Public relations is often confused with the related, but distinct, field of advertising. Whilst both seek to promote organisations and individuals, PR’s ‘earned’ approach to building reputations is what crucially distinguishes it from its ‘owned’ cousin: PR operates by persuading media outlets to run a story that has been framed as newsworthy, as opposed to simply paying for it to appear as an advert.
Effective PR campaigns also rely on strong media relations, in addition to the creative and analytical skills needed to create newsworthy content. To secure coverage, PR professionals must identify journalists likely to be interested in the story and then persuade them to run with the desired message. The more interesting or relevant the message might be to the media outlet’s readers, the easier it is to secure coverage.
This is where the idea that successful PR must be earned comes from. Media outlets will be more interested in publishing stories about well-known organisations making a real impact on their audience. So, although strong analytical, creative and media skills are essential to effective PR, making a difference has an important part to play in building a company’s reputation.