By Janet Udogu
When I got my first job as a publicist, my dad called me one week after and asked, “Gal, how’s the advertising job going? With an unbridled enthusiasm I told him that, “I am not an advertiser but a publicist.” And then I went ahead to explain the difference between the two. “Forget the jargons,” he replied. “They are one and the same.”
Fast-forward to a couple of years down the line and the whole scenario played itself out again. Call it déjà vu if you like. My father called me, and again asked the same old question. Guess what my reply was, “The advertising business is going on well sir.” Yes, I could not muster the strength to go through the explanation and argument in what was going to become a textbook example for futile effort. Anyway, back to my father. He laughed and replied, “Good. All that matters to me is that you are faring well on the job.” Then I got it.
Like my dad, many people do not know the difference between public relations and advertising and in this case, the attendant benefits of public relations.
For the sake of clarification, let us quickly define the two. The Public Relations Society of America, PRSA, defines public relations as the management function that uses communications in a way that “helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” Advertising on the other hand, is a paid form of communicating a message through the various media. Simply put, public relations promotes goodwill and communications between the company and consumers while advertising aims to promote or sell products and services using persuasive messages.
Having drawn a clear line of demarcation between public relations and advertising, it is time to advance to the subject at hand. Which brings us to the big question- why do you need public relations? Below are six reasons your business cannot do without public relations:
Regular communication in the form of feature news articles, public appearances and presentations will place your business in the industry’s spotlight and in the minds of your public. This positive perception can help improve overall effectiveness by demonstrating your company's ongoing successes which will, in turn, result in high turnover rate.
Unlike advertising, a public relations mention or review of your product by a third party such as a popular magazine in your industry, a high-traffic website or a respected social media influencer comes out as a recommendation. When non-biased third party sources endorse your product or service in the media or online, it builds credibility.
Public relations helps in managing the reputation of your company and brand. Even in times of crisis like an advertisement gone awry or unsatisfied customers going on social media to talk bad of your product, public relations can help you salvage the situation and control the damage through compelling press releases and feature articles.
Paying for a magazine or newspaper spread is not a bad idea if you have the money. However, if you are on a tight budget, having goodwill in the right media can get you a full feature or an article mention in the same publication without paying lots of money.
Public relations is about communicating your message rightly, through the right channels and to the right audience to gain allies, advocates and supporters in the community. The right media placements at the right times can be used to attract the attention of investors.
Talent recruitment and staff retention
Public relations campaigns do not only attract new clients but also lead to improved quality of prospective employees. In other words, public relations tells your potential employees that your company provides creative work environment suitable for them. Public relations also boosts employees’ morale and influences their decision to stay.