Public Relations Tools
Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information between an individual or an organization and the public. Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences through topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. For a company, the aim of public relations is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about it, its leadership, products, or its political decisions. Common activities include speaking at conferences, winning industry awards, working with the press, communicating with employees, and sending out press releases (Figure 1).
Building and managing relationships with those who influence an organization or individual’s audiences has a central role in public relations.After a public relations practitioner has been working in the field, they accumulate a list of relationships that become an asset, especially for those in media relations. The ultimate objective of PR is to retain goodwill as well as create it. This is the first core element in public relations. Secondly, the successful procedure to follow in public relations is to first do good and then take credit for it. Thirdly, the PR program must describe its target audience. In most instances, PR programs are aimed at multiple audiences that have varying points of view and needs. Finally, public relations is a planned activity that requires intelligence.
There are several PR tools firms can utilize to ensure effective PR programs:
Messaging is the process of creating a consistent story around a product, person, company, or service. Messaging aims to avoid having readers receive contradictory or confusing information that will instill doubt in their purchasing choice or other decisions that have an impact on the company. Brands aim to have the same problem statement, industry viewpoint, or brand perception shared across sources and mediums.
A fundamental technique used in public relations is to identify the target audience, and to tailor messages to appeal to them. Sometimes the interests of differing audiences and stakeholders common to a public relations effort necessitate the creation of several distinct but complementary messages.
On the other hand, stakeholder theory identifies people who have a stake in a given institution or issue. All audiences are stakeholders (or presumptive stakeholders), but not all stakeholders are audiences. For example, if a charity commissions a public relations agency to create an advertising campaign to raise money to find a cure for a disease, the charity and the people with the disease are stakeholders, but the audience is anyone who might be willing to donate money.
Digital marketing is the use of Internet tools and technologies such as search engines, Web 2.0 social bookmarking, new media relations, blogging, and social media marketing. Interactive PR allows companies and organizations to disseminate information without relying solely on mainstream publications and communicate directly with the public, customers, and prospects. Online social media such as Facebook and Twitter ensures that firms can get their messages heard directly and quickly. Other forms of media include newspapers, television programs, radio stations, and magazines. Public relations people write press release stories about their organization that they hope the media will use. If the press releases are not used, the marketer attempts to ensure that whatever the media says about the organization is accurate and as complementary as possible.
Advertising dollars in traditional media productions have declined as more and more readers have turned to favor online and social media news sources. As readership in traditional media shifts to online media, so have the focus of many in public relations. Social media releases, search engine optimization, content publishing, and the introduction of podcasts and video are other trends.
Sponsorship is often used as part of a public relations campaign. A company will pay money to have its logo or products used within a public relations campaign. The money is often used to offset the cost of the campaign or to compensate a public figure, spokesperson or "influencer." An example of a sponsorship is a concert tour presented by a bank or drink company.
Product placement is basically passive advertising. A company pays to have its products used prominently within the context of a public relations campaign. Sometimes products are shown in photographs, in film or video messages or during live appearances. The most common use of product placement is in films where characters use or scenes include products. The fees a company pays to have their products included are often used to offset the cost of production or the actual campaign itself.