Public Relations (PR) Meaning, Types, and Examples in Marketing

Contents

What is public relations?

Public relations (PR) is the process of making sure that members of the public receive the most favorable information/impression about the image of the firm as well as promoting mutual understanding with members of the public.

Every firm strives head to publicize its image, how it functions, and the type of products it produces. Public relations primarily function in this respect. It is always through this sensitive role of creating a favorable image and impression about a company as well as making known a company/firm’s product that triggers many firms to set up a department with respect to that.

What is public relations about?

The primary aim of public relations is to promote and protect the image of the company as well as its products. It comprises diverse programs that enable it to achieve this aim. It is a very important element in the marketing mix (the promotion mix). This is the reason why many companies, particularly multinational companies put in their efforts to maintain a cordial relationship with customers. The department aims at promoting the entire brand of a firm and most firms have a separate department to carry out this role.

Through public relations, a firm is able to distribute and convey every relevant information to the members of the public in order to build a greater level of reputation in the minds of the people. An efficient public relations department always places its emphasis on eliminating negative publicities that may arise as a result of some questionable practices.

This process focuses on the information to be released, how the department should draft it, how to release it, and the media through which they should release the information.

Functions of public relations

Press relations 

The department of public relations works alongside the media to bring forward true facts about the company. This is to make sure that information that relates to the company. This is to make sure that information about the company goes to the public in a positive manner.

Product publicity

The public relations department carries out sponsors on events and programs to make both new and existing products publicly known. For example, many companies organize and sponsor events like cultural events, seminars, exhibitions, news conferences, etc. in places like schools, parks, orphanages, marketplaces, etc.

Corporate communication

The department gives out annual reports, newsletters, and other relevant materials to the media. All these materials contribute to influencing the minds of both the firm’s employees and members of the public. For instance, a firm’s top leaders may present speeches,  messages, or issue an interview to the media.

Lobbying 

This department is responsible for maintaining a healthy relationship between the company and the government officials. Also with the finance association of commerce and industry, and the ministry in charge of corporate affairs. These are things that a firm needs to put in place. There is also a need for the company to take opinions from shareholders in the course of formulating industrial taxation policies. The public relations department plays a major function in this respect.

Counseling

The department also gives advice to the firm’s management on the factors affecting the company’s image. The company receives a guide on how to involve different social welfare activities to increase the sphere of public influence and gain the confidence of society at large.

Responsibilities of the public relations officers, managers, and specialists

This category of people perform the following functions of public relations;

  1. Providing favorable information about the firm to the members of the public.
  2. Gathering knowledge about the attitude of the public as well as making analysis of the public opinion and the people’s attitudes towards the firm and its products. Also, drafting out strategies to adopt in order to influence the public.
  3. Receiving and hosting of visitors to the firm.
  4. Maintaining a friendly relationship between the firm and the public.
  5. Adopting strategies to support every campaign of the brand and organizing exhibitions on the firm’s behalf. the department also publishes information regarding the new move of the firm via editorial content.
  6. The issuance of a press release as well as speaking to the press on behalf of the firm.
  7. Online content writing.
  8. Speechwriting.
  9. Handling social media as well as attending to public reviews on the social media websites.
  10. Giving counsel to the employees regarding the policies, course of action, the firm’s responsibilities, and their own responsibilities.
  11. Representing the firm in public gatherings.
  12. Handling government and legislative agencies on the firm’s behalf as well as dealing with public groups and other organizations with respect to social policies and other policies of the organization, and the government legislation.
  13. Dealing with investor relations.

Major objectives of public relations

  1. To facilitate the smooth running and functioning of the business and achieve the objectives of the organization.
  2. Building corporate image as well as creating a favorable image and creditability of the products of the company in the eyes and minds of the public.
  3. Lowering costs that are with respect to promotion as there is a need to maintain staffs

    that will develop and pass information to the public through media or event management.

  4. Supplementary to advertising in the promotion of both new and existing products thereby easing the sales of these products.

  5. Launching new products as well as maintaining public interest and confidence in the existing products.

Features of public relations

Saturation of effort

If an organization is competing for a level of media attention, it puts more pressure on the efforts of public relations. The aim is for the firm to be better than that of its competitors. There is no guarantee that the activities of public relations will have an impact on the targets it is aiming at.

Can be Targeted

By using the right media tool, the activities of public relations are targettable to a small specialized audience.

Relatively low cost

Compared to any other type of promotion technique, PR is cheaper in terms of cost per person reached. When we rule out the nominal production costs, the activities of public relations can take place at almost no cost. 

Relatively uncontrollable

A firm possesses only little control over the steps that public relations take in the course of its activities. There is usually no control over where or when the PR prints a press release. When there is a misinterpretation of the press release, the result may be unfavorable news coverage. Comparing it to advertising, an advertiser can exercise some control over the placement and timing of an advert.

Credibility

The activities of public relations lead to a high level of credibility when comparing it to other sources of promotion like advertising. The public tends to look at such messages as coming from an obviously non-commercial and impartial source. Where a firm presents information as news, readers or viewers tend to be less critical about it unlike when this information comes as advertising which people will conceive in their minds to be biased.

Securing public cooperation

Public relations seek to gain the cooperation of the public, it is an activity that aims towards getting support from members of the public. A company can earn public support through this department.

