is an ongoing strategy and not a one-off task.

Just like reputation building, it can take a while to see results.

But with a solid strategy and a commitment to spreading the word about your company, you’ll soon see more mentions, backlinks, and general buzz. And that’s a great way to build a memorable brand.