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We are Christina and Peter Pilarski, founders and leaders of CIPR Communications. In the first four series of our podcast, Two Babies and a Business, we have discussed various aspects of digital marketing. In the fifth series, we turn our attention to the other aspect of our business – public relations. This is a field that is changing rapidly, and in this series, we do our best to sum up the changes and see just how businesses should be conducting PR today.

What is Public Relations?

Let’s start with the basics: what is PR? It has been a part of both of our lives for many years – since long before we got involved with digital marketing. It can be generally described as the strategies and tactics a company uses to communicate key messages to the public. While it does involve media relations, there is a lot more to it. It spans all of a company’s communications with various publics – customers, potential customers, suppliers, employees, the community and other stakeholders. These communications need to be targeted, strategic and carefully managed to ensure that the right message reaches the right people.

Dive into the topic with us by listening to the first episode in the latest season of our podcast.

Developing a Public Relations Strategy

A good PR strategy is a long-term investment that will ultimately yield benefits above and beyond the ones you intend. It should be plotted out carefully (we advise drawing up a 12-month calendar) and implemented with the long game in mind. The strategy must be based on a set of well-defined goals, which could include building up a sizable client list or simply building familiarity with your brand in the public space. Once these goals are set, we can begin working out how we’re going to achieve those goals. This is a question that involves more than just choosing and implementing a series of tactics. It is also about deciding on tone, establishing the key messages we want to communicate.

Listen to this podcast episode to find out how to plan, develop and implement your PR strategy.

Owned Media vs. Paid Media vs. Earned Media

A major part of public relations is media relations. As you plan and implement your media relations strategies, you should approach media outlets from three angles: owned, paid and earned. Owned media refers to the platforms that you own, such as your website. Paid media involves advertising, advertorial and digital marketing tactics. Earned media is the coverage you gain organically by creating stories in which media outlets have a genuine interest.

Learn more about the three different kinds of media and how to use them in your PR strategy in this episode of the podcast.

A Journalist’s Perspective – Mario Toneguzzi

In this episode, we welcome the first of three prominent journalists to provide insiders’ perspectives on the world of media. Mario has spent decades writing about business for various platforms. He knows how important it is for anyone who develops PR strategies to understand the media and how it works. From his insider’s perspective, the entire media landscape began to go through a drastic change about ten years ago. Traditional newsrooms are shrinking and disappearing, while digital platforms continue to increase in number.

Listen to episode four of this podcast series to hear what Mario has to say about the state of PR in this shifting media landscape.

Is Your News Really News?

Every company thinks their story is important, but will the media agree? Any private company looking to pitch a new product or service usually has a story that the media would not regard as news unless it can be tied to something topical. Whenever you want to pitch a story to the media, you need to think about how you can make it appealing to broadcasters, print media or digital platforms. Ask yourself if it really is news – and be honest. If it is not, you need to get creative and think about how you can make it newsworthy.

Find out more about how to pitch your business’s stories in the fifth episode of our latest podcast series. 

A Journalist’s Perspective – Jason Hewlett

Our second guest for this series is former print journalist turned digital broadcaster, Jason Hewlett. Jason started out as a journalist in a sizable newsroom at a local paper. Over the following years, he watched the newsroom shrink to a shadow of its former self. He witnessed the slow transformation of the industry as investigative journalism gradually diminished in importance, and much of the profession morphed to become an extension of public relations. 

Listen to this podcast episode to find out what Jason has to say about the media industry from his experience of both the old world of print media and the rapidly expanding and unpredictable digital realm.

What is Multi-Channel Marketing?

The worlds of public relations and marketing often overlap. An effective PR strategy involves the creative use of multi-channel marketing. Multi-channel marketing is “the practice of interacting with customers using a combination of indirect and direct channels.” Some examples of marketing channels include websites, retail stores, mail-order catalogues, direct mail and email, and press releases. Effective marketing and PR strategies involve the simultaneous use of direct and indirect marketing channels.

