What is public relations
Public Relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics. Today Public Relations is a set of management, supervisory, and technical functions that foster an organization's ability to strategically listen to, appreciate, and respond to those persons whose mutually beneficial relationships with the organization are necessary if it is to achieve its missions and values.
The role of Public Relations
A public relations program is an integral part of any company's marketing effort. No solid marketing program should be without public relations, and the PR program should be tightly integrated with all other marketing activities, especially in the messages that the company puts forth into the marketplace.
Public relations can improve a company's image by raising the visibility for that company and positioning it powerfully in its marketplace. Public relations, especially in a Dux-led program, works to demonstrate the vision and expertise of a company's executives and the capabilities of the company itself.
Unlike advertising, where a company pays for the presentation of its message in a newspaper, magazine, or on the radio or television, public relations put the delivery of that message into the hands of a third party. For instance, when an editor writes a story about your company -- because that story is objective -- it can carry more influence than an advertisement and deliver more benefits in terms of image building and paving the way for sales.
A company need not eliminate its advertising in favor of public relations, but a proper mix of the two vastly increases the impressions on the customer or shareholder who is reading the publication
Benefits of public relations
Why should your company engage in public relations activities, either on a long-term or project basis? Because public relations is the most efficient means of raising your company's visibility in the marketplace.
An effective public relations program educates the media, analysts, investors, and customers about your company and its products and services. While advertising serves to entice buyers, public relations is about empowering the market, by providing knowledge and understanding.
Public relations is persuasive because in its subtlety it educates, enlightens, and stimulates the audience. It enables a company to articulate its position by aligning itself with industry issues and trends. Because journalists are the conduit for delivering news and creating perceptions, public relations is seen as more credible and more objective than other forms of promotion.
A public relations program creates “top-of-mind” awareness for your company among the press and analyst community. It opens doors to customers, smoothes the way for your sales contacts, positions your company as a player in its market, and in some cases even makes your company name a household word.
Zain Public Relations knows how to effectively position your company to increase your sales potential. Your customized communications program can accomplish these objectives:
- Increasing your company's overall visibility
- Building or strengthening relationships with the media and industry analysts
- Supporting a product or entire marketing effort
- Communicating with employees
- Strengthening community relations
- Informing investors
- Positioning your company as a leader or expert
- Influencing opinion leaders Reinforcing sales promotion campaigns
- Distinguishing your company and products from the competition
- Complementing and extending the reach of advertising
Steps in a Public Relations Campaign
Effective public relations requires knowledge; based on analysis and understanding; of all the factors that influence public attitudes toward the organization.
The first basic step in either case involves analysis and research to identify all the relevant factors of the situation. In this first step, the organization gains an understanding of its various constituencies and the key factors that are influencing their perceptions of the organization.
The first basic step involves analysis and research to identify all the relevant factors of the situation. In this first step, the organization gains an understanding of its various constituencies and the key factors that are influencing their perceptions of the organization.
In the second step, the organization establishes an overall policy with respect to the campaign. This involves defining goals and desired outcomes, as well as the constraints under which the campaign will operate.
In step three, the organization outlines its strategies and tactics. Using its knowledge of the target audiences and its own established policies, the organization develops specific programs to achieve the desired objectives.
In step four involves actual communication with the targeted public. The organization then employs specific public relations techniques, such as press conferences or special events, to reach the intended audience.
In step five the organization receives feedback from its public. How have they reacted to the public relations campaign? Are there some unexpected developments?
In the final step, the organization assesses the program and makes any necessary adjustments.
Differences between advertising & public relations
Differences between advertising & public relations:
Paid Space or Free Coverage
The company pays for ad space. You know exactly when that ad will air or be published.
Your job is to get free publicity for the company; from news conferences to press releases, you're focused on getting free media exposure for the company and its products/services.
Creative Control Vs. No Control
Since you're paying for the space, you have creative control on what goes into that ad.
You have no control over how the media presents your information, if they decide to use your info at all. They're not obligated to cover your event or publish your press release just because you sent something to them.