Successful relation with Public

There are times in which the public develops negative attitudes towards the firm. A company can change this attitude through the establishment of public relations which assists in building a better relationship with the public.

Satisfying different groups

PR is an effort that bases on satisfying different groups of people such as the consumers, shareholders, employees, and society.  This department usually helps in the areas of acknowledging the expectation of a specific group of people.

Engaging in dialogue

It is the desire of every firm to enjoy goodwill. To establish a good reputation, engaging in dialogue is necessary, that is exchange of ideas. In the course of a dialogue, a firm provides information and this is only possible through public relations.

Ongoing activity

It is a continuous effort, a company has to repeat it over and over. For instance, for a company to satisfy its employees, it must arrange meetings with them from time to time.

Specialized Activity

Public relations gains recognition in the form of specialized activities. For example, like the other activities such as purchase, production, sale, finance, marketing, etc. within a business organization, public relations also performs its activities under the same series of activities. For this reason, every big organization establishes the department of public relations separately.

Types of public relations

Public relations are classified based on their functions.

Counseling

In the most successful communication programs, public relations plays a very significant role in advising the senior management. They make recommendations with regard to policy issues as well as decisions that relate particularly to communication. They give counsel to the firm’s employees regarding policies, course of action, the responsibility of the organization, and their responsibility.

Research

Companies make research extensively to have a better understanding of the public and influencing them.

 Media relations

Press coverage is a critically important tool of public relations. Usually, specialists use the efforts of publicity to get coverage in the media (print or broadcast). They give responses to request for information or comments. Usually, these requests come from journalists that are working on stories concerning their firm or the products and services of the firm. Sometimes, the media relations make arrangements of press tours of manufacturing facilities. They also organize press conferences with the aim of announcing/introducing a new product as well as making coverages of the annual meetings held by stakeholders. The department establishes a good relationship with the media organizations and acts as a source of their content.

Investor relations

It is a department that provides accurate information about the affairs of the company to investors. This information helps investors (both private and institutional) in making decisions on whether to invest in the company or not.

Handling the events of investors, releasing financial reports, regulatory filings, as well as handling investors, analysts, media queries, and complaints.

Government relations

This department is responsible for representing the brand to the government with respect to fulfilling policies such as corporate social responsibility, fairness in competition, employee protection, consumer protection, etc.

Community relations

The community relations is in charge of handling the social aspect of the brand as well as establishing a good reputation in the social environment such as education and environmental protection. This department handles the way the firm interacts with its community, that is the community where it is residing.

Customer relations

This department is in charge of handling as well as maintaining a good relationship with the target market and consumers/customers. It is responsible for conducting market research to know more about the attitudes, interests, and priorities of the customers and adopting strategies to influence these attitudes using earned media. The company needs to put in its efforts in establishing good relationships with its customers. They can do this by updating means of communication thereby evolving the experiences of customers. Through the help of this department, a firm chooses a specific approach that matches the unique needs of the customers. Creating relationships with customers is beneficial because it gives value to both the firm and its customers.

Marketing relations/communications

This has to do with deploying messages and media to communicate with the market. It basically involves the launching of products, brand awareness, special campaigns, image, positioning, advertising, direct marketing, packaging, branding, tradeshow, etc. It involves activities that relate to persuading customers to buy and continue buying the products and services of a firm. This has to do with building and developing relationships between the firm and the market. It has to do with gaining reputation within the market environment thereby building the market’s trust in a brand.

Publicity

Publicity here has to do with conveying factual and newsworthy information about a company and its products via the mass media. It involves planning, execution, and evaluation of programs to encourage purchase and satisfaction of consumers. This takes place through communicating information and impressions identifying firms and their products as well as the consumers’ needs, wants, concerns, and interests. Publicity involves no cost to the company and we can refer to it as free advertising.

Tools of publicity

a) Press releases

This is the basic tool of publicity that has to do with story placement. This is where the company summarizes important information about its products and services in a manner that captures the attention of the media. There is a need for customizing press releases for the different media contacted just as a marketer customizes advertising messages for each target market.

b) Fact sheets

It is important to write a press release that the media can use without any editing, that is, you have to include every information that is relevant. Now, the fact sheet comes in where there is a piece of additional information that is relevant but does not really fit into the press release. These sheets include information that is more detailed about the firm’s product such as its origin and specific features. By this, it becomes easier for the media to write a story about the firm’s product. This is because the fact sheet helps t clarify every misconception and answer the questions of the reporters thereby saving them any phone call or e-mail query.

c) Press kits

The press kit puts all the press releases, fact sheets, and complimentary photographs about the product together in one orderly arranged package. A folder that is comprehensive captures the attention of many and keeps every provided material in an organized manner.

d) Video news releases

The VNR is equivalent to the press release but in the form of video, this is usually prepared for television stations to use. A typical video news release lasts for about 90 seconds and a company/firm can use it to highlight some important features of the product.

e) Employee/member relation

The employees of a firm are greatly important to the internal audience. For this reason, the corporate public relations department spends quality time trying to develop employee communication programs that include regular newsletters, informational bulletin boards, and internet posts. Service organizations (particularly) can use these activities to help in supporting the efforts of brand communication. For example, making use of the firm’s newsletter to remind employees of the importance of prompt and polite customer service.

f) Community relations

It is necessary for a firm to maintain good citizenship in the markets where they have offices and production facilities. A lot of firms actively encourage their employees to partake in community organizations. Basically, local corporations are usually the major sponsors of community events and activities that include arts presentations, educational activities, and blood donation drives.

g) Financial relations

Financial relation is a key area of the activities of public relations because a lot of major brand marketing organizations are publicly held firms. A decline in the earnings of a firm will lead to a corresponding decline in the prices of stocks as well as top executives losing their job which is very frequent. Financial relations are responsible for the establishment and maintenance of relationships with the investment community. This investment community includes stockbrokers, industry analysts, and journalists that specialize in financial reports.

