Here is the definition chosen by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) –
“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their public.”
To break it down into simple language, Public Relations helps a business or organisation or individual create and cultivate a positive image or impression by using different unpaid or free communications methods. These methods range from traditional media, social media, collaboration and sponsorship and so on. Public relations is also a very important component when there is a crisis, and the reputation of the business is at jeopardy.
Often, the general public perceives Public Relations as strictly working with media and journalists. In some organisations, that is certainly the case. However the overall scope of coverage of a Public Relations professional sometimes covers a plethora of functions, including Media Relations, Crisis Communications, Event Planning, Reputation Management, Internal Communications, Corporate Communications and more.
Some organisations have internal PR teams to handle all the activity, and where needed sometimes outsourced important events on a case by case basis. Smaller setups either have a single person responsible or sometimes overlapping function with sales. Other businesses outsource the function totally to external PR agencies.
So what is the difference between Advertising and Public Relations?
One is paid (Advertising) and the other is not (Public Relations). One is when the brand or company tells the customer what it is and its values and benefits (Advertising). The other is a neutral third party telling someone else the values and benefits of using that brand or product (Public Relations).
Here are some common questions that are asked when considering the value of PR
- Why should you have a PR strategy and campaign?
- Why not just advertise when you can control the message that you want delivered?
- What if you receive negative PR instead of positive? How do you rectify that?
- Since PR is out of the company’s control, there is a risk the wrong message could be sent.
So what Value does Public Relations create?
- If done properly, PR can deliver free publicity for very little or even no cost.
- PR helps to increase the awareness and visibility of the product /brand /organisation /event / activity etc.
- PR helps businesses tell stories better than advertisements can.
- PR helps ensure that the stories are believable, coming from neutral or unbiased sources.
- PR can help to provide a platform for a company’s causes and enhancing its core values.
- PR also engages the audience and supporters in an on-going process, drawing them along the brands’ journey and evolution.
- Good PR helps create a strong and dependable reputation for brands, giving them better credibility and integrity.
- PR strengthen brands and helps drives sales.
- Brands with strong PR foundation will find it easier to weather storms or crisis and be able to bounce back faster.
- PR helps build strong relationships between the company and all its customers, vendors and associates.
- Internal PR creates a strong foundation of trust between the company and its employees, raising and keeping morale high.