Since you pay for the space, you can run your ads over and over for as long as your budget allows. An ad generally has a longer shelf life than one press release.
You only submit a press release about a new product once. You only submit a press release about a news conference once. The PR exposure you receive is only circulated once. An editor won't publish your same press release three or four times in their magazine.
Consumers know when they're reading an advertisement they're trying to be sold a product or service.
"The consumer understands that we have paid to present our selling message to him or her, and unfortunately, the consumer often views our selling message very guardedly
When someone reads a third-party article written about your product or views coverage of your event on TV, they're seeing something you didn't pay for with ad dollars and view it differently than they do paid advertising.
"Where we can generate some sort of third-party 'endorsement' by independent media sources, we can create great credibility for our clients' products or services," Flowers said.
Creativity or a Nose for News
In advertising, you get to exercise your creativity in creating new ad campaigns and materials.
In public relations, you have to have a nose for news and be able to generate buzz through that news. You exercise your creativity, to an extent, in the way you search for new news to release to the media.
Target Audience or Hooked Editor
You're looking for your target audience and advertising accordingly. You wouldn't advertise a women's TV network in a male-oriented sports magazine.
You must have an angle and hook editors to get them to use info for an article, to run a press release or to cover your event.
Limited or Unlimited Contact
Some industry pros such as Account Executive Trey Sullivan have contact with the clients. Others like copywriters or graphic designers in the agency may not meet with the client at all.
In public relations, you are very visible to the media. PR pros aren't always called on for the good news.
If there was an accident at your company, you may have to give a statement or on-camera interview to journalists. You may represent your company as a spokesperson at an event. Or you may work within community relations to show your company is actively involved in good work and is committed to the city and its citizens.
If your company sponsors an event, you wouldn't want to take out an ad giving yourself a pat on the back for being such a great company. This is where your PR department steps in.
If you're sponsoring an event, you can send out a press release and the media might pick it up. They may publish the information or cover the event.
Buy this product! Act now! Call today! These are all things you can say in an advertisement. You want to use those buzz words to motivate people to buy your product.
You're strictly writing in a no-nonsense news format. Any blatant commercial messages in your communications are disregarded by the media
The Post PR officer is expected to provide several basic services
- Advice and Counsel
- The PR officer should advise post officers of the PR impact policy decisions will have on the media, on the community and on members.
- Communications Service
- The process of letting the members and the public know about events and policies via newslet¬ters, booklets, speeches, news media, good citizenship, example and other means.
- Public Relations Research
- Identifying, evaluating and communicating information of community or world events to the post leaders and members who would help the post manage its affairs better.
- Public Relations Promotion
- A variety of programs and activities designed to gain acceptance for the post among members and within the community.
The public relations specialist
People who work in the public relations industry are generally known as public relations specialists, communications specialists, or media specialists. Their primary function is to serve as advocates for their employers—businesses, hospitals, universities, nonprofit associations, and other organizations that wish to build and maintain positive relationships with the public.
During a typical day, a public relations specialist may perform a wide variety of tasks. Writing press releases, booking speaking engagements, planning publicity events, managing business contacts, responding to consumer concerns, and diffusing potential conflicts are just some of the many duties that may be part of the job description for someone working in this industry.
When developing a public relations plan, the public relations specialist typically follows a six step process.
- Research: Preliminary research helps the professional understand the variables within the case.
- Strategic planning: Data must be worked into a comprehensive plan of action that answers all key questions.
- Counseling: Experienced public relations professionals understand the importance of seeking input from others before implementing a plan.
- Internal education: Everyone affected by the plan must be informed of what steps will be taken.
- Action: The plan must be carried out, with careful notes taken to document progress.
- Evaluation: Determining if the plan was successful helps develop a course of action for future public relations efforts.
Elements of Public Relations
Counseling -- Providing advice to the management of an organization concerning policies, relationships and communications; in effect, "what to do."
