PR for PR

An odd thing happened in the world of marketing this weekend.  Usually content to hide behind the scenes and let its creativity do the talking, the PR sector stepped out of the shadows with the inaugural PR National Awareness Day. Designed to coincide with the anniversary of the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, a PR coup on the grandest of scales, the appointed day on 27th July may have passed many by in the wake of a new Royal baby, a Spanish rail disaster and fresh atrocities in Egypt, but it was long, long overdue.

Why?  Because PR is not only undervalued by many……it is also commonly misunderstood.

While advertising campaigns can become brand icons and social media has become the new darling of the marketing world with its free-to-use platforms and ability to boost SEO performance, PR has, somehow, ended up as an unsung hero.

A marketing discipline that focuses first on strategic value, then on ideas and on latterly on tactics only as a way of delivering creativity, PR works best when used as a lynchpin of the entire marketing programme. PR should sit at the heart of how a company communicates and what it wants to say.  It should help to define the brand, engage stakeholders, communicate the proposition and drive enquiries.  But in order to do any of that, it must be aligned to commercial strategy, measured by outcomes rather than outputs and embraced as an art rather than a paint-by-numbers scientific formula.

All too often, I hear people say that PR didn’t work for them, based on their experience of a single campaign or a particular PR agency. That’s kind of like saying ‘ideas don’t work for me’ based on a single idea that wasn’t quite right.

Ideas that combine creativity with knowledge, insight and defined goals do work.  If nothing else, I hope that this first PR National Awareness Day makes companies question how much they really do understand about PR.  While most of the examples of great campaigns they are likely to come across if they start to research what PR has achieved will be consumer campaigns that are not directly relevant to their business, the principle is the same: understand what you want to communicate and communicate it in a memorable way.