Clients of SmartBug Media are now able to use HubSpot products in line with HIPAA regulations. Learn more.

Skip to content
Supercharge Your Pipeline
Coworkers sitting around a table

How to Increase Brand Recognition with PR

As a marketer, you’re constantly amplifying, optimizing, and finding new channels to get more eyes on your brand. Ultimately, it is all about building brand recognition in order to stand out from your competitors in a crowded market. 

In addition to traditional marketing channels, public relations is a crucial part of building strong brand recognition. However, most marketers have only minimal knowledge when it comes to the nuances, initiatives, and strategies that PR professionals can use to achieve this goal. The following guide explains exactly what brand recognition is, why it’s important, and how you can leverage PR to get your brand where you want it to be. 

Download a PDF version of this guide by filling out this form, or keep scrolling to learn more.

Image of ebook How to Increase Brand Recognition with PR
Chapter 1

Marketing and PR: What’s the Difference?

Learn about the differences between marketing and public relations and how those come into play when planning organizational communication strategies.
Individuals sitting at a desk together

Marketing and public relations share many of the same goals. However, you have to understand their key differences in order to effectively incorporate PR strategies into an organization’s comprehensive communication plan.  

Both PR and marketing pros must be expert storytellers focused on building relationships and bolstering an organization's reputation. In fact, the primary similarity between PR and digital marketing is that they both support brand building and corporate growth. But, there are also distinct, complementary differences.


The goals of PR and marketing have significant overlap, but there are important differences in what the two disciplines are trying to accomplish. Marketing is focused on promoting the products and services that an organization offers. Goals and KPIs center around generating leads and increasing sales, often by driving traffic to the website.   

Public relations is more interested in building a company’s reputation and developing relationships with stakeholders. PR promotes an organization’s messages and values and garners third-party validation in the form of media placements, awards, and speaking engagements. Establishing company executives as thought leaders in the industry and within targeted verticals is also a common PR goal that helps to bolster the overall brand. 


In support of their differing goals, PR and marketing also target different (although overlapping) audiences. Marketing is laser-focused on reaching current and prospective customers. This is in line with marketing’s focus on products and sales. Regardless of overall strategy, all efforts ultimately target at least one buyer persona in order to attract new clients while keeping the existing ones satisfied.

PR, however, casts a wider net. In addition to the groups targeted by marketing campaigns, public relations seeks to build relationships and improve a brand’s reputation across many constituencies, including people in targeted industries, reporters and influencers, investors, and even the public at large. 


Of course, the most obvious differences between public relations and marketing stem from the varying tactics and channels that the disciplines use to accomplish their goals and reach their targeted audiences. 

Marketing primarily leverages owned and paid channels like the company website, social media, email, or paid ads. These require teams to create a wide range of rich digital content offerings, including:

Public relations, on the other hand, focuses on earned channels, particularly with third-party media outlets. In order to earn these placements, PR practitioners create content including:

  • Media pitches
  • Press releases
  • Bylined articles and op-eds
  • Pitches for speaking engagements
  • Award submissions

As always, there are significant commonalities here, and both marketing and public relations campaigns should be part of a comprehensive communication plan. That way, an organization can move forward holistically, while harnessing the strengths of each area, rather than taking a more piecemeal approach that could let valuable opportunities fall through the cracks.

Chapter 2

What is Brand Recognition?

Dive deep into what brand recognition really means and what elements are necessary for it to thrive.
Someone writing on a sketch pad

Brand recognition is an audience’s ability to identify a product or service simply by viewing the brand’s logo, tagline, packaging, or campaign materials. It’s closely tied to brand recall, or the unaided recall or spontaneous recall of a brand name. It can take a great deal of time and money to create brand recognition, but it is incredibly important and valuable to the overall success of an organization. 

The Nike swoosh, for example, is a mainstay on apparel around the world and holds strong brand associations tying Nike to sporting events, athletes, and the “Just Do It” slogan. The Golden Arches, meanwhile, are enough for people to know that there is a McDonald’s offering inexpensive fast food just around the corner.

In order to stand out from the competition and build and maintain a trustworthy reputation, brand recognition is a must. First on the agenda is using the following tools to create a cohesive brand that is easily recognizable.

Targeted Audience

In order to build a brand, you have to know your audience. Keep in mind, “everybody” doesn’t count as an answer. Taking the time to develop buyer personas and identifying important stakeholders so that you know exactly who you want to reach, what they care about, and what keeps them up at night provides a springboard that allows every other branding element to take flight. In-depth, ongoing market research is crucial here so that you are always in sync with the people you are trying to reach. 

