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From Awareness to Trust: What PR can and cannot achieve
Communications – PR, Social Media, Content Tools 6 February 2024

From Awareness to Trust: What PR can and cannot achieve

We know them from the stories of our favorite books and films: Mentors. Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, Yoda from Star Wars or Morpheus from The Matrix – as different as they are – they all have in common that they accompany their heroes on their adventures, encourage them and support them with their wisdom and experience.

Nowadays, companies also take on the role of a mentor for their target group. They deliberately do not focus on their own needs, but on those of their potential customers. They accompanied their heroes through their everyday lives and supported them in overcoming their challenges. As a PR agency, we in turn help companies to find their role as mentors and convey their core messages to their target group. But what exactly can PR achieve and where do we come up against natural limits in practice?

A man helps another man to climb a mountain.
Source: Pixabay/ Mohamed_hassan

From awareness to trust – what PR can achieve

Public relations does a lot. This primarily includes increasing awareness of a brand or company. Placing messages in the relevant media in a way that is tailored to the target group increases the visibility of brands and puts companies in the focus of potential customers. Credibility and trust can also be built up through media contributions such as guest articles or white papers. High-quality content in the form of blog posts, social media content or image videos, for example, strengthens the brand.

At the same time, good PR ensures that a company’s existing image is improved. If, for example, positive associations with the brand are strengthened in the target group through media reports, this contributes to a company being perceived differently. This even goes so far that PR can be used in the event of a crisis to navigate brands back into safe waters.

Natural limits of PR

But even we as a PR agency are no magicians and occasionally reach our limits. For PR to work, companies must be aware that media work is always primarily effective in the long term. Only continuous contact with journalists ensures sustainable reporting. For example, we are sometimes approached by companies that expect to be featured in the headlines of major consumer media within a very short space of time. But PR must always be built up gradually.

Few control options

A company’s problems, which are due to structural or operational challenges, cannot be solved by good communication. Here we need to work closely with other departments to see which structures and processes can be changed. PR offers only a few control options, because although we as a PR agency have good contacts with editorial offices, we do not always have a direct influence on how the media report on companies and brand names. Each medium has its own editorial guidelines and decides which stories to publish and how, regardless of the numerous emails and calls from PR agencies.

PR success factors

PR is always part of an overall picture of the corporate language, which is why communication can never be seen as the sole success factor. In close coordination with marketing, sales and customer service, companies need to develop a holistic PR strategy to promote their success.

In order for companies to make the best use of PR, they should fulfill the following conditions:

  • Set clear and realistic goals: The same applies to PR – only those who have a clear goal in mind can achieve it and measure their own success.
  • Define the target group: Only if a company knows and understands its target group precisely can it develop targeted messages for them.
  • Consistent communication: Communication must always be consistent and fit the product. PR measures should always be coordinated and convey a consistent message.
  • Authenticity: Brands should always strive for credibility and continuously reflect their values and beliefs in their communication. Authenticity is a decisive basic criterion for successful PR.
  • Long-term strategy: PR is not a one-off instrument that is also effective in the short term, but a continuous process. A long-term strategy is therefore crucial in order to achieve sustainable results.
  • Analyze the media landscape: If companies have an understanding of the media landscape, then they can decide which media and formats are relevant for their own target group.
  • Prepare wordings: It makes sense to prepare a strategy for crises or for dealing with critical questions in advance so that you can react quickly.
  • Bundle expertise: Every company should use all the knowledge available to it for PR and communicate this to the outside world. Because nothing interests your own target group as much as insights from experts.
  • Analyze successes: Although the success of PR measures can only be partially measured in figures, the long-term goals in particular can be evaluated and adjusted.

Conclusion: Suitable instrument with realistic objectives

Although PR has natural limitations, it can make a valuable contribution to any company. As an agency, we support our clients in using communication strategically and effectively. It is important for companies to have realistic expectations of PR and to coordinate these with their holistic corporate communications.

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