Specialists in this respect, the job is to get maximum press coverage for the financial successes of a firm and to put the best face possible on any financial loss. They write the annual reports of a company and also other communications directed to stockholders.

h) Industry relations

Industry relations primarily deal with other businesses that operate within the same industry as well as trade associations.

i) Development/fund-raising

This is specifically important to non-profit organizations such as educational institutions, arts organizations, and community service programs. These types of companies are highly dependent on donations from the public, government, and other organizations to make up part of their operational budgets. Development specialists identify prospects that are likely for issuance. The department designs proposals to present those prospects as well as working to sustain those relationships that are ongoing.

j) Special events

Organizing special events is another vital tool of publicity. These events can serve as compelling news that moves towards the bearing of publicity efforts. A firm can promote these efforts through advertising and this is able to serve as a point of distribution for sales promotion incentives. Without much requirements of creativity, organizing special events serve as an important point of standing out amongst competitors.

Public relations examples

Google’s fight Ebola campaign

The Ebola outbreak in 2014 was a critical situation as it spread widely across many countries and claimed a lot of lives. Google stepped in by helping people in need. This activity did not only aim at helping the needy, but it also aimed at building a positive brand image. Google commenced a donation campaign where it made a pledge to give $2 for every $1 donated to the cause through its website. This public relations strategy attracted media attention thereby resulting in a huge success. Google was able to raise up to $7.5 million.

Checkers Custard campaign in Nigeria

In 2020, Checkers moved across nursery and primary schools in Nigeria with sachets of custards, sharing them among pupils and teachers. The target audience was the age group in the nursery and primary schools, looking at the fact that children love custards so much. The manufacturing firm adopted strategies such as engaging the pupils in some exercises and poems, introducing them to the different flavors of Checkers Custard in a pleasant and enticing manner. Many children, through that, got to know about Checkers custard thereby building a better reputation in the firm.

Areas of achieving public relations

Media relations

This has to do with taking editors to news, presenting news to editors, the creation of relevant news, and the management of the news. There are benefits to establishing good relationships with the media. There is a need to supply news items as part of the publicity efforts which are deliberate, planned, and sustained.

Editorial and broadcast material

These are the products of public relations that cover press conferences, personal interviews, news releases, feature writing, journalist briefings, case histories, and press visits. Press conferences and news releases are the most common methods firms adopt in gaining publicity. There are other techniques as well.

Press conferences

The aim of holding a press conference is to give media members briefings on major news events. Usually, feature writers and editors receive invitations to such events and they select the press conferences they wish to attend. The presentations at the conference should be attractive and the subjects should be interesting.

News releases

This is an item the PR circulates to the media with the hope of placing it in a publication. If the media publishes this item, it will be valuable. Public relations is the process of making sure that members of the public receive the most favorable information/impression about the image of the firm as well as promoting mutual understanding with members of the public. More people read and see editorial matters than advertising in the same magazine/or newspaper. Usually, an article’s contents gain credibility as an implication of having the support of the publication.

The public, in most cases, considers editorial comments as objective and unbiased unlike in the case of advertising. The disadvantage of depending solely on publications is that the editors decide what to publish and when it will appear. If a firm sets out a news release in such a way that it is not suitable for publication, then there will be some changes before inserting it into the publication. These changes are bound to change the meaning of the press release. Also, the editors could reject the press release.

Controlled communications

This is an aspect of publicity material for the use of the company which includes annual reports, educational materials, leaflets, etc., that the organization can successfully place to support its objectives. This material is of a low cost and it serves as a luxury for some organizations because of the time it takes to plan and prepare it. It is more difficult to measure its benefits than that of advertising or other media publicity. Firms should not ignore this channel because the less common means of reaching out to consumers can be more effective.

Face-to-Face events

This has to do with other ways of directly reaching out to the selected audience such as conferences, exhibitions, lectures, shopping center events, demonstrations, open days, public visits, etc. These activities facilitate direct contact and the environment for such contact is a key factor. The company has to structure such events to give the right level of interest connected to the communication message for the event to become worthwhile.

One of the excellent ways to present an organization to its customers is through exhibitions though they can be expensive but also simple and low-cost shell construction. It is important to make sure that the exhibition is as effective as possible no matter the price.

This implies that it is important to be proactive in inviting visitors to your exhibition rather than being sluggish and reactive. The role/function of public relations like direct mail in attracting visitors is something that one should not ignore.