Visual Identity

When it comes to branding and what elements trigger brand recognition, even most people outside of marketing understand the importance of strong visuals. Logos, colors, fonts, packaging, and layouts are all front and center, and every design element contributes to building a distinguished brand. A detailed style guide is essential because sloppy or inconsistent execution diminishes the power of the brand and does little to separate it from the competition.

Brand Values

A brand’s values are the foundational beliefs that underpin everything about how an organization operates. To their detriment, many companies don’t bother to establish core values. To build strong relationships and loyalty with your customers, it’s important that they connect with something deeper than just a product. Even more importantly, these values should infuse all elements of a brand and provide a guide to what is emphasized, how you communicate, and even the strategic direction of the company.  

Consistent Messaging

Messaging is an area that brings everything together.  With values and audience in mind, organizations need to plan and communicate their messaging strategy so that it is effective at embodying the brand and consistent across all channels. Thoughtfully developing a brand tone and voice is one valuable step to take, as is carefully determining messages that support the broader communications goals of the company. Getting the messages in front of your targeted audience by utilizing owned, paid, and earned channels is another vital step.

Chapter 3

The Role of Public Relations in Brand Recognition

How PR can benefit your company’s image for the long haul.
A table with laptops and notebooks

Ultimately, PR helps your brand attain a positive image that benefits your company in the long haul. When a brand has established its product or service’s logo, tagline, packaging, and other visuals, PR can provide support in communication activities that craft and preserve a brand or organization’s image and relationship with its public. 

So how does PR do that?

It begins with building a narrative and telling the organization's story in an impactful way that helps build credibility. After the narrative is built, PR assists in achieving third-party validation through media coverage. 

In order to reach your key audiences, building and leveraging media connections is critical. A few tactics for generating awareness include press release distribution, securing expert source opportunities, and generating thought leadership for industry experts. 

Press Releases

Press releases often announce new products or services, showcase company success, and share industry news. They help build strong brand recognition by getting your message in front of more people.

Expert Sourcing

The key to securing continuous expert source opportunities is to build and maintain relationships with media that cover your source's subject matter. The more interviews you are able to secure, the easier it is to measure your brand recognition among your audience. 

There are multiple resources available that assist with expert source opportunities, including HARO, Qwoted, and ProfNet, among others. Tools like these drive you directly to story angles that reporters are working on that could be a good fit for your organization’s expertise.

Thought Leadership

Thought leadership can come in many forms, whether it’s securing a speaking opportunity or a byline article, the better you are able to position yourself within your industry.


Planning and executing public or private events is another way to boost brand recognition. PR efforts become beneficial because they can help with sponsorships and media coverage. For an event with relevant presentations and/or speeches from subject matter experts, PR can earn coverage through media and influencers who in return promote and increase awareness. 

Chapter 4

4 PR Strategies for Brand Recognition

Learn the best strategies to increase your brand recognition.
Man pointing on a white board

Public relations, or earned media, can be an impactful tool in getting exposure for your small business or brand. In fact, PR can have up to 10 times the impact of traditional advertising because positive media coverage is considered an independent, third-party endorsement for companies. 

Here are four PR strategies you can start using today to improve your brand recognition:

1. Build Brand Recognition with a Strong Value Proposition

All companies should formalize what they bring to the table in the form of a written mission and vision statement. 

In the digital age, these documents may seem trite, but all organizations should be able to paint a word picture of what they want to be when they grow up. Only with these documents in hand can you truly answer the public’s tough question: What is the value proposition you bring to the consumer or other businesses?

With your value proposition in hand, you can begin to develop the key messages you want the public to know about your brand, which is vital to earned media initiatives for brand recognition.

2. Build Trust as Thought Leader

Immerse yourself in the industry you represent by taking courses, participating in professional organizations, attending educational events, and so on. Identify your target audience and what media outlets they are likely to rely on, and begin the process of getting yourself identified in the industry as an expert worthy of being interviewed by the press.

Even small companies with CEOs who serve as their own publicists can accomplish this goal if they are on top of the news in their industry, aware of the journalists covering key trends affecting their businesses, and willing to reach out to reporters on their own.

Nothing will raise a small company’s public profile faster than having your CEO quoted in a major media outlet about an industry trend right alongside the Goliaths of the industry. For example, a small local bank that is quoted in a finance article along with national banks instantly elevates its profile by the company it keeps in the press.

Similarly, using PR strategies to publish an article under your CEO’s byline can raise your company’s profile. Being a one-hit wonder will have minimal impact on building your brand recognition, however, so if you are not willing to pound the PR pavement regularly to enjoy the true value of earned media, get someone to do it for you.

3. Be Helpful to Journalists

It’s important to remember reporters receive hundreds of pitches, or story suggestions, every day. If a journalist is interested in a story you suggested, be prompt in your response, whether that’s coordinating an interview or gathering the supportive information they need to complete the article in a timely manner. 

