Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds and manages mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and the public. This article breaks down public relations for those considering a career in the industry.
Who is the “public”?
Public, in PR terms, is anyone who ever has or ever will form an opinion about a client. Depending on the nature of your client, these could include clients, potential clients, members of the local community, members of the media, online fans etc.
Public relations success requires a deep understanding of the interests and concerns of each the client’s many “publics”. The public relations professional must know how to effectively address those concerns through Publicity.
Why is public relations important to an organisation?
Public relations can be used to protect, enhance or build reputations through the media, social media, or company generated communications. The world of business is characterised by fierce competition and in order to win new customers and retain the existing ones, companies not only have to distinguish themselves from the competition but must also create and maintain a positive public image.
A PR specialist or firm helps them both create and maintain a good reputation among both the media and the customers by communicating on their behalf and presenting their products, services and the overall operation in the best light possible.
A positive public image helps create a strong relationship with the customers, which in turn increases the sales. Public relations people working for a company may handle consumer relations, or the relationship between parts of the company such as the managers and employees, or different branch offices.
Which situations or crisis may require public relations?
A client may need PR for many situations including;
- Technical problems
- Human error
- Executive wrongdoing/legal problems
- Any bad publicity generated from internal or external sources
- Building a new business or brand
- Communicating major changes in the organisation that may affect the public, for example, moving to a new location or new management.
How does a PR practitioner work?
A good PR practitioner will analyse the organization, find positive messages and translate those messages into positive stories.
When the news is bad, they can formulate the best response and ease the damage. PR people are image shapers. Their job is to generate positive publicity for their client and enhance their reputation.A good PR practitioner will analyse the organization and create positive stories Click To Tweet
What are the public relations tools and techniques?
PR specialists use a number of tools and techniques to boost their clients’ public image and help them form a meaningful relationship with the chosen target audience.
To achieve that, they use tools such as;
- The writing and distribution of press releases
- Speech writing
- Creation and execution of special events designed for public outreach and media relations
- Conduction of market research on the firm or the firm’s messaging
- Expansion of business contacts via personal networking or attendance and sponsoring at events
- Writing and blogging for the web (internal or external sites)
- Social media promotions and responses to negative opinions online
- Newsletters to new and existing customers
Using the mentioned tools, PR specialists give the target audience a better insight into their clients’ activities and products/services as well as increase publicity.
What skills are required to be a PR specialist?
A PR specialist is usually required to have a relevant type and level of education such as a Bachelor’s degree in Communications or Journalism. Proper education, however, is not enough.
A PR specialist needs certain skills in the first place such as excellent writing and verbal communication skills. Two other important skills for the PR professional are;
- The ability to work under pressure and to be able to answer a variety of questions including unpleasant ones. For example, if the client is under a public “attack”, a PR specialist needs to establish a control over the situation and protect the client’s good reputation.
- People who work in PR are regarded as experts in media relations. They’re often asked to train employees on how to effectively communicate with the media, particularly during print or TV interviews. Public relations can’t function without the press. PR professionals spend most of their day maintaining existing relationships and cultivating new ones with journalists and other members of the mass media.