Tools and media of public relations

News

This is a major tool that the public relations department uses to promote the image of a firm. It spreads the news about the firm’s products while consumers are usually in a better position to have an opinion about the firm. The public/consumers derive their opinion about a firm through the help of the news they listen to or read in a publication.

Trade fair

Trade fairs are large gatherings where different manufacturing firms gather to exhibit and show their products and also buy other products. Usually, trade fairs are larger than the normal markets and they take place at longer intervals. Trade fair consists of local and international trade fairs. 

Speech

The public relations department uses speech as an important tool to disseminate information about a firm and its products. The top authorities then express vital views about the firm and its products and the media publishes the company’s personnel in relevant newspapers. Also, the media distributes copies of their speeches among the public. These are necessary steps in promoting the image of a firm.

Exhibition

An exhibition is a publicly organized display of products that firms carry out within the industry or firms from different industries with the aim of promoting trade. Just as it is in the case of a trade fair, an exhibition can either be local or international. An exhibition is different from a trade fair because a trade fair holds outdoors, that is in public places, while exhibitions take place indoors. Exhibitions attract fewer participating firms and goods and services than trade fairs.

Printed materials

Printed materials are important tools of public relations. Every firm usually has its own annual reports, newsletters, and magazines they publish regularly. They distribute these publications regularly among the members of the public. Inside these publications, firms avail every vital information that pertains to the way their business functions, profits, turnover, and the future plans of development. Firms usually deliver these publications to their clients via post or courier services.

Gifts

Usually, firms use various gifts having their names and logo on those gifts making this a means of reaching out to the members of the public. This in turn aids in boosting the public image of a firm, Examples of such gifts are diaries, pens, calendars, etc.

Special events

PR publicizes the company, making public everything that happens relating to the company to consumers. An instance is where the government awards a company for its best performance in the production field or export earnings. The public relations department puts in efforts to make such events public to the people. Information like this helps to create a better image of the company among the public thereby boosting its goodwill.

Feature article

As a way of promoting the image, a firm sponsor the writing of feature articles that relate to them in magazines and newspapers. Usually, some of these feature articles carry the title, highlight, detailed description of a firm such as the firm’s origin, founders, location, etc.

Audio-visual materials

Cassettes, both audio and visual help in publicizing a firm thereby connecting it to the public. They display these cassettes to the public in cinemas and other public places where it is easier to reach out to a larger audience. In modern days, these audio-visual materials are important tools that facilitate advertising.

Seminars and conferences

Firms also hold press conferences and organize seminars as means of making their activities known to the members of the public. In conferences like this, members of the public have the opportunity to ask questions while competent staffs provide answers to such questions.

Public services

Firms also engage in public welfare services to make their public relations better. When a firm carries out these public welfare services, it helps in promoting its image. For example, a firm can organize health camps, scholarships, donations to appeal funds, donations to the disabled, sponsoring sports and competitions, etc. They participate in these charitable ventures which is a strategy of building a better image thereby fostering a closer and better relationship with the public

Institution identity

Some firms print their logos to clarify their identity among the members of the public. When one sees the logo of a company, he easily identifies the company. This forms an important medium of public relations.

Website

The most modern medium/tool of public relations is designing a website for the firm. Through these websites, companies advertise their products and the general public can visit these websites to get vital information about the company.

Community projects

A lot of firms participate in executing community projects especially in communities where they are located. This gives a positive public view bout them.

Public relations in marketing

Though public relations and marketing work hand in hand because they both aim at reaching out to target audiences. A company trying to gain a good reputation before the public, informing the public about its product and activities, exhibitions, trade fairs, etc., are all geared towards increasing sales and marketing. Of course, you as a firm have to let the public know about your products, both new and existing as well as your services. It is a marketing strategy.

As stated above, the process of public relations in marketing includes media campaigns, seminars, conferences, etc, that help in promoting the product and service of a firm. Also, tools like product launching events, social media strategies, crisis communication plans, etc., are vital in promoting a firm’s image. This elevates the credibility of a brand within the circles of the public and media, passing accurate and reliable information to the public.

The media will not always publish the story a firm offers to them, so it is necessary for a firm to choose the right public relations professional that are capable of representing the brand. It takes the form of free advertising which can boost the firm’s public image. The tools of public relations, especially gifts, trade fairs, exhibitions, and other public services enhance sales promotion. In essence, Public relations is a vital marketing tool for a firm.

Now, public relations is vital in marketing in the following ways;

Helps to create a market

Publicizing a firm and its products helps to create a market. Marketing plays the role of satisfying the needs and wants of those who constitute the market. When there is a block in the market and a firm/company is unable to operate, public relations can pave a way out.

Influencing non-consumer groups

Influencing non-consumer groups is a major role in public relations which complements the efforts of marketing. PR functions for every organizational goal which includes marketing. The ability to successfully influence a non-consumer indirectly promotes the image of a firm thereby indirectly enhancing marketing. 

Influencing the Influential in crisis

It is a strategic decision to be conversant with how to communicate and how not to communicate during a crisis. Usually, a marketing crisis can range from product failure or impairment of the products while on transit or as a result of protests by activists.

When this crisis gets complicated, a company’s reputation and its products can get messed up as a result of reports that are inaccurate. When a firm fails to submit clarifications to the media as a result of fear of jeopardizing the firm’s legal stand, it may end up with a negative image in cases of crises. It is very easy to view withholding of information as a cover-up and this will look like a firm admitting guilt. 

