The Different Types of PR
Anyone can type in “Public Relations” in Google and get a variety of traditional definitions. My personal definition of PR is, “Creating Awareness and Influencing Perception to drive Intentional Action.” According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” While you could take an entire course defining what is PR, exploring its origins, its transformation through history, etc. etc. yada yada, for the purpose of this post, we’re going to hyper-focus on three primary types of PR that exist today, and what they look like in real life.
1. Organic PR
Hooray! The universe is on your side, and you acquire press and exposure organically! So, what does this look like? Well, you could stumble upon an article or mention of your company that you did absolutely nothing to place other than being your awesome self and doing what you do best. A writer or publication could also reach out to you directly (via the above reason) typically with questions or a desired action item, and that conversation will lead to press. You could post an awesome photo on Instagram that resonates with your audience, and they just naturally begin interacting with your brand. All in all, it’s a type of PR that you may not have actively sought out; rather it happened naturally. Here are a couple of examples…
You host a SUPER COOL event in your community…word of mouth spreads…a reporter attends…and publishes event coverage in the local paper.
You host a SUPER COOL event in your community…word of mouth spreads… a writer is intrigued and reaches out to you with further questions. Per your engagement, they decide hey, I’m going to do a write up online about this event because I think other people would like to know about it!
2. Earned PR
This right here is a PR agency’s and/or publicists’ sweet spot. In addition to organic media, this is the absolute best-case-scenario and end-goal of PR. Earned media means just that, it was earned. It was earned because you engaged a writer or launched a campaign…and it worked! This type of PR is “free”, aside from time/sweat equity, and boy does it feel good.
You pitch a writer your story idea, they love it, and write an article! BAM, you earned that article.
You launch an awareness campaign, and people/the media take notice. Your efforts result in coverage.
3. Paid PR or Paid Media
The third primary type of PR is called paid media. You can also call this “Pay for Play”. While paid media can look different from outlet to outlet, it’s generally different from straight-up advertising in the sense that it looks like an article or piece of organic press.
Example A: You PAY a magazine to write an article on you.
Example B: You PAY for a blogger to do a review on your product. It’s still their own writing, but they charge for the content.
Outside of timely news coverage, PR today is becoming LESS and LESS earned, and MORE and MORE paid. Why the shift? It’s simple – media outlets and bloggers need to make money too. With the rise of the Internet and social media, we have created a few new categories that heavily compete with traditional media outlets. From Bloggers, to “Social Media Influencers”, to public forums…anyone with a computer now can publish content. This has drastically affected traditional media outlets – such as magazines and newspapers – forcing them to generate new revenue streams. Simultaneously, this has allowed bloggers and influencers to do the same thing.
So while Organic and Earned PR are by no means obsolete, the industry is becoming more and more saturated with paid content. The solution? Do your research, get creative, and above all else, don’t give up!