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What is Public Relations, and Why Is It Important?

Date published: December 08, 2023
Last updated: February 20, 2024

Brand awareness is a critical part of building a brand. It helps consumers recognize your company and trust you as a valid source of solutions.

One of the best ways to build brand awareness is through a solid PR campaign. PR or “public relations” is a common term that marketers use in the course of promoting a brand. But what does it mean?  

Let’s investigate.

What Is Public Relations?

At its most basic level, public relations is an all-encompassing term that refers to the communication and relationship-building process that takes place between a brand and its target audience. Good PR builds trust, boosts credibility, and fosters familiarity with a company’s key customer demographics.

In practice, this manifests as companies seeking positive, natural brand mentions that put their business in the spotlight. These mentions keep them relevant and position them as an authority in their industry. 

A good PR strategy is different from normal advertising in the sense that it is the opposite of paid-for promotion. Rather than paying for an ad space, PR focuses on unpaid, earned, and credible mentions from third-party individuals and publications. 

What Does Public Relations Look Like Online?

PR can happen anywhere. Media coverage, such as a press release in the news or at a public event, is a PR activity. Even word-of-mouth marketing can quietly build the public image of a brand. 

While PR can happen “in the flesh,” modern PR takes place online. This is where people congregate from around the globe through various media relations, providing a massive audience that marketers can easily tailor to their specific target demographics. 

In addition, online marketing has a low barrier to entry. It is accessible, cost-effective, and easy to scale up or down to the current needs and budget of each enterprise. This makes it an ideal outlet for online PR efforts. 

Digital PR can happen in numerous ways, including: 

  • Writing a guest post for an industry publication.
  • Being mentioned in a high-DA (domain authority) third-party site.
  • Creating shareable content on social media.
  • Benefiting from UGC (user-generated content) on social media.
  • Publishing a press release that journalists pick up and redistribute. 

A good digital PR strategy will incorporate each public relations activity into building a brand’s online presence. This can have a positive impact on a brand’s marketing efforts and can fuel growth. 

However, digital PR should never happen in a vacuum. It should be part of a comprehensive growth marketing strategy.

How Does PR Factor Into a Growth Marketing Strategy?

Growth marketing strategies are a holistic approach to marketing. They put the customer first and use data to back up each decision. They also focus on three key pillars: authority, credibility, and visibility. 

Growth marketers use content marketing to build brand authority. They use SEO strategies to enhance visibility. And for credibility? They use digital PR. 

Digital PR cultivates credibility by creating a buzz around a brand. When consumers see third-party sites referencing, quoting, and linking to a company, it creates a sense of trust. They begin to believe the company they are seeing has genuine solutions to their pain points and are more willing to try those solutions.

Working Digital PR Into the Growth Marketing Mix

Growth marketing is a comprehensive approach to marketing, and none of its elements stands on its own. That said, a good growth marketing plan combines digital PR with both content and SEO efforts. 

For instance, it’s difficult to gain mentions if a company doesn’t have high-quality content. Before pushing its presence out on the interweb, a brand should invest in creating valuable content that answers its target customers’ pain points. 

This linkable content paves the way for earned media. When a mention links back to valuable content that genuinely helps the reader, it also naturally enhances the public perception of a brand and builds its authority as a leader in their industry.

SEO also benefits and is benefited by digital PR. For instance, when a brand earns a mention, it often comes with a backlink to its site. Link building is a key piece of SEO success.  

The benefits flow both ways, too. When SEO works, it creates organic traffic. As a brand pops up in search engine results more often, it boosts credibility, bolstering digital PR strategy in the process.

Using Public Relations to Build a Brand

There isn’t one marketing solution that can single-handedly send a company to the next level. Consider hiring a digital public relations agency to help create an effective PR strategy. In most cases, brands and their marketing teams must use thoughtful, intricate marketing plans to capitalize on all of the promotional opportunities available. 

Public relations, and especially digital PR, is a powerful tool in that marketing tool kit. It enables marketers to build credibility, promote high-quality content, enhance SEO, and ultimately help a company reach its growth marketing goals.

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