Public relations works through intermediaries

Due to it being compared with advertising, PR is maybe the least understood of all marketing tools. The basis of PR includes using intermediaries to communicate with your audience and influence them. Those intermediaries may be industry spokespersons, stock analysts, investors, trend setters, industry analysts, customers, employees, and even the electronic and print media. Typically your business has very little control over those influencers, or intermediaries, which will make public relations so difficult.

Public relations is messy

Advertising, on the other hand, provides you that control. You won't just get to create your organization's messages, match them with a supporting graphic, then place them where you desire your audience to read them and as you desire them to read them. Plus, you'll pay for that control. In order to get individuals to hear you, you must persuade many important influencers that your business, its services or products are worth their time to consider. You must have your act together. They do not have time to spend on incomplete ideas. Getting your act together for a key influencer will mean that you:

  • Know competition well
  • Know industry well
  • Know context that your service or product is utilized in
  • Know customers
  • Know customer's interests
  • Understand why what you need to say is crucial to them

Public relations is personal

You might have demographics for your audience in advertising. You might even have performed focus groups and market research to pin down their necessities. However, as individuals the audience remains mainly anonymous to you. You'll communicate to them more as a circle that shares common interests, instead of as individuals. Advertising, by its nature, includes a mass communication.

Public relations builds up credibility

Public relations boosts an organization's credibility, because it'll operate through numerous trusted intermediaries. Plus, these intermediaries communicate to a certain audience which looks to them to filter out all nonsense. If messages are chosen to be communicated, they'll gain credibility due to the intermediaries' credibility.

Public relations is precise

With advertising, it's possible to calculate the responses and audience impact which you have. It is similar to a controlled experiment which is being done repeatedly. Public relations is less predictable due to you having to get the intermediary to comprehend your important message points and reiterate them in his/her messages. It means cautiously aligning them with an intermediary's messages. It'll mean knowing his needs and your audience's needs and where your business and its messages fit within that environment.

Public relations is based on relationships

Great public relations means setting up ongoing relationships with many important influencers (and therefore their audiences) and knowing how your business may become an excellent data source for the influential. However, this relationship is based on your organization's capability of providing these things:

  • Thorough knowledge of the influencer's need
  • Timely response to an influencer's requests
  • Unique accessibility to important executives in your organization
  • Truthfully stating your case

Public relations is not free advertising

It is a time consuming and labor intensive effort. It'll mean opportunistically thinking and evaluating 'what is news worthy' concerning your business with a keen eye. If your business is able to do this, PR may help it look more influential, bigger, and more important than it may otherwise be.