So in this case, it is important for a firm to deal with its legal and marketing objectives separately. PR can facilitate these objectives since promoting a firm’s image is vital in virtually every aspect. Stepping into this situation can help a firm to emerge with a cleaner image and reputation.

Influencing the dealers and salespersons

Most firms face difficulties in reaching out directly to the consumers, they go through the channels of distribution instead. It is the trade that pushes the products to the market thereby giving a priority to the company and its products over its competitors. Now, it is important for a firm to build and maintain good and positive relations with its intermediaries. Public relations tools in this respect include dealer conferences, conventions, display of contents, in-house publications, gifts, etc. These tools help to achieve support and cooperation from dealers. 

Influencing direct consumers via other means than advertising

There are firms that do not have sufficient operational size to support heavy promotional budgets because they are capital intensive. That is, conventional promotional tools are usually not successful in this situation. Also, when a firm faces difficulties in advertising and promotion because such may result in bad taste thereby affecting the firm’s image negatively. For instance, it is very difficult for a hospital to advertise abortion services. Meanwhile, it is easier to advertise services like eye care, dental care, etc. 

Therefore, firms should adopt promotional strategies like community relations, events management, corporate identity programs, etc. These are relevant and the PR department should use them effectively and innovatively.

Influencing the employees to improve in serving customers

This includes external marketing, internal marketing, and interactive marketing.

External marketing comprises the 4Ps of the marketing mix and the target here is geared towards customers. Each individual in the firm plays a different role in marketing products or services. A company’s efforts to train employees on product knowledge, product handling, and customer knowledge as well as motivation constitute internal marketing tools. Interactive marketing skills have to do with handling customer contact.  Customers judge a firm based on functional quality aside from technical and service package services.

The experiences of customers at the moment determine the truth based on the expectations that the service provider creates in their hearts. Usually, the traditional marketing efforts issue promises based on the needs and aspirations of the target customers which the external marketing creates. The abilities and motivation of employees to meet the customers’ expectations usually receive backup from the efforts of internal marketing.

Public Relations vs marketing differences

Public relations is not the same as marketing, they both have different audiences. While marketing targets the direct needs of customers, public relations focuses basically on building relationships with customers.  they differ in the following ways;

  • The target audiences
  • Goals
  • Business tactics
  • Tasks
  • Endurance
Goals

Public relations has different goals from marketing. It focuses on maintaining as well as improving the public image of a company and its relationship with customers/clients and stakeholders. On the other hand, marketing aims at making research on target audiences by adopting a plan to attract customers to a product, that is attracting them to participate and purchase the products.

Business tactics

While marketing uses promotional strategies like branding to increase their entire returns on investment, Public relations helps a firm in gaining free exposure via media thereby boosting the credibility of a firm.

Tasks

The tasks and activities undertaken by the two variables make them different also. Public relations builds campaigns aimed at improving the branding of an organization as well as its reputation through positive media coverage. Marketing on the second hand seeks after achieving returns through direct sales by direct marketing, paid advertising, and promotion.

Endurance

The task of marketing is a short-term task because it focuses basically on ways to sell a good or service to a target group of customers at the moment. It tends to chase after instant tangible success through making sales. Public relations on the other hand focuses basically on long-term benefits which a firm is bound to gain, that is why it invests a lot of time in building credibility as well as establishing and developing good relationships with the public.

However, it is not possible to engage in public relations without engaging in forms of marketing. Well, if the members of the public are not connecting with a firm’s brand, there will be no investment in the product or services. Also, if people dislike a firm’s products and services, it is bound to damage the brand’s reputation.

Advantages of public relations

Attracting target market

Public relations makes it easier for a firm to attract and retain its target market. An article on a firm’s product and services offerings, well written and published in a magazine can be more attractive and impactful on the image compared to an advertisement in that same magazine. Also, By utilizing multiple sources of media from a public relations agency, a firm can easily communicate its key messages thereby moving closer to achieving its company goals.

Provide added value

It provides a unique touch thereby adding value to a firm’s product offerings that help to make it stand out amongst its competitors and gain a competitive edge. Such firms will be at the forefront of their industry. Public relations adds value by increasing a company’s product visibility and well as its services, brand personalization, raising the profile, building strong relationships, reputation management, sales process assistance, and adding value to clients through case studies. It is basically a win-win scenario.

Short and long-term lead generation

Thro8ugh public relations, media placement is a form of long-term placement because a firm is likely to gain more exposure to a large number of leads. But a firm will notice that there is still a lead from just a single media mention as time goes on. The generation of leads will come through as businesses and customers stagger on public relations.

Build your brand image

Usually, there is this assumption that people make based on a misconception that public relations are all about promoting an item or a special offer. Actually, it gears the entire business of a firm towards growth and greater success. It creates a more positive image for the brand in the minds of consumers when carried out in the right way. Well, this is a pathway to better a company’s engagement. When a firm builds a great brand image, it is a business investment that is unpurchasable. It gives more value to a brand and customers and it helps in shaping every aspect of the business at large.

