Unless you’re in the marketing business, chances are that you don’t fully understand what public relations is and/or how it is different from advertising.
Public relations, or PR (as it is affectionately known), is the practice of managing communications (written and verbal) between an organization and its “publics” (or target audiences) to create goodwill or a favorable image. For the rental industry, the goal of a rental house’s public relations’ effort is mainly to get their news about their products and their services published in the media. This might include coverage in newsletters and blog postings and on social media platforms, like Twitter or Facebook, without having to pay for it.
In the marketing world, these are called “non-paid” placements. In the media world, it’s called “editorial coverage.”
So, how is PR different from advertising? Plain and simple: Advertising is paid for. With advertising, clients develop their message through ad copy, images and design, and then pay to have the advertisements appear exactly how they have designed them in the exact places they choose to publish them. The creation and distribution of the message is very controlled. Advertising is an excellent way for rental companies to generate rental opportunities and build brand awareness.
With PR, rental companies build their brand by weaving their marketing messages into press releases, articles, customer success stories and Q&A with editors (to name a few). It is a softer, less direct approach than advertising because once these pieces are submitted to editors for publication, the rental company is no longer fully in control of the content. Ultimately, the editor has final say on what is published. He/she may publish everything provided, pick-and-choose a few nuggets from what was submitted or do absolutely nothing with what they’ve been given.
Because it is not paid for, PR may pose rental companies as experts in the industry and being an expert gains them credibility with their “publics” (i.e. rental customers). This is what makes PR so powerful ─ because being credible can lead to rentals, which is the end goal for every rental company’s PR and advertising efforts.