Public relations (PR) is a field concerned with maintaining a public image for businesses, non-profit organizations or high-profile people, such as celebrities and politicianss.
Public relations as an industry or practice has only been around since the early 1900s. With the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, young corporations discovered that their growth depended on gaining the goodwill of the masses. In recent years, the power of the media has made PR a major industry.
PR activities include helping the public understand the organization, its goals and products. A company has to be concerned about the image projected to its major stakeholders - current and potential customers, employees, investors/funding agencies, suppliers and government.
Good communication is the foundation of any successful public relations campaign. If you are working for a PR consultancy you will have to meet the client and make a presentation outlining your campaign.
Public relations management basically involves planning, developing and implementing PR strategies. This includes reviewing last year's public relations feedback and jotting down the objectives for this year. Once you have thoroughly studied your objectives and found a way to convey them effectively, you will want to explore the many arenas open to you to spread your message. Whether you are using television, radio, print, or personal appearances, your message remains constant, but will be delivered as each of these media dictate.
One of the major promotional efforts you will need to organize is a press conference. As a public relations specialist you need to have access to media databases to get contact details and their preferred method of being contacted, say email or fax, to invite them to the conference.
Prepare a concise and well written press release aimed at raising awareness and calling attention to an event or newsworthy happening at your company. The press will also be given press kits or folders with relevant material.
Having your company name associated with popular events is sure to garner positive recognition. In addition, public service announcements (PSAs) can put the company in the spotlight and gain goodwill.
Today, with the growth of the internet and social networking, blogs and social media can be used very effectively to spread a message. Managing these is an important part of the job. Organizing product launches and openings if your company has introduced a new product or opened an outlet is another major task.
The role is very varied and will depend on the organization and sector. Other public relations operations typically involve:
- Liaising with colleagues and key spokespeople
- Answering enquiries from media, individuals and other organizations, often via telephone and email
- Collating and analyzing media coverage
- Writing and editing in-house magazines, case studies, speeches, articles and annual reports
- Preparing and supervising the production of publicity brochures, handouts, direct mail leaflets, promotional videos, photographs, films and multimedia programmes
- Devising and coordinating photo opportunities
- Organizing exhibitions and press tours
- Maintaining and updating information on the organization's website
- Sourcing and managing speaking and sponsorship opportunities
- Commissioning market research
- Managing the PR aspect of a potential crisis situation