Credibility 

If a company makes the public aware of the benefits it will enjoy from its products and the company does this through an independent source, and the source does not receive any payment from the company, then the credibility factor is greater. Carrying out publicity through public relations gives more credibility to a firm because such contents are usually more authentic and informative. Research has proven that public relations give more credibility and visibility in the consumer market than advertising which people perceive to be more promotional.

Informative

Public relations provide more information to the public than the way advertisements do. Because it usually comes as news, people tend to give it more attention and it contains more detailed information.

Cost benefits

A firm does not make direct payment to the media for public relations. Though there are cost involvements, the budgets here are far less than that of advertising.

Speed

It possesses the advantage of speed. The firm can always disseminate information on major developments within a short time frame. It is flexible and reactive.

Disadvantages of public relations

Though public relations are beneficial to firms in general terms, there are times that firms wish they could do away with it. For instance, providing every relevant information concerning a company may include some events of accidents such as an oil company experiencing oil leakage. This may bring about bad public relations. A firm can minimize this by breaking such news to the media itself. Well, this can still deter a firm’s reputation.

Distortion of message

A firm does not have control over the reports the media gives about them. There are instances in which a company hopes that the media reports its press release in full. After the hope, the media would not use the press release at all, or probably report just a small portion from it.

No repetition most times

A firm makes sure that there is a frequency of information with advertisements, but this advantage is absent under public relations. The media may pass the message only once if at all it does.

Lack of control of contents

Public relations make use of different media such as television, newspapers, magazines, the internet, radio, etc and this makes it difficult for a firm to have control over the delivery of a message and where the delivery takes place. This is different from advertising where a firm can control its content. For example, a firm may spend a lot of time with a magazine writer who is preparing a story that pertains to an industry only to find out that it did not appear in the publication.

Risk of off message

Public relations pass information through the mass media, unlike other promotional messages. When a firm delivers information to the media, the media may reframe the information as part of the news or feature. This may cause the message not to be the precise plan of the marketer. It may distort the meaning of the content.

ROI risk

Though a public relation is potentially able to yield high returns on promotional expenses, the reverse may be the case if the media fails to publish the message which they received from a firm. Or if the media feels that it is little or no value in running a story suggested through communication with the news outlet by the marketer.

Getting bumped

There is usually a tendency for a well-devised news event or release bumped from planned media coverage due to more critical news breaking, such as wars, severe weather, or serious crime.

Public relations and advertising

Both public relations and advertising aim at building brands as well as communicating to the target audiences. The major difference here is that firms pay for advertising space while public relations come about through providing information to the media in form of press releases and pitches.

Differences between and public relations and advertising 

While advertising aims at targetting potential customers, public relations aims at casting wider nets, that is, not just targeting potential customers but building and promoting the firm’s image. The public a firm targets through public relations can be internal or external. These members of the public include investors, employees, the media, customers, legislators, etc. A new category emerged, the influencers which refer to people possessing a high level of personal connections such as celebrities or politicians. This also includes those individuals who have a large following on social media.

Public relations and advertising differ in the following areas;

  • Goals and objectives
  • Control
  • Strategy
  • Credibility

Goals & Objectives

The aims and objectives of public relations are to maintain the fact that customers/consumers place more trust in a firm and they are more likely to engage in business with the firm they know and admire. As we have been emphasizing, public relations help in building a firm’s reputation and brand awareness. On the other hand, a firm generates advertisements for a specific target market aimed at generating higher sales. Advertising places more focus on promoting products and services than building a reputation/positive image.

Control

A firm determines/decides how an advertisement will look, where to place it, and when to run when buying it. The level of exposure which an advert attains is highly dependent on the amount of money a firm spends. Public relation on the other hand specifically works with the media and has less control. Here, it is the media that determines the presentation of a firm’s information in the news and its coverage.

Strategy

There is a shorter goal of a term in mind with advertising and its copy moves towards specific buying seasons such as holiday shopping, launching a new product, or promoting social deals to improve sales. Public relations on the other hand look at the big picture of a firm, conveying relevant information about the firm’s brand to build a sustainable and dedicated set of brand fans that includes consumers and stakeholders.

Credibility

Consumers do not believe everything they see in advertisements because the person paying for an advert dictates exactly what it says and displays. They will never state that a product is likely to break within a specific time frame even if that would happen. For public relations, a trusted third party which is the media communicates messages through the PR. This makes it possess more credibility.

Though it is easy to understand the differences between these two variables, the increasing growth of social media popularity seems to make these differences blur because people use social media in different ways.

Jobs within Public relations

The public relations department has different types of jobs that exist across different industries as well as levels of experience.

Here are some public relations jobs and the roles they perform;

  • Public relations intern
  • Social media specialist
  • Public affairs specialist
  • Public relations assistant
  • Community relations coordinator
  • Public relations account executive
  • Publicist
  • Social media strategist
  • Crisis manager
  • Public relations manager
  • Investor relations manager

Public relations intern

A public relations intern is responsible for supporting the public relations of a firm and assists in its execution. He is also responsible for the creation of engaging content, communicating with current or prospective clients, writing press releases, and assisting with different administrative duties.

Social media specialist

The primary duty of the social media specialist is market extensions as well as the creation of online content and scheduling it for dissemination on the firm’s social media channels. This specialist is also responsible for data analysis across different social media platforms. He runs paid advertisements and manages social media campaigns such that the firm’s brand gains a more positive image.

