Designers probably think that public relations should be left to the PR department, or marketing, or the intern, basically anyone but the design team. Isn’t design about art, inspiration, and tapping into consumer’s inner most wants and desires? Design is all of those things. However, the product of good design will be featured on a company’s websites, landing pages, blogs, banner advertisements, emails, print collateral, and more. This makes design a very public thing, which means designers will benefit from integrating public relations principles into the work they do for clients or their company. Contrary to popular belief, public relations isn’t just about buttoned up, smiling professionals trying to gloss over the realities of sticky situations. In fact, there are a few things designers can learn from PR professionals.
Although PR people have the unfortunate stereotype of being snakes in grass, they actually do value honesty. It is part of their ethical code. Honesty is a crucial part of design as well. Customers don’t like to feel like they are being tricked or coerced with Photoshopped pictures, web copy that stretches the truth, or outlandish design. Designers who are true to the product or service they are promoting, in a way their audience will be drawn to, succeed in the long run. Having honest landing page design, banner ads, and more, will build trust with customers that lead to a long-term and profitable relationship.
Think of the Whole Company
While most of the design team might not want to hit the bar with co-workers from human resources, sales, or shipping after work, while on the job, designers should never forget that they are just one part of a whole company. Many companies today pride themselves on having an internal and external brand. Maybe they are the fun-loving group, or the go-getter startup. Whoever they are, the design from the company should reflect this.
Communication is Key
The greatest tool a PR professional has at their disposal is communication. This doesn’t always mean just talking at someone though. The PR team knows that listening is also a big part of communication. Designers who emphasize communication as the key goal of their work will have much better luck actually connecting with customers. While a beautiful print advertisement might catch someone’s eye, if there is no message on the page, the viewer won’t learn what they need to know in order to convert into a customer. Design tactics such as color, shapes, photos, and more can all be used to communicate emotions and branding.
Bring in the Experts
PR people are constantly calling up experts for quotes for their press releases, feature articles, and more. They know that an expert opinion from a highly educated and respected person will go a million times further than just anyone’s opinion, even if the opinions of the two are exactly the same. While the designer is the expert on what they create, there is probably someone else in the company who is actually the expert on the product or service they are trying to promote through their current project. Product and service experts can give designers a deeper understanding of what they are trying to sell with their designs, which will lead to a crisper and cleaner end results.