Impact Insights Blog

Please Stop Talking About Yourself: Using PR to Let Others Do the Talking

March 14, 2019

Many people are unsure of how to work with media that is earned — as in the kind that leads to news coverage without payment — and how that differs from traditional advertising and marketing. Nothing makes this concept easier to understand than a colorful dating analogy. Here’s one that most people can relate to, courtesy of S.H. Simmons:

If a young man tells his date how handsome, smart and successful he is – that’s advertising (and also quite bragadocious!). If the young man tells his date she’s intelligent, looks lovely and is a great conversationalist, he’s saying the right things to the right person and that’s marketing. If someone else tells the young woman how handsome, smart and successful her date is – that’s PR.

It’s easy to understand the difference after explaining it in this way. Who hasn’t been on a date that sounds like one of these three scenarios?

Advertising is the brand talking about itself, through its own perspective. Marketing is a targeted effort to just the right person and it makes them feel like they can’t live without a product or service, or that they really ought to visit that restaurant, museum or hotel, for instance. Public relations provides a third party credibility that shapes perception, increases awareness and leads to trust. Combined, they can really move the needle for a brand!

So, with this in mind, how can a company ensure it balances that “Look at me!” behavior that is advertising with the “Smart consumers know…” language of marketing? Tapping public relations, of course! Getting others to vouch for you and to help others feel familiarity and affinity for your business is nuanced, but not impossible.

Here are four brief suggestions, with links to prior articles our agency has written on the topics, to help gain the third-party credibility that comes with public relations efforts:

  1. Send out your company’s big news in the format the media is accustomed to receiving it in, the most-used, often-abused press release, but be sure to get it right:
  2. Share story ideas and trends with the media, particularly those who might be interested in them:
  3. Write about what you’re truly expert in, using bylined articles and op-eds as a way to increase your share of voice and build your thought leadership position:
  4. Pen a letter to the editor as a creative way to get the word out about resources or to express thanks to the community:

With that, I’d encourage you to take a break from talking about yourself or chasing others down and flattering them. Perhaps it’s time to give others a chance to do the talking for you. With a strategic focus on smartly sharing what’s going on with your company, and a concerted effort to allow media to help you tell the story, you’ll be talked about in the best possible ways, even when you’re no longer in the room.