Contrary to archaic view alleging PR to be an ornate term for publicity and propaganda, Public Relations is a bespoke consulting discipline fusing together such areas as environment assessment studies, information management, integrated communication plans, espousing public advocacy, stakeholder liaising, media representation, dissemination of premeditated corporate messages to numerous publics via an assortment of oral, print, audio-visual, electronic and digital mediums using paid, earned, shared, owned media. Integral to this description is espousing range of communication media (paid, earned, shared, owned) to reach out, influence and induce positive affirmations amongst the intended “publics” in a righteous, ethical manner.
It emerges that Public Relations has two cores – one concerned with devising, developing targeted communication messages of varied formats, the other is concerned with developing, maintaining relations with journalists, reporters at multiple independent media outlets in order to earn coverage of firm’s narrative related to corporate offerings, actions, agenda, accomplishments and secure placement in relevant media.
Communicating internally via newsletters, intranet, employee events, open house, town halls, management speeches and externally via company’s website, press conferences, press releases, press tours, events, print media, electronic media, digital media are some of the potent PR tools that amplify the contribution, reputation of an organization amongst its publics.
Writing columns, features, op-eds, blog posts for media houses are some avenues that help cultivate vital connections with right media personnel. Journalists, reporters often seek comments of subject experts to validate their reportage. They even reach out to commoners in their contact list to collate assorted views on a subject. It augurs well for both parties – the journalists as well as PR professionals to stay in near sight of the other for mutual considerations. While the latter can serve as a perennial source of credible information for journalists considering the several industries the PR professionals cater to, the journalists serve as “gatekeepers” of earned media which are sought after by PR professionals to amplify their narratives.
Under digital outreach, use of social media sites, CMS platforms, online newsrooms, SEO, websites, blogs, podcasts to publish content in digital format serve as a resource-efficient way of reaching out to target audience, make right connections with editors, industry experts, community influencers. Announcements, press notes, event updates, management keynotes can be adapted, curated to meet the audience and format requirements of different platforms – Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, Online news portals.
Aligned with the above discussed scope of activities and scale of media outreach anticipated, is the indispensability of skilled PR professionals who can put in diligent efforts on sustained basis with such ingrained makings as persuasive communication, lucid storytelling skills with a lot of social bonhomie, acumen for skilful negotiations, congenial disposition to serve as official brand spokesperson and a perceptive aptitude to organize vast troves of information, data points into bedecked media savvy content pieces on consistent basis.
An ace professional inevitably takes an expansive view of the situation without losing sight of pre-defined outcomes, yet not giving-in to the professional pressure of seeking quick placement of that press release in the media without first verifying the accuracy, structure & suitability of the content therein. After all, crafting a verbally-grandiose-yet-chaotic piece of communication is a sure-fire way of failing to find a mention in any mainstream media, laying ground for a far-reaching PR fiasco, earning management’s ire and losing valued media connections all at same time.
Ultimately the management like to see clear indicators of performance of PR programs as a measure of success. To gauge the effectiveness of PR campaigns, programs executed during a period, PR manager should assess and record performance across PESO framework constituents. Few metrics that may be deployed include media impressions, number of placements, brand mentions, website traffic, keyword rankings, engagement numbers on social media.
In an “infodemic” era marked with widespread misinformation, premeditated smear campaigns, rampant sabotaging of factual information with fabricated ones by vested interests, the need of Public Relations is ever more sacrosanct, universal for each sector, entities therein. What is paramount is to keep cultivating relationships with all publics consistently over time so that your stakeholders endorse your story in thick and thin.