5 ways public relations builds brands and bottom lines

13 February 2023 | 4 min read | PR
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

According to data, $88.1bn was spent globally by businesses and brands on public relations (PR) in 2020. A year later, this figure rose by over 10 percent to $97.1bn. By 2025, PR spend is expected to exceed $129bn – a whopping 46 per cent increase in just five years.

When once it was a ‘nice to have if we have some spare cash left in the pot’ and the ugly sister to its marketing and advertising siblings, PR is now taking centre stage and increasingly considered as important if not more so than its traditional bedfellows. Much of this is to do with events of the last couple of years.

The Covid-19 pandemic prompted a rethink among brands and businesses about how they get in front of and engage their target audience, influence their opinions and behaviours, and position themselves as the product or service provider of choice.

The difference between Advertising and PR? Simple: the former is you paying to tell the world how great you are, but the latter is someone telling someone else why they should pay attention and do business with you. Which one do you think carries greater sway?

Advertising and marketing had been the promotional vehicles of choice for many businesses and brands before 2020, often accounting for a larger proportion of spend. PR still received a decent amount but not as much as perhaps it should.

However, the pandemic changed all of that.

Customers, consumers, clients – whatever you call the people who buy from you – no longer wanted to be sold to in the traditional salesy sort of way. Rather, they became thoughtful consumers who want a better brand experience to what they were used to.

This has continued and is likely to remain so for some time still. The people you want to do business with are increasingly basing their purchasing decisions on trust, values, understanding, and impact created by the brands and businesses they hand over their cash to.

Advertising and marketing can work wonders in successfully building awareness of your brand, but to truly win favour you need to balance it out with PR.

Here are five ways that public relations (and public relations professionals specifically) can and does build brand equity and boost bottom line sales:

  1. PR positions you as a go-to product or service provider: the more people talk about what you do, the greater the positive perception associated with your name, which in turn influences buyer decision making.
  2. PR strongly positions your business as being credible: with advertising you tell people how great you are, but with PR others perform this role for you and this helps build trust in your brand.
  3. PR significantly raises the profile of your key people as experts and thought leaders: quotes, bylines, and interviews with the media only happen because a journalist sees you as an expert in your field or subject – if they see you as such so will your customers.
  4. PR has a much higher return on investment than advertising: by remaining front of mind with your target audience by repeatedly talking about the challenges and pains they are facing you gain greater favour with them than if you are constantly bombarding them with sales messages about how great you are. Trust me, I sold advertising for over 10 years and whilst the ROI can be very good it pales into insignificance compared to that generated by PR over the mid- to long-term.
  5. Finally, PR gets you out of sh*t: if your company has made a boo-boo and found itself in hot water, whether self-inflicted or not, it is PR that will calm the waters and see your business emerge with its reputation intact. Or even strengthened, as has often been the cases with our clients.

There is a plethora of reasons why PR should be an essential part of your promotional strategy, but the five above are the most important in my view.

Just one more thing before you go

There is no escaping the reality that a recession is looming in the next few months, and whilst tempting to batten down the hatches and cut your overall marketing budgets to keep as much cash in the business as possible, this is a mistake.

We saw during the pandemic and recession of 2008-11 that those businesses and brands that went into marketing hibernation mode until the storm blew over struggled to regain their market position afterwards.

The reason:

because their competition stayed the course, remained present, and reminded their customers that they were still there for them even if there was no money on the table to be had at that point in time.

Hope this helps! Feel free to email me on paul@clearlypr.co.uk if you have any questions about your company’s PR.