Why New Zealand businesses need PR

You’ve likely heard the opinion within business circles that PR is ‘free advertising’. In truth, Public Relations isn’t advertising, and it definitely isn’t free. And yet, in today’s climate PR may make the claim that it will give your business the best bang for your marketing buck.

Intermediaries facilitate PR

PR centres around intermediaries – the groups and individuals who communicate with your audience and act as influencers to those around them. Intermediaries can be customers, industry spokespersons, celebrity ambassadors, investors, bloggers, print media and industry analysts. A business doesn’t typically have a lot of control over these groups – which is why at times PR can be challenging.

PR isn’t afraid of getting its hands dirty

While advertising provides control over intermediaries, PR doesn’t afford the luxury of being able to create your company’s message, provide a complementary image then position the message in the exact spot you want your audience to read it, and in the manner you want it read. And you can pay for that control.

On the flipside, in PR, to enable individuals to hear what you have to say, you need to first persuade key influencers that your business, brand, product or services are worthy of their time and consideration. Effective PR to get influencers to hear your message requires:

  • Excellent working knowledge of the competition
  • Insight to the industry
  • Knowledge of the context that your service or product sits within
  • Good knowledge of your customers and their interests, likes and dislikes
  • An understanding that your brand message must be conveyed as essential for your influencers to know about

Public relations affords a personal touch

Contacting individuals, building one-on-one relationships and liaising direct with particular people is par for the course PR. Personal touches and getting to know the audience at a deeper level is where PR stands out. While advertisers might be able to pinpoint their demographics, as individuals the audience remain largely anonymous to them. This is because advertising, by its very nature, includes a mass communication, communicating to the audience more as a group with common interests, instead of as individuals.

Public relations boosts credibility

Because PR operates through various intermediaries who enjoy trusted status, public relations can work to boost a company’s credibility. Intermediaries are hugely influential, with their ability to communicate to particular groups who see them as authentic and transparent. Bottom line – if a message is chosen to be communicated, it will gain credibility thanks to that of the intermediaries.

Public relations requires insight

While advertising affords an exact science, with the ability to measure the audience response to, and impact of your particular message, PR is by nature less predictable. This is because your message needs to first be understood and evaluated by the intermediary, who then relays your key points through their own messaging. This requires carefully aligning your messages with that of the intermediary, alongside possessing a good working knowledge of their needs and your target audiences’ needs – and where your company and key messages fit within this context.

Public relations is founded on relationships

It’s no secret that effective PR is all about the ongoing relationships with key influencers (and by proxy, their audiences). It is important to keep in mind however, that these relationships require groundwork from your company too. Non-negotiables include a good working knowledge of your influencers’ needs and interests, timely and informed responses to influencer requests, and special access to people of influence within your company.

Public relations is not free advertising

PR requires time and hard work. It’s about opportunistic thinking and effective evaluation of ‘what is news’ in relation to your business. Aligning these attributes and knowledge with a great PR team and your business may enjoy more influence, exposure and visibility than it ever has before.

Fleur Revell

Fleur Revell

Director at Impact PR
Fleur Revell is one of the country’s most eminent PR consultants and public relations practitioners with more than 20 years industry experience behind her. Fleur is also a three times Qantas Media Awards winner and Feature Writer of the Year; and has an exceptional working knowledge of the New Zealand media landscape and its accelerating evolution in the digital age.