Practically Speaking: What is Public Relations? 


Public relations is a widely used phrase that often lacks a shared definition. Many people think of PR as something a business does in the aftermath of a scandal or reputational mishap. For many brands, public relations is the “man behind the curtain” bringing their name to target audiences in a way that builds and maintains trust.

What exactly is it?

Public relations takes many different shapes, from expert sourcing and thought leadership to strategic internal messaging and reputation management. Most often, PR is used to create brand awareness, establish or maintain a reputation, and share a message.

Tactically, it may look like:

  • Inclusion in news articles, broadcasts
  • Opinion pieces by organization leadership in key publications
  • Press releases
  • Influencer partnerships
  • Speaking opportunities via events, virtual webinars, and podcasts

PR is sometimes synonymous with earned media. A PR specialist looks for opportunities to get your cause referenced. An advertising agency pays for placement. PR hunts opportunities for you to be mentioned.

Why do I need it?

Public relations enables you to build your brand beyond your own platform and paid advertising. It gets other people to talk about you which increases awareness and credibility. It also has other benefits like search engine optimization. If a consumer were to go directly to Google to seek an understanding of your organization, what references would they find beyond your own website? Would others be talking about you? Would they see you at all?

Used in tandem with a holistic communications plan, public relations leverages the power of referral. It works to accelerate the message of a marketing strategy by seamlessly placing the right story in front of the right people, outside of your owned platforms.

How can I start?

You really need three things to launch a public relations effort:

  1. Audience: who are we trying to reach?
  2. Message: what are the talking points we want emphasized?
  3. Goals: how do we measure success?

These questions should be answered strategically, connected to real business objectives and your overall marketing plan. Once you’ve defined your goals, you’ll need a set of tactics, like the ones mentioned above, to execute.

Roundtree recently added Chloe Folger to our team whose expertise is public relations, having served as a PR account executive in New York City. We have seen the power of public relations with our clients and wanted to make it more integral to all of our marketing plans. Let us know if you want to schedule a discussion on how PR can advance your organizational goal.


P.O. Box 2541
Chattanooga, TN 37409

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