Public relations, abbreviated as PR, is ‘the actions of a business, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc.’
A more detailed definition is the practice of managing communication between an organisation or individual and the public. PR provides a business or individual with exposure to their target audience using topics of interest, and news items that provide a third-party endorsement, and generally do not elicit any direct payment. Common PR activities include working with the media to highlight new products or services, crisis management and damage limitation, communicating via social media like Facebook and Twitter or employee communication. PR will also explore opportunities to enhance the reputation of the company or brand, for example providing a speaker or ‘expert’ at a conference.
PR is distinct from Marketing and Advertising as a standalone function, but as mentioned in our previous articles PR does need to be integrated fully into the business’s marketing and communication strategy.
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) website states ‘The major purposes of PR are perceived as being related to awareness and attitudes of audiences in the long run.’ There may be short term gains from individual pieces of PR activity, but the strongest gains come from a sustained and focused approach.
This involves brand awareness and perceptions being maintained, and developed with the target audience. PR can be extremely effective in ensuring the right message and exposure are communicated when organising events such as brand/product launches and exhibitions.
Effective PR relies heavily on developing contacts and relationships with the media (Press, TV and Radio). A lot of PR can involve writing and distributing press releases and if correctly targeted can help develop and communicate key messages over the long-term. Articles are often written by journalists based on newsworthy information provided by the company’s PR agency or press office through press releases, briefings and interviews.
Although coverage (the article or piece appearing) is never guaranteed, as circumstances will often change and Editors and sub-Editors will have to make last minute final decisions.
Public Relations (PR) is often overlooked and excellent opportunities to communicate to the market place are missed. All the more tragic when the costs involved can often be a small fraction of the cost of other marketing activity such as advertising and direct marketing.
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