Written by Kerry Knight, founder of Hype, a freelance collective specialising in PR. First published: MasteringPR: Time to unleash the powerhouse. Suffolk Free Press [print edition], Thursday 10 January 2019.
Public relations (PR) can often have a bad reputation. For those that are aware of its existence (and, interestingly enough, there are plenty of people that wear a confused expression when I tell them what I do), they often view public relations negatively.
Even in the world of journalism, it’s commonly referred to as ‘The Dark Side’. But, in truth, there is a lot of good taking place thanks to public relations. And it is a force to be reckoned with.
The Heart of your Business
Public relations is at the heart of everything your business entails. It gets into every nook and cranny and can impact every aspect of your business. How? Quite simply, if you strip public relations back to its simplest form, it’s all about communication.
It is how you communicatie with others, both internally and externally, and how others communicate with you. And what does all this communication achieve? It builds your reputation.
In the digital age we live in, where your reputation can have a global reach no matter the size of your organisation, the stakes have never been higher. Reputation is paramount to success. To summarise the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) definition of public relations, it is: “The discipline that looks after reputation. It is the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.”
PR bridges the gaps between the different disciplines of your organisation.
The Purpose of PR
What are the goals and aspirations of your business? What are you striving for? Public relations can assist in reaching your goals through utilising a variety of PR activities. Tactical approaches to everything from internal communication, crisis management and corporate communication to digital engagement, copywriting and community relations, plus a whole host of other PR activities, can push you closer to where you want your business to be.
With a strategic approach to how you communicate, public relations can be wholly beneficial for your business, from improving your company image and reputation, to increasing your media profile and promoting your products and services.
It can also improve relationships between everyone your business deals with: its employees, investors, key stakeholders, consumers, target audiences and so on. PR bridges the gaps between the different disciplines of your organisation and should be embedded into every aspect of your business.
Build Public Relations into your Business
So, where do you start? In reality, you’re incorporating elements of PR into your business already without necessarily realising it. Every piece of communication your organisation does is public relations.
So, the next step is to start looking at how you communicate as part of your business’s strategy. Evaluate your existing communications and the feedback you’ve received, and use this knowledge to influence the strategy and tactics you implement for the future.
There is so much more to public relations than press releases and publicity.
The simplest approach to incorporating public relations into any aspect of your business follows four steps: research, planning, implementation and evaluation. Start asking questions: what are your aims and objectives? Who do you want to talk to and what do you want to say? How should you say it? Did it work?
Don’t forget, communication is two-way. Building relationships takes time and engaging in dialogue with everyone that influences, and is influenced by, your business is key to reaching your goals. There is so much more to public relations than press releases and publicity. Used correctly, it can be a powerhouse for your business.