Recently, earned media software company Cision released its 2022 State of the Media Report, a global survey of more than 3,800 journalists, which provides many interesting insights, including:

  • Seventy-six percent of journalists prefer to receive press releases/news announcements from brands and PR pros.
  • Sixty-three percent of journalists’ main request is to understand their target audience and what they find relevant.
  • Fifty-seven percent of journalists want PR pros to provide data and expert sources when they need them.
  • Fifty-four percent of journalists are more likely to cover a story if provided with multimedia.

“To be a good partner to journalists, focus on being relevant and targeted with your outreach,” the report concluded. “Deliver clear and concise pitches and be sure you’ve done your research before you reach out. Provide new information, backed up with data, images, and expert sources, and understand who your target audience is (and how to best reach them).”

4. Be a Storyteller

​​We all love a timely, engaging story. Reporters are no different, as long as you are telling the story to the right person at the right time.

Every organization has positive stories to tell about how their products and services connect to real people. Think about your company’s end user and identify opportunities to tell stories that highlight your brand.

Be an educator whenever possible, whether by contributing an article in the local press on issues and trends that are relevant to your business or by hosting a special event.

Sponsorship of community activities can also be a low-cost option for attaching your brand to important local issues. Depending on the type of media that is appropriate for your business, these events can result in positive PR for your brand.

Chapter 5

How to Measure Brand Recognition

Here are the best metrics for measuring your PR strategies.
Woman looking at a computer

As PR strategies are implemented, it’s important to monitor and measure your results along the way. By doing this, you can get a better understanding of what’s working and what needs further adjustment. Depending on the PR activity, measuring your results can be executed in a variety of ways. 

Usually tracked through a media database, traditional go-to measuring metrics include: 


Understanding your audience is key as well as the industry verticals you may be looking to target. As you evaluate your coverage, take note of which audiences you met by targeting specific media outlets.


You can track the conversation surrounding your brand, your product, your event, or your thought leaders by understanding how many times you were mentioned over a period of time. Was it simply a mention of your company name? Did the article have quotes? Was it a full feature? Was there a link to your website? Remember, it’s always nice to see your name in lights, but strive for quality over quantity. 


You can track how many people clicked on your article. It’s one thing to know the unique visitors per month (UVPM) for an outlet that published your article, but that doesn’t mean all those people actually saw your article. By using Google Analytics, you are able to see who actually clicked through to read it. Then you can better determine whether you could reach the audience you wanted and whether they took the time to read the article. You can presume that this is a person who may not have come across your company and thought leadership without the public relations effort—and that’s a hole in one.

Share of Voice

You can track your visibility in relation to your competitors. Prior to your PR effort, were they strong while you were weak in the news media? After six months of PR, have you gained momentum and are you now talked about as much as they are? This is important to know. After all, the media needs experts. If you don’t get into the conversation, you are leaving the field wide open for your competitor to catch the fly ball.


You can track how the news media mentions your organization. Is it positive or negative? You can measure its tone. If your organization starts out with a customer issue that creates a negative image, public relations can work to create messaging to turn the opinion around. By tracking how a brand is perceived, the value of PR can be measured.


You can track how an audience reacts to your PR efforts. It’s one thing to come across an article, but then what? Do they visit your website? Do they comment on an article? Do they like it? Do they share it? Does it spur another article?

Public relations is not a shot in the dark. It’s not about setting lofty goals and hoping for the best. It is strategic. It is goal-focused and it is based on message consistency and a clear understanding of the defined target market. Take a snapshot of where the organization sits prior to starting public relations—then track over time to justify the spend and watch the needle as it moves forward.

Chapter 6


Group of coworkers talking around a table

It’s important for marketers to realize the difference between PR and marketing. Though both PR and marketing pros are storytellers, they approach building brand relationships with their audiences in different ways. 

Ultimately,  PR will help your brand attain a positive image that benefits the company for the long haul. Tactics that support brand recognition include press releases, expert sourcing, thought leadership, and event visibility. It’s critical to build strategies where the company can practice these tactics. 

Effective PR strategies should focus on:

  • Building brand recognition with a strong value proposition
  • Building trust as a thought leader
  • Be helpful to journalists
  • Be a storyteller

When you have those strategies in place and begin executing them, don’t forget to measure! Remember, your go-to measurements include the audience you are targeting, number of mentions, impressions, share of voice, article and social sentiment, and engagement. 

Do you find the implementation of PR into your communication strategies overwhelming? Working with a public relations professional is the best way to ensure you’re reaching your visibility goals. 

Want to learn more about incorporating PR into your marketing efforts? Fill out the form below to download our comprehensive guide.

How to Increase Brand Recognition with PR