Advice series 1: What is PR?

Companies often approach us having heard peers, friends or even competitors talk about the benefits of PR – but don’t really understand the ins and outs of it, or whether it’s right for their firm.

We’ve put together this advice series to guide you through the PR process, demystify what a PR agency does and help you to decide if it’s right for your business.

Our industry is one which, from the outside, seems to be shrouded in plenty of mystery. ‘What is PR?’ and ‘Is PR what Max Clifford did?’ are two questions I’m asked regularly.

And I often find myself telling the same story.

I look at PR in its simplest form; painting the following scenario:

“Imagine you have a hairdressing salon, and you want to gain some new customers.

You could do one of two things:

A) Place a £100 advert in a local newspaper and hope that someone will stumble across it and give you a call

B) Pay Betty, the elderly lady who’s visited your salon every week for the past 15 years, a visit in hospital – and give her a free blow-dry.

Which do you think is typically the best form of promotion?”

Most people go for option B – even if they can’t explain their reasoning.

While there’s always going to be a place for a well-considered ad, the truth is, that people are interested in other people. Humans love a good story.

We’re wired up to be engaged by emotions and drama – which play a part in information-sharing from childhood.

By choosing option B, the good deed will not go unheard of – Betty’s family will get to know about it, they’ll tell their friends, who’ll tell their friends. Said hair-salon might even get a call from the aforementioned local newspaper, whose job it is to tell these stories – and if they do include it in their pages, it’ll be for free.

Yep, the salon saved that £100, while building their reputation – and plenty of goodwill.

Of course, this story breaks PR down into a simple setting, and many of our clients’ requirements go far beyond local newspapers – to include industry and national press – but I often see the light-bulb moment when I tell this story, as people begin to understand the basics of how PR works.

If you’re intrigued about whether PR might be right for your business, then read our next instalment – it’s a good one!

Or if you want to dive right in, then get in touch to talk about your requirements – we’ll get the coffees in.

01484 941044