What is public relations?
Public relations refer to all communication with the people who have an interest in your business (your publics).
This includes your employees, customers and potential customers, stakeholders, elected officials and community. It is not just about publicity, government relations and crisis communications.
The Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) describes Public Relations as:
“the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation (or individual) and its (or their) publics. It's the key to effective communication in all sectors of business, government, academic and not-for-profit.”
Visit the PRIA website for a thorough description of public relations.
Public Relations is the key to effective Communication (PRIA, 2014). How you communicate with your publics every day can make or break your business. PRIA notes that many senior executives are very poor at communication. This is why the use of a PR person is common.
Communication is complex. To be effective, it takes much more than just good writing.
- The message needs to be developed with your business objectives and target audience in mind;
- It needs to be placed where the desired audience will see it;
- It must grab and hold their attention;
- It has to deliver your desired message clearly; and
- It must persuade your audience to do what you want them to do in order to achieve your objectives.
Public relations is about relating to people. To relate is to make a connection. To do this, you need to listen as well as ‘speak’. Good communication is two-way. Providing ways for your publics to communicate with you is also important.
To make sure that each communication achieves its objective, planning is essential. A simple explanation of the process is as follows:
- I'll work with you to understand the background of the situation and uncover your communication problems or opportunities.
- Then we work out the communication objectives and how we’ll measure if they’ve been met.
- Next, a thorough analysis of the target public (the people you want to communicate with) is done. Essentially, we need to know what is important to them. Then we can work out how your product/service can help them. The key to getting people to act is showing them how doing what you want them to do is in their self-interest.
- Next, I develop the key messages.
- Then work out what type of communication/s (tactics) will best deliver the message to the target public and when to distribute them.
- Then I write!
Creativity is essential. It is how we arrive at the big idea. The big idea is the creative way in which we deliver the message to the target audience so that it grabs their attention and appeals to them. Being creative however, can never be at the expense of a clear message. We still need the audience to know what we want them to do.