PR and Communications: what is it?

The realm of public relations (PR) and communications can seem at once fascinating and overwhelming; so much can be achieved through this, and yet everything about it seems alien and unknown. What is PR and communications, really? And is PR the same as communications? (If PR = comms, then why is it PR and comms? So. Many. Questions. Am I right?)

For solopreneurs and other driven business owners out there wanting to understand what PR and comms can do for you, I aim to help unravel this for you in this article.

Let’s start with definitions

No time to waste, so let’s dive right in. Here are a couple of definitions to help frame the parameters for discussion, according to Lexico (Oxford dictionary).

public relations (noun): (i) the professional maintenance of a favourable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person; (ii) the state of the relationship between a company or other organization or a famous person and the public.

communications (noun): (i) means of sending or receiving information; (ii) the field of study concerned with the transmission of information; (iii) the imparting or exchange of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.

Going back to basics and looking at the definitions of the terms “PR” and “communications”, what we find is that the two are—and always will be—intrinsically intertwined.

Think about it: to effectively manage the PR of a brand (its relationship with the public/target audience, and how its audience views it) is to necessarily, effectively manage the entire communications strategy of the brand (what and how it communicates with its target audience).

Public Relations, public display of affection?

Public display of affection isn’t very far from what we hope to see with good PR.

If PR has achieved its objectives, then what we’d see is lots and lots of PDA from the public—positive brand sentiment, brand recognition and brand recommendation!

Communications, the power of words

If PR is the result, then communications is the grunt work.

A good communications strategy will include a gamut of platforms, ranging across media (print, digital, broadcast), events and social media.

To effectively convey key brand messages (i.e. branding) and other information about products/services, the best way is to get relevant content in the media, in front of the target audience.

Getting the right messages across, and spreading that message, will work towards building your brand equity.

What goes into a PR and comms strategy?

The short answer is: lots.

The long answer is: every platform a brand can use to communicate with the public is a platform to be considered (depending on which platforms your target audience engages with, of course).

So when developing your PR and comms strategy, it’s best to first think about which platforms would be most effective in getting your brand’s messages across—is it through talks and podcasts, radio and TV, magazines and newspapers, social media, digital media platforms?

Once you’ve got that sorted, think about valuable content you can create and get out there. And think about establishing genuine, positive relationships with different journalists/media contacts.

PR and comms is that integral jigsaw piece to your branding puzzle—it enables you to establish brand awareness, authenticity, credibility and integrity, which ultimately leads to positive public perception and increased conversion.

So the next time someone brings up PR and comms, don’t shy away from the conversation. Take part in it, and see what you can take on board to grow your brand!

And if you’re thinking of writing your own press releases, have a look at this article to make sure you’ve got the key ingredients for a press release locked down!

Till next time, xo

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