What Does PR Do?
There are more ways than ever for brands to communicate directly with prospective customers, investors and stakeholders. Along with traditional marketing platforms like TV, radio, print, and billboard advertising, alternative methods such as social media and YouTube give companies even more ways to tell their story to their audience. Also, new data tools let you target that message with a level of precision that would have been unthinkable in the past.
And yet, there are still limits to what traditional advertising, and even social media can accomplish. Being so exposed to the constant deluge of marketing and advertising around them has made many consumers skeptical of most brands. One study from Ragan found that 86 percent of TV viewers skip or ignore ads, 44 percent of direct mail is never opened, and 91 percent of email users had unsubscribed from a company email list that they had initially opted into.
What’s more, consumers are becoming much more selective about which brands they support, and are increasingly shifting toward brands that are more involved in political or social causes. Unlike in the past, new research shows that consumers want brands to get involved in social issues. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that 67 percent of employees expect their employers to take a stand on issues that employees care about.
Edelman also found that 71 percent of employees believe their CEO should respond to social and political challenges. This follows trends among the public, as 76 percent of everyone surveyed by Edelman said that CEOs should take a leading role in addressing society’s problems instead of waiting for governments to act.
However, while more people are expecting businesses to get involved in political causes, skepticism remains about many brands’ intentions. This is especially true when it comes to younger audiences, a core demographic for many brands. A 2018 report from the research agency MediaCom found that 37 percent of teens age 16-19 were skeptical of the claims brands made about the causes they support, and 69 percent of teens said they believe brands overstate their support for charitable or social causes.
How PR Can Help You Reach Even More People
How can brands counter this entrenched skepticism to persuade new and existing customers? One tool you may not have considered is public relations. With so many more ways for brands to spread their own message to consumers, many companies have neglected the value of PR. But if building trust authentically is what you’re after, then you can’t ignore what a well-crafted PR campaign offers.
If marketing and advertising are the tools brands use to tell their story, PR is the art of getting others to tell that story for you. While it may seem counterintuitive for brands to put their faith in having other people tell their story, there are benefits from good PR that can’t be matched by marketing and advertising.
First and foremost, we’ve already noted how consumers have become increasingly distrustful of the messages they get directly from brands. PR circumvents that issue by having a third party mediate your message. There’s an element of faith involved here, but consumers are more likely to trust your message if it comes from a brand they already trust.
How Can I Be Sure That PR Works?
There’s already plenty of data to back up these claims. The Content Marketing Institute found that 70 percent of consumers prefer to get information on a company from articles as opposed to ads. This is even more true among businesses; CMI also found that 80 percent of business decision-makers prefer to learn about a company from articles instead of ads. Lastly, HubSpot found that Millennials are 247 percent more likely to be influenced by blogs and social media than by traditional advertising.
Brands who take advantage of what PR can do have an advantage over those who ignore these potential benefits. Getting articles about your company into trustworthy publications will generate more engagement and goodwill than even the strongest, most effective ad campaign. For brands that are purpose-driven, this kind of PR is priceless.
Frankly, more brands should be promoting themselves as values-based and purpose-driven. It’s a good business strategy; the MediaCom report we mentioned above found that 54 percent of the teens surveyed said they had bought from or intentionally avoided specific brands because of their ethics and values. MediaCom also found that 63 percent of teens said they were more likely to buy from a brand that supported causes or charities that the teens cared about. But consumers hold brands to high standards, so it’s important that companies back up their words with concrete actions and policies.
This is another area where an experienced, innovative PR team can help in ways most marketing teams can’t. A PR campaign will help you shape the narrative around your company, its mission, and its goals. Furthermore, a PR firm can help your brand solidify its position and clear up any misconceptions by putting the right information where your audience will see it.
How Avaans PR Can Help
Avaans Media has a strong track record of helping brands tell their story in an interesting, creative way. Take our work for a hemp-based wellness brand. We had our work cut out for us with this campaign, as we had to establish the validity of hemp-based products in the consumer packaged-goods space despite skepticism from many prospective customers. But by harnessing our media contacts and crafting a campaign across a range of business, science, and lifestyle publications, we were able to place more than 200 stories about our client over a period of three years, averaging five stories every month.