Public Relations is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. Some common PR goals for startups and other businesses are to secure funding, increase sales, communicate a message, or win new clients. The goals of a PR strategy would then be to help create the factors required to achieve these goals. These often include the following:
Credibility – If your aim is to win new clients, increase sales, or attract talent. PR helps to deliver this by getting your narrative in front of your target audience and building a digital footprint.
Awareness – Once you’re seen as credible, you need awareness to continue to grow. With PR, you can showcase your product and your business through media wins such as professional reviews and guest appearances.
Social proof – This shows to potential investors, customers, or employees why you and your company should be taken seriously. Social proof may be the fact you’re an industry expert or that your business has an impressive portfolio to show off. Earned media is used to communicate this message to your audience.
Improved search rankings – PR and SEO work hand-in-hand these days. When a business wins a piece of earned media in an online publication, this usually includes a backlink to their website. And backlinks still remain a vital ranking factor.
PR’s primary objective is to gain and develop “earned” media coverage that isn’t directly purchased (aka, “paid” media). On the other hand, paid media’s primary objective is to increase awareness and revenue by investing in paid advertising to directly drive more business to a company.
The methods of public relations and paid advertising are very similar, as both rely on the media to get their message out to their target audience. The key difference between the two is the difference between “earned media” (PR) and “paid media” (advertising).
Good PR supports your ongoing marketing efforts. Investors and consumers both need to have sufficient trust in your brand before they’re willing to part with their cash. And earned media is the most effective way of building this trust. In which case, spending money on marketing without building this type of trust will limit your potential ROI.