Many people are often confused about the distinction between public relations, marketing and advertising. Even for some people who work with professionals from each of these three spaces, all three seem to serve the same purpose, therefore can be considered the same concept with different names. But in reality, these are distinct concepts that complement each other.


In preparation for the first-ever World Public Relations Day set to hold on July 16, 2021, here are four important things everyone needs to know about PR.


Public Relations Is About Stories

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines PR as; “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics”. What this definition doesn’t say is how. These relationships are built through the right actions by organizations and stories about them. Public relations focuses on informing the public about a product, an organization or even government, what they stand for, what they are doing and more, thus creating a good perception about it.


Public Relations Is Not Advertising

If a company launches a new beer brand and pays for a billboard or a spot on an online blog to announce the launch of this brand, that is advertising. But if the same blog gets one of their writers to go beer-tasting and write a review of the new beer brand for their audience, that’s free publicity, and that’s what public relations is. Almost always, PR is a result of a newsworthy action by an organisation, made into a story, which they don’t have to pay to get in front of people. It is more trustworthy and impactful too as PR-driven amplification of concepts, activities, and products tend to be more compelling due to the mode of storytelling.


The Impact of PR Can Be Measured

While many people believe it is hard to measure the exact impact of PR on an organisation’s bottom line, it is not impossible. For years, PR efforts did not have any specific analytic metric to measure their success. And with modern PR not being a cheap endeavour, brands and clients alike began demanding more in terms of measurement of PR output, to justify spending. This development informed the establishment of the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (also known as AMEC), a UK-based global trade association for companies that provide social media measurement and traditional media measurement, evaluation and communication research.


While AMEC was founded 24 years ago, it was only until 2012 that the body was incorporated as part of a new coalition to drive standards for PR research and measurement, along with the Council of Public Relations Firms (CPRF), the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and other partners. The body now provides a wide range of functions, most importantly developing the AMEC Quality Assurance Code to help standardise the media evaluation industry.


Furthermore, MuckRack’s 2021 report on ‘The State of PR’ shows that PR professionals are using traditional media metrics, social media impact and even sales numbers to show the value of the work they do. The numbers they ascertain show the importance of good reputation management on the perception of a product or organisation.


July 16 is World Public Relations Day

This year, the world will start a new tradition of celebrating the public relations practice and its impact annually on July 16, 2021. This day will feature events that help everyone better understand PR and how to utilise it to achieve business and communication objectives. This global event shares the same date as the birth of one of the world’s foremost PR practitioners, Ivy Lee – a fitting tribute.