Microsoft Founder, Bill Gates, famously said “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on PR”-  a mantra the company continues to uphold, putting PR front and centre of their marketing strategies. Perhaps the most recent example is the media fuss made last month about its staff layoffs. Thanks to PR, those stories were quickly replaced with positive news about Microsoft`s investments in ChatGPT, its new AI focused strategy, and subsequent growth of company`s shares on the stock exchange.


Whilst Microsoft and other high profile tech companies like Apple may have always understood the power of PR in their brand marketing, more and more brands are choosing to focus on PR these days. So what are the driving forces behind the recent enlightenment? Is it the upheavals over the past few years that have become the reason for the victory of PR in the battle with marketing? In part, but there are a number of other reasons for the awakeing.


Great stories create stand out

PR has become essential for an omni-channel presence and supplementing other marketing activities such as SEO. Not only does brand PR improve Google ranking, but it also increases web traffic.

Consumers are also on the look-out for brands that stand out. Any business can post on social media or send out an email campaign, but it is only those with great stories, a reactive edge and creativity that can continuously land good PR.

Advocacy evokes credibility

Brands continually seek credibility and there is no better way to achieve it than by third-party advocacy from a major news publication or glossy consumer mag that is unbiased in their opinion of a brand’s product or service.

Digital footprints last forever

In today’s world a positive feature or press mention lasts forever – it’s part of a company’s digital footprint and adds value to a client’s search on the history of a new potential PR partner. Brands are starting to realise this and want to build up their digital footprint accordingly. It also helps their SEO and website traffic for the right targets too.

There is trust in the written word

Marketing is everywhere, including our phones which is courtesy of the apps that allow you to market to a certain catchment, at a certain time. The world of advertising is pretty saturated, and messages go missed, but there is trust in the written word and brands see it as a way to cut through to the right audience and amplify their messages in a way they might not have been able to do before.

PR is more engaging

The rise in brand PR indicates a larger shift in how companies communicate with their customers. Today, they expect more business engagement and transparency, which creates an opportunity for brands to use PR to build relationships with their audiences. Brands like Apple have effectively used PR communication to increase their visibility and create an emotional connection with their customers.

PR is not boring

Brands are competing for attention – not just with each other, but with creators, traditional publishers and even our friends and family. However, today’s audiences are inclined to ignore digital ads, blank OOH and skip through TV commercials. Why? Most ads are boring and so marketers are turning to PR as a primary brand channel,  because the one thing PR can’t afford to be is, boring. If we bore journalists, influencers or the public, then our campaigns die without a trace.

PR campaigns are brilliant at driving conversation to grow a brand. Just look at the annual John Lewis Christmas ad, which is designed specifically for earned audiences. Louis Vuitton’s recent ad featuring Messi and Ronaldo playing chess was an PR stunt with a paid trigger. All of these marketing activations have a carefully crafted PR strategy behind them.

PR allows brands to show their authentic selves

Brand-driven PR is also surging because brands are finally understanding the power of showing their true, authentic selves. Authenticity can engage audiences and grow trust in a totally unique way. Customers want to feel like they can ‘see inside’ the brand and have a say along the way.

It makes financial sense

Another major driver for the increased investment in PR is the significant inflation that brands have seen in the cost of bidding on generic or product category-based search terms on paid online advertising. As we see from client briefs, if they need to drive incremental growth of their business, and they’re getting a total cost per lead which is unsustainable via paid, they need to pull a new lever. That lever is often increasing awareness of their brand and getting consumers to search for the brand first.

People prefer brands that align with their values

A brand’s mission and values will be integral to its storytelling and there is no better credible or authentic channel to do this than PR.

Audiences want to purchase from brands that align with their values – more than changing their logo to include the pride flag in June. They want to see that brands are walking the walk and not just talking the talk. If the brand is inclusive to all, what are they actually doing roughout the whole year for the LGBTQ+ community?

Brands can no longer hide behind smoke and mirrors, consumers want to look behind the scenes and see that founders, along with their brand, are really sticking to their sustainability, philanthropy, and social justice missions – this isn’t a trend it’s a permanent shift in the PR industry.

PR offers ideal anti-crisis strategies

PR is primarily about forming an image, building reputation and maintaining trust of a brand. And this can`t simply be immediately launched and executed like typical marketing campaigns with tight deadlines. PR is a longer-lasting story that not only creates the brand itself, but its past, present and the future. PR helps brands to build a legacy for their business.

The winners are those who haven’t saved on PR. Persuasive communications are necessary in the fight against bad news and in order to navigate the choppy waters, they require strong PR solutions with an anti-crisis strategy.


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