PR is unique and often tricky terrain to navigate, that, if applied strategically and correctly, can be an excellent way to drive business growth and increase brand awareness.  Bad publicity is often harder and more costly to repair, so it’s worth time, money and effort to strategize on your businesses approach to PR.


PR is often the least understood of business marketing tools.  Trends suggest that PR is becoming more and more vital to the credibility and amplification of most brands. A report from Influence & Co released this year indicates that thought leadership in particular is set to become a critical marketing tool in the year ahead and one of the most important aspects of good business PR.


According to world-renowned African PR firm, Magna Carta, South Africa is considered to have a mature PR market whose services are considered the best on the African continent. According to Vincent Magwenya, CEO of Magna Carta,  “Public relations, although still in its infancy in many African countries, is assuming new significance as international investors and South African companies expand operations on the continent.”


Here’s are 4 ways PR can help your business grow in the year ahead:


  1. It builds brand integrity


Being published in a newspaper or magazine, being seen on TV or heard on radio creates integrity around your brand. It tells the world you have a message or story that is important enough to be made public by media opinion-makers, who often come with their own unique brand and following. Once the brand has established itself with one or two key journalists or editors, it will open up further doors for other publications that are keen to use your expertise and knowledge. The key is consistency – a once off opinion piece or article will not establish your brand in the media – it needs to be done on message and in volume over time.


  1. It builds brand awareness


PR, if directed correctly can establish brand awareness in a certain sector very successfully. It’s not just about getting into the Sunday Times or the 08:00 pm news on TV; there are dedicated and specialized media platforms that really allow businesses to drill down into their own unique offering. Whether your business is IT, Finance, HR, digital, arty or socially driven, there are PR spaces for all sectors. Nando’s is a brand that continues to generate huge amounts of PR buzz through its quirky and witty adverts which tend to go viral through their unique take on South African life.


  1. Online publication has opened up endless opportunities


The emergence of online publication has opened up extensive opportunities for businesses to include a PR angle to their marketing. In a world of instant news and a demanding public, media platforms have to turn around information at an extremely fast rate and are always looking for news. It’s an opportunity for free publicity that just can’t be missed. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, eighty percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. The personal weight of a published article reaches people in a stronger manner than traditional advertising.  In 2015, Internet Live Stats released a report that indicates that South Africa ranks among the fastest growing internet markets in the world with around 24 million users. With a yearly growth rate of around 14% and only a 47% penetration rate, online platforms remain a key sector for current and potential PR opportunities.


  1. Every one has a story to tell


There is a story to be found in almost everything and PR is simply the channel to tell everyone else why this story matters. By establishing your brand in the PR world, further opportunities for publicity will open up. In particular, becoming a go-to opinion maker for the media to rely on for comment on topical matters is often a powerful offshoot to establishing your PR credibility.  If interested potential clients or even other media search for your business online, having positive and quality content published and available establishes your credibility with your audience immediately. Your brand’s story is the personality behind your business and a means for people to connect with and learn about you through the messaging and content that you put out there.


The PR wheel will keep turning as long as you establish a consistent and trusted message over time. It can often be disheartening as the news cycle can swallow up seemingly important information without any visible outcome. But it is hugely rewarding and beneficial if PR is done correctly and strategically and can really assist in your brand develop and business growth. Positive and valuable content that is readily and consistently available can ensure that PR becomes a key tool in the development of your brand.

Written by Kelly Miller, Kelly’s PR and communications background stems from several years as a political staffer in the Democratic Alliance’s media and communications division. This comprised running several major media and social media campaigns, including for current DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane. She has extensive knowledge of the media landscape in South Africa and believes in building personal relationships to get the job done.