Conversations at the Intersection of PR, Traditional & New Media

WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS?

*Introduction*

*PRACTICAL EXERCISE*

Complete the following exercise. There is no right or wrong answers. Perhaps you find yourself in a position as a secretary. With an understanding of  Public Relations you should be able to answer these questions, even if they are not your responsibility.

As a gatekeeper, you play a wonderful role to protect, build, and sustain your company’s reputation.

1) Do you have a PR Department, a marketing department?

2) How long has your firm been in operation?

3) Do you have a marketing or PR plan (not advertising)?

4) How much money do you spend on advertising?

5) What type of advertising do you purchase (radio, TV, print, etc.)?

6) Do you have traditional business cards?

7) Do you have non-traditional, such as audio or video, business cards?

8) Do you have a mission or vision statement?

9) Do you include it on every piece of outgoing information (invoices, thank-you’s, etc.)?

10) Do you have a Unique Selling Proposition?

11) Does your firm have brochures?

12) Are they distributed creatively (mail-outs, networking, etc.)?

13) Does your firm utilize some form of signage (awning, cars, and bus stops)?

14) Do you attend trade shows?

15) Do you have creative and professional-looking trade show display materials?

16) Do you have and utilize ranked mailing lists (A, B, C.)?

17) Do you accept credit cards, interact?

18) Do you take advantage of special mail outs such as Thank You cards, Birthday cards, etc.?

19) Does your firm sponsor or create events?

20) Does you firm sponsor or give awards?

21) Does your firm sponsor or create contests?

22) Do you support your community through donations or services to charities?

23) Do you conduct seminars, workshops or classes?

24) Do you write (or have ghostwritten) articles or columns for print publications?

25) Do you keep and copy published articles/columns and mail them out to clients who may find them informative?

26) Does your firm produce a newsletter?

27) Do you contribute to the newsletters of others?

28) Have you written a book, naming you as an expert in your industry?

29) Do you belong to service or trade organizations?

30) Does your firm encourage volunteerism? How?

31) Do you get and give testimonials? Endorsement letters?

32) Do you belong to a referral network (offer percentage for referrals)?

33) Do you or have you used celebrities to market your product or service?

34) Does your firm utilize fax on demand services?

35) Do you regularly send out sales letters?

36) Has your firm conducted a post card campaign within the last year?

37) Do you post business cards and/or brochures on bulletin boards?

38) Have you used bounce back or business reply cards?

39) Do you issue statement stuffers?

40) Does your firm have press kits?

42) Do you issue press releases at least once a month?

43) Do you have a backgrounder or fact sheet on your firm?

44) Do you have staff biographies?

45) Do you have professional head shots?

46) Do you have an image bank or catalogue that you can use for use with press releases, articles and in press kits when requested?

47) Do you have a calendar published with your firm name and image on it?

48) Do you offer any promotional materials such as pens, magnets, clothing with logos, etc.?

49) Do you host or make guest appearances on TV or radio?

50) Do you write (informed) letters to the editor?

51) Do you submit op-ed pieces to your local papers?

52) Do you have a website?

53) Does your website have a counter to evaluate the amount of traffic visiting your site?

54) Do you belong to a web ring?

55) Do you utilize banner exchanges?

56) Is your html in your signature file?

57) Do you post to newsgroups?

58) Are there articles on your web site?

59) How often is information updated on your website?

60) Do you provide email newsletters to subscribers?

These are just some of the myriad of activities that a PR person could get involved in.

Mention PR and people inevitably conjure up images of dolly birds or purveyors of booze. This, however, is not PR. Public Relations is a tool of management. In fact, in the USA and, increasingly in SA, the PRO is often called into the Boardroom to advise on the communication aspects of decisions which might affect the company’s image or standing in the community.

To be able to explain what Public Relations mean, I want to first dispel some doubts i.e.:

This is what PR is not:

* It is not advertising

* It is not a barrier between the truth and the public

* It is not propaganda

* It is not just lobbying

* PRO’s are not purveyors of booze and broads

PR, however, can influence people, does utilise publicity, advertising and lobbying.

