The future's bright

Francis Ingham, PRCA
Francis Ingham, PRCA

SPONSORED FEATURE - Not only is PR more flexible and far less of a blunt instrument than advertising, but it also creates brand advocates, builds trust, facilitates engagement and complements more business areas .

While no sector has been immune from the downturn, PR has outperform-ed the market. However, more still needs to be done to educate clients about the value of PR.

PR is all about reputation. It is the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. It is used to gain trust and understanding between an organisation and its various publics - whether employees, customers, investors or the local community - or a combination of those stake-holder groups. But measuring the effectiveness of PR is less straight-forward.

Marketers ought to be switching their spend from advertising to PR. Don't get me wrong, advertising can be cost-effective. As the trade association for PR agencies, we often buy space.

In fact, we have got an advert for our free service, which helps organisations find a PR agency, in this supplement. But advertising is also a blunt instrument, compared with PR.

Big budgets too often get allocated to buying space for three reasons. First, audiences used to be far less fragmented; in 1969 there were just three TV channels in the UK, not 600.

Second, the product is controllable and tangible. You are guaranteed the deliverable you were expecting, so you just have to
hope your audience responds as expected.

Finally, evaluating it is relatively simple. You compare the cost of the ads with another metric, such as the rise in sales or enquiries.

PR may not come with the same certainty of outcome as advertising, but it complements more business areas.

Good PR doesn't just push messages to consumers - it interacts with stakeholders, engaging them in conversation and fostering meaningful, long-term relationships.

The media landscape has changed dramatically. Forty years ago, when the UK had only one commercial TV channel, the most effective way to get your message to the public was through a hand-ful of television and radio channels, newspapers and magazines.
It was almost impossible for the public to form groups or respond to these messages.

Yet the tremendous media fragmentation of the past 15  years isn't even the most dramatic change to which marketers need to adapt. The digital revolution has facilitated peer-to-peer communication, and accelerated the need for us to listen to a wider range of stakeholders and engage meaningfully with them.

Organisations that do not change to reflect the new media landscape will not remain on the map for long.

The rules of the game have not changed. Your reputation is still the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.

The difference is that with the mass-adoption of the internet, the number of people saying things about you has changed, as has the ease with which they can say it and the number of people to whom they can say it.

The new environment should not be scary. The rules for PR are the same as they always have been - listen, engage and respond. Do not be tempted to engage, unless you can contribute something extra to the conversation - and don't try to control the group.

The internet also makes the evaluation of PR easier. We can easily monitor who is talking about us, what they are saying and what content is of interest to them.

We can integrate our online reputation with our customer services, our innovation team and even our sales department.

PR is a flexible tool. In the short term, it can drive traffic to websites, lift sales and enquiries,
or build reputation, in the same way as advertising.

But done well, PR does so much more. It creates advocates for your organisation, builds empathy and trust and will engage you with your audiences.

So how do you identify a reputable PR agency? Look for the Consultancy Management Standard. It has been adopted as the industry standard in 11 of the world's most advanced PR markets, and ensures that the agency is well-run and uses best- practice systems and structures.

Francis Ingham is director general of the PRCA.

Find out more about the PRCA here.

 

 

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers