What is Public Relations?

Before you ask, the title of this post is grammatically correct. “Public Relations” is now a recognized field of study, employment and specialization, which is used to help companies expand their customer bases through methods other than traditional advertising.

Public relations, commonly referred to as PR, is the entire process of creating and maintaining a brand’s reputation with the public Sherry Dyson . The primary task of a PR professional is to ensure that a company’s central message gets across to its target audience.

PR can be used by anyone – individual, small business or corporate. The student lobbying for a classmate’s attention is engaging in PR, just as a presidential candidate campaigning for success is. It’s just that the methods used by the two will widely differ, as is appropriate given their differing target audience, scale and circumstances.

PR works by collecting information about the target audience, and offering them information that will draw them toward the brand. Market surveys help in gathering information, while media and door-to-door campaigns are different forms of interaction with the public.

There are various methods and processes by which PR firms operate today. These methods are all the more diverse thanks to the Internet, which in itself contains several different channels of communication.

Some of these methods are:

1. Through press releases. A press release is a document sent from the company to representatives of the media. The press release aims to provide material that reporters can use to craft a story for a media channel. While print and online journalists usually write out stories based on the press release alone, radio and TV news executives may choose to conduct interviews or a closer study to create a larger and better news story. Obviously, being part of the news gives a brand much greater visibility than advertising campaigns do.

2. Publicity events. These are becoming increasingly popular today, especially with consumer products. The company stages an event – game show, quiz etc – at a public location, and may also hand out freebies to spectators. The interactive quality of these presentations gives them more retentivity in the mind than an advertisement would.

3. Direct marketing. Newsletters and opt-in subscriptions are a way for company representatives to communicate directly with the target audience. Direct marketing is highly effective when done by skilled people, especially when the product requires regular updates or maintenance.

4. Using blogs. A blog is an excellent way for a company to have an online presence. The blog demonstrates the company’s expertise in its chosen field, gives it room to talk about the products and services on offer, and is also a fairly interactive space where representatives can talk to the public.

5. Using social media and microblogs. Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social media tools, with LinkedIn coming in very close behind. These allow companies and their representatives to build a network around them, creating a sense of community and loyalty as well as web presence. Interaction is also quite high in these platforms.

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