How does PR work?

How PR works

In recent years, the term public relations has become firmly established in the Polish language. More and more companies - both large and small - are making use of PR activities. However, not everyone knows how public relations affects a company's operations, image and financial performance.

What are public relations activities and what are their objectives?

Both online and in the literature, we can find a plethora of different definitions of public relations - it is estimated that by 1976, as many as 472 had been created! According to one industry theorist, James Grunig, public relations is 'an element of communication management between an organisation and its environment'. A slightly more expansive definition is given by the British Institute of Public Relations, which calls PR 'the deliberate, planned and continuous effort to create and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its environment'. However, all definitions of public relations boil down to the essence of PR - a company's communication with its audience. 

In a nutshell, PR activities aim to create a positive image of a company, people or products and to build and maintain proper relations with the public. Unlike one-way advertising, in public relations we do not pay for flattering information provided to an organisation's audience, but rather communicate with them on a two-way dialogue basis. To better understand the importance of public relations, it is useful to imagine that we call PR what is said about us when we leave the room. 

One of the main objectives of public relations is to build brand recognition among customers, employees and investors by, among other things, increasing its presence in the media. Through the mass media, public relations reaches the customer with information about the existence of a brand and its offerings. As consumers, we are more likely to support a company that we have heard of before and that evokes positive associations in us. "I have never heard of them" is probably the worst thing a company can say about its brand. 

Thanks to public relations activities, a company is able not only to present its offer to the target customer, but also to justify the price of its products or services. A consumer aware of the values and ideas behind a brand is able to pay more for it. A great example of such decisions is buying artisanal products, which have been fashionable in recent years. Although their price is usually higher, the customer is also aware that it is influenced by, among other things, uniqueness, organic production, high-quality raw materials, ethically run business or support for local subcontractors. This kind of message emerges in the consumer's mind precisely as a result of long-term communication.

Another, equally important objective of public relations is to create a positive image and reputation for the company by, among other things, informing those around it about the company's exceptional achievements, the success of a particular undertaking or its involvement in charitable activities. It is also extremely important to communicate the organisation's mission. This enables customers not only to choose a company's products or services, but also to identify with it. A favourable environment for a company is its greatest asset - it increases opportunities, helps establish business contacts and builds brand values.

It is a mistake to assume that only large organisations should benefit from public relations activities. Every company has communication needs, wants to be understood by its audience and benefit from their favourable attitude, and aims to achieve a positive image. Thanks to its flexibility, PR is also well suited to the needs of smaller companies. In every town there is the best hairdresser, the most famous café or the meeting place of a particular community. You don't need to have a global business to take care of your good name and publicise it effectively.

Read about the golden rules of working with a public relations agency!

Types of public relations activities

Effective PR activities should be carefully thought out, planned and executed. They cannot be haphazard and are usually not the result of instinct either. 

One of the basic types of public relations is product PR, aimed at building a stable position in the market, promoting novelties or improving the reputation of products or services already available. It is an effective tool for anyone wishing to create a new brand and take care of its communication with the target group. It is also a great solution for those who would like to improve or even completely change the image of the products and services they offer. 

Product communication activities mainly revolve around creating the need to purchase and building brand awareness among potential consumers. With the right tools, such as press releases, expert interviews, media monitoring, market analyses, competitions, sponsorships and influencer partnerships, PR is able to build a positive product image even before the product is officially on sale!

Types of PR activities

Another important type of public relations activity is its corporate approach. Contrary to appearances, this does not mean that this type of public relations is reserved for large companies. Corporate PR is not only based on the brand image of a product or service. Its aim is to comprehensively nurture the good name of the company in the eyes of its customers, employees and contractors and to ensure the competitive advantage and credibility of the organisation.

One of the challenges of corporate PR is to tailor communication in a way that, on the one hand, reliably explains the company's activities and, on the other, still remains interesting and comprehensible to those around it. Successful corporate PR is possible above all through close cooperation with the media and the company's experts, employees or management. With a strategy that takes into account the company's mission, employees, capabilities and goals, it is possible to find tools for effective communication that are of interest to the consumer.  

A very important aspect of public relations is crisis communication. Although problems in a company can occur unexpectedly, every day, PR strives to ensure that they do not turn into a major crisis. The way an organisation communicates with the public can be crucial to its reputation and financial performance. 

Crisis communication is based on a set of tools tailored to the individual organisation and a specially developed crisis strategy, which is a kind of instruction manual for dealing with problems. With these, we are able to protect a company's reputation both in the media and in the eyes of its customers, employees and investors. 

A perfect example of the impact of communication on crisis management is the problem of a well-known café chain whose products were found to contain salmonella in 2018. Due to the seriousness of the situation, the company took immediate action - it started working with the health inspector, contacted the victims and issued a statement taking responsibility and announcing an inspection of the premises and redress. According to the company's entourage, it was its crisis communication that deserved praise - the chain kept up to date on the progress of the case and actively supported the aggrieved customers. It was thanks to a well-thought-out PR strategy during the crisis that the company managed to save its reputation and not lose customers.

