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The World Book Encyclopedia defines public relations, or PR, as "an activity aimed at increasing communication and understanding between an organization or individual and one or more groups called publics." The ultimate goal of any public relations effort is for a corporation, institution, organization or individual to win favor with the general public. In order to do this, the public's interests and concerns must be addressed. Good communication is the foundation of any successful public relations campaign. Persuasion and information distribution have been around, in one form or another, since the beginning of time. However, public relations as an industry or practice has only been around since the early 1900s. With the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, young corporations discovered that their growth depended on gaining the goodwill of the masses. Those that succeeded prospered. Those that didn't met a quick demise. Soon, even individuals - most notably politicians and Hollywood celebrities - were utilizing the wooing techniques of public-savvy companies. In recent years, the power of the media has made public relations a major industry. The primary challenge in creating publicity is to be able to digest the relevant points being communicated, see them from every angle, and express them effectively from one group to another. Effective practice of PR boils down ideas from one segment of the population and conveys them clearly to others, forming a common ground of communication for the various groups who make up our society. Analysis of any successful PR campaign will reveal clear, concise communication, common sense in appealing to people's wants and needs, combined with a little imagination. Once you have thoroughly studied your objective and found a way to convey it effectively, you will want to explore the many arenas open to you to spread your message. Whether you are using television, radio, print, or personal appearances, your message remains constant, but will probably be delivered as each of these media dictate. By familiarizing yourself with the basics of public relations, you will be better prepared to launch en effective campaign, whether the goal is to increase business, spread goodwill, reflect a positive image, or further community or charitable efforts.
Business-Increasing PR. Corporations and small businesses alike use public relations to grow their businesses. Major corporations either have a department of in-house public relations experts or hire outside consultants to deal with the media and act as the company's mouthpiece. The small business owner usually tries tackling it alone or hires a small agency. The object is to generate as much positive press for the company or organization as possible. Many companies do things like making contributions to charities, scholarship funds and other non-profit organizations to win positive feelings from the public at large.
poor writing can scare off the media faster than Kato Kaelin and Linda Tripp's new talk show. Public awareness is essential in any public relations campaign.k. Corporations also use this tactic to promote themselves in the public eye. it can generate a multitude of public awareness. These are frequently used to attract new clients. They are also made available to the media upon request when someone is seeking more information about your company. is an expansion on your press release. Newsworthy developments .generates attention in the media. This will be the undertone to all your public relations and advertising efforts. you need to communicate one factor about your business: what you are contributing to the community. news spots. orchestrated by PR guru Matthew Freud. it creates a domino effect and others run the story as well. The former Spice Girl transformed herself from a questionable talent and one-time topless dancer into a UN goodwill ambassador and advocate in the fight against breast cancer. you are supplying a demand or you wouldn't still be in business. also known as a media kit. Having your company name associated with popular events is sure to garner . Even though you are in business to make money. corporate heads. etc. if one source picks up on your release. Whatever it may be. EPKs (or Electronic Press Kits) might also contain video tapes of relevant information (i. news clippings. commercials. their participation helps to raise more money or give the cause a higher profile. Press Kits. the companies or celebrities gain the respect of the public. Many not-for-profit organizations use the media to raise monies for their efforts. Special Events.. and celebrities are just a few of the people that use public relations to earn the respect of the masses. A press kit.such as signing glamorous celebrity spokespersons or receiving major corporate sponsorship . Oftentimes. collateral materials. Corporations who have the means rely on trained public relations experts to put together well written. Ginger Spice). usually one page. often donating money to such community-enhancing efforts as building a library or improving a public park.a. everyone benefits . You may be offering clean. contact information and any other relevant materials. powerful press releases that are sure to catch the attention of the media. aimed at raising awareness and calling attention to an event or newsworthy happening at your company. But be careful: no matter how big or newsworthy the subject of your press release is. Public Information. One classic example was the makeover of Geri Halliwell (a. radio and television. affordable used cars to the public.Fundraising PR. Features & Terms Press Releases. Enhancing Public Image. Press releases are sent to all areas of the media: print.. brochures.e. Politicians. company biography.). In events like these. These offer a terrific way for any company to get some good press. It is usually a high quality folder containing your press materials: press releases. and the charity itself has raised the funds necessary to operate. Such individuals become involved in philanthropic and other endeavors in an effort to enrich the community. photographs (if applicable). or possibly clothing for the discriminating man. It is important to keep the public informed about services you are offering the community. A press release is a short document.. If it is deemed newsworthy by the media.
