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Rise Above the Tide - Five Reasons Why Public Relations is Important for Every Business

Written by Simpatico PR

Posted on 2021-10-22

Public relations is difficult to define, difficult to measure, difficult to do. But PR changes minds, changes politics and societies and makes history.

It is all about us every day. While PR essentially operates behind the scenes presenting events, ideas and arguments, making personal connections, leveraging trends and commissioning research, the outcomes are there in front of us every day.

The impact of PR is not just what we see and hear in the news, in entertainment media, TV documentaries, podcasts and social content.

Its influence trickles down to change or start cultural and societal trends and up-ward to influence governments and other public and commercial organisations.

Of course, in a very big way, business-to-business PR (b2b PR) influences commercial decision-making and performance.

It’s little wonder that PR has been one of the fastest growth areas of marketing over the last ten years or so and that trend is set to continue. The number of B2B PR agencies has exploded in recent years to service the growing understanding amongst business leadership that a PR agency can make a good company great.

B2B PR can establish and enhance a company’s reputation. 

Done well B2B PR creates a virtuous circle of enhanced reputation, leading to enhanced sales, leading to enhanced team, leading to enhanced output.

So, here are five reasons why public relations is important for every business.

1. The pace of change – you need to tell your clients you’re relevant

Whether your business is a digital disruptor, challenging market conventions, or you are transforming a heritage business with new operating models and innovation, or you deliver services enabling other businesses to evolve and adapt, it’s obvious that businesses are under constant pressure to change.

Technology, social trends and behaviours, the sustainability agenda, the changing nature of politics, trade and economics – change is leading to challenge and to opportunity everywhere.

And, the speed of change is increasing – the 2020’s is already being called the decade of exponential change.

Your customers will be asking whether your business is future fit, innovating fast or lagging behind the curve. Or if you are a start-up, why amongst all the others you are worthy of investment or trial.

In the age of change, telling your story well through effective B2B PR, with purpose, clarity and quality content will make a substantive difference to performance.

If you do not achieve visibility and recognition, you will be drowned out by others that tell their stories well over time.

2. Validating purchase decision-making

Great business PR can enable a company to capture the zeitgeist – to become an exemplar of innovation and success – to be the company to work with.

Apart from brand recognition or understanding, why does this matter? Much of the power of public relations flows from human psychological behaviour. The traits that we all possess are played upon by PR practitioners.

The link between psychology and PR goes back to the 1920s when most notably Edward Bernays wrote extensively on the subject. We all know the basics of social psychology such as behavioural change through influence, group behaviour, and attitude formation.

In a business context all of these come into play and broadly speaking they coalesce into a sense of buzz about a business. The most powerful realisation of this is the influence over the path to purchase, and in particular the power of PR to validate decisions either consciously or sub-consciously.

In other words, planting the thought that ‘other people are writing about or talking about this company positively so I should know about them, invite them to pitch, maybe buy from them.’

3. Rising above the tide of un-read content marketing

There are more mundane but equally important reasons to invest in your business PR.

Most businesses will understand that their marketing plans should embrace paid media, owned media and earned media. Earned being PR.

Social channels and other technologies, have in effect made every business a mini media owner. With SEO being an increasingly important motivator, over the last decade this resulted in a flood of banal white papers and jargon-filled articles from businesses aiming to fuel their marketing out-reach.

There are notable exceptions of course (influence and IP-rich established business brands do better), but the trouble is that with quality control often set low and business decision-makers being bombarded with email marketing, much of this stuff goes un-read.

B2B PR material is likely to be of higher quality for the simple reason that it must pass the acid test of journalism. New publications and business journals have learned that in the digital age quality, not volume is critical to sustaining their own reputations and audiences.

So, material commissioned for PR has to be better; it will win far greater reach via earned media and can then go on to fuel owned or even paid channels.

4. Winning the battle for talent

One of the most interesting trends in business over the last few years has been the battle for talent. In some industries, particularly tech and digital marketing and ecommerce this is acute. Influencing existing as well as potential talent has become a critical aspect of business communications.

It’s not just customers that will wish to validate their decisions, it’s employees and recruits too. The value of experience in everyday life has been a notable trait amongst millennials and likely Generation Z as well. The need to communicate why a business is worth working for, its successes, insights and future plans are just as important in this context.

Communicating business values, action on sustainability, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies are now an essential strand of PR. Recruitment orientated communications stretches B2B PR into a wider sphere of influence and a different range of media.

5. Selling without selling

A good PR strategy will structure activity and define content that will reach the range of vertical industry sectors that are relevant. It will create an ordered approach to the messages a business takes out to the world and be co-ordinated with business development and other aspects of marketing.

But a good B2B PR agency or strong in-house team will also challenge a business to think differently about the way it communicates.

Effective B2B PR will help a business sell indirectly through influence.

Most company leaders understand the media. Journalists do not accept anything deemed to be overly self-serving.

Even business or leadership profiles will need to be presented in the context of issues and events within a market answering credible questions like – ‘Why does what you do matter?’ ‘Why is it original or innovative?’ ‘What will be your influence in your market?’

Business communications is always an on-going balancing act between internal necessity and external credibility.

But effective B2B PR can create that credibility along with awareness, understanding and admiration. In business there is no more powerful combination to drive sales.

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