Al Ries, an outspoken PR advocate, has frequently expressed the view that PR has credibility far above advertising. Customers turn to “independent, third-party authoritative sources for recommendations and advice,” including “the media in all of its diversity,” Ries wrote in The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR. Why is this so applicable during shaky economic times? For a reasonable investment, credibility, brand awareness and other communications can be established through other outlets besides the company’s Web site or other marketing venues.
The previously mentioned survey conducted for PRSA by Vocus reinforces that conclusion. It found that 80 percent of respondents planned to make social media a key focus of 2010 PR activities. One of the survey developers recommended that companies take advantage in this difficult period by inexpensively “incorporating viral marketing, relationship marketing, social marketing and web analytics.”
It’s that last point, Web analytics, that can justify implementing PR strategies at a time when situations seemingly dictate otherwise. One caveat: in determining outcome measurement, a company or organization should clearly establish what it hopes to achieve, particularly if it plans to incorporate social media into its PR strategy.
As difficult as it may be for some to accept, these are most likely optimal times to take advantage of PR opportunities. Perhaps it is challenging for the wary and budget-conscious to see the value these days, yet indicators of low-cost opportunity are ubiquitous if only the executive will pause to consider them. In a time when many companies have suffered blows to their public images, PR offers an affordable alternative: the development of credibility, especially through the two-way communication offered by social media. Its value, to quote from a memorable credit card commercial is “priceless.”
A comment by Rahm Emanuel, the presidential chief-of-staff, seems especially appropriate. “Let’s not let a serious crisis go to waste,” he said. With a plethora of low-cost public relations strategies and outlets available, we would do well to heed his advice.
Check this video for Jody Hayes’ Quick Business Tips in PR, Credibility and the Marketplace: