Marketing and public relations are both used to improve business performance, but they use completely separate approaches. Marketing is a commonly used term, but confusion about what public relations actually is usually sees it neglected when it comes to small business marketing ideas.
Public relations is about forming relationships with clients and potential clients. It's about raising a business's credibility and reputation amongst these groups, culminating in additional clients and raised profits. Marketing is not about credibility, but getting a business's name out to prospective customers or clients. The most well known type of marketing is advertising.
How public relations and marketing experts each deal with newspapers highlights the variation between them. An advertisement in a popular newspaper read by a target market would be considered by a marketing professional. He pays the newspaper and can say what he likes with the area he has paid for. The purpose of this is for people to see the advertisement and purchase the product or service on offer.
A public relations manager on the other hand would use a different technique. The editorial information the newspaper covers would be his focus. This would include everything written by journalists and guests. His focus would be to get his company featured in these editorial pages.
This direction would be used to maximise the reputation and credibility of the business, because sources used by the media are instinctively seen as experts among future clients. This also raises earnings as people prefer to do business with those they percieve as experts.
Another difference is in the direct marketing space. The marketing manager may send out regular fliers to letterboxes from a local builder offering his services. The aim of this would obviously be to bring in more work for the builder.
The PR approach here would differ. A public relations manager may produce a regular newsletter for the local area full of useful advice for those looking at building. This would demonstrate that the builder knew what he was talking about, raising his reputation and credibility. This would also be designed to bring in more work directly and in the future.
These examples highlight the significance of both marketing and PR. Marketing lets potential clients know about products and services. However public relations is just as vital, if not more so, to demonstrate that the business is credible and its people are experts. In a hard market, this is essential as potential clients become fussier with their choice of service provider.
This can all seem extremely confusing to small business owners, and PR companies are not always great at explaining it. But what I have just explained is the difference in a nutshell. Marketing is for exposure and PR is for credibility, although it also creates exposure.
PR is frequently believed to be expensive. This usually sees it overlooked among small business marketing ideas. Major PR companies who have prominent corporate clients are the ones who bill the huge dollars.
But by learning how the media works and what journalists need, small businesses can seize their slice of the limelight. They can also put together a low cost regular newsletter that will do wonders for their credibility and reputation.
The importance of credibility and reputation mean that PR should be a priority when it comes to small business marketing ideas. This can be handled by either a 'do it yourself' approach, or by bringing in an independant consultant on occasions.
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