Which Public Relations Tool Should I Use?


When planning a PR campaign, it can be tempting to follow successful examples from other businesses or organisations. Tried-and-tested methods supposedly pose less risk, so if it works, why change?

The truth is, in PR, as in many aspects of businesses, there is rarely a one-size fits all approach. To select the perfect PR tools, it is essential to first understand what purpose each serves and how to wield them.


Events are usually one of the most exciting aspects of public relations. It offers an opportunity for brand owners to build rapport with stakeholders directly. To ensure that an event has traction with stakeholders such as customers, media or influencers, the secret lies not entirely in the message but the experience.

The message is critical (don’t get us wrong). In this information era inundated by content, a message cannot simply be perfunctory if a brand wishes to stand out. If content is all that a stakeholder is looking for, there is really no need for an event, is there?

The motivation to attend an event lies in the experience, and importantly (preferably exclusive) insights that cannot be otherwise obtained from a press release. However, depending on the type and scale of events and the audience, events can be rather costly and labour-intensive.

PRotip: To create an experience, consider something different or new, and yet related to the industry or message.

Press Releases

Press release, a classic media relations tool, is meant for disseminating stories that are newsworthy to the media and should not be abused for SEO purposes. An effective press release is one that succinctly and aptly frames the issue to provide value to the media, audience and the client. The announcement of a product launch or the partnering with a charity are opportunities to reestablish the name of the brand or company in the minds of consumers. However, these types of news are commonplace as most businesses have caught on with the publicity trend. To reach the consumers, first arouse the media’s interest. A creative and strategic media drop is a great technique to achieve this as it creates buzz and relevance for the two-page document. The art of enticing and persuasion are imperative for crafting press releases and story pitching.

PRotip: Identify and target the right media before sending out press releases. Misfiring not only costs precious ammunition but risks being blacklisted as ‘spammers’.

Social Media

When a business or an organisation decides to establish its presence on social media, it needs to be ready with a message. For example, the core message of Dove on social media is its commitment to empowering women to realise their beauty potential while Oreo is great at creating current and entertaining social media content relating to its products. Once a direction has been decided and agreed upon, it sets the motion for content planning and marketing.

This latest video by Dove conveys the #RealBeauty message it claims to preach and the same message resonates throughout the different social media platforms.  

Social media act as assistive tools for brands to create a positive image and to communicate their positioning. It is not merely a cheaper alternative to mass media for advertisement. Furthermore, changes in the communication paradigm demand more pull and less push in communication. Brands and organisations are required to consistently supply useful, relevant and valuable information that speak to their audiences. This, overtime, creates a supportive online community or fan base for the brand. Nonetheless, maintaining relationship with these stakeholders is not any less demanding than maintaining a romantic relationship. Both require active listening, proactive engagement and honesty.

Even when communication is dominated by social media, successful and sustainable communication requires the strategic integration of different PR tools. To be a communication specialist, besides knowing the mechanics of each tool, one needs to be constantly aware that these tools are merely means and not ends of communication. The number of tools is only an indicator of PR costs and not the results.