Has Anyone Really Defined “Brand PR” and is it Still Viable? Well, Yes and Yes. (Part 1)

The use of the term “Brand PR” is now fairly widespread and part of the modern PR professional lexicon.  But it is not necessarily well understood and is often confused with marketers’ perception of the term “Branding.”  There is a definite distinction.

In the mid-‘90s, when my public relations agency was busy promoting several Northern California, now legacy natural foods companies, as well as pioneering packaged salad company, Fresh Express Farms, I would often attend food and beverage and consumer package goods marketing conferences where the hot topic was “Branding,” specifically, Brand Advertising, Brand Marketing, graphic and visual branding, package branding, etc.  Not once did I hear about the efficacy and strategic use of public relations to market a brand, and, yet, that is what we and other creative public relations agencies were doing with huge results, cost effective budgets and for clients who, often, could not afford consumer ad campaigns, effective primary research initiatives and, even, the daunting supermarket slotting fees that were demanded of them to bring their concepts to market.

In the ‘90s, my Brand PR newsletters were a staple for food companies.

I decided to define what we were doing with a term that marketers, food company executives and entrepreneurs could understand – BRAND PR – and I became a bit of a missionary for the concept.  For a few years in the ‘90s, my Brand PR newsletters (before the days of e-newsletters) were a relatively popular staple for in-house food company marketing and communications professionals.

So, what was it, and what makes Brand PR just as relevant nearly 20 years later?

  1. Branding an organization’s message with a compelling story
  2. Making the Brand Promise viscerally meaningful and creating such a clear and compelling value for the brand – in language, in stories, in messages – that other factors, like price, lost relevance, and
  3. Engaging the consumer

Bottom line, Brand PR is about demonstrating the value of a powerful, invested, brand-focused public relations program. Of course, giving consumers a compelling message of value – or added value – that they can remember and trust must be fulfilled by the product’s sensory and/or health properties.  This was never a case of spinning straw into gold.  The product has to deliver.

So, in a nutshell, Brand PR as I originally defined it and continue to uphold today is about communicating meaning — what the brand stands for — with a focus on building emotional connections with shared values, creating a “persona,” establishing a voice, and demonstrating clearly how the brand meets a demand, trend or issue.  But the concept can only really be explained with an example. That’s Part 2, coming in my next blog.  I hope you’ll stay tuned.

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