Public Relations – a definition
Public relations, or PR, consist in managing the communications of a person or an organization to the public. These organizations can be startups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large companies, groups or associations, institutions, societies or NGOs.
A classical definition:
“Public relations is the art of enhancing public opinion for your company, product or service using the spoken or printed word, by actions or visible symbols.”
(Carl Hundhausen, 1937)
The media targeted by PR
The word media comes from the Latin medium, which means “middle”. And indeed, in the transmitter-receiver communication model, the media does fall in between the two.
Nowadays, we usually distinguish print (books, newspapers, magazines, billboards etc.), broadcasting (radio and TV) and digital media (all those that use the Internet).
The primary task of the media is to spread information. Their importance should never go underestimated: their official nickname, “the fourth estate”, says it all.
Nowadays, most private media are primarily used for entertainment and advertising, which sometimes goes hidden. The boundaries between editorial and advertising space are blurrier than ever. This trend also affects the public media.
Earned & Paid Media
Earned media (media in which there is no need to pay for publications) and paid media (media where there is a charge for publications) are terms that have been used frequently in recent years. A single medium can be both at the same time. The terms are taken from the PESO model, which also includes social media and owned media. The question about whether the model is relevant or should be replaced by an EOP model is another subject entirely.
Multipliers and instruments for successful PR
PR is not only applied to established media. Many other possibilities include for example live communication, video, social media, CSR, sponsoring, etc.
Most important PR tools: an overview
- Press work
- Online PR
- Blogger relations & influencer marketing
- Social media
- Live communication
- Search engine marketing (SEO + SEA) (and SEO PR)
- Public affairs
Public relations and advertising: What’s the difference?
PR work is less expensive and more believable, but also less easy to organize and measure as advertising.
However, playing one against the other is a mistake; both have their own role. Everybody should find the strategy that works best for them and is feasible financially speaking.
Storytelling: a mixture of advertising, marketing and PR. Stories trigger emotions in the listener’s heart. Storytelling allows products or companies to communicate a positive image into consumer consciousness.
Advertisement works differently from PR. All that needs to be done is to buy advertising space and air time. Strategies are often linked with marketing strategies at the point of sale.
Advertisement works when there is little need for information, i.e. in consumer goods and consumables. Advertising is particularly successful when it focuses on generating emotions. Editorial work focuses more on thought.
Predictability of the publication locations and times as well as measurability are the main arguments in favor of advertising.
Advertorials and native advertising
Advertorials or native advertising are a hybrid between PR and advertising. This involves placing a publication in the editorial area and paying for it, as done with advertising. Such publications are often referred to as “sponsored posts” in the online sector. In print media, words like “advertisement” or “special publication” come up a lot.
The (added) value of PR: Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE)
In any case, journalistic reporting is more credible than any advertisement. The AVE (Advertising Value Equivalency) often refers to the ratio of 1:3. This means that if an unpaid PR publication is compared with an advertisement of equal size, the value of which is, for example, 5,000 EUR, the PR publication has a value of 15,000 EUR.
Compliance: Guideline of the DPRG
Transparency, fairness, integrity and legality are part of the basic understanding of the association and its members. As a professional association, the DPRG also has a special responsibility towards the public. For this reason, the association has issued a compliance guideline, which is binding for Deutsche Public Relations Gesellschaft e. V. as well as its subsidiaries and majority shareholdings. It is based on the principles of the Deutsche Public Relations Gesellschaft and the points described in §1 of the DPRG statutes.
In short: PR is on the rise
If well done, PR work has an excellent price-performance ratio. “The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR“: it’s all in the title! In their cult bestseller, Al and Laura Ries demonstrate how good PR work can lead to much more impactful and credible results than advertising.