What are Public Relations Agencies and What Do They Do?
Updated: Jun 1
A Public Relations firm or agency aims to promote businesses via receiving editorial coverage. This kind of coverage is referred to as “earned” or “free” media as it can appear in newspapers, magazines (both print and online), websites and on TV, as compared to paid media advertising.
However, public relations firms do not put up billboards, nor do they buy ads. They don’t write stories for reporters or come up with catchy advertising slogans to make people buy products. Despite this, PR agencies share the same goals as advertising agencies do, which is promoting businesses and making them seem as relevant, successful and genuine as possible. The difference is in the strategy taken to create brand awareness. Most consumers understand that advertising is paid for by a business and is often viewed with skepticism, however, articles that appear in well-known publications are generally viewed more favorably as they are validated by third-party sources.
The Definition of Public Relations Management:
According to the Public Relations Society of America, PR management can be described as:
The analysis and interpretation of public opinion and attitudes that may impact the business. It also involves taking into account the businesses social responsibilities and conveying this to management across all levels. Public relations is an ongoing research project, involving conducting and evaluating various programs of action and communication, which will ultimately inform the public of the business’ goals. PR also has to do with the planning and implementation of the brand’s efforts to make an impact on public policy.
The above is a general overview of the functions of a public relations agency. The way in which these agencies go about achieving these goals includes the following:
• Creating and distributing press releases.
• Writing pitches and sending to journalists.
• Designing and executing events targeted at public outreach.
• Media relations.
• Conducting market research.
• Copywriting and blogging.
• Crisis PR strategies.
• Social media promotions and responding to negative feedback online.
A business should look into hiring a public relations agency if they are seeking to enhance, protect and build their reputation through the media. A PR specialist will analyze the business, find positive messages within the brand and translate these messages into positive media stories (and hopefully coverage). If the brand is under scrutiny or negative criticism, a PR agency can help formulate the best response and repair the damage.
An effective PR agency will have strong relationships with different journalists across various industries. Many PR professionals are, in fact, former journalists so they are aware of the best way to pitch a story in order to reach editors and grab their attention. As they are not directly part of the businesses who approach them, they are able to give an honest perspective of what ideas will work.