Lighting the Power of PR
The 'official' definition of PR, forming the Institute of Public Relations, is ' the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its public'.
PR has many elements, publicity is certainly one of the most important ones. This seeks to inform readers, listeners or viewers, and to be effective which requires news value, i.e. what the media and PR professionals called a 'news angle'. A story must hang on a peg to be carried by the media; if it is of little or no appeal to the audience it will not attract the reporter or editor, even if he or she is someone you have deliberately courted over the years.
Another element of PR is promotion, which also aims to inform by projecting the benefits of a programme or product, and is more like advertising than publicity; this is why promotional articles, which are lacking of a strong ‘news angle’, usually encounter difficulties to be placed on the news media.
Although public relationshas already been appreciated as an important contributor to the success of any organisation, some companies are still engaged in protracted discussions on whether they should ‘have’ PR or not. This is ridiculous, since all organisations are communicating with audiences that are important to themselves, in other words practicing PR-whether they realise it or not.
The dicision, therefore, is not whether to 'have' PR but whether these PR activities should be handled in a planned, organised manner or just took place incidentally, possibly inconsistent,and almost certainly ineffective and inefficient.
Increasingly, public relations is taken as an essential top management responsibility not an opitional extra or an add-on publicity gimmick, with commpanies and organisations now giving the development of a worthwhile PR policy as much thought, attention and professional skills as their financial or personnel policies.
Good PR certainly needs planning and organisation. Indeed, while it should always be a welcoming host to bright ideas, it demands, if it is to be both effective and economical, as vigilant and exacting a programme of planning, prepartion, timing and execution as any other job. Business, however efficient, must continuously study its PR needs and opportunities since it must not only be efficient but must be efficient.
Good PR people want to prove their value by their creativity, their contribution to improved efficiency, greater commercial success, industrial expansion and better human relations.
PR officer or consultants can play a key role in building up goodwill, providing that their activities are within the framework of an agreed and well-learned corporate policy. The PR professional can help management to agree on the ‘personality’ that the company, corporation or organisation wishes to develop and project, and the practical PR actions that will achieve this.
In a nutshell, good public relations should embrace the professional strategy of planning in advance of what opinion the public will hold concerning your product or organisation, because a carefully planned and comprehensive public relations campaign is the most effective and economical means of creating in the public mind a favourable impression or a desire for a product.
Advertising occupies space which the reader knows has been bought. No matter how attractively advertising material is presented, no matter how factual it is, it is bound to meet with some reservations: the manufacturer, whom not even the most generous and open-minded reader would consider impartial, has obviously got an interest at stake.
The art of public relations is to have the appearance of disinterestedness. It stands to reason that the facts regarding the merits of company of product are more readily believed if they are put forward with apprarent spontaneity by a person or body not directly concerned with increasing its sales.
Today’s journalists are much more willing to listen to the views of the PR executive than their predecessors, and most would admit that they would find their jobs more difficult were it not for the help and advice of professional PROs.
While the overall attitude toward PR is now much more favourable than before, several things irritate those experience of it. One such irritation is that PR is offen seen as luxury, to be indulged in only in times of prosperity, or conversely, in times of emergency. In fact, it is especially important during a trade recession, ensuring that the public understands both the reasons for the policies being pursued and the difficulties that the enterprise is facing, and contributing directly to the removal of these difficulties.