Public affairs specialist

The public affairs specialist is in charge of communicating with the media and government representatives on behalf of the firm’s agency. He serves the agency’s leaders, creates materials that will promote the services of the agency across different platforms and media, and he is also responsible for responding to media and public inquiries. 

Public relations assistant

He is responsible for providing support and assistance to the public relations department of a firm. This support/assistance includes answering phone calls, organizing press kits, assisting with marketing campaigns development, and reviewing the social media content of the company/client. 

Community relations coordinator

The community relations coordinator helps in building a firm’s relationship with its community. He performs these tasks through means like creating community outreaches and programs thereby presenting the company/client in public as well as assessing the needs of the public.

Public relations account executive

The primary responsibility of the public relations account executive is to manage different categories of clients. As the primary aim has always been, to promote their clients/firms in the sight of their target audiences. The account executives, apart from building good relationships with their clients, write press releases. They as well feature ideas to continue maintaining 

Primary duties: Public relations account executives mays been, manage a variety of clients and aim to promote them to their target audiences. Along with building relationships with their clients, they also write press releases, pitch press releases, and feature ideas and continue to maintain the image of their employer.

Publicist

The publicist generates media coverage for a firm/client and manages the firm’s campaigns and social media accounts. He is also responsible for issuing press releases and managing day-to-day relationships with the media.

Social media strategist

A social media strategist develops social media strategies and creates content for the company’s social media platforms. He is responsible for planning as well as scheduling content in advance/ beforehand and ensuring the aims of every content to reach out to the company’s target audience.

Crisis manager

The crisis manager does not only handle government issues, he also handles issues that are bound to threaten a brand and its reputation. He adopts strategic solutions in a swift manner and develops plans to execute in case an unexpected outcome results. This person plays an essential role/function in creating responses to major threats that a firm is bound to face. Some of these threats are product failure and breach of security. A crisis manager is also responsible for overseeing a team and delegate tasks. 

Public relations manager

The public relations manager is responsible for maintaining a favorable image for a company/client by providing information to the public about the company’s programs and accomplishments. He creates marketing communications plans, files media questions, and pitch stories to the firm and he also creates media kits as well as setting up press conferences.

Copywriter

A copywriter is responsible for writing marketing and publicity materials for a firm. Some of the types of content they write include blog posts and press releases. He also functions actively in writing content that abides by the firm’s style guide. He makes sure he maintains a consistent brand voice across the different channels of the firm/client.

Director of public relations

The director of public relations is responsible for creating goals and objectives for the public relations department. He oversees the actions and performances of the entire team/department. The director of public relations aims at maximizing the brand of the firm on different platforms and mediums as well as continuous relationship building with the media.

Media relations manager

The media relations manager is responsible for handling press communications. Those occupying this role write press releases, schedule press conferences, and coordinates anything that has to do with the media. The aim is to generate positive news coverage of the company and its product. They also make sure that the media accurately represents the brand they are working for.

Community relations director

 The community relations director is in charge of handling relationships with the communities where the company is located. He aims at working to build positive relationships with the local communities as well as making sure that these locals know that the company is actively interested in the wellbeing of the community.

Internal communications executive

The internal communications executive performs the function of supporting the internal communications strategy of the company. He then uses these strategies to build the organizational image. The internal communication executive also makes sure that the employees of the firm remain motivated and informed.

Employee relations manager

The employee relations manager’s role is to make sure that the employees remain satisfied and motivated in their place of work. This person is usually responsible for organizing employee events, dispute resolution, assist with internal communication, and assist managers in establishing a good working relationship with the team/ department. He also uses his negotiation skills and perceptiveness on a daily basis.

Investor relations managers

The investor relations manager is in charge of handling the firm’s communication and relationship with its investors and/or shareholders. He is responsible for organizing annual meetings and he also manages every request of the shareholders for information on the company.

Salaries in Public Relations

  1. Public relations intern: National average salary: $28,205 yearly
  2. Social media specialist: National average salary: $37,094 yearly
  3. Public affairs specialist: National average salary: $45,410 yearly
  4. Public relations assistant: National average salary: $46,368 yearly
  5. Community relations coordinator: National average salary: $50,099 yearly
  6. Public relations account executive: National average salary: $51,828 yearly
  7. Publicist: National average salary: $54,858 yearly
  8. Social media strategist: National average salary: $56,814 per year
  9. Crisis Manager: National average salary: $57,366 yearly
  10. Public relations manager: National average salary: $61,937 yearly
  11. Copywriter: National average salary: $61,982 yearly
  12. Director of public relations: National average salary: $65,618 yearly
  13. Media relations manager: National average salary: $69,038 yearly
  14. Community relations director: National average salary: $71,217 yearly
  15. Internal communications executive: National average salary: $73,808 yearly
  16. Employee relations manager: National average salary: $74,355 yearly
  17. Investor relations managers: National average salary: $91,347 yearly

The five best-paying cities for public relations specialists are;

  1. Washington, District of Columbia: $103,820
  2. Kennewick, Washington: $87,690
  3. San Francisco, California: $84,520
  4. San Jose, California: $83,920
  5. California, Maryland: $83,640

Public relations specialist

As the word ‘specialist’ implies, a public relations specialist is someone who specializes in creating and maintaining a favorable public image for a firm. In this case, the firm is either their employer or client. The public relations specialist comprises different jobs as they have been outlined above.