Find out how best to prepare for a crisis!

Another important aspect of PR activities is corporate social responsibility (CSR). Consumers are increasingly making conscious decisions where it is not just the price that matters to them, but also the actions of the company behind the product - its impact on the environment, its involvement in minority issues, its support for local businesses or the respect of its employees. Companies undertaking CSR activities are forging deeper relationships with their audiences, which are growing in number as a result.

Corporate social responsibility activities are a source of social benefit, giving an organisation a reputation for 'doing something for others' and 'taking little in return'. The attitude and loyalty of customers and the greater dedication of employees also change to the benefit.

An excellent example in the field of CSR is the activities of the online bookshop Not only does the company actively contribute to the local community and the environment, but also promotes healthy habits such as physical activity among its employees. In addition, it is active in blood donation and regularly supports the Białystok Run Foundation and the "Pomóż Im" Foundation for Children with Cancer, which also runs the Białystok Hospice for Children. As a result, has a reputation for being socially committed and responsible, and customers have repeatedly appreciated its activities.

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Public relations tools

A key role in communication is played by the tools used in it. PR professionals most often use in their daily work:

  • press releases - press material reporting on a company's activities to encourage a journalist to investigate and publish,
  • media relations - building and maintaining positive relations with journalists and representatives of traditional and online media,
  • expert positioning - promoting the expert as an ambassador for the organisation by positioning them in the media and building their credibility,
  • influencer marketing - an extremely popular collaborative model for promoting the products and services offered by a company, based on trust and a group of committed influencer audiences,
  • investor relations - communication of the organisation with individual and institutional investors and building a positive image of the company in their eyes.


PR activities and sales

When considering investing in public relations activities, entrepreneurs often ask themselves - "is it worth it?". Although the direct purpose of PR activities is not sales, they do affect a company's bottom line. With the help of public relations tools, we can reach out to potential customers, inform them of a brand's existence and even influence their decision to purchase products or services.

Sales support by means of public relations can be described as a somewhat


hence the desired 'side effect'. To better understand how PR works and how it affects sales, it is enough to imagine a potential customer and his or her decision-making process. Given a choice between a product or service from a company he or she has never heard of and another with intensive communication, good reviews and media attention, the consumer will almost always choose the latter. 

Public relations tools


Well-conducted public relations endeavours to calm the uncertainty of the potential buyer by eliminating their hesitation and reinforcing their resolve to buy. PR urges the consumer to search and provokes his or her curiosity about the product, as well as educating before making a purchase.

It is also important to remember that sales support through public relations does not have to focus only on the individual customer. With PR, a company is also able to reach business counterparties and investors.

How to evaluate the effectiveness of PR activities?

In short, 'good PR' is PR that delivers the expected results. The ability to measure the effectiveness of PR activities is extremely important, especially when we want to translate the effects obtained into sales results. The key to correctly assessing the effectiveness of a campaign is to include evaluation at the initial stage of strategy planning. 

Another common problem is limiting oneself to measuring the initial impact of activities. It is important to remember that public relations is very much a long-term activity, and sometimes you have to wait until after the campaign to see the effect. This does not mean, however, that it is impossible to monitor media mentions and publications about a company on an ongoing basis.

Public relations activities

The effects of PR activities, such as building a positive image of an organisation or changing the perception of a company by its environment, may initially seem difficult to evaluate. Fortunately, public relations professionals have the right tools for satisfactory evaluation. One such tool is ongoing media monitoring, through which we are able to estimate the number of mentions of an organisation in the media, their reach and the reach of the desired target group. This data allows us to find out how many people have heard about the company's activities. For example, the distribution of press material about a product or service will result in publications, which will later translate into increased awareness of the brand among the target group and ultimately result in more people becoming customers. In addition, regular monitoring of publications about the organisation also allows for a timely response to possible crisis situations.

From an organisation's perspective, AVE, or advertising equivalent, is also an interesting measurement indicator. In simple terms, this is a calculation of the cost an organisation would have to pay if publications about it were paid advertising. 

Find out how to measure PR activities!

Why work with PR specialists?

By using the services of professionals, we have a guarantee of the knowledge and experience of the specialists responsible for communication activities for our company. This is extremely important because the effectiveness of PR activities depends largely on whether the people coordinating them have the right skills, know the media market and the industry of the organisation they will be promoting. 

Public relations specialists also have the tools at their disposal to not only thoroughly analyse the initial situation of the company, but also to propose the most advantageous solutions and to adapt the method of communication to the client's expectations and the needs of the market. In addition, by using a PR specialist you can count on ongoing advice, active sales support and assistance in crisis situations. 

If you are considering working with a professional public relations agency, get in touch!