Public relations does more than simply promote a company’s name.
Public relations is the action of a company to promote, maintain or change its image in the eye of the community as a whole. Brand strategy is a directed effort on behalf of the company to promote a particular image to a very specific audience. Brand strategies are often long-term proactive endeavors that require years of effort and refining. Public relations strategies can be both reactive and proactive, given the urgency of the situation.
In public relations, a company looks to promote itself in a positive light, not merely its products or services. For example, one act of public relations is to have company employees volunteer their time to help tutor children in the area. Although having the employees volunteer promotes a positive image in the community, it does not necessarily promote the company’s product or service. Additionally, a public relations department handles the media exposure involved with running a company as well. If the company is involved in a community dispute, a nasty legal battle or a disaster, it is the public relations department that handles interviews with the press and does its best to improve the company’s image as a whole. Public relations campaigns often incorporate both long-term and short-term strategies. For long-term strategies, they are proactive and include a plan. For short-term strategies, when a reaction to an unforeseen situation is immediately needed, they are reactive.
Brand strategy is a long-term, focused effort to sell a product or service offered by the company. The marketing employees involved in this process will look to define their average customer and find what appeals to that target demographic, and targeted marketing campaigns will be created to reach every member of that target demographic. Oftentimes the target demographic will be very specific, such as housewives between the ages of 25 and 35 who value an organic lifestyle. In order to tap into that market, the brand strategy of that company will focus on images and marketing campaigns that reflect that lifestyle.
Combination of the Two
The two concepts of public relations and brand strategy often overlap to create an overall theme for the business. Using the target demographic of housewives between the ages of 25 and 35 who value an organic lifestyle, a company may look to donate to a local organic food co-op. Donating time and services as well as free products to that organization may help garner company and/or brand recognition among the target demographic while also improving or solidifying the company’s image in the community. In general, public relations efforts are proactive, which gives it a chance to work hand-in-hand with brand strategy to increase sales and improve the business as a whole.
Issues Between the Two
Public relations and brand strategy may come into conflict in the aftermath of negative press. If the company has a large-scale disaster and the public relations staff only considers the image of the company and not the brand strategy of the company during the recovery phase, harm can be done to the brand strategy. All aspects of the business must be considered when you are practicing targeted damage control.