PR is more than just press releases

public relations 


plural in form but usually singular in construction often attributive

: the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution

also : the degree of understanding and goodwill achieved

The distinction between digital PR, traditional PR and content marketing has blurred significantly over the years. 

With the ways in which people consume information constantly evolving, the ways in which that information is presented also has to adapt. 

Of course, a large element of PR is proactive but how you react to things is just as important. (If you want a clucking great example of this, look no further than KFC’s response to running out of chicken…)

Yet we seem to have fallen into a trap of equating PR to press releases and not a lot else. Yes, it’s true that once upon a time traditional media coverage was the beating heart of public relations, but we’re talking about a time when newspapers were the only media giants and reigned supreme. 

Nowadays, PR is so much bigger than that. As consumer habits change so too must the PR industry. Coverage in a big national title is all well and good if people are reading that national title. And even better if those people need to give a damn about you or your organisation. 

With recent statistics showing a marked change in readership behaviours, placing all your eggs in a press release basket is like trying to put a round peg in a square hole, but the hole is now actually a triangle. 

We’re always droning on about the importance of a solid PR strategy – and that strategy should aim to maximise coverage and exposure across ALL channels and platforms. 

We’re not saying that press releases are redundant or no longer important. But a lack of coverage doesn’t necessarily mean a PR failure. It’s just one spoke in a much bigger wheel. 

The measure of success

The success of any PR campaign or retained activity has always been a tricky thing to monitor. Unlike a social media post where you can track engagement (your likes, shares etc.) or an online marketing campaign where you can track web traffic and lead generation, PR metrics have always been heavily focused on coverage and its advertising value equivalency (AVE).

The accuracy of this has been heavily debated. The AVE varies hugely between media titles and isn’t always reflective of the impact of the piece overall – the important questions being, is the title relevant and does the piece effectively reach your target audience? 

However, with many marketing teams requiring concrete evidence to demonstrate the value of PR to their SLTs and stakeholders, there’s yet to be another metric which fits the bill when it comes to proving its worth to people ‘outside’ the industry. 

Coverage has therefore become somewhat of a scapegoat for PR measurement. This has led many businesses falling victim to valuing quantity over quality and then wondering why, despite a seeming mountain of clippings, they’re getting very little ROI. 

It’s understandable. It explains why so many companies equate PR as press releases and why so many are often reluctant to a) invest more money in their PR and b) why they baulk at ideas that go beyond the realm of traditional press coverage. 

Ask any PR professional and they will tell you that investing in PR is a long game. Building brand awareness, instilling trust in your service or organisation and developing organic relationships both with the media and the public takes time. The ball sometimes needs a few good pushes before it can really start rolling. But if the product is right and the stories are there, once it starts, the time and effort really do pay off.

Embracing the digital landscape

Recent statistics show that in 2023, on average nearly 70% of adults in the UK consumed their news through the TV, closely followed by the internet with 66% preferring this method. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t include social media, which was classed as a standalone platform –  49% of adults got their news this way. 

The way in which people consume the news is also determined by their demographic. Unsurprisingly, younger people prefer using the internet and social media. In fact, according to a recent survey, almost 80% of those aged between 18 and 24 used the internet as their leading news platform. 

So, where do “traditional” print sources fit into the equation? In 2023, less than a quarter (24%) of UK adults got their news from reading newspapers (lower than the number who consumed news through word of mouth!), while only 6% got their news through magazines. 

Yet still so much of the emphasis of PR is on these specific print platforms. 

It’s been said so many times that social media is continuing to grow and grow. Its influence is everywhere and continues to evolve, with new features being released regularly to adapt to and improve the user experience. 

The question then is why isn’t PR adapting accordingly too?

“Action and adaptability create opportunity”

Of course, we need to point out here that we are making a sweeping generalisation. Its widespread influence evolves through regular feature releases, adapting and enhancing the user experience.

It’s fun and it’s exciting and it’s yielding incredible results. 

In 2022, TikTok banned a video published on Elvie’s account which showed female athlete Madi McDermott leaking urine while weightlifting. According to TikTok, the video showed ‘graphic’ content. 

So what did Elvie do in response? Well, launched its #LeaksHappen campaign aimed at tackling the taboo of incontinence.

Elvie’s ‘peeing billboard’ showed real-life incontinent woman Megan Burns, a 28-year-old mum of two from Cornwall leaking urine while weightlifting, just as in Elvie’s original TikTok video.

Not only did the ad garner much attention with people stopping, taking photos and videos and sharing them across social media, but the resulting PR focused on the issue at hand, raising awareness of incontinence and opening up a much wider conversation – just as Elvie hoped it would.

An integrated campaign like this is a great example of how traditional PR and creative ideas and stunts can come together to maximise coverage and results.

An integrated approach?

At Conteur, our PR team specialises in generating creative ideas which will really help to set your brand apart. We don’t just churn out press releases day in day out (although our press releases are pretty good). We’re a hive mind of golden ideas. 

This year we’d like to see new and existing clients pushing the PR boundaries, delivering impactful campaigns and tapping into the beauty of well-executed PR. There’s so much potential!

We can help with idea generation, content creation and media relations to help get your brand story the notice it deserves. Drop us a line today, we’d love to  chat! 

Newspaper with the headline press releases

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