In summary, the public relations specialists do the following based on their respective jobs;

  • Writing of press releases and the preparation of information for the media.
  • Identification of the main client groups and audiences as well as determining the most appropriate way of reaching out to them.
  • Assist clients/firms in communicating effectively with the public.
  •  Making drafts of speeches as well as making arrangements for interviews for the top executives of an organization.
  • Make responses to requests for information from the media or designating a suitable spokesman or a source of information.
  • Help in developing and maintaining the corporate image and identity of a firm/organization through the use of signs and logos.
  • The public relations specialists function actively in evaluating advertising and promotion programs. This is to determine the firm’s compatibility with the efforts of the public relations department.
  • Handling communications with the public such as consumers, investors, consumers, reporters, and other media specialists.
  • Developing and carrying out fundraising strategies for the firm through the identification and making contacts with potential donors and grant applications.
  • They handle internal communications such as the newsletters of the firm and also provide financial managers in producing reports.

As a public relations specialist, you need to understand the attitudes and concerns of the group of people you interact with. This is to maintain cooperative relationships with these groups.

They are specialized in observing economic, social, and political trends that are bound to ultimately affect the company. They make recommendations on ways to enhance the image of the firm based on those trends.

It is mandatory for public relations specialists to be able to work properly with diverse workers to facilitate accurate reports of facts because there are cases in which this information may have legal consequences.

Public relations firms

A public relations firm is a professional service organization that firms hire generally to reach out to the public with relevant information via the media with the aim of promoting the firm’s image and reputation. These firms adopt strategies to change the action of the public through having an influence on their opinions.

They pass messages/information that pertains to a firm through newspapers, radio, magazines, televisions, the internet, and other forms of media and they do this without charging a fee.

Usually, public relations firms target certain segments of the public. This is because a particular group of people shares similar opinions rather than the entire society. They target different sets of audiences with different messages/approaches which is aimed at achieving an overall goal. This goal achieved is basically a change in mindsets, opinions, and behaviors.

A public relations firm is usually independent of the firm/client. It functions in providing a third-party perspective on the firm’s business. A typical public relations firm includes sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. It can take the form of any of these business organizations. This firm has multiple offices and a large number of employees and its essence comprises creative services, production, etc. It also possesses a typical organizational structure.

Public relations management

Public relations management comprises the following;

  • Relationship management
  • Reputation management
  • Communication management
  • Crisis management
  • Issues management
  • Resource management
  • Risk management
  • Strategic management

Relationship management

This has to do with the strategy adopted in communicating news, updates, and other information to customers/consumers and stakeholders. It also involves updating and engaging them with a firm’s brand in the course of inspiring trust and loyalty. here, the public relations management manages the relationship between the firm and the public and other groups.

Reputation management

This has to a firm building a favorable image in the minds of the public as well as maintaining its reputation. Here, honesty, responsibility, and efficiency are essential in a firm managing its reputation.

Communication management

This role has to do with developing communication objectives in alignment with the overall objectives of the organization. This aims at maintaining communication between a firm and its target audience.

Crisis management 

This has to do with the establishment of methods and policies that the public relations management uses when the operations of an organization get involved in an emergency affecting the public. This includes policies and procedures for distributing information to employees, media, government, and other key members of the public.

Issues management

Here, the management identifies problems, issues, and trends that are peculiar to a firm. After identifying these issues, programs are developed and executed to address them. This strategy includes the study of public policy matters that give concern to a firm.

Resource management

This has to do with the public relations managing resources and this includes human and financial resources. This revolves around the setting of objectives, budgeting, planning, recruiting, and hiring public relations staff as well as administering those resources.

Risk management

This function has to do with assisting a firm in taking notice of potential areas of potential danger. This role aims at making recommendations of the changes needed before those potential dangers become crises.

Strategic management

This role aims at assisting the firm in developing sound policies that are in the best interests of the public and that of the firm as well. This has to do with integrating an understanding of the public attitudes and concerns as well as including it in the managerial decision-making process of the management.

Frequently asked questions

What is the role of public relations?

The major role of public relations is to build and promote a firm’s image, good reputation, and maintain a good relationship and communication between the firm and the members of the public. Other roles include counseling, influence, press relations, community relations, counseling, and corporate communication. See the functions of public relations above.

What are examples of public relations?

The Ebola outbreak in 2014 was a critical situation as it spread widely across many countries and claimed a lot of lives. Google stepped in by helping people in need. This activity did not only aim at helping the needy, but it also aimed at building a positive brand image. Google commenced a donation campaign where it made a pledge to give $2 for every $1 donated to the cause through its website. This public relations strategy attracted media attention thereby resulting in a huge success. Google was able to raise up to $7.5 million.

What does PR mean?

PR is an acronym for public relations.

What is Public relations and its importance?

Public relations is the process of making sure that members of the public receive the most favorable information/impression about the image of the firm as well as promoting mutual understanding with members of the public. It is important in building a firm’s image and reputation. Another importance is that it helps to build and maintain a good relationship between a firm and the members of the public or target public.

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