What is PR? Popular television programs such as Sex and the City, West Wing, The Thick of It and more recently, Workin’ Mums have entertained audiences for many years with fictional, humorous and often distorted images of what constitutes public relations (PR).
The truth surrounding the question of ‘What is public relations?’ is definitely worth exploring as modern PR can be an often-misunderstood business with no clear boundaries.
PR activities can include community relations, copy writing, media relations, events, issues and crisis management – often overlapping with marketing in areas such as image assessment, branding, direct mail, sponsorships, promotions, corporate advertising and social media.
Public relations, when done well, is a professional and ethical practice, used not only by businesses but also not-for-profits, governments and non-government organisations to maintain, protect and enhance reputation. It embodies corporate conscience and social responsibility.
At the heart of it, public relations offers businesses and brands a voice and the means by which that voice can be heard, ensuring it is reaching the right audiences.
Often critical for the ongoing success of organisations, according to national industry body the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), “Public relations is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
PR professionals are boundary spanners, monitoring public mood, trends and social change from a local to global level, facilitating increased awareness and issues management for clients.
In recent years, as with other industries, the public relations landscape has shifted dramatically. We have witnessed the shift from traditional media to evermore fractured online platforms including digital publications, blogs, podcasts and let’s not forget, social media.
UK managing director at Metia Group and former Chief Engagement Officer at Ketchum, industry leader Stephen Waddington talks about where PR is headed in his Future of PR 2020 essay, reflecting the thoughts of PR practitioners interviewed throughout the UK.
Whether earned media (e.g. articles in newspapers, or podcast interviews) occurs through traditional or digital formats, the fact remains that non-advertising content is more influential than owned and paid channels, with 83 percent of people placing more trust in recommendations from people they know, and 63 percent of surveyed 18-34 year old’s trusting influencer brand messages more than the brand’s own.
The bottom line is, people do business with people (and brands) they know, like and trust. Public relations is an ongoing activity which helps you achieve this, not a tool to reach for (for the first time) when a crisis breaks.
As public relations specialists in the consumer and corporate industries, with experience in a number of sectors, including property, financial, tourism, hospitality, retail and not for profit – we would love to help your business and your brand reach its full potential.
To discuss how a strategic public relations program can fit within your marketing and communications strategy, contact us today.