Relationship building in PR: why it matters and how to utilize it for your brand’s success
Traditionally, public relations has always focused on the “relations” part of its name—creating, building, and strengthening relationships between parties. There once was a time when the majority of significant relationships in PR, especially those between a brand and its customers, were cultivated offline, in person, and not in front of the whole world to see.
With the rise of Web 2.0 however, a combination of new social media tools allowed professionals to reach, better communicate with and authentically engage with people online who may be prospect decision-makers, advocates, influencers, and partners for the brand.
Relationship building in the social media era became significant because it allowed for customized interactions and active responses that foster personal relationships which don’t feel transactional to the consumer. Now more than ever, brands can fully utilize social platforms and directly impact their company’s success.
“Every good brand wants a personal connection with their consumers,” said Milorad Cvelić, the PR Director of Represent Communications. “When this happens, it improves sales and creates a good reputation. On the other end, the customer feels safe and excited which can lead them to show brand loyalty and become a brand advocate. Nothing beats having a loyal fan base, it’s literally the ultimate goal that everybody wants to achieve.”
The ever-changing digital era has opened new doors for relationship building in PR through a direct-to-consumer approach that raises awareness while simultaneously increasing brand exposure and building meaningful, mutually-beneficial relationships.
According to a 2021 study from PWC, 73% of all people consider customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions. Thus, fostering brand-consumer relationships is essential for brand success.
Even with enough knowledge of why relationship-building matters, the process can be confusing and overwhelming. Tamara Williams, a digital marketing coordinator for Major League Baseball says that understanding your audience is the first step.
“A brand needs to know its consumers’ likes, dislikes, expectations, and attitudes when trying to create a connection. Market research can help with this, and so can monitoring audience feedback under comments, reviewing data and analytics, conducting surveys, and even doing small experiments and testing to see how they’ll be perceived online on social platforms,” said Williams.
According to Bellmont Partners, another way brands use PR use to create relationships is by providing something of value. Valuable content is an opportunity to show off a brand’s expertise without asking the audience for anything in return. Still, this can be accomplished strategically to target the audience's needs while also being authentic and telling a story that highlights why the brand is great. Valuable content can additionally humanize brands and showcase emotional intelligence.
The new digital era has impacted how PR practitioners advise their clients when it comes to brand management. The popularity of online platforms means that investing in relationships with consumers can directly impact a business’s revenue and strengthen customer loyalty.
By Katarina Josifov
Katarina is an SDSU senior & public relations student originally from Belgrade, Serbia. She is passionate about combining interdisciplinary arts with PR and aspires to specialize in international tourism post-graduation