Public Relations

Public Relations or PR - What exactly is that?

The term "Public Relations", PR for short, comes from the English language and is generally used as a synonym for public relations. In general, PR deals with any kind of relationship formation that is intended to change and, above all, improve the perception of others. But it is not only about the perception of your company to the outside world. It can also refer to the communication within your company:

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External PR measures:

PR measures are mainly outward-looking. They serve to consciously shape the communication relations between your company and your potential interested parties. You should distinguish between interest groups that you yourself consider important (e.g. customers or partners) and groups that demand certain communication services from you (e.g. residents, environmentalists, or shareholders). This includes, for example, the disclosure of information, as in the case of the obligation to disclose information to public authorities or the obligation to provide certain company information if your company is listed on the stock exchange, for example. The mutual exchange of information or opinions with individuals and groups also falls under the PR aspect. In addition, public relations has the task of identifying the opinions and views of specific target and stakeholder groups, orienting its own actions on this basis, and comparing its own image with that of others. PR is thus a kind of cornerstone between the company and the public.

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Internal PR measures:

Internally, PR can also take on important functions, e.g. in employee or member communication. Here the focus is primarily on information, transparency, motivation, and the creation of a sense of belonging. As a result, PR measures can be extremely versatile for a company and - from a certain point on - can also be extremely important. The respective PR measures must be aligned with both the general marketing strategy and your overall corporate strategy. Therefore, the responsible department or agency should always be in close contact with the management of your company.

Which areas or instruments fall under PR?

Public relations is often reduced to pure press work, where it is important to build up good relationships with appropriate journalists and provide them with appropriately prepared press releases and background information. But PR work is much more extensive and can cover a wide range of areas:
 
  • PR for interest groups and stakeholders: e.g. consumer relations, partner relations, human relations, investor relations
  • PR for specific areas: e.g. product PR, personality PR, corporate PR, non-profit PR, political communications, public affairs, stock market communications, litigation PR
  • PR for specific events: e.g. event PR, trade fair PR, crisis PR
  • PR via geographical assignments: local/regional PR, country PR, international PR

The demands on public relations, therefore, vary considerably depending on the assignment and target group. However, the four core competencies of PR always form the basis:

  • "Communication" (relationship management),
  • "Editing" (researching and understanding topics, writing, editing and placing texts),
  • "Creation" (designing strategies and concepts)
  • "Management" (organization and implementation of PR strategies, PR concepts, PR campaigns).
 
Different instruments can be used for each PR objective. Among the most important ones are certainly press releases, case studies, name contributions (e.g. articles placed in the name of the management), speaker placements, user reports (especially for trade and industry media), press conferences, one-on-one and background discussions, editorial visits, own publications (e.g. annual and quarterly reports, image brochures, customer and employee magazines, websites, company blogs or tweets). This also includes the provision of press materials with the most important current press releases. Issues management (publicizing and following up on issues in public) is also one of the central PR instruments. In addition, communication via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Xing, or LinkedIn is also part of the current PR instruments. But always keep in mind: PR should always have the basic claim to deliver and convincing arguments and facts. Don't just bombard the recipients with meaningless advertising phrases, but deliver added value. With consumer PR you can also pursue the goal of stimulating emot ions. However, the majority of PR instruments are designed to communicate facts and figures in a rational way. The art lies in the correct selection, classification, and weighting of the available arguments.

What is the difference between marketing, advertising, and PR?

For many people, the terms marketing, advertising, and PR are all the same. Admittedly, the boundaries are becoming more blurred due to ever-increasing communication via social networks. No wonder: here, a wide variety of instruments from different disciplines are used together. Nevertheless, there are differences between the three terms:

Marketing

In principle, this term is vague and can cover two completely different fields of action: Either a corporate philosophy that places the customer at the center of its actions. Or it is used as a collective term for all sales-oriented activities. These also include activities such as distribution, advertising, sales promotion, service, sponsoring, presentation, consulting, offer development, innovation policy, or, of course, PR.

Advertising

No matter whether marketing is interpreted as a philosophy or just a collective term - advertising is an important part of marketing. Advertising tries to influence the attitudes and behavior of the target persons in favor of the company's intentions by means of subjective information and the most suitable advertising media.

Public Relations

PR is also a subfield of marketing. While the primary goal of advertising measures is to sell products and services, PR essentially has the task of positively shaping the acceptance of the company. In addition, PR has the task of limiting damage in times of crisis by providing appropriate information and news (crisis PR).

PR: Measuring and monitoring success

Measuring PR success means measuring changes in reality and putting them into an impact context with the activities. However, due to the complexity of the correlations, direct proof of the effect of communication can rarely be provided. Measuring success is, therefore, an important, but also a delicate factor. As a rule, PR measures run for many months or even years. During this period your company, your environment, and your website are exposed to numerous influences on which public relations has only limited influence. For example, if the number of visitors to a website declines, this is often interpreted as a failure of online PR. The real causes, on the other hand, can be found in the marketing environment or in changes in the Google search algorithm. This significantly increases the difficulty of determining reliable key figures that reflect the "performance" of the press and public relations work. If you want to measure the success of PR, it is essential that you make your goals concrete, measurable, and realistic in advance. Exact key figures can be provided, for example, by the number of participants at an event, the concrete media response to a press release, or the visits to your homepage after a campaign. On the other hand, the collection of data is problematic in crisis PR. This often has the task of counteracting negative reporting and is generally scheduled at short notice. The changes themselves can be proven by opinion and image research and empirical social research. For example, regularly repeated surveys with control groups that have had no contact with the communication measures carried out allow conclusions to be drawn about the effect. Comparison with other organizations (benchmarking) can also provide you with information. However, this is relatively complex and possibly also expensive. It is easier to measure the concrete success of PR work, e.g. by means of qualified evaluation of publications. Clippings (publications) are sorted according to various criteria such as qualified mention, simple naming, product naming; type of medium; the number of readers; congruence with the target group, etc. Over a longer period of time, you can document a change in media attention. As a simple control of success, which is quite sufficient for small and medium-sized companies at the beginning, it is sufficient to document the clippings in the form of a press review.

How do you best put Public Relations into practice?

If you would like to do public relations, many paths are open to you. There is no patent remedy. You can, for example, invest directly in your own team and hire an expert or draw on the long-standing expertise of an external agency. Everything has advantages and disadvantages.

PR Agency or in-house? 

Whether in-house or agency - the prerequisite for successful public relations is extensive knowledge of the industry. In the case of in-house PR, it is essential for your company to have a well-trained and, above all, comprehensively qualified expert. Ultimately, your success depends largely on their know-how and their ability to familiarise themselves quickly.
However, an expert who is up to all technical requirements in terms of quality must first be found on the market. He must bring many different qualities with him: A basic understanding of communication and PR, text reliability, creativity, and an overview of the current media landscape. Once you have found such an "egg-laying wool-milk sow", there is basically nothing to be said against doing the press work in-house.
But also remember: A sustainable and credible communication strategy cannot be implemented at the push of a button and needs one thing above all else: time, which is usually unfortunately not available. This is precisely why many companies choose the long-standing expertise of a PR agency. These are characterized by a high level of service quality and availability, which can hardly be provided by a single employee in their own company. In addition, resources for individual projects can be scaled up immediately if required, and then dissolved again immediately after the end of the project. Agencies also ensure continuous availability and operability - without the risk of vacation or sick leave.
However, this also has its price. Depending on the task and requirements, you have to set 1,500 euros per month as the lower limit. There are no upper limits. The more demanding, comprehensive, and time-intensive your own requirements are, the more costs you should plan for this.

What PR Agencies offer

It is difficult to keep providing the public, the media, customers, and partners with new and interesting content and thereby maintain your interest. A single employee in your company can hardly do this. This is why PR agencies are often the better alternative.
A good PR agency helps you to structure your project and gives you an overview of the parameters you need to adjust in order to put your PR or content on a solid footing. If, for example, you are only missing individual services such as press releases or press distribution lists, these can be purchased individually and project-based from agencies. However, if there is a fundamental lack of time for public relations, start-ups can concentrate better on their core business by outsourcing their PR work to an agency. This does not mean, however, that you no longer have anything to do with it. Even with a PR agency, you need to be present as a contact person and available as the face of the company.
A PR agency can draw on a whole staff of experienced experts with individual specialist knowledge and is thus equipped for a wide range of topics in your public relations work. They can advise companies in a targeted manner and achieve results right from the start. Current trends in the industry are also quickly picked up in the agency's everyday work. What also speaks for a public relations agency is that it provides an independent and professional view from outside. From its neutral position, it can express constructive criticism, make suggestions for improvement, give tips for the future, and provide creative input without being biased or influenced internally by subjective opinions.
When it comes to networking with journalists, the agency is also ahead of the game in most cases and uses professional media databases. In order for the public relations agency to work effectively, it depends on a lively exchange with you. Start-ups must, therefore, be aware of the fact that they need to plan capacities to support the PR agency in order to always provide it with all relevant topics, agree on documents, and coordinate strategies. Since public relations agencies depend on the input of the companies, cooperation works best when there is a permanent contact person on your side who takes care of the coordination. Founders are often very busy here, but often simply don't have the time in their everyday lives to manage PR as well - in this case, an internal interface is an ideal complement.

How to find a good PR Agency?

The search for the perfect public relations and marketing communications agency is not always easy: you will have to do a bit of searching to find a suitable PR agency that can meet your individual needs. Here are some important tips to help you do this:

Determine your Goals and the Budget:

This is generally the first and most important step. Because not only you need to know what you want to achieve with your PR in the end, but also the PR agency. Professional public relations service providers want to know at the beginning how they should align their efforts to help your company. Most importantly, however, you need to know your budget. This should also be clearly communicated.

