What Exactly Is Public Relations?

As a small business owner, it can be hard to navigate the world of public relations on your own. In fact, the most common question we receive is "What exactly is PR?" So let's dive into it.

Public relations is all about storytelling. It's how you present your brand to the world -- whether you are sharing your brand story through editorial features, partnering with influencers to promote your products, speaking at events to establish credibility in your industry, or even hosting a launch event in a key market for your brand. All of those PR moments create touch points for new and potential customers to discover your brand.

Why PR Is So Crucial

If you own a business, you most likely have heard of the "sales funnel" or "customer journey". The graphic below is a visual tool to show the different stages a customer goes through before making a purchase. But let's talk about how PR plays into that journey.

Your target customer will start outside of this marketing cycle, so you need to find a way to bring them into that first Awareness phase. That's where PR comes in. The awareness piece can come from a wide variety of PR moments: their favorite news site posting an article that mentions your brand, their favorite content creator raving about your products on their social channels, their favorite talk show interviewing you on their local news channel, etc. Those PR moments can plant the seed of brand awareness in the customer's mind, which pushes them into the next phase of their customer journey.

Now it's important to remember that while PR is an essential piece of your marketing plan, it shouldn't be the only part of your plan. Press mentions, product placements and founder feature articles are great for establishing credibility among potential customers, but your marketing and advertising strategies will amplify that reach and drive sales. So sharing the press mention on your social media channels, creating paid social ads that lead directly to the product mentioned in the article, retargeting potential customers who visit your website after reading the article -- all of these strategies will ensure that you get the greatest return on your PR investment.

Public Relations IRL

Another amazing benefit of PR is that it can engage potential customers who are already aware of your brand but haven't made a purchase just yet. Let's say there's a potential customer who saw your beauty brand featured on Allure.com and already follows your brand on Instagram. They are past the Awareness phase and have shown some interest, so they are currently sitting in the Interest phase of the cycle. Another PR moment can push that potential customer into the next phase of their customer journey! Perhaps you can focus on influencer marketing -- collaborating with content creators who have already earned the trust of your target audience and can advocate for your brand.

PR can also act as a reengagement tool. Let's say you have a customer that purchased from you in the past but hasn't repurchased anything yet. When they see their favorite influencer talking about the luxurious new serum you just launched or hear you being interviewed on their favorite beauty podcast, the customer's interest in your brand can be reignited. It can inspire them to revisit your website or your social channels to re-engage with your brand, repurchase and increase their loyalty as a customer.

Final Thoughts

Public relations is all about generating brand awareness among your target audience. It's a crucial piece of the overall marketing puzzle and when properly leveraged, public relations can encourage brand awareness, engagement and brand loyalty among potential customer. So remember, a PR team will help you get your name out there, but it's ultimately up to you and your other marketing pieces to make that sale.