The recent PSEN AGM highlighted how many brilliant projects are going on in the city, and how much good news there is to share.

One way to get people to pay attention to the things you’re doing is through Public Relations. Despite having worked in PR for the best part of a decade, it’s still tricky to define exactly what I and my colleagues do.

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations use this definition:

Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.

Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.

From this description, it’s easy to see why PR is so key to social enterprises – there are so many people (or publics) you need to keep happy: customers, employees, beneficiaries, charities, funders, Councillors, media…. The list goes on.

Relationships Matter

There is a common thread though – building a relationship. While advertising can be seen as essentially shouting at people to buy your product, use your service or otherwise act in the way you want them to, PR is about building a relationship with the people you want to engage with.

Why is this more effective? Think back to a time when you’ve asked people for their opinion. It could be posting on social media, looking at online reviews, or when you were picking out that lovely new pair of shoes in the shop. What did you pay the most attention to? The advert you saw about the product? Or was it a more personal experience – the opinions of people in your peer group, the trusted review or the expert staff in the shop? I suspect it was the latter.

Who do you trust?

PR helps your organisation build that kind of relationship with the people you engage with. Whether it’s through face to face conversations, blog posts, or a piece in the paper, you become trusted as the expert in your field who can be relied on for accurate information and advice, not just a product. This leads to longer-term relationships with people, who then become your organisation’s advocates – so when their friends and family ask for their opinion, you’re at the front of their mind.

In an age where people are increasingly distrustful, if you are the organisation they can rely on, it’ll pay dividends all around.

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If you’re looking for a PR practitioner on a permanent or freelance basis, look for someone on the CIPR’s Public Relations Register (where you’ll find me!). The CIPR have also put together a series of guides to help you recruit or invite pitches from your perfect PR match.

Louise Manico MCIPR
Founder and Consultant
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