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What is public relations?

Public relations is the industry responsible for the communication between an organization and its key stakeholders or target audiences. Typically these consist of existing & potential customers, government regulators, other officials, consultants and advisers, or any other decision-makers that have an interest or stake in the company. Across all sectors, this includes communications relating to products & services as well as the corporate values of the organization. Public relations is a strategic function which concerns management at the highest level, employing tactical tools in order to implement defined strategies. It can help to shape opinions, purchasing and investment decisions, and ultimately your company's bottom line.

What's the difference between public relations and advertising?

The main difference is that public relations seeks a third party endorsement through the 'editorial' sections of the media, whether these are the news or features pages of a newspaper or magazine, or the equivalent in a radio or TV programme. This independent, unbiased account provides the audience with a balanced view of the company or service. Advertising, on the other hand, is always paid for and appears in a clearly separate 'advertising' section. There is usually only one clear message: buy this product.

How will public relations benefit my company?

The business benefits that public relations can deliver are wide and varied. The precise combination will depend on the environment in which the organization operates & the corporate, marketing & communications objectives that it sets.

Awareness: The most common, arguably the most effective, and certainly almost universal function of public relations activity is to make people aware in some way of an organization's products, services, technologies and position.

Education of the market: public relations seeks to educate the public. It is a particularly effective tool for educating markets about new products. An informed public are more likely to be inclined towards your company and its services.

Product/service differentiation: once the market has been educated, interest has been generated in a product category or service and awareness of the brand established, public relations messages need to differentiate the brand from that of the competitors.


Market positioning: differentiation is delivered through positioning, but positioning is not only to do with the product or service on offer, rather it is about differentiating the product in the mind of the customer and is therefore best achieved by high credibility communications.


Reliability and credibility: due a third party endorsement, usually a journalist or other such authority, a key benefit of public relations is that it has a high degree of credibility in the mind of the receiver when compared with other forms of marketing.

Why does my business need a public relations consultancy? Can we not do it internally?

Public relations is a profession that requires distinct professional skills & expertise. Whilst using an external public relations agency is not mandatory, often only large companies can afford a quality in-house public relations team, staffed with experienced executives. For smaller companies hiring an outside agency is a more financially viable option. The agency will operate on a monthly retainer fee or will work on a project basis. A dedicated team will be assigned to your company and will work closely with you to achieve your goals and objectives. A consultancy will not only have detailed knowledge of your industry but will also have a breadth of experience across a number of sectors. Even large companies with in-house communications departments often enlist the help of a consultancy on projects or during particularly busy times. One of the benefits being that the agency can provide an objective standpoint on issues that maybe too close to the company to solve independently.

How long is a typical contract?

Consultancies are usually hired on a 12 month contract with a review at the end of the tenure. You can also hire an agency on a project basis.