Managing one’s connections to the public, the media, and other interested parties is a key part of public relations, which is a strategic process in and of itself. An organisation’s intended image is what public relations professionals strive to achieve. To build trust, credibility, and support among target audiences, communication initiatives need to be carefully planned and carried out.
There are many types of PR professionals working in various fields. They range from press officers for large companies or organisations, government spokespeople, and communications managers to journalists themselves. In general terms, they have one thing in common: they all use communication skills (in some form) as their primary function. Some specialise more deeply in particular areas such as advertising and corporate communications, while others will work across disciplines, including politics, trade unions, and professional bodies.
Some may also include those who manage internal communications within an organisation but whose role can be seen as a broader type of ‘public relations’. For example, chief executives often hold this position, which means they can take on the responsibility of managing how the public sees their business. An increasing number of senior leaders recognise the need for someone who has both the expertise needed to develop a strong reputation for their company and the authority required to make decisions regarding the actions necessary to ensure that reputation is protected. Such individuals are usually called Chief Communications Officers (CCOs).
Aside from these specific positions, there is also a whole group of people employed by PR agencies who are involved in activities ranging from media training to helping with crisis management to providing creative input to clients’ projects. All these different roles require varying levels of technical knowledge in order to perform effectively; however, no matter what job title you are given, it should not be assumed that your only goal is simply to speak publicly! A successful communicator needs to consider the message behind the words—the purpose of each statement they make or article they write. As well as thinking about how things might be said to achieve certain effects, a good communicator must understand the reasons why they say something in the first place.
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Definition of public relations:
According to Prof. MarkAnthony Nze, the term ‘public relations’ can be defined as ‘a strategic management process that helps organisations communicate with various publics, as well as cleverly analysing the public perception of an organisation and creating a positive image for it in order to build its credibility, to ensure that organisations and governments use PR to improve their reputations.
Public relations (PR) is the process of managing the flow of information between an individual or an organization and the public. PR is a tool used to manage both internal and external communication. A good public relations strategy can help you shape your organisation’s reputation, build trust with stakeholders, and create new opportunities for growth.
Public relations involves creating content that attracts attention in order to promote yourself or your business. For example, if you run a restaurant chain with locations across several states, you might want to publish press releases about service awards won by specific restaurants or new menu items being offered at each location every month. These press releases would go out through traditional media channels such as newspapers, magazines, or online publications that reach millions of people nationwide, but they also provide useful information for employees who operate those restaurants on a daily basis.
Defining public relations objectives:
A primary objective of any PR program should be increasing awareness among target audiences about the company and its products/services. Awareness building leads directly to understanding and trust, both of which are necessary if companies wish to achieve customer loyalty and long-term success.
Objective of public relations:
- To enhance an organization’s credibility. PR helps organizations make their case for why they should be taken seriously. It can also help them improve their image by promoting positive stories about themselves or negative ones about their competitors in order to increase awareness, build trust with customers, and increase sales.
- To build relationships with key stakeholders. Organizations need stakeholder buy-in if they want to maintain success over time—and in today’s environment, stakeholder engagement has become increasingly important because companies are under scrutiny from consumers and regulators alike on issues like climate change (which is why there’s so much attention paid these days to being ‘green’). According to Forbes contributor Lee Odden: ‘Stakeholder relationship management…allows you not only know what matters most but also measure how well your audience feels about what matters most’.
A brief history of public relations:
To understand public relations, it’s important to know that the field is relatively new. Public relations as we know it today was born out of the need to respond to increasingly negative public opinion about big business and government. In fact, PR is only about 100 years old.
The first person credited with developing and promoting public relations in the United States was Ivy Lee, who worked for John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Company in the early 1900s. However, his work was mainly focused on traditional advertising techniques at first (which are still used today). The field really took off once Edward Bernays entered the scene after World War I. He pushed for a more scientific approach that would rely less on traditional advertising campaigns and more on understanding what people wanted or needed from their leaders (or businesses).
Strategic planning and management:
Planning is an essential aspect of any organisation. Planning helps an organisation achieve its goals and objectives. Strategic planning is a process that helps managers plan for success by identifying opportunities and threats, setting priorities, figuring out the best way to use resources, and evaluating results.
It’s also important to remember that strategic planning is not a static process; it needs to be flexible and changeable to meet the needs of an environment that is always changing. Strategic plans are typically reviewed annually or at least every two years (depending on your industry), but they can also be updated more frequently if need be.
Theoretical approach to strategic planning and management:
The theoretical approach to strategic planning and management is based on the assumption that organisations are rational, goal-oriented entities. Organisations have an internal structure with formal organisation charts, roles and responsibilities, rewards and punishments associated with each role or position in the organisation. Additionally, there are formal policies that guide employees in their day-to-day tasks. The organisational culture is visible at all levels through various activities such as meetings, policies, ceremonies, etc., which can be used to assess whether people work together effectively or not.
A situational analysis is a process used to determine the best way to present information about your business and products. It looks at current market conditions, competitor activity, and consumer preferences, among other factors. Situational analysis involves looking at what’s happening in your industry so you can predict where it’s headed before anyone else does.
Once you’ve conducted a thorough situational analysis, you’ll have a much better idea of what kind of PR strategy will work best for your brand. You’ll be able to figure out how much money should go towards advertising versus asset building (building up your online presence), for example, or whether focusing on social media makes sense for you right now.
