Over a century ago Alvin Adams said: “Public relations are a key component of any operation in this day of instant communications and rightly inquisitive citizens.” Adams was an American businessman who pioneered express shipments by rail in the US – his words are as relevant today as they were then.
As Adams reflected above, public relations are a way to reach your intended audience. It helps build awareness and create a positive image of your client. Although some would argue otherwise, PR can support initiatives in a way advertising and marketing can't.
As such, PR is considered vital for many figures, corporations, and in our case, business schools and universities. This has been especially true this year with the unprecedented global health crisis, where we have worked with our clients to make sure that they continue to promote a positive message throughout an uncertain time.
Indeed, quotes about the field emerge almost daily – but there are some quotes that we can certainly resonate with the most.
“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.”
This quote comes from Richard Branson. Branson is one of the UK’s most successful businessmen – entrepreneur, investor and founder of Virgin Group. As well as this, he is well-known for his effective use of the media.
This quote is effective because is it from someone who truly understands the value of PR and as a result of that (and some very savvy entrepreneurship) he’s one of the most successful, and instantly recognised businessmen of his generation. The point he makes is something we are – as PRs – all very familiar with, and clearly displays why the two (advertising and PR) really aren’t comparable.
But why do so many people not understand that advertising and PR are two very different things?
Well, simply put, advertising is paid media, PR is earned media. This means that as PR consultants we can offer our expertise to reporters or editors, for them to then write a positive story about us or our client. As a result, we can gain sound coverage in the editorial section of the magazine, newspaper, TV station or website, rather than the “paid media” section where advertising messages appear. So – Branson is right – this gives a story more credibility because it was independently verified by a trusted third party, rather than purchased.
Which leads us on to our second quote:
"Advertising is saying you're good. PR is getting someone else to say you're good."
This quote is from Jean-Louis Gassée, a former executive at Apple. Jean-Louis’s quote is a great summary of what we do at a PR agency, and why PR is so valuable. Indeed, we’re always faced with the question of why PR is a better option than advertising, and this is it in a nutshell – the only thing missing from this quote is the fact that getting someone else to say you’re good isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s hard work – but it truly pays to build valuable relationships with top journalists, so that they come back to you again and again when seeking your clients view points in their articles. This is something you cannot build with paid advertising.
At the very heart of it, at BlueSky Education, we believe that PR can help to make a good business school or university stand out from the crowd, and achieve the recognition it deserves. PR at its best is about helping organisations to present themselves in the most favorable light. This may be in top-tier nationals like The Sunday Times and The Financial Times, or perhaps in more trade specific publications like QS Top Universities, or PIE News.
That’s why we believe we can truly add value to business schools and universities looking to enhance their brand, share their faculties expertise, and promote their excellent programmes. This is reflected in our next quote – although a little tongue-in-cheek, this quote below by Daniel J. Boorstin still rings true.
"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.”
Boorstin – a Pulitzer Prize-winner who held twenty honorary degrees – implies that PRs achieve results – and we do. Of course, achieving results isn’t just about writing well, you need to understand your markets and the publications you are pitching too, and to be able to build relationships and understand media trends. PR is much more than just money and luck – you need a depth of understanding of the media landscape and how to navigate it in your favor. Only then will you achieve the greatness Boorstin expressed.
Beyond these three mentioned above, there are of course plenty of other quotes about PR. However, I will leave you with one more from Bill Gates, who said: “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations”.
Now, who wants to tell Bill that won’t buy him much?