since a great deal of work goes into the process. people who know how to craft a message effectively to pull emotional strings. Politicians and corporate heads are constantly called upon to speak publicly. Not only that. which is usually focused on one event or announcement. and use as many attention-catching devices as possible. chamber of commerce conventions and mixers. but these events often receive large amounts of media coverage. never hold a press conference if a press release or a few telephone calls will serve your purpose. This is easier said than done. and the conference is open to question and discussion with the members of the media. showing your interest and opening up the lines of communication.e.positive recognition. Advertisements or PSAs. Take for example the brewing company advertisements discouraging drinking and driving. Think of the presentation as a quick summary of everything you do and offer. the speaker should be someone who is well spoken. or at any number of events. known as public service announcements (PSAs). or possibly some of the company's ads. Holding a press conference is usually only necessary to make a major announcement. Maybe you have a company video or film you can screen. especially if there is a politician or local celebrity (i. It's just a matter of having someone present to show that your company is concerned with what is going on in the region. and a listing of your accomplishments. they often hire speech writers. making the announcement and elucidating upon it. caring and concern is sure to have an effect on how others see your business from that point forward. although the goodwill they create can contribute to sales in a roundabout way. Miss Cornhusk) appearance. informative. few things can convey your message like a welldelivered speech. Presentations. are not made with the goal of increasing sales. There are many places and events at which to make appearances: charity galas and fundraisers.the calendar is full of them. A representative or two from your company speaks. or to a club such as the Kiwanis or Rotary. The goal is to be general. say your company is involved in putting on a pancake breakfast to raise money for the local humane society. Ads like these. you may be asked to speak in front of a group of your peers. Depending on your line of business. Because of this. It is a way of taking part in the community. The presentation is basically a broader form of the press conference. This generosity.. anecdotal. As a general rule. But don't just sit around and wait to be invited. clients. entertaining and well articulated. A presentation is akin to a press conference. or the tobacco company ads urging youngsters not to smoke. and many others . The speech must be concise. Placing a representative from your company at various events can yield numerous benefits to your business. . Take the proactive route and volunteer to speak! Public Appearances. Speeches. Small business owners may be asked to speak at a college or high school function. In general. For example. before a group or club. charming and able to address negative matters in a positive fashion. Many organizations and corporations put together advertisements not with the aim of selling their product but of generating goodwill. The speaker should be thoroughly prepared for all possible questions. community symposia. When done well. Press Conferences.
Whether marketers do their own PR or seek outside help. In garnering media coverage. media relations. many news organizations bar reporters from accepting even the smallest gifts (e.Some media. . magazines and television news often start with a suggestion from a PR person. marketers are well served by an online press room that caters to media needs and provides company contact information. If things work out. • Audio or Video News Releases . write a positive story with the company as a key feature or. In fact.e.. at minimum.While hard copies of materials are used and preferred by some media. newspaper. Media Relations Historically the core of public relations. includes all efforts to publicize products or the company to members of the press — TV and Radio. • Matte Release . The types of key tools available to carryout the public relations function include: • Media Relations • Media Tours • Newsletters • Special Events • Speaking Engagements • Sponsorships • Employee Relations • Community Relations and Philanthropy Each of these PR tools is discussed in detail below. key spokesperson biographies and other supporting materials that provide information useful to reporters. the challenges faced in doing PR will lead many marketers to hire professionals to handle these activities. magazine. in order to maintain the highest level of credibility. a reporter or editor will. PR professionals submit matte releases through syndicated services (i. organization background. companies and company spokespeople. may accept articles written by companies often as filler material when their publication lacks sufficient content.These are prerecorded features distributed to news media that may be included within media programming. • Website Press Room .Include written information such as a news release. newsletter and Internet. For instance. it is important they be familiar with the tools available for public relations. especially small local newspapers.g.Types of Public Relations Tools As we noted in the Public Relations tutorial. It is important to remember that media placements come with good stories and no payment is made to the media for placements. fax or snail mail. at best. services that supply content to many media outlets) or directly to targeted media via email.. Key tools used in media relations include: • Press Kits . As PR people know. include the company’s name somewhere within an industry-focused article. PR professionals work with the media to place stories about products. free pencils with product logo) from companies. a local news report about amusement parks may include portions of a video news release from a national amusement park company. many story ideas for newspapers. This is done by developing interesting and relevant story angles that are pitched to the media.