Research -- Determining attitudes and behaviors of publics and their causes in order to plan, implement and measure activities to influence or change the attitudes and behavior.
Media Relations -- Relating with communications media in seeking publicity or responding to their interest in an organization.
Publicity -- Disseminating planned messages through selected media without payment to further an organization's interest.
Employee/Member Relations -- Responding to concerns and informing and motivating an organization's employees or members, its retirees and their families.
Community Relations -- Continuing, planned and active participation with and within a community to maintain and enhance its environment to the benefit of both an organization and the community.
Public Affairs -- Developing effective involvement in public policy, and helping an organization adapt to public expectations; also, term used by military services and some government agencies to describe their public relations activities.
Government Affairs -- Relating directly with legislatures and regulatory agencies on behalf of an organization, usually by military services and some government agencies to describe their public relations activities.
Issues Management -- Identifying and addressing issues of public concern in which an organization is, or should be, concerned.
Financial Relations -- Creating and maintaining investor confidence and building positive relationships with the financial community; also, sometimes known as Investor Relations or Shareholder Relations.
Industry Relations -- Relating with other firms in the industry of an organization and with trade associations.
Development/Fund Raising -- Demonstrating the need for and encouraging an organization's members, friends, supporters and others to voluntarily contribute to support it.
Minority Relations/Multicultural Affairs -- Relating with individuals and groups in minorities.
Special Events and Public Participation -- Stimulating an interest in a person, product or organization by means of a focused "happening;" also, activities designed to enable an organization to listen to and interact with publics.
Marketing Communications -- Combination of activities designed to sell a product, service or idea, including advertising, collateral materials, publicity, promotion, packaging, point-of-sale display, trade shows and special events
How Public Relations Benefits Society
- Public Relations: is a means for the public to have its desires and interests felt by institutions in our society. It speaks for the public to otherwise unresponsive organizations, as well as speaking for those organizations to the public.
- Public relations help achieve mutual adjustment between institutions and groups, establishing smoother relationships that benefit the public.
- Public relations can be a safety valve for freedom. By providing means of working out accommodations, it makes arbitrary action or coercion less likely.
- Public relations is an essential element in the communications system that enables individuals to be informed on many aspects of subjects that affect their lives.
- Public relations can help activate organization's social conscience.
- Public relations is a universal activity. Everyone practices principles of public relations in seeking acceptance, cooperation or affection of others. Public relations professionals only practice it in a more professional way.
Basic Definitions: Advertising, Marketing, Promotion, Public Relations and Publicity, and Sales
Definition of Advertising
Advertising is bringing a product (or service) to the attention of potential and current customers. Advertising is focused on one particular product or service. Thus, an advertising plan for one product might be very different than that for another product. Advertising is typically done with signs, brochures, commercials, direct mailings or e-mail messages, personal contact, etc.
Definition of Promotion
Promotion keeps the product in the minds of the customer and helps stimulate demand for the product. Promotion involves ongoing advertising and publicity (mention in the press). The ongoing activities of advertising, sales and public relations are often considered aspects of promotions.
Definition of Marketing
Marketing is the wide range of activities involved in making sure that you're continuing to meet the needs of your customers and getting value in return. Marketing is usually focused on one product or service. Thus, a marketing plan for one product might be very different than that for another product.
Definition of Public relations
Public relations includes ongoing activities to ensure the overall company has a strong public image. Public relations activities include helping the public to understand the company and its products. Often, public relations are conducted through the media, i.e. newspapers, television, magazines, etc. As noted above, public relations is often considered as one of the primary activities included in promotions.
Definition of Publicity
Publicity is mention in the media. Organizations usually have little control over the message in the media, at least, not as they do in advertising. Regarding publicity, reporters and writers decide what will be said.
Definition of Sales
Sales involves most or many of the following activities, including cultivating prospective buyers (or leads) in a market segment; conveying the features, advantages and benefits of a product or service to the lead; and closing the sale (or coming to agreement on pricing and services). A sales plan for one product might be very different than that for another product.