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Why Public Relations Is Important

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One step is targeting key members of the rock and national press who are likely to give the band favorable publicity. Once that is taken care of, press packets are mailed out. The packet includes a press release announcing the new band and its forthcoming album, several pictures of the band and an invitation to a press party to hear and meet them and enjoy drinks and a buffet supper. As reporters and media representatives arrive at the party they will be greeted by a smiling public relations worker, who will hand them the band's new album, plus more press material.

This is only Conrad Celebrity's opening strategy for introducing the band. Knowing how competitive the market is, they've further outlined a five-part campaign spread over six months to draw attention to the band. Even then, there is no guarantee that they will succeed. If they manage to create a favorable image, and garner a favorable response from the media, they stand to keep their clients and possibly gain other emerging groups as well. And if they fail, they have to go back to the drawing board and analyze their press campaigns to try to find out what went wrong.

So whether it's a product, band, comedian, actor or actress, public relations workers go to great lengths to create an image that will sell their client or product to the public.

Many Different Applications

Now you can better understand how public relations are used as a multipurpose tool. Within a large company it can be used to strengthen the communication lines between management and employees. In a nonprofit organization, public relations help bring the organization's goals and objectives before the public. If it's a corporation selling a product, public relations techniques are used as auxiliary selling tools. And governments-federal, state, and local-use public relations to acquaint the public with new programs, laws and issues. That's only a brief sampling of public relations in action.

As you can see, public relations is a large field whose techniques, strategies and applications can be used to benefit many different types of organizations. Later on, we'll go into more detail about some of the exciting public relations fields you might want to explore.

What It Is Not

The first mistake people make is thinking advertising and public relations are the same thing. While public relations and advertising programs are often closely related, their goals are different. Typically, advertising has a more pressing sales objective. Advertisers pay a great deal of money for space and time. It can cost an advertiser thousands of dollars for a single page in a magazine or newspaper. Depending upon the type of magazine, its audience and popularity, the cost of advertising space can vary considerably. It's quite common to pay as much as $30,000 for a single color page.

And that's considered a meager sum compared to what television time costs. A 15-second TV ad delivered in prime time can cost a lot more. Since advertising time and space are so expensive, companies try to get their messages across in the most effective and penetrating ways possible. For that brief period-as long as it takes 15 or 30 seconds to race by or the time it takes to scan a full- or half-page ad in a magazine-the advertiser has the challenging job of capturing the consumers and holding their attention. If a considerable number of potential customers are not reached, time and money are wasted.

They're not restricted to seconds and outrageous prices for advertising time and space. Their goal is to make a lasting impact, to hold a listener's or reader's attention for a longer time period.

Yet within many large companies, advertising and public relations departments work closely in formulating sales strategies. Between the two departments, they develop strategies that cover the near and long term. The techniques used by the two departments, although different in approach, complement each other nicely.

After all, their ultimate goals are the same.

On the other hand, a company that has developed a tasteless and misleading advertising program is not going to enjoy favorable public relations. The public relations department is placed in the embarrassing position of defending allegations from consumers and manufacturers, not to mention legal hassles. However, if a company's advertising is professional, honest and tasteful, it is safe to conclude that the company will also enjoy excellent public relations.

Another common stereotype is thinking public relations workers spend their time wining and dining clients, shaking hands and being pleasant. If that's all public relations work consisted of, public relations firms and large companies could save an enormous amount of money in salaries to speech writers and account executives, and purchase smiling, handshaking robots to do the job instead. Being pleasant, taking clients out to dinner and arranging parties is certainly a part of a public relations worker's job. But it only amounts to a fractional part of the job. There will be a great deal more on this topic when we describe the many different skills used by PR representatives.

By now you should have a better idea of what public relations work is all about. At its best, it can be compared to a free-flowing stream where ideas and information pass unimpeded from one source to another. If it's internal public relations, information flows from management to employees, allowing greater understanding and cooperation. If it's external public relations, in formation flows from the organization to the public, achieving a desired or planned goal.

As we mentioned earlier, instant communication is no longer difficult to achieve. Within moments, you can talk to the farthest point on the globe. Yet a century ago, the communication process took a great deal longer. At that time the world wasn't encircled by a sophisticated communication web connecting every town and city on the globe.

Today, efficient and direct communication is essential. Not only do governments need and depend upon public relations, but so do organizations of every kind, from the small, growing business to the multinational conglomerate. Once you can appreciate how important public relations is in our modern world, you'll understand why words like influence, persuade, convince and attention all fit into a global definition of what public relations is all about. We've only touched the surface. Now let's take a look at some of the key public relations functions.
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