Marketers can examine sponsorship opportunities to find those that reach target groups. On a media tour a company spokesperson travels to key cities to introduce a new product by being booked on TV and radio talk shows and conducting interviews with print and Internet reporters or influencers (e. perhaps a celebrity or "expert" who has credibility with the target audience. information on online book chats and information on in-store or online promotions. bloggers). such as individuals interested in college savings plans to major events like a strawberry festival designed to promote tourism and regional agriculture. A food manufacturer may include seasonal recipes.. Newsletters can be directed at trade customers. Special Events These run the gamut from receptions to elegant dinners to stunts. Speaking Engagements Speaking before industry conventions. A media tour may include other kinds of personal appearances in conjunction with special events. fit within a specified budget and . One common use of the media tour is the book tour. the right speaking engagement puts the company in front of a good target audience and offers networking opportunities for generating customer leads. Generally these opportunities are not explicitly for company or product promotion. rather they are a chance to talk on a topic of interest to potential customers and serve to highlight the speaker’s expertise in a field.. Effective newsletters are sought out by and well received by interested audiences. final consumers or business buyers and can be distributed either by regular mail or electronic means (i.e. such as building the world’s largest ice cream sundae during National Ice Cream month captures the attention of an audience in the immediate area. e-newsletters delivered via email or rss feed). but also attracts the attention of mass media such as TV news and major newspapers. Newsletters Marketers who have captured names and addresses of customers and potential customers can use a newsletter for regular contact with their targeted audience. speaking engagements or autograph signing opportunities. where an author travels the country to promote a newly released book. The spokesperson can be a company employee or someone hired by the company. trade association meetings. Often the only mention of the company or its products is in the speaker biography. Online newsletters offer the opportunity to link to stores carrying the marketer's products. Nevertheless. information on new products and coupons. Marketers using newsletters strive to provide content of interest to customers as well as information on products and promotions. such as public appearances. which provide broad reach. The Oscar Mayer Weiner mobile is a classic example. Special events can be designed to reach a specific narrow target audience. Sponsorships Companies and brands use sponsorships to help build goodwill and brand recognition by associating with an event or group.Media Tour Some new products can be successfully publicized when launched with a media tour.g. providing a recognizable icon that travels the country garnering attention wherever it visits. A bookstore may include reviews of new books. special event planners must work hard to ensure the program planned conveys the correct message and image to the target audience. As with all PR programs. Stunts. and other groups provides an opportunity for company experts to demonstrate their expertise to potential clients/customers.
it’s the roadmap to get you where you want to be. in effect. including Intranet. community activities. Look at the objectives and alternatives of the various activities considered.. or even by false rumors. email.) And. a plan which predetermines activity to achieve a desired result.e. arts organizations. Community Relations and Philanthropy For many companies fostering good relations with key audiences includes building strong relationships with their regional community. get buy-in from everyone involved who must support or participate in the programme if it’s to be successful. Public Relations Process A PR strategy is. be known as a good neighbor). for teachers. regional. It links research data to activity in order to attain goals and objectives. Defining the challenge. parents) to donating product for community events and charitable fundraisers.. benefits and consequences of each tactic and decide on the right course of action.provide sponsorship benefits that suit the marketer’s objectives. talent and costs that will achieve the goal. which can include signage. An excellent framework for this plan is the classic four-step process: 1. T-shirts. Determine the risks.g. Employee Communications For many companies communicating regularly with employees is important in keeping employees informed of corporate programs. (In agencyspeak. In short. often organizations that have some relationship to the company’s mission or to a key principal of the company. This situation analysis looks at the background of the issues. media. what caused the problem. exposure opportunities. .this is the proposal. Derive a schedule of activity that includes the channels. It examines who your allies. parks) to conducting educational workshops (e. Some companies also make an effort to contribute to charitable organizations. This is where the analysis begins. personnel issues. In larger firms an in-house PR department often works in conjunction with the Human Resources Department to develop employee communications. Marketers can use this information to help match sponsorship opportunities with the company’s objectives. The goal is generally to develop a positive relationship with members of the community (i. receptions and much more. Companies implement programs supportive of the community ranging from supporting local organizations and institutions (e... Companies use a variety of means to communicate with employees. Effective community relations can help a company weather bad publicity or a crisis situation that can unexpectedly arise due to a problem with a product. unethical behavior by management. national and international sponsorship opportunities ranging from a local art center or theatre to the Olympics. opponents and other interested groups are and helps you define the programme’s goal. what precedents are out there. as well as keeping them updated on new products and programs. online and print newsletters. sales incentives. public announcements and numerous other opportunities. Most organizations seeking company sponsors provide information on the variety of sponsorship levels which include data on event audience. 2. There are numerous local. Programming.g.
give context. 4. Get your messages out. . but is necessary if you want to measure the effect of your activity and use what you learn to inform future public relations. Measure achievement of your goals and each objective. time communications. Here’s where you get into the cut and thrust of public relations. Implementation. follow up on every outreach and see it through. Evaluation. This crucial phase is often overlooked. strive for enough repetition of message delivery for maximum effect.3. Are your audiences behaving as you had hoped? Have people’s attitudes been affected? What conclusions arise? How should tactics be revised in future? Report your feedback to all stakeholders.