According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the nation’s leading professional organization serving the communications, “public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” This is a modern definition of public relations that encompasses some of the earliest definitions of public relations, which became a formal practice during the early 20th century.
Over the last decade or more, public relations has expanded and there are so many facets of public relations that have emerged, which deepened its value in the communications industry. Public relations brings about a level of brand awareness through content, community, media, and more that cannot be dismissed. Regardless of how effective an organization is, it doesn’t have the desired impact if the public and consumers are not aware of the business’s brand, successes, or contributions. This is where public relations comes in. PR creates awareness, excitement, and demand.
Public relations offers an excellent toolset for generating attention whenever there is something newsworthy that clients would like to share with customers, prospective customers, the local community, or other audiences. PR professionals maintain relationships with reporters and writers who routinely cover news about the company, product category, and industry, so they can alert media organizations when news happens. They create content for internal and external channels like newsletters, blogs, and the like too.
At times, PR creates activities that are newsworthy, such as establishing a scholarship program or hosting a science fair for local schools. PR is involved in publishing general information about a topic of interest, or an informational press kit for the media. PR is also responsible for identifying and building relationships with influencers who help shape opinions in the marketplace about a company and its products. When an organization finds itself facing a public emergency or crisis of some sort, PR professionals find ways to minimize damage to its public image.
Here are some additional examples of how public relations is used:
- Overseeing the creation of content to drive customer engagement and generate leads.
- Counseling management at all levels in the organization with regard to policy decisions, courses of action, and communications—including crisis communications—taking into account their public ramifications and the organization’s social or citizenship responsibilities.
- Protecting the reputation of an organization.
- Researching, conducting, and evaluating, on a continuing basis, programs of action and communications to achieve the informed public understanding necessary to the success of an organization’s aims. These may include marketing; financial; fundraising; employee, or community or government relations; and other programs.
- Planning and implementing the organization’s efforts to influence or change public policy.
- Setting objectives, planning, budgeting, recruiting and training staff, developing facilities— in short, managing the resources needed to perform all of the above.
In closing, public relations is more than managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics. It is a communications discipline that engages and informs key audiences, builds important relationships, and brings vital information back into an organization for analysis and action. It has a real, measurable impact on the achievement of strategic organizational goals, brand awareness, and community impact.
It is imperative to use the public relations counsel to tell a company’s story and plans, keep track of stakeholders’ opinions, identify patterns of media coverage, assess the attitudes of the public towards policy, support consensus-building among senior leadership, and understand the company’s products, services, manufacturing/distribution methods, marketing platform and business strategy.
With this understanding, would your company, product, organization benefit from the counsel of an experienced public relations agency?
By Simone McDowell, Magenta Communications