Public relations (PR) are the way organizations, companies and individuals communicate with the public and media. A PR specialist communicates with the target audience directly or indirectly through media with an aim to create and maintain a positive image and create a strong relationship with the audience. Examples include press releases, newsletters, public appearances, etc. as well as utilization of the World Wide Web.
The world of business is characterized by fierce competition and in order to win new customers and retain the existing ones, the firms have to distinguish themselves from the competition. But they also need to 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 in 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 increase the sales.
PR specialists and firms use a number of tools and techniques to boost their clients’ public image and help them form a meaningful relationship with the target audience. To achieve that, they use tools such as news releases and statements for media, newsletters, organization and participation at public events conferences, conventions, awards, etc. PR specialists of course also utilize the Internet tools such as social media networks and blogs. Through the mentioned tools, PR specialists give the target audience a better insight into their clients’ activities and products/services as well as increase publicity.
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 to become a PR and much less to become a successful PR. A PR specialist needs certain skills (they are acquired through additional education and training), in the first place excellent writing and verbal communication skills. But a PR specialist also must know to work under pressure and 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.
Public relations (PR) are not a recent invention. The importance of communication with the public and maintenance of positive public image was known as early as in the antiquity but the beginnings of modern PR are traditionally dated in the 18th century London. One of the first PRs was Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire who heavily campaigned for Charles James Fox and his Whig party. PR in the real meaning of the word, however, dates only to the early 20th century. The first real PR specialist was according to some Ivy Lee (1877-1934), while the others see Edward Bernays (1891-1995) as “the father of public relations”.
The Internet has changed communication dramatically. The public is increasingly turning to the World Wide Web for information and as a result, PR must keep up with the changes in transmission of information if it wants to retain its role as a communicator between the public and organizations. Modern PR thus besides the traditional tools also implements online tools and tactics, including social media such as blogs, content publishing, search engine optimization (SEO), produces, etc..
PR services are sought after by many organizations, companies and prominent individuals. A PR specialist communicates with the public and media in their behalf in order to present them in the best light. This helps their clients create and maintain a good reputation. But it also helps them stand out from the crowd and attract attention of both the public and media as well as create a two-way communication.
PR services are utilized by many organizations and individuals who want to create a better image of them in public. The most frequent clients of PR firms include: businesses; they utilize PR services to present their products/services and the way their firms work and of course, create a strong relationship with the customers and reach more potential buyers. Non-profit organizations; examples include charity organizations, schools, hospitals, etc. who use PR services as a part of fund-raising events and promotion campaigns. notable individuals; examples include celebrities who use PR services to communicate in their behalf with the media and their fans but PR specialists are also highly sought after by politicians who can succeed only if they have a good public reputation.
PR specialists are professionals who have the knowledge and skills to communicate with the public and media. Many come from the lines of journalists and know exactly what it takes to attract public attention which is the key to success in the increasingly competitive business world. But they also know how to respond in critical situations and protect their clients’ public image and reputation. By helping create and maintain a good reputation in the public, PR specialists and firms play an important role in the overall success of their clients. For example, an effective presentation of the products/service significantly increases the sales by presenting them in a consumer-attractive way. Politicians, on the other hand, can count on support of their voters only if they have a good reputation.
Most organizations and individuals who decide to use PR services hire a PR firm or specialist only for specific tasks. Examples include presentations of a new product/service, communication with the public and media during political campaigns or fund-raising events, management of unpleasant situations and controversies, etc.. But many also work with PR firms on a regular basis, while a growing number of companies and organizations have their own PR department.
Creation and maintenance of a good public reputation is a complex and ongoing process. Without an effective PR, it is very difficult to reach the attention of the target audience and much less to influence their opinion and decisions. But when the relationship with the target group is finally established, it needs to be maintained in order to keep it on a high level. The process works similar to the interpersonal relationships. When two people lose contact, they pretty much disappear from each other lives no matter how close they used to be. And the same happens with the target audience if the established relationship is not maintained.
In order to build a relationship with the target audience and maintain it on a high level, PR specialists use a variety of tools and techniques. Some of the most common ones include: Attendance at public events. In order to attract public attention and keep it engaged with a particular organization or an individual, PR specialists take an advantage of every public event and the opportunity to speak publicly. This enables them to directly reach the public attending the event and indirectly, a much larger audience.
Information that is communicated as a part of the regular TV or/and radio programme, newspapers, magazines and other types of mainstream media achieves a much bigger impact than advertisements. This is due to the fact that most people consider such information more trustworthy and meaningful than paid ads. Press release is therefore one of the oldest and most effective PR tools.
Sending newsletters–relevant information about the organization or/and its products/services directly to the target audience is also a common method to create and maintain a strong relationship with the public. Newsletters are also a common marketing strategy but PR specialists use it to share news and general information that may be of interest to the target audience rather than merely promoting products/services.
To reach the online audience, PR specialists use the digital forms of press releases and newsletters but they also use a variety of other tools such as blogging and recently, microblogging. It allows them to create and maintain a relationship with the target audience as well as establish a two-way communication.
Like its name suggests, it is used primarily by the marketing industry. Social media networks, however, are also utilized by a growing number of PR specialists to establish a direct communication with the public, consumers, investors and other target groups.