What Does A PR Firm Do?

A PR firm will handle the reputation of your company through owned, earned, and paid communications. Typically, public relations firms handle messaging to the press. The main goals of a PR firm are brand awareness and reputation management. While the duties of public relations and marketing can overlap, the two serve different functions. Allie Decker, a writer on HubSpot’s pillar page team, wrote about public relations and marketing in this site. She says, “The main goal of PR is to boost the reputation of your brand. On the other hand, the main goal of marketing is to drive sales.” PR and marketing can work together by aligning their goals. For instance, people may become aware of your brand through PR tactics such as organic social media presence, and then convert into sales from your marketing tactics such as Facebook ads. With PR and marketing collaborating on strategic messaging, you’ll build your reputation and drive more sales.

Public Relations Services:

Reputation management

Crisis management

Media relations

Social media

Speech writing

Event planningPress releases


Market research

Media training

Internal copywriting

1. Reputation Management

Reputation management is one of the main services that public relations firms offer. Tactics might include email newsletters, messaging on website copy or blog content, social media management, responding to reviews, and engaging with followers. For instance, Taco Bell uses social media to build its reputation. In the example below, Taco Bell responds to a customer on Twitter with an authentic, engaging tweet making the brand relatable and boosting its reputation.

2. Crisis Management

According to data from PwC, 69% leaders have experienced at least one corporate crisis in the last five years — with the average number of crises experienced being three. Your company will most likely face at least one crisis during your tenure. That’s why you might have a PR firm come up with a crisis communication plan so you’re prepared when the time comes. For example, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a leading breast cancer charity, faced the consequences of lacking a crisis communication plan in 2012. They stopped funding Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screenings after seven years of funding. When Planned Parenthood made the announcement, the story went viral on social media with attacks coming from all sides. Komen waited a while to respond, put up a video failing to take responsibility, and then reversed the decision. According to PRSA, there are many lessons to learn from Komen’s mistakes, including “Don’t position yourself as a victim. It won’t work.”

3 .Media Relations Crisis Management

One way to build your reputation and get your name out there is through the media. PR firms can handle the relationship between the media and your company. Tactics include writing pitches to journalists and influencers to attain mentions in industry news and get more media coverage. For example, if you own a sustainable beauty company, a PR firm might pitch you to the Organic Bunny blog for an interview about sustainable beauty products.

4. Social Media

Social media is a large factor in reputation management and one of the main ways to communicate with your audience, so maintaining your social media accounts can become a public relations tactic. Since you own your social media accounts they’re an easy way to build your brand. Plus, your social media strategy might involve engaging with influencers in your niche. In the example below, Poo-Pourri uses its own social media account to boost its reputation and spread the word about an earned media opportunity. Also, note how the founder is active in the community, attains media coverage, and builds her company’s brand.

5. Speech Writing

Speech writing is a useful public relations tactic that you might use if your company holds press conferences and events or your employees speak at industry events. Any speeches given on behalf of your company should represent your brand as a whole. If anyone in your company has to give a speech, you might consider hiring a PR agency to handle the strategic messaging.

In the example below, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, and other members of his team, give several speeches about new products and updates during Apple’s annual innovation event. Apple may or may not have worked with a public relations firm, but this is a great example of an event where you might talk to a PR firm about the strategic and brand messaging.

6. Press Releases

Your company might have to write a press release to announce new products, launches, campaigns, or movements. This tactic goes hand-in-hand with media relations. For example, if you work at a shoe company and want to start a movement on Twitter to #walkmore, a PR firm can write a press release to announce the campaign and hopefully attain media coverage.

7. Event Planning

Event planning can be a marketing and public relations tactic to promote your brand, product, or service. If your company puts on an event for the purpose of boosting your brand reputation, you might consider working with a PR agency. A PR agency can help communicate with your stakeholders and publics, attain media coverage, and plan your event.

For example, INBOUND, an annual experience event for those in the marketing industry, is an event that is used to elevate the INBOUND brand. At this type of event, INBOUND provides value to the public, while also boosting its brand reputation. While this event is planned internally by INBOUND, it’s a good example of the type of event that a PR agency could help plan.

8. Outreach

Do you want to ensure your company is active in your niche’s community, including trade shows and events? A PR agency can help with that. Public relations firms use outreach as a tactic to boost brand reputation and increase brand awareness. For example, if you work at a fish store, your public relations firm might reach out to the Global Pet Expo to attain a booth at the event. Then, they might promote your involvement through social media, a press release, and media interviews.

9. Market Research

The most important element to communicating and building relationships with your publics is to understand them. That’s why a PR firm would likely use market research as a tactic. They might use surveys, feedback forms, or focus groups to learn about your target audience. For example, if you own a protein company, a PR firm might send out surveys to see who buys your protein, what kind of flavors they want, and what they value in a protein company.

10. Media Training

Many companies and brands in the public eye undergo media training. Media training is a tactic public relations firms use in order to produce consistent, strategic messaging for the brands they work with. If your company or brand will have several employees speaking in public, everyone should be on the same page in regards to messaging. If there is only one person who will be the face of your brand, it’s important to anticipate common reporter questions and have canned answers prepared.

In the example below, the Kardashians attend media training to practice answers to the most controversial questions reporters ask them. As a brand, the Kardashians have a lot of moving parts, and the family had never discussed or practiced the messaging they’d use when talking to the media.

11. Internal Copywriting

Writing internal copy is a public relations tactic PR agencies use to communicate with employees. Your employees are a stakeholder and public of your company, so a PR firm could manage that relationship. You might need to communicate with your employees to discuss major changes, build morale, or celebrate successes.

Our tip from HubSpot is to have a main communication channel where communication is stored and disseminated. For example, HubSpot has an internal Wiki (see screenshot below), where our employees, who span seven countries, can communicate.