The PRSA offers the following definition of public relations: “…a strategic communication process which builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations as well as their publics.” When most of us think about public relations, we see a corporate individual with slightly dishevelled hair, answering multiple telephones at once while cradling wads of paperwork under their arms. Yes, the PR professional is tested thoroughly during times of crisis, but their job is so much more than merely stomping out media fires and sending press releases. Let’s have a look at five crucial aspects of the public relations profession:
It’s all about relationships
As the name suggestions, PR has a lot to do with relationships. It is the public relations professional’s sole responsibility to establish and nurture relationships between all stakeholders involved. This goes further than just the relationship between a brand and its target audiences. The PR professional needs to look after all relationships that affect the organisation and external stakeholders including suppliers, financial institutions, etc.
Most professions require PR
While most organisations strive to put their best foot forward and deliver excellent customer service at all times, problems can arise in the blink of an eye. Public perception of a brand can make or break the company, so it pays to have a professional relationship manager that can manage perceptions before hearsay causes irreparable damage. Any brand that deals with the public at any point, from police officers to shopping centres, should ideally have a public relations professional on call.
Communication skills are key
All relationships require open and honest communication to have any chance of success. How we communicate a message will either create understanding or leave our audiences scratching their heads. So, PR might be about nurturing relationships, but that cannot happen without effective two-way communication. Networking is also vitally important, as rubbing shoulders with fellow industry players and media representatives facilitates the sharing of information, allowing a PR professional to stay ‘in the know’ as it were.
Ethics should drive PR decisions
A public relations pro should know the company’s vision and mission statements off by heart. We live in the age of honest economies, where customers refuse to support brands that don’t act ethically and with strong values. The PR representative is the public-facing loudspeaker for the organisation, so they should embody its values and perform their duties in an ethical, socially acceptable manner.
Multiple functions within PR
Today’s public relations professional leverages both traditional and digital PR activities to achieve their objectives. These include:
- Writing and distributing press releases to disseminate information
- Crafting and implementing crisis communication strategies
- Expanding business contacts by networking
- Hosting special events for community outreach and media relations
- Conduct periodic market research on the organisation and its industry
- Planning social media promotions and responding to negative online opinions
- Writing speeches for organisation representatives
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