As technology develops and the lines between disciplines blur, PR is becoming an umbrella term encompassing many areas of both traditional and digital communications. But, while the practice continues to evolve, the core principles running through public relations remain the same.
Whilst there are many fundamental principles of PR, I consider the following five to be among the most important…
📖 Storytelling: Nothing inspires or captivates the mind like a story. Humans have been entranced by stories for centuries, largely because of their power to create emotional connections. Stories not only capture the attention of consumers, they capture their minds and hearts as well, which is vital as the market becomes more saturated. PR is all about storytelling, which makes you – the business owner - the author of your own story. Put simply, it’s your brand story that will truly help you to connect with (and be remembered by) your customers. This is one of the fundamental functions of PR.
✅ Authenticity: Whatever niche your business occupies, your target market is already being flooded with an endless stream of marketing and advertising from similar businesses. Authenticity and humanity are what will set you apart and allow you to build a level of trust with your audience. I mentioned in my previous blog that it’s PR that gives your business heart and humanity, and it’s also a key force in building your brand authenticity. Being able to operate with true brand authenticity is a real advantage of small businesses: large corporations simply can’t compete.
💕 Cultivating relationships: Whether it be with your customers, the press or wider media, it’s establishing and nurturing the relationships that help your business thrive that will yield incredible results, and this often starts with PR. Public relations is, at its heart, about people. It’s about establishing real connections on an emotive level. Building and maintaining loyal networks of customers and media partners will only ever work in your favour, and it’s PR that will help you to grow these communities.
🧠 Audience understanding: This goes beyond identifying your USP and involves really tapping into the mindset and lifestyle of your customers. Only by truly understanding their wants and needs will you be able to fulfil them effectively. Having an in-depth understanding of your audience is key for all stages of the business journey, and it’s PR that will help you to demonstrate this understanding. From the marketing emails you send to the publications you appear in; PR will help to show your audience just how well you know them.
📈 Measurability: There is a long-standing debate over whether the impact of PR can be measured. The argument is valid, because there is difficulty in measuring the impact of PR, as with other social sciences. How do you gauge public opinion? How do you quantify reputation? The reality is that PR efforts can be measured, just not in the same way as other marketing practices. While key performance indicators (KPIs) of marketing activities might include things like sales figures and ROI, PR KPIs may be more concerned with the quality of coverage secured or the social media buzz that was created. Great PR strategies are goal-oriented and measurable. You should know what you want to achieve before embarking on your plan. In PR, as in all areas of life, knowing what you want to accomplish is the only way to measure and achieve success.
I hope this exploration into five of the fundamental principles of PR has been helpful in deepening your understanding of public relations. If you operate with these key principles in mind, you will find that PR can achieve incredible things for your small business.
Stay tuned for my next blog in which I’ll be discussing what PR can help to achieve for small businesses (i.e. why bother with PR!)