Organizations hire public relations experts to position themselves strongly in the minds of target audiences, investors, stakeholders, employees and all others associated with it. Public relations activities are designed specially to create a strong brand image. Public relations experts should ensure their target audiences agree to what they intend to sell and thus in a way enhance as well as maintain the reputation of their organization through ethical means.
Types of Public Relations
When it comes to companies and corporations, everyone has an opinion – customers, shareholders, the media, the government and the general public. There are dozens of viewpoints, and almost as many types of PR. Each type has a purpose, and each one suits a different type of professional.
- Media relations
- Community relations
- Corporate and social responsibility
- Public affairs
- Crisis management
- Social media
- Employee relations
- Integrated marketing and communications
(i) Media relations
Media relations is all about dealing with the media – writing press releases, scheduling interviews and giving press conferences. The goal is to generate positive coverage of your company or your product. Basically, you want the media to do your advertising for free.
Key to media relations is generating a ‘hook’ to draw in audiences. You need to have an eye for a compelling story that the media will want to cover. You also need to have the skills to get the story out there, which can vary depending on the role. Copywriters produce snappy, well-written press releases, while company spokespeople stand up and give speeches to the press. In smaller organisations, one person is responsible for everything.
(ii) Community relations
Community engagement officers work to develop a company’s relationship with the local (and not-so-local) community.
Reasons for doing this include:
- Getting local support for a project, such a building a new manufacturing plant.
- ‘Giving something back’, which improves the company’s ethical reputation.
- Getting people interested in your products or services.
- Changing people’s mindset about an issue.
(iii) Corporate and social responsibility
Related to community engagement, there is PR that improves the company’s reputation for ethics, environmental responsibility, and community and charity works. This area of PR can hugely affect an organisation’s business practices. A CSR PR officer might recommend the company to change its entire recycling policy, or even its business direction.
To be a good CSR officer you need the ear of the company leaders – which takes networking skills, people skills, persuasion and the ability to endear yourself to your colleagues.
(iv) Public affairs
Public affairs, also known as lobbying, is all about getting the government on your side. Say you wanted a change in farming legislation so you could sell your product for more money. You’d need to make contact with a minister, convince them of your case, and provide them with information so they can talk confidently about your issue and fight your corner.
(v) Crisis Management
Crisis management is the PR you need when disaster strikes: a faulty product has to be recalled, an oil tanker spills, an employee accuses the company of wrongdoing, or the CEO is arrested for public indecency. These things could ruin the company’s reputation and need to be dealt with quickly.
(vi) Social Media
Many companies use social media campaigns as a form of marketing, but social media also has huge PR potential. Some of a company’s greatest PR successes (and disasters) can happen on social media. It’s a place where your interactions with a single customer are visible to the whole world. It allows companies to show their lighter side – for example, two fast food chains exchanging friendly Twitter insults. It’s also a good place for honest public apologies.
(vii) Employee Relations
Also known as internal PR, employee relations is the business of giving employees a positive view of the company they work for. The goal is to keep them satisfied, motivated and loyal.
Employee relations work might include:
- Organising employee events
- Creating internal newsletters and other communications
- Resolving disputes
- Liaising with unions
- Helping line managers develop good relationships with their team
(viii) Integrated Marketing and Communications
Integrated marketing and communications (IMC) isn’t exactly a form of public relations – it’s a way to take all your activities, from advertising to media relations to internal communications, and ensure that you provide a consistent message that serves your overall strategy.
Tools of Public Relation
Following are the tools used in media relations:-
- Press Kits: Press kits include written material about the organization and its top people.
- Audio Releases: Audio releases or video releases are prerecorded messages distributed to various media channels.
- Matte Releases: Small local newspapers accept articles written by organizations when they do not have sufficient articles or stories to publish. Such releases are called as matte releases.
- Website Press Room: Public relations experts promote their organization and its products/services through online press rooms.
- Media Tour: Public relations experts publicize their organization and its products through media tour where key people of the organization travel to important places and locations and promote their products through various interviews to media people. They interact and share the benefits and USPs of their products/services with people from various news channels, radio channels and even print media. Organizations also hire celebrities or other people popular among the masses to promote and publicize their organization.
- Newsletters: Newsletters are nothing but publications which are distributed on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly) among target audiences. Public relations experts collect complete information (name, address, agegroup) of their target customers and distribute newsletters to create awareness about their products. Newsletters should include information about the organization, interview from key people, product information, testimonials from clients and so on.
- Events/Functions: Public relations experts organize special events, gatherings, parties, to target their customers and promote their organization and its products among them. People from media are also invited for coverage.
- Speaking Engagements: One of indirect ways of publicizing an organization and its products is through interacting with potential customers and target audience. Company officials address the target audience and do not only discuss about their products and services. They generally prefer any topic which would interest the target audiences.
- Employee interactions on a regular basis: It is really essential for employers to stay in constant touch with employees and keep them abreast with the latest developments and happenings within the organization. Management or public relations experts should circulate latest events, new product launches among employees through emails, circulars, notices or simply communicating with them.
- Charity/Corporate social responsibility: Public relations experts engage in various social and charitable activities to publicize their organization and its products. Organizations distribute products among target audiences to create a goodwill of their organization.