What the heck is public relations?

As a small business owner, it can be hard to navigate the world of public relations on your own. In fact, the most common question we receive is "What exactly is PR?" So let's dive into it!

Public relations is all about storytelling. It's how you present your brand to the world -- whether you are sharing your brand story through editorial features, partnering with influencers to promote your products, speaking at events to establish credibility in your industry, or even hosting a launch event in a key market for your brand. All of those PR moments create touch points for new and potential customers to discover your brand.

If you own a business, you most likely have heard of the "sales funnel" or "customer journey". The graphic below is a good example of how to visualize the different phases that a customer goes through before they make a purchase, but let's talk about how PR plays into that journey.

A graphic that displays the 5 phases of a customer journey: awareness, interest, desire, action and loyalty.

Your target customer will start outside of this cycle, so you need to find a way to bring them into that first Awareness phase. That's where PR comes in! The awareness piece can come from a wide variety of PR moments: their favorite website posting an article that mentions your brand, their favorite content creator raving about your products on their social media, their favorite morning show interviewing you, etc. Those PR moments can plant the seed of brand awareness in the customer's mind, which pushes them into the next phase of their customer journey.

Now it's important to remember that while PR is an essential piece of your marketing plan, it shouldn't be the only part of your plan. Press mentions, product placements and founder feature articles are great for establishing credibility among potential customers, but your marketing and advertising strategies will amplify that reach and drive sales. So sharing the press mention on your social media channels, creating paid social ads that lead directly to the product mentioned in the article, retargeting potential customers who visit your website after reading the article -- all of these strategies will ensure that you get the greatest return on your PR investment.

Another amazing benefit of PR is that it can engage potential customers who are already aware of your brand but haven't made a purchase just yet. Let's say there's a potential customer who saw your beauty brand featured in an article on Allure.com and they already follow your brand on Instagram. They are already aware of your brand and are interested, so they are currently sitting in the Interest phase of the cycle. Now is the perfect time to engage in influencer partnerships! Collaborating with content creators who have already earned the trust of your target audience is an excellent way to push potential customers into the next phase of their customer journey. Let's say you have a customer that has purchased from you in the past but hasn't repurchased from you yet. When they see their favorite influencer talking about the luxurious new serum you just launched or hear you being interviewed on their favorite beauty podcast talking about why you decided to start a beauty brand, that initial interest in your brand is reignited. That PR moment can inspire them to revisit your website, where they'll purchase that serum that the influencer mentioned or shop the sale that you're promoting on the website.

So let's sum things up. Public relations is all about generating brand awareness among your target audience. While the goal of PR is not to drive sales, there are many ways to leverage PR to encourage potential customers to engage with your brand. Remember: a PR team will help you get your brand name out there, but it's ultimate up to you to make the sale.