Public Relations Vs. Brand Strategy
There is a significant difference between public relations and your brand strategy, but the two need to work together for you to achieve the most benefit for your business. Your brand strategy details how you identify your company. If you want to be known as environmentally friendly, for example, that’s part of your brand strategy. Your public relations will support your brand strategy by using complementary channels and messages to reach your people who care about environmentally friendly businesses, but it also has other functions.
Your brand is the promise you make to your customers; it communicates what you want your customers to think and feel every time they see your logo or hear your company name. Some athletes only buy certain shoes because it conjures up images of powerful and winning athletes. This is a testament to the power of branding. If you sell clothes that have been manufactured using only environmentally friendly methods, for example, your brand strategy could include making customers feel good about their carbon footprint every time they buy and wear your clothing.
The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as, “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” You will create a public relations plan for your business and set out objectives or goals, such as increasing name recognition among state media by 10 percent this year. Your strategies are the approach you will use, such as a media relations strategy or a brand support strategy. You then devise tactics, or actions, such as interviews or speaking engagements.
Your branding and PR influence one another. As you build your brand, consider your business mission. Let’s say your business plan calls for you to only sell clothing using one-third of the energy consumption of regular clothing manufacturers; this is something your brand could reflect. You could design your logo with a “one-third” symbol, and develop a tagline or slogan such as, “Have more style with one-third less.” This then influences your public relations. Your press releases, for example, could describe your business as, “The only company in the area that sells clothing with a green guarantee.”
PR is just one element of marketing communications used to support branding; you will also use advertising and promotions. In addition, PR is concerned with other business functions. It encompasses media relations, public speaking and crisis communications. Since your company’s brand and image are part of its reputation, it is always present in PR, but not always the priority. For example, if a crisis hits one of your clothing manufacturing plants, you need to handle the critical aspects of the crisis first. Your success can hurt or harm your brand, but in this case the priority is the actual crisis and how public relations handles it.