What is PR? Tactics a PR Pro Will Use TodayRemember a couple of weeks ago that blog post that suggested you use your PR skills when networking?

Remember one of the tips they recommended was to know when it’s appropriate to show your bra strap?

At a networking event. In a business setting. And somehow this is a PR skill?

Clearly, I’m astounded (I’m still not over it), but it got me thinking. Why do people think this is a PR skill?

Seeing Your Name in Lights

I think it goes back to the whole idea that most people think PR is getting your name in the newspaper.

One of my very favorite stories to tell is a prospect called me three days before Christmas a few years ago and said he really wanted our help getting all sorts of media attention for his new product so people would buy it as Christmas gifts for their loved ones.

Never mind the fact most people are finished with their Christmas shopping three days beforehand, I told him the only way he’s going to get media attention that quickly is if he killed someone famous.

And then I quickly backtracked and said, “I don’t recommend that!”

Of course, he got angry with me and muttered something about finding someone who would help him and hung up on me. His story was never told through the media.

I get it. I do. Seeing your name (or your company’s name) in the paper is tangible. You can hold it, feel it, touch it, see it. Your friends and family see it and they mention it to you. It’s a great ego stroke.

What is PR?

But this is only one tiny part of what a PR professional does for an organization.

It used to be we did media relations (or publicity, if you’re so inclined), events, reputation management, investor relations, speaking engagements, issues and crisis management, and that was about it.

Today, however, the job has broadened so wide, we can also be responsible for generating leads, nurturing them, and handing them over to sales to close. We’ve become an investment, instead of an expense.

Some of the things we do include:

  • Develop integrated offline and online marketing plans
  • Content development (white papers, videos, podcasts, blogs, eBooks, webinars)
  • Marketing that content we develop
  • Email marketing
  • On-page search engine optimization
  • Social media
  • Google+ authorship and authority
  • Online reputation management
  • Crisis communications planning and management
  • Employee communications
  • Social media policies
  • Media relations
  • Blogger relations
  • Monitor online conversations
  • Develop online audits
  • Community development and growth
  • Influencer relations
  • Word-of-mouth campaigns
  • Analyze data and web analytics

We take all of those things and we develop a strategy that allows us to generate leads, cultivate and nurture them, convert them to sales (or sales-ready), and consistently measure our efforts to meaningful business goals.

Hiring a PR firm to just get your name in the newspaper is not only short-changing your organization, it’s not cost-effective, integrated, strategic, or smart.

A version of this first appeared in my weekly AllBusiness column. Thanks to Lindsay Olson for the image.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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