Find out more about multi-channel marketing and its connection with public relations in Episode 7 of the latest series of Two Babies and A Business.

Managing Public Relations Expectations

Considering the need to match your PR agenda to the editorial agendas of media outlets, it is important to manage your expectations as you pitch your stories. Today, every news outlet is preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s difficult to tailor your PR stories to that topic all the time. While it is good to continue pitching news stories to the media, we recommend our clients shift towards getting a paid piece and setting a budget for paid PR.

Listen to our recommendations for managing your PR expectations, and find out about our new three-phase PR approach in this episode of our podcast.

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Setting Your Public Relations Goals

Your PR campaigns must be oriented towards specific goals. To set concrete and measurable goals, you need to consider the “why” of your PR campaigns. The goal cannot be something as simple as, “I want to be on TV,” or “I want to get my story published.” Your goal is not simply to get your press release out. A press release is just a tool and needs to be used for a specific purpose. You need to decide on a specific goal, or set of goals to drive each action you take in your PR. Your goals are the “why” of your PR campaign, not the “what” or “how.”

Get more details on how to set your PR goals in Episode 9 of our podcast.

Media Training

Any company that wants to launch a media relations campaign must designate a spokesperson who will face the media on the business’s behalf. It is also crucial that the person or people that take on this task know how to deal with the media. Not many people realize that preparing to face the media is something you should practice if you want to do it well. Media training should therefore form part of your media relations preparation.

In this podcast episode, we explain the importance of training your staff to deal successfully with the media, and we touch on some of the methods we use in our media training sessions.

Public Relations – Not Just Media Relations

We have mentioned this before, but it is a very important point: public relations is not the same as media relations. The media is only one of four ‘publics’ that you need to target with your PR. In this podcast episode, we take a look at these four different audiences and how to target them. The four publics include:

  • Media: The media includes your paid and earned communications across such platforms as television, radio and digital.
  • Government: This area is about how your company relates to any government departments – federal, provincial or local.
  • Stakeholders: Here, the aim is to forge mutually beneficial connections with third-party groups and individuals with a stake in your common interest.
  • Community: This is an essential function of any business and any PR plan. In this sense, ‘community’ refers to any methods companies use to establish and maintain relationships with the communities in which they operate.

Learn more about the four publics in Episode 11 of our podcast.

Public Relations and Digital Marketing

At CIPR Communications, we work in both the PR and digital marketing spaces. How do these two worlds interact with one another? Digital marketing is often a great way of extending the reach of your public relations, while also leveraging off it to achieve its own goals. For example, you could use paid online advertising to get more eyes on an interview you recently did on TV. At the same time, you can use a recent press release to boost your search engine rankings. In this way, the aims of both PR and digital media are well served. When you plan it well, you can get extra value from your PR content by using it in your digital marketing campaigns.

We tell you more about the interactions between digital marketing and public relations in Episode 12 of our latest podcast series.

A Journalist’s Perspective – Danielle Smith

In our final episode of the series, we have the pleasure of welcoming well-known columnist and radio host Danielle Smith to deliver the final word on the current state of the media industry. Danielle speaks frankly about the challenging, potentially negative effects Big Tech and the state are having on the media today. How can PR and digital marketing strategies work with the media as it currently stands amid the heavy influence of social media platforms and government agencies? Listen to episode 13 of our podcast to find out.

A Journalist’s Perspective – Vassy Kapelos

Political journalist Vassy Kapelos, host of CBC’s Power & Politics joins us in the final episode of this series to share her views on the changing media landscape. When she went into the industry, her colleagues were already talking about the death of the mainstream media and, to a certain extent, it has happened as they all said it would. Yet, the mainstream media – television in particular – has done its best to adapt to the conditions. Its role may be diminished to some extent, but it is still relevant – and an important platform for businesses seeking media exposure.

Listen to Vassy’s insights in the final episode of our series on public relations.

CIPR Communications is a full-service digital marketing agency and public relations agency. For more information on public relations, read our blog, listen to our podcast or contact us.

Introduction to Public Relations