Inform yourself about PR Agencies:

Let Google show you "the best public relations agencies" in your area. Take a look at each site and then decide if the agency fits your needs. Some PR agencies are too big, some are too small, and some are just right for your business.

The first meeting is important:

Check in advance by e-mail or on the phone whether the basic wavelength is correct. If this is the case, a personal meeting is necessary to get a good "gut feeling" for the agency and its employees and to lay the foundation for a future cooperation.


How Thought Leader Systems can help you with PR

We at Thought Leader Systems are much more than a press office. Rather, we help you to establish yourself as a thought leader in the market and to secure your business success. Because we want your great ideas to prevail, ideas that make other people's lives better. We support your company with all the means at our disposal - whether with strategy, consulting, or software - so that you win the hearts and minds of people. Develop your impact and be recognized and appreciated by us as a thought leader in the market.

Achieving Thought Leadership with PR

Most uses thought leadership synonymously with the term "thought leadership". A thought leader is a company or person who offers an innovative, unique approach to a topic. According to this definition, thought leadership is something exclusive, because there can only be one thought leader for each area. You should choose a completely different approach than your competitors. Only in this way can you achieve a prominent position. Moreover, your difference must be directly reflected in your products and services. Otherwise, the effort does not make sense.
Due to the long-term nature and depth of the topic, there is a lot to be said for seeing the communicative development and cultivation of thought leadership not only as a marketing task but also as a public relations task. Because this is the best way to best succeed in seriously communicating and sharing your thought leadership approach. After all, Thought Leadership is not a low-content, short-term advertising campaign, but a long-term, strategic path that should be well thought out. It can take a company to the top of a market segment, but it can also lead to nowhere or even be detrimental.
The goal is to be recognized by the relevant public as a solution-oriented mastermind or pioneer, as a thought leader. When a new, innovative topic comes up, the first thing that comes to mind for the searching company or any recommender is the solution approach of the provider. In this case, the relevant public includes companies, the media, industry and financial analysts, universities, public authorities, and all other parties involved in the formation of opinion. Thought Leadership focuses primarily on content. With the help of new content, companies must prove their role as thought leaders time and again.
 

Who is Thought Leader Systems?

We at Thought Leader Systems have our roots in both medium-sized companies and internationally operating corporations and can look back over several decades in leading positions in the free economy. Our business model consists of management strategy, innovation, psychology, IT, marketing, sales, content management, public relations, and strategic communication. We make no distinction between on- and offline, between digital and print. Because we live in an age in which customers communicate via all media and channels.

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That's why our team of digital specialists works together with advertising psychologists and experts in classical communication. We all help you to achieve a unique position in the market - also internationally. Contact us for public relations if you

  • do not want to constantly fight for their position in the market, but strive for permanent differentiation and a unique position as a pioneer in the market
  • want to start or expand your public relations work and do not know-how
  • have problems with stagnating markets and are now looking for sustainable growth
  • need crisis PR to help you through difficult times when you have short-term problems

How we work at Thought Leader Systems

In thought leadership marketing, which we pursue with conviction, agile management is invaluable. After all, a thought leadership campaign is particularly successful when it interferes with current trends and events and thus achieves high relevance for broad target groups. This requires a continuous and flexible power of impact.
The keyword "Agile Marketing" is therefore also closely associated with thought leadership. Agile marketing does not only mean developing viral campaigns, but it also describes the ability to place relevant content in the right place at exactly the right time. This requires highly flexible internal processes in marketing and close proximity to the target group.  Essential in agile marketing is timely feedback from relevant customers. Communication via blogs and social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are meant to react faster and more flexibly to the needs and interests of customers.
We at Thought Leader Systems rely on modern methods of inbound and marketing automation. This strategy can be supported by suitable software in order to make the best possible use of all the advantages and synergies of modern marketing and thus also of modern public relations strategies. One advantage: marketing automation software replaces many existing software tools in the company. This allows you to reduce costs and complexity - and at the same time open up a whole new level of efficiency and power. It is an all-in-one solution that becomes the control center of your marketing and PR because it includes:
  • Blogging-Tool, Website-CMS, Content-Management-Platform,
  • Contact database, CRM, Workflow-Management,
  • Call-to-Action, Landing Pages, Emails, Social Posts,
  • Lead Tracking, Analytics, and Marketing-Reporting-Tool,
  • SEO-Tool, Social Media Dashboard.
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The selection and use of this software requires experience. We are partners with the leading providers of inbound marketing software and offer you a wide range of software products such as Hubspot, Act-On, Oracle Eloqua, Adobe Campaign, Adobe Marketo, Salesforce Pardot and SAP Marketing Cloud. But we can do more than just software: Thought Leader Systems provides you with comprehensive advice and support for your individual public relations strategy, which is seamlessly embedded in your complete marketing. This combination makes us unique in the German-speaking world.