PR: the unblemished face of your company

From technology PR to gastronomy PR, there is no doubt that the power of creating brand awareness and relationships with your public should not be underestimated. However, something that is sometimes overlooked is the importance of striking a balance between what is brand-building, customer focused PR and what goes further and strays into the realm of advertising. You could be forgiven for thinking that both these things will bring about customer interest in the same way but then you would have missed the point and the beauty of the invisible hand that is publicity. PR’s strength is rooted within the fact that, from the customer’s point of view, the talk and positive buzz about your company is not emanating from your company itself. This therefore creates a more robust relationship as it is seemingly coming from an unbiased source, thus giving it more weight.

The difference between the two, PR and advertising, can be described by pointing out that advertising is put in place to sell, or create awareness of, a specific product or service. Whereas PR is carried out in order to sell the ideologies and intentions of a whole organisation or company.

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Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eschipul/1399068167/

Another pitfall of PR is underestimating your audience. It is the job of a PR department to obviously build up relations with its customers, suppliers, partners and even competitors but a large part of this involves the establishment of trust. Customers want to know that they can trust the company behind the products that they are planning to purchase and not feel like they have been somehow tricked into buying. Therefore, creating a strong face for your company is very important. For example, someone from the drinks company ‘Strongbow’ making a comment on the quality of a drink manufactured by the company ‘Bulmers’ might give off an air of grace and respect towards a competitor and therefore increase the public’s relationship with the company. However, if I was to tell you that both those drink products are actually owned by the same company it then seems like more of an underhand tactic to boost sales.

Something like this can cause more harm than good to an organisation and could result in a loss of credibility. The worst part is that when this happens it often has nothing to do with the quality or desirability of the actual product the company produces. This underlines the important role that a PR department plays in a company and difficulty that it entails. The product may be the best on the market and maybe advertised extremely well but if the image portrayed is not one the public can relate to then the general feelings that they hold towards the organisation will be detrimental to their willingness to purchase. If PR is the face of a company then let it be unblemished.

Chris Mayhew is writing on behalf of Marketing By Web, an internet marketing company specialising in SEO and PPC management.

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