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The stealthy power of PR, turbocharging your marketing strategy!

Posted: May 2024
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The power of PR in the marketing ecosystem

Public Relations, or PR, is an essential part of any comprehensive marketing strategy. It involves shaping and maintaining a positive public image and building strong relationships with key audiences. In this article we discuss the benefits of integrating PR into a larger marketing ecosystem with a specialist in the field, Laura Leggetter, Co-Head of Communications at SEC Newgate UK.

PR plays a crucial role in enhancing brand reputation and awareness, and when combined with other marketing disciplines, it can amplify a brand's message and reach. Laura shares her expertise and insights on this subject.

The evolution of PR: from isolation to integration

PR has come a long way, as Laura Leggetter aptly points out: "I wholeheartedly and happily agree that comms is now part of a bigger ecosystem, seen as a key management function – a far cry from the days of franking machines and faxing press releases. It undoubtedly helped reputation-wise during the pandemic where leaders had to quickly enable tools to ensure all audiences were considered, also showing a human face amongst a broad audience set."

We’ve seen the necessary evolution of PR from being a standalone function to becoming an integral part of the marketing mix. In the past, PR often operated in isolation, focusing primarily on media relations and reputation management. While these are still crucial aspects, the scope of PR has expanded significantly.

Today, PR plays a critical role in a brand's overall marketing strategy. With the rise of digital media and the fragmentation of communication channels, integration has become essential. Consumers engage with brands across multiple touchpoints, and a cohesive message is key to building trust and loyalty.

By integrating PR into the larger marketing ecosystem, brands can ensure consistency in their messaging and create a seamless experience for their key audiences who often include consumers, the media, influencers, investors, employees and Government. This holistic approach allows PR to work hand-in-hand with other disciplines like advertising, social media, and content marketing, resulting in a more effective and impactful overall strategy.

The role of PR in driving business results

PR plays a crucial role in driving business success by generating intrigue and excitement around a brand, product, or service. A well-crafted communications campaign, integrated with other marketing functions, can create noise that drives traffic to a brand's online channels. This is where carefully curated content and advertisements reinforce key messages, engage the audience, and ultimately drive conversions.

As Laura explains, the scope of PR and communications agencies has expanded significantly; "Alongside other marketing functions such as advertising, content marketing, social media, and digital, a well-crafted communications campaign can generate buzz that drives traffic to a brand's website or social media channels, where users encounter carefully curated content and advertisements designed to reinforce key messages. Bigger still is the successful ownership of communications agencies to form teams around Corporate Affairs, making themselves indispensable to solve problems and seize opportunities, with guidance now covering leadership strategy, AI risks and strategy, crisis, and special situations where cyber-attacks and issues around cultural behaviour are more commonplace. Ensuring that policy and regional politics are also considered, the employee narrative has also been folded into comms – important as this valuable audience should be frequently considered. A temperature check at each point of a campaign to ensure it sits well with this key audience."

By aligning PR efforts with business objectives and integrating them into the larger marketing strategy, organisations can achieve their goals, whether that's increasing brand awareness, launching a new product, or recovering from a crisis. A cohesive and well-executed communications campaign is a powerful tool for driving business results.

The value of earned media in a marketing ecosystem

Earned media is an integral part of the marketing ecosystem and plays a unique role in building trust and credibility with audiences. "Unlike paid advertising, which inherently carries a bias because it's sponsored by the brand”, says Laura, “communications operates in the realm of earned media which is when the disparities can occur."

Earned media refers to the publicity and exposure a brand receives through promotional efforts other than paid advertising. This includes media coverage, social media mentions, and word-of-mouth recommendations. It is valuable because it leverages the credibility of third-party sources, whether that's journalists, influencers, or satisfied customers.

By securing earned media placements, PR professionals can shape public perception, enhance brand reputation, and drive awareness. This type of media is particularly effective in building trust because it often involves the endorsement of respected or influential figures. Earned media is a powerful tool in the marketing ecosystem, and when combined with owned and paid media, it creates a well-rounded and effective strategy.

The gap between business and public expectations

There is often a disconnect between business practices and public expectations, especially when it comes to issues like Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives. Laura tells us that research has shown a gap between what the public wants to see from companies regarding ESG and what businesses are delivering. "We know from our own annual piece of research which illuminates how the UK public feels about companies, that there is a material disconnect between what the UK public wants to see from companies on ESG and what companies are delivering”, Laura says. “Our research, ‘The Great Disconnect’, clearly demonstrates that while businesses largely focus on their claims for greener future consumers are seeing through a filter of cynicism and mistrust around company motives.”

This is where PR plays a crucial role in closing the gap and building trust. PR professionals can help businesses communicate their ESG efforts effectively and authentically, ensuring that their messages resonate with the public and are perceived as genuine. It's important to not only implement ESG strategies but also to communicate them transparently to build and maintain trust.

By understanding public expectations and shaping corporate communications to address these concerns, PR can act as a bridge between businesses and their audiences. This helps enhance reputation, foster goodwill, and create a more positive perception of a brand and its initiatives.

The quiet power of PR in a marketing ecosystem

In the world of marketing, PR wields a unique and subtle power. Often working behind the scenes, PR professionals are the master storytellers who shape narratives, manage crises, and foster valuable relationships. While flashy advertisements and viral campaigns may grab attention, it's the stealthy influence of PR that builds trust, enhances reputation, and creates lasting connections.

PR's ability to shape narratives is invaluable. They can influence public perception, set the tone for a brand, and ensure consistency in messaging. During times of crisis, PR experts step in to navigate challenging situations, protect reputations, and provide strategic guidance. Additionally, PR fosters relationships with key stakeholders, media outlets, influencers, and the public, creating a network of support and goodwill.

"Comms is often seen as the quieter sibling in the bustling family of marketing disciplines” says Laura. “And while flashy advertisements and viral campaigns grab headlines, we communicators quietly weave our magic behind the scenes, shaping narratives, managing crises, and fostering relationships - the solution for closing the gap on the mistrust that often occurs when comms isn’t seen as a valuable storyteller for business.”

So, integrating PR into a larger marketing ecosystem is therefore essential for businesses aiming to thrive in today's complex landscape. By combining PR with other marketing disciplines, brands can amplify their message, reach wider audiences, and drive business results. PR plays a pivotal role in shaping public perception, building trust, and fostering goodwill. Its unique ability to influence narratives, manage crises, and cultivate relationships makes it a powerful tool for enhancing a brand's reputation and connecting with audiences.

The quiet power of PR should never be underestimated, and its integration ensures a cohesive and impactful marketing strategy!

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