Situational analysis – environmental and social analysis (SWOT):
SWOT analysis is a key strategic planning and management tool that can help you identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your business or organisation.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT analysis helps you to:
Identify what you are good at doing in relation to others
Discover where there are opportunities for growth in your business or organisation
Look at ways to improve on what may be holding you back from success
Environmental and social analysis – Stakeholder Analysis.
Stakeholder analysis is a critical component of the strategic planning process. Stakeholders are anyone who has an interest in your organisation, whether internal or external. These individuals can include any number of people: employees, customers, investors, vendors, clients, and other partners. Each stakeholder will have different interests and concerns that need to be considered when developing a strategy for your company.
Setting PR objectives:
Before you can develop PR objectives and strategies, you must know the following:
What is your overall business objective?
What is your PR strategy?
How does the PR strategy fit into your overall business and marketing plans?
By answering these questions, you will be able to determine what it is that you want to achieve with public relations.
Formulating PR Strategies:
A strategy is a plan of action to achieve a goal. It should be based on the environment and the organization’s capabilities, as well as the organization’s objectives. A good strategy will also take into account external factors that could influence its success or failure, like competitors and current economic conditions.
When developing your PR strategies, you want to focus on three things:
What are your goals? What do you hope to achieve through PR?
Who are your target audiences? How can you reach them with effective messaging?
How do you plan on measuring success (e.g., increased sales)?
Formulating PR tactics:
Strategies are the broadest level of planning. The scope and vision of your public relations program can be defined at this level, including its purpose, objectives, target audience, and overall goals. Strategies are usually developed by senior management or a team of executives in consultation with experts in public relations and marketing. They identify what needs to be done and why it helps achieve a business goal.
When formulating tactics for your PR programs, it’s important to consider both internal and external issues.
What are the internal organisational considerations for your efforts? Are there specific departments that will need to cooperate for maximum impact?
What is the competitive landscape within which your company operates? Is there any legislation that may affect your business?
What are the industry trends that may have an effect on your organisation?
How can you address these challenges with targeted communications activities?
Identifying key audiences:
Audience is one of those buzzwords that gets thrown around a lot. However, you really only need two types of audiences: internal and external. External audiences are people outside of your organisation—the public and potential customers. Internal audiences, meanwhile, include employees, partners, shareholders, vendors, clients, and other key stakeholders. You also want to consider how other groups would be affected by the decisions you make or what problems or opportunities they might face.
The more carefully you define who your audiences are, the better you’ll be able to craft meaningful messages. You’ll also be able to create the right communication channels or vehicles for each audience.
There are various communication media available today, and every company will choose a combination of them that suits their particular needs best. When developing your strategic communications plan, you must consider what message(s) you’d like to send, how that message will reach your target market, and what your desired outcome will be. This helps determine what type of channel is most appropriate for your needs. Here are some common choices:
Newspapers: Many organizations continue to invest in print media such as newspapers because there are still a large number of people who read (and subscribe to) these publications. There is less advertising in traditional media than there used to be; however, it remains an important way to get the word out about a product launch, new services, etc. Some examples include USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, etc.
Radio: Radio has become popular again in recent years with the growth of talk radio shows on news stations. It’s another way that the fact that this medium is localised by region means that smaller markets have more choices than larger ones. For example, there might only be one or two stations playing music in a given area but dozens of different talk show hosts. In addition, many companies use satellite radio networks such as Sirius XM as a promotional vehicle for products (such as Ford’s Sync system).
Television: Almost everyone watches television, which makes it the most effective way to reach most audiences. However, the cost of buying time on broadcast TV can be very high if you need to make a major announcement. Also, there are many cable channels that offer free programming or low-cost subscription packages.
Social Media: Social media is becoming increasingly prevalent as younger generations begin working and interacting with others online. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social media sites provide an excellent platform for sharing information about your organisation. It’s also a great way to engage with customers.
You may find that you should use multiple types of communication at once to reach a broader audience. You could create a short ad and post it on YouTube, then run a billboard in the same region, and share a link from your website on your favorite social media site. Whatever you do, it’s important to test each method before launching a campaign so you know exactly what works best for your organisation.
The following section outlines the basics of creating an effective message in three simple steps:
- 1. Understand your audience:
Your first step is to understand your target audience. You need to know what they think, feel, believe, fear, desire, want, love, hate, worry about, dream about, and so forth. You’ll develop your messages around those feelings. You don’t want to waste time talking about things that aren’t relevant to a person’s life.
For example, imagine that you’re selling the latest Sony smartphone to college students. If a young woman walks into a store, she might not care if your phone is pre-loaded with apps or uses the fastest processor. She cares about whether it has the capability to access Facebook, text her friends, and take photos. Those are the features she’ll look for when choosing a new phone.
Once you’ve determined what your target audience wants, you can tailor your messages to meet their expectations. An effective approach is to focus on the positive benefits associated with your brand or product. You want to avoid negative words like ‘no,’ ‘don’t,’ and ‘shouldn’t’. Instead, try words like ‘try’ and ‘experience’. It’s also important to address the most common concerns or questions that come up during a conversation about your product. For example, if someone asks if your phone has a touch screen, you might say something like, “Yes, we have a full touchscreen display.”
It’s possible you won’t have all the answers when speaking to your audience.
- Write Your Message:
Now you’re ready to write your message. Make sure you keep it simple, concise, and easy to understand. Keep in mind that you’ll likely be using your message in a variety of ways, including in a speech, a press release, a video, a blog post, and so forth. Be careful to maintain a clear theme and tone throughout your entire message.
- Create your communications plan:
With your message firmly in place, you’re now ready to put together a strategic communications plan.