Q: What is PR?
A: According to the IPR (Institute of Public Relations in the United States) public relations is 'the discipline which looks after reputation- with the aim of earning understanding and support, and influencing opinion and behaviour'. It is 'the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics'
Q: What Can PR Do?
A: There are a number of ways in which public relations can help organisations. PR can:
- Reach difficult and niche audiences precisely
- Help build a positive reputation among an organisation's stakeholders
- Contribute towards changing attitudes and perceptions and, ultimately, behaviour.
- Make people feel good about working in, or with, or for an organisation
- Persuade potential employees that the organisation is 'right' for them
- Educate stakeholders about the organisation and its products and services
- Gain information about your stakeholders and your competitors, which will help improve
- your overall approach to marketing
- Encourage debate and discussions about issues affecting the organisation and/or its sector
- Help raise finance, attract investors and maintain confidence
- Raise/increase awareness of the organisation and its products and services
- Support corporate sales and marketing activities
- Open new markets and prepare the way for and launch new organisations, products and services
- Manage issues and crises
Q: What Can't PR Do?
A: PR is not a magic wand. Public relations can't:
- Change values, attitudes and opinions overnight. Public relations is a valuable, long term investment. You have to be in it for the long haul
- Build a positive reputation when the organisation doesn't deserve it
- Achieve objectives, which should be more appropriately set for other marketing disciplines, such as advertising and sales promotion
- Smother deserved complaint and criticism or act as a smokescreen for misdemeanour or malpractice!
- Guarantee media coverage- but good PR will increase your chances of coverage
- Guarantee direct sales- although good PR will increase the liklihood of improved sales
Q: How Can I Find a Good PR Consultant?
A: In most countries, there is a national public relations organisation which promotes the use of public relations as a tool. The United States has the Institute of Public Relations (IPR) and in the United Kingdom it is the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). Here in New Zealand, the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRiNZ) is the organisation that supports local PR people. These organisations would be the best places to contact if you are looking for a public relations consultancy- they have excellent knowledge of the consultants in your area and will be able to point you in the right direction.
With the industrialisation of society and the formation of many new organisations with political or commercial interests came the conscious understanding and widespread use of communications. The newspaper was the first medium through which messages were transmitted to large numbers of the public, while early forms of the in-house journal were used to inform staff and customer alike of developments within an organisation, or to deliver a sales message.
Public relations really took off in the United States before anywhere else in the world. This is partly because America was not as negatively impacted by the Second World War. Advertising and PR marched forwards, side by side, and experienced massive growth. Both tools were widely used by manufacturers of consumer goods such as hairspray, cigarettes, chocolate bars, beer and eventually cars. Slowly, organisations began to realise that PR could also be used in the corporate and financial fields and also for reputation and issues and crises management.
Public relations has come a long way since it first started being recognised as a valuable business tool. Now, practitioners can study for official qualifications and a whole new era of public relations is being heralded in, in the form of online communications...