Why PR isn’t the best strategy if you just want quick sales

- April 10, 2023 3 MIN READ


Many startups and small business owners believe public relations is another tactic to achieve sales. But they’d be wrong. If you want to achieve quick sales, have a limited budget and are fighting for viability and survival, investing in advertising and marketing can be a better short-term strategy for winning more customers fast, write Kathryn Van Kuyk and Anthony Caruana, co-CEOs, Media-Wize.

PR isn’t the best strategy if your sole purpose for doing so is the metric to see an uptick in sales, fast. Public relations is about persuasion and changing views and perceptions.

A brief history of PR

Public relations activists entered the private sector in the 1920s through the work of Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays in the US, before it spread internationally. Bernays believed that political propaganda utilised by governments to influence public opinion during war could be used by corporations to subtly influence public behaviour.

At its core, PR is about influencing, engaging and building a relationship with key stakeholders across numerous platforms, to shape and frame the public perception of an organisation.

Public relations was never designed to be a sales tactic. It may help achieve sales but its value is in building trust, credibility and awareness. The magic happens when public relations is integrated into a wider sales, marketing, advertising, social and customer service campaign.

Public relations diagram explainer

Measuring your return on investment

The impact of public relations on sales is harder to measure than advertising, website clicks or social posts. For it to work best, you need to be committed for the long term. It is not something you flick the switch on and off and hope for a desirable result.

Public relations works in the realm of non-paid editorial. When you engage in PR, you hand over control of how the story will be told to a journalist. The journalist decides what the story is, if it will be told, how it will be told, and when it will be told. You can assist this process by having a compelling news hook and opinion.

But, if you want to completely control the message you should consider advertising or sponsored content.

The value of public relations is that an independent media outlet has decided you’re newsworthy, credible and authoritative. People are more sceptical of advertising and blatant promotional sales messages than ever before. Public relations provides a method to engage with your target audiences in a credible and authentic way to expand brand awareness.

Nurturing relationships and building your profile

It’s important to understand that media coverage is never guaranteed. Unlike advertising, you can’t buy it. An interview with a journalist is also never a guarantee that the story will ever be published. It takes time to build media momentum. Part of the process involves creating and nurturing relationships with journalists and media outlets.

Public relations is not about plugging products – product promotion comes from advertising and marketing, while sales always comes down to the business’ ability to provide a superior customer experience and service.

PR plays a crucial role in building a business’ credibility and profile. A successful public relations strategy and campaign will expose your brand to a broader audience through independent media outlets, and will build trust that bolsters your long-term success.

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Decisions, decisions … is advertising or PR a better choice for your business?