*Some Definitions*

To date over 500 different definitions of PR have been identified world-wide. However, despite the multitude of definitions it is possible to
distil some of the common elements:

i. PR involves establishing and maintaining mutual understanding between organisations and their publics and also promotes and maintains mutual trust, respect and social responsibility between organisations and their publics.

ii. PR is a management discipline that requires all forms of planned communications to be carried out effectively.

iii. PR is the management of relationships between an organisation and its key publics/ target audiences.

iv. PR is a process that aims to project positive views or convert negative notions or ideas into positive ones and to create understanding through knowledge.

v. PR, where appropriate, attempts to harmonise private and public interests. Public relations is more than just judicious persuasion: it is a complex planned communication process that involves managing corporate reputation and image.

vi. PR is a continuous function that, where relevant, supports (and can be even be corrective to) advertising and marketing activities.

vii. PR manages both the reputation and perception of organisations, brands and individuals.

Public Relations involve telling the world about your company. Every person has PR, even the tea-lady projects an image. PR aims to promote understanding and form a favourable climate for the activities of the organisation. It thus prepares the environment, by establishing a 2-way flow of mutual understanding based on truth, knowledge and information. This preparation of the environment ensures that the organisation can obtain finance, markets, recruit and produce.

Earlier on, I mentioned that PR is a tool of management thus for a PRO to succeed in his objectives, he should report directly to the CEO.

*THE MAIN TASKS OF A PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER*

1. To help ensure that the policies and actions of his organisation are acceptable to the public and that the public are aware of his organisation.

2. To create a favourable image for the organisation and project that image to the public.

3. He or she is above all a communicator, someone who has to influence people for the good of his organisation. This he achieves through his understanding of human relations, and his wide ranging knowledge of many things, including the skills and techniques of communication.

4. PRO’s thus work with abstract things like public opinion, community relationships, management – personnel relationships and, of course, reputation. He also works in close contact with journalists, supplying them with facts, figures, background information and news items.

*Public Relations Officers achieve their objectives through various activities, which can be summarised as follows:*

1. Writing – News release; media relations; writing reports, booklet texts, radio and TV copy; speeches; magazine articles; product information and technical material.

2. Editing – Employee publications; Newsletters; shareholder reports and ther communications directed to both internal and external groups.

3. Placement – Contacts with the press, radio and TV; editors of magazines and trade publications to enlist their interest in publishing the organisation’s news and features.

4. Promotion – Special events, such as informal press conferences, exhibits, open-house days, new facilities and anniversary celebrations, contest and award programmes, press relations, institutional movies, visual aids and exhibitions.

5. Speaking – Preparation of speeches for others; finding appropriate platforms.

6. Production – Knowledge of art and layout for the development of brochures, booklets, special reports, photographic communications, and House Journals and also to communicate with experts in these fields.

7. Programming – The determination of need, definition of goals and recommended steps in carrying out the project; this is the highest-level job in public relations – one which requires maturity and counselling management – the application of (CBO) – Communication by objectives

8. Institutional Advertising – advertising a company’s name and reputation through purchased space or time.

9. Preparation of Financial Reports

10. Marketing services – Assisting in defining the situation, defining objectives, defining the public/target markets, choice of media and techniques, budget and evaluation of results.

11. Opinion Research – Probing attitudes and reactions (What’s our problem?); planning (What can we do?); communication (Here’s what we did and why); evaluation (How did we do?).

12. Fund Raising Campaigns and Membership Drives

13. Public Presenting – Representing the organisation at public functions.

14. Information Systems – Collecting information and building up a library of knowledge and activities.

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1 Response »

  1. Excellent well narrated info. worth preserving.

    Here is some thing I bumped into 2 decades back, created by one of then TOP PR Professional:-

    Who is an ideal PR man or person?

    A Public Relation executive to-day is supposed to possess a broad academic record which includes , awide study of semantics, economics, history,sociology,philosophy, political science, and law, great qualities of adjustability, elasticity of mind, the capacity to get along with people of different racial stocks, inenvironment very different from those in which they had been brought up, an intimate knowledge of philosophy, the vagaries of mass mind an adoptability to comprehend the basic impulses, aspirations,the fears that move and unmove human beings.

    All these are considered SOME of the MOST ESSENTIAL qualities which a Public Relation Person MUST possess.

    Any takers ?

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Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The thoughts expressed by me in this blog are my personal views and do not represent the views of my employer or the organizations I have been associated with. I believe in the principle of sharing information. Feel free to link to any of the posts in this blog.
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