What Is A PR Agency and Why Do You Need One?

What is a PR agency? What does a PR agency do? A high-performance Public Relations (PR) Agency specializes in specific industries, has long-standing reporter and influencer relationships and is skilled at implementing content marketing programs. Highly sought-after Public Relations (PR) Agencies are also known for being proactive with an ear to the ground when it comes to industry trends and measure, measure, measure to ensure the PR program advances key business objectives.  

As a way to make announcements, a way to celebrate your company’s achievements, a way to share your expertise in your field and a way to fairly differentiate your company from your competitors, public relations can do a lot all at once. With decades of experience in the specialty, PR remains a core function of Communications Strategy Group (CSG®). Let’s dig into the basics first.

What a PR Agency Is and What It Does

A public relations agency is a group of communications specialists managing a brand’s reputation. They use their relationships with reporters to secure media coverage favorable to the brand, in order to raise the company’s visibility to the public and increase demand for the product or service the company offers. Obviously, in the digital age, this media coverage extends to social platforms and widely-read websites as well. For companies that need help figuring out how they are perceived already, a PR agency can use brand awareness surveys to measure the company’s visibility and standing with its target audiences. A PR agency will also help you develop a plan that advances tangible core business goals over time. 

Other Benefits of PR

Damage Control

When things go wrong, PR helps companies stay on top of the situation with a message that informs people what happened, tells them what steps are being taken to correct the problem, gives expressions of sympathy and reminds them of their common ground with the company in question. Time is often vitally important in these situations — in general, the less time that passes between an adverse event and the company response, the better. PR firms will help develop a script in advance to use when customers and partners are eager for reassurance and accountability

Consumer Interaction
PR-informed modes of communication give you the opportunity to interact with consumers in ways consistent with your brand strategy. This raises awareness of your company, solidifies your voice in the public mind, and overall increases the chances that people will remember your product or service when they have a need for it in their lives. Much of the work in this area is done under the surface, with your PR agency finding out who exactly you should be targeting, giving you opportunities to interact, and providing you with effective messaging for drawing customers deeper into your world.

Thought Leadership

The earned media placements PR strives to get for your company can greatly improve its credibility in your industry. This in turn makes consumers more comfortable buying from you and more likely to seek out industry information, advice and predictions from your channels. This is true for new companies that need help figuring out what their brand direction should be, not to mention help getting it off the ground, but also for well-established brands

PR is a long-term strategy, and even the largest, most secure corporations maintain robust PR engines to help them expand into new markets, jostle for position as thought leaders and reinforce their reputations under the ever-changing conditions of the real world.

What Should a PR Firm Offer?

Not all PR firms are created equal. There are capabilities and levels of insight that set some above others. Marketers shopping for PR partners will need to consider the totality of their offerings, since no single prong or element of your PR strategy will stand on its own. It’s not enough to find a firm that can read industry trends or bolster your industry authority or recycle your content skillfully throughout your media array for maximum effect. You need one that can do all those things. Here are some of the main features you will see in CSG’s  PR work, which should give you an idea of the depth of proficiency you’ll want in a partner.

Multi-Tiered Promotion 

For our clients, we often set a schedule for the distribution of PR material that includes (1) an ongoing, proactive baseline tier of media pitches, encompassing a wide range of content including media tours, company profiles, bylines and op-eds, company announcements, commentary on trends, responses to inquiries and much more; as well as (2) a higher reactive tier that occurs in bursts whenever the moment calls for increased PR activity. This higher tier concentrates various forms of PR like social media content, traditional media pitches and influencer outreach on a single topic, raising visibility of your company during opportune news cycles or while a company achievement is fresh in the public mind. 

Also, look for a PR partner whose proactive promotion tier isn’t just there for show—the firm you choose should be active and creative about generating stories that advance important business objectives. Throwing pitches out absent-mindedly will not work in a competitive environment with multiple companies clamoring for journalists’ attention at all times. The reactive tier, meanwhile, requires analytics capability: a PR firm should be able to monitor trends on relevant platforms, rankings for industry keywords, the lifespan of news stories and other markers.

Influencer Relations

It’s a necessity for a PR firm to have broad networks of media and influencer relationships to rely on when trying to place media stories for their clients. However, there are ways to go much deeper than that to boost the success rate of pitches, the chance of securing coverage in premier media outlets, the alignment of earned media coverage with target audiences and the efficiency of content recycling and re-pitching.

For example, CSG creates custom influencer ecosystem maps for clients, using data to organize the vast world of media targets and important influencers such as analysts, industry commentators and social influencers.  We may then audit competitors’ earned media placements to find targets that might not have appeared on first analysis. And even further, we define opportunities to pitch each target, based on the target’s historical preferences, motivations and limitations. This level of customization requires a firm commitment to client success and inside knowledge not widely available.

Messaging and Media Training

You don’t want to be left in a position where you’re articulating important points of your brand in front of a key audience without direction or preparation. Here, we often take clients through a “Shark Cage” exercise, which strips away all extraneous messaging, leaving them with standard language that reinforces the points most advantageous for them to make and does not harm their reputation. 

That standardized messaging will become part of a press kit we put together for clients that includes pre-approved messaging for sensitive topics. Whatever PR partner you choose, look for one with the experience and ability to prepare you for the media coverage you’re working so hard to garner. The fate of your public image should not be left to chance.

Content Strategy and Extension

CSG’s work has only begun once positive media coverage is secured — we will fold that coverage into a diverse, purposeful content strategy across your owned, shared and paid channels. Finding ways to repurpose content squeezes every last ounce of value out of inspired pieces and gets you the most cost-effective PR possible. 

So, a byline placement becomes a social post and the inspiration for a related blog post. An interview becomes a social media-ready clip and the basis of a speaking pitch. A PR agency with a shared sense of importance about your company’s overarching goals will be able to find opportunities for this kind of content extension.

Industries That Can Benefit From The Services of a PR Agency

Public relations is valuable in a wide range of industries. Each of these will require nuanced PR strategies.. But some form of public relations is going to be important no matter what industry you are in. Is a PR agency going to magically solve all your problems overnight? No, but with the right PR campaign strategy, and consistent effort over time, your reputation, content impact, and the effectiveness of your parallel marketing campaigns can improve dramatically. Let’s take a closer look at some industries where PR can be helpful.

Aerospace & Aviation

We’ve written before about the importance of public relations in aviation from a crisis management perspective. Aerospace and Aviation companies need to have messaging on standby should an adverse event occur, since in this industry those events tend to be of great public concern. However, crises are just one of the avenues for strategic communications in this space. Content and media relations can be hugely effective prongs of a PR array for aerospace and aviation companies — as an example, look at the strategic media targeting we performed for the aviation company Boom.

Consumer

Consumer industries are rich in PR opportunities. Launching new brands, re-working the image of existing ones, generating buzz about a product, avoiding bad press and making a brand story part of public consciousness are all good uses of PR in this industry. And the results can be impressive. CSG’s partnership with So Delicious shows how public relations can help consumer companies break into new markets and otherwise expand their reach. 

Financial Services

Financial services PR is often focused on helping companies stand out from a pack of competitors with nearly identical offerings. This means diving deep, understanding the innermost motivations of the target audience, and bringing a company’s story to life in a relatable, authentic, compelling way. This is exactly what CSG was able to do for ScholarShare 529, the official 529 college savings plan of California.

Education

Education companies and providers have a close bond with public relations. School administrators, B2B vendors, and direct-to-consumer education platforms must all use strategic communications to manage the public scrutiny bound to fall on any company who takes part in people’s education. In this market PR is most often a way to provide news, reassurance and projections about future projects, initiatives and resources. What is a PR firm if not an expert in all these activities? CSG is well-versed in PR for this space, having helped many education companies over the years refine their messaging and create enthusiasm for public-facing endeavors.

Healthcare

Healthcare presents unique PR challenges. As with education, the stakes are high here: people’s health is on the line. That means, if you have a healthcare company, you need lucid, accurate messaging at all times, in line with the latest scientific evidence and tailored to show your target audience the benefits of your product or service in promoting good health.

 Technology

With tech companies, the sticking point of a PR campaign often boils down to finding a way to tell the brand’s story in a way that appeals to a wide audience, without sacrificing the technical detail that shows the company’s innovation, rigor of work and thought leadership. A seasoned PR partner will find ways to strike that balance, attracting interest and bolstering your reputation in your field.

Small Businesses

Public relations has a big role in small businesses. Apart from face-to-face exchanges, this is the best way for them to build relationships with their customers, generate demand, and grow awareness around their brand. Although there may be times when small businesses need to put PR on the back burner to address internal processes, product development or other fundamentals, they should always keep PR in mind as a priority to focus on later.

Develop Your PR Strategy With Us

What is a PR agency? It’s a guide, a counselor, a shield against reputation damage, a media whisperer, and a content architect all wrapped up together. If you’re ready to see your business take off with the help of public relations specialists who understand your journey and how to bring it to its desired end, contact us https://wearecsg.com/contact/ for a consultation.