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What are the different types of PR?

The main objective of PR is usually to obtain positive news stories, however, that’s just one element of it.

Public relations is a lot more than that under the surface; it’s about how you communicate with your stakeholders, how you act on social media, how you interact with your community and how you can handle a crisis.

It’s important to utilise as many different types of PR as you can to achieve the strongest results, as there’s overlap in every direction.

The different types of PR

Media relations

One of the main aims of media relations is to get your company in the headlines and improve your presence in the media, reaching more of your target audience.

Media relations is largely news and reporter focused, with companies regularly using PR specialists to pitch interviews and issue press releases on their behalf.

PR professionals work hard to build solid relationships with journalists, influencers, broadcasters and bloggers so they’re more likely to think of their clients to help them with the constant stream of interesting news stories they need to fill their pages.

Online & social media communications

Having an active presence on social media has never been more important. The majority of information that we read online comes from social media networks, so it is a fantastic opportunity for PR. Even if you think your business isn’t very social media friendly, you’d be surprised what a little creativity and understanding of the platforms can achieve.

Social media can put a human face to a faceless corporation, it can reveal personality and culture and it gives you a way to communicate directly with an audience who are interested in your business and their like-minded connections.

Unlike third party media, social media gives you total control over what you say and how you present your business, but content has to be engaging material that people want to see otherwise it won’t gain any traction. Social media habits and trends are also constantly evolving so it’s important to stay up to date and work on your content creation skills if you’re to do well.

Smartphone screen shows BBC News app among others. Photo by Brett Jordan

Crisis communications

Contrary to what you might think, a crisis comms team is not just there in the case of an absolute emergency because a crisis comms strategy should be in place long before anything goes wrong. It’s more about generating a robust, reliable plan to refer to in order to manage your response to problems and prevent issues from getting out of hand.

Having a clear, strategic crisis comms plan in place, alongside strong relationships with stakeholders and the media (often built up over a number of years), puts your business in the best place to deal with any bad publicity heading your way.

A well-known example of clever crisis comms has to be that used by KFC when they ran out of chicken. Despite having to close more than 750 restaurants across the UK due to the shortage, they managed to turn the situation into a PR masterclass for us all to learn from.

They didn’t play the blame game, they simply owned up to the error and made fun of themselves by playing around with their brand name to make customers laugh.

Community relations

Community relations is all about building your company’s reputation within the local community where your business is located. Local support can be critical for a newly established business, but even larger businesses need to be well regarded by people in the areas where they’re based.

Rows with local councillors can escalate to grab national media attention and you’ll depend on local people for recruitment and retention so it pays to show your commitment to local communities.

Building solid community relationships can also result in getting local support for projects, positive press coverage and general awareness, as well as being seen to be giving back to your local area (and helping the planet too!) – so it really is a win-win situation.

Internal/employee communications

Employees are among the most important stakeholders of any business – after all, they’re the ones who deliver the work, present your business to the outside world and can grind things to a halt if things turn really sour.

Employee communications should make your staff feel appreciated and valued, and well-informed. While it may be easy to overlook, it’s one of the most crucial parts of any PR strategy, and should always be included.

A happy employee is likely to work hard and speak positively about your firm – which can be a fantastic recruitment tool too.  However, they can also be a firm’s harshest critics, so it’s key to maintain the right level of communication and tone of voice for them to feel appreciated and respected.

Ultimately, the most important part of any firm is its team, as no business can run effectively without them. Because of this, it’s crucial that employers manage relationships in the workplace well to ensure that the company continues to run smoothly, avoid conflict and encourage productivity and performance. After all, unhappy employees are much less likely to work hard!

Laptop screen showing Gmail inbox

Public affairs

Public affairs PR, aka lobbying, is about forming relationships with the government, politicians and key decision-makers in the industry – such as trade associations and business groups. It can also be about building up public awareness and support for a specific issue.

A PR professional can make your organisation’s views known and help push for legislative change. When there are any changes to policy that may impact your business, the team will communicate how it will impact that firm – both positively and negatively – to make your voice heard.

Saying nothing and not speaking out allows politicians to make decisions that will harm your interest, so PR can help you get your voice heard and pressure the powers-that-be or the general public to see your side.

Public affairs still includes media management and issuing press releases, but it will likely have a more political focus to influence public opinion.

Award entry writing & submission

Winning awards is a great way to highlight just how great you are at what you do; they emphasise your capabilities, and set you apart from the competition. Award entries should capture the very best of your business, showcasing exactly why you should come out on top.

Crafting detailed, well-written award entries requires a lot of time and industry expertise, which is why businesses often draft experts in to help. This way, firms also benefit from an outsider’s perspective, meaning that entries are written with less chance of unconscious bias.

By utilising a PR professional with your award entries, you’ll benefit from their additional insight and expertise of what the judges are looking for.

Media interview & broadcast training

Interviews can be daunting, especially if you’re not used to speaking publicly, which is why it’s key for stakeholders within your business to have the appropriate media interview and broadcast training, should a good PR opportunity arise.

By being confident in an interview, you’ll be able to master the art of effective communication, turning each and every opportunity into a way to grow your brand awareness and reach.

Media training will equip you with the skills required to get your points across in an interview, without being led astray by any journalists (unfortunately this can happen!). You’ll learn how to spot and avoid any traps, meaning you’ll reduce the risk of any crisis occurring by saying the wrong thing.

If you were to find your firm in a challenging situation, interview training can help here too. You’ll have the skills to navigate these issues with confidence, handling tough questions with professionalism and reinforcing any points you wish to get across to minimise any damage.

PR media interview taking place

Strategic communications

And last but certainly not least…strategic comms! In theory, every one of the actions we’ve described can form part of a firm’s strategic communications – it’s about coordinating each element appropriately to help a firm achieve its goals most effectively.

By understanding a firm’s priorities and goals from the very beginning, communications objectives and plans can be established to best support these. Without a clear strategy, you’ll always risk wasting time and concentrating on things that may not matter too much to the company. 

Strategic communications is also about sending out specialised, tailored messages rather than just distributing anything and everything for the sake of it. By supporting a company’s top priorities, you’ll ensure that your PR strategy is working effectively. 

Are you interested in upscaling your PR to grow your business? If so, get in touch with our team today for a no-obligation consultation.