Public relations (PR) is both an art and a science. It has the beauty and emotionality of art and the system of science. It may mean different things to different people. Though it is of recent origin in India and the world over, it is used in Government, public and private sectors and other institutions. The PR techniques, strategies and practices vary from organisation to organisation. The major aspects and perspectives of public relation are covered in this article.
“The fundamental way of getting public approval is to deserve it” – Arthur W. Page
Following definitions of PR will give you some idea about its nature and scope.
“Establishing a bond of relationships and contacts between two groups of public”
“Deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and the public”
“PR is an attempt, through information, persuasion, adjustment and contacts, to seek for some activity, cause, movement, institution, product or service”
Functions of PR
Functions performed by corporate PR Departments and PR agencies have many factors in common. Given below are most of the common functions:
Public Relations Policy:
Develop and recommend corporate public relations policy and share it with top management and all departments. This is truer for PR agencies.
Statements and Press Releases:
Preparation of corporate statements, sometimes speeches for executives and press releases are to be prepared by the PR personnel. In the process, they are in a position to articulate and project positive image of the company or product or policies.
Issuing announcements of company activities and products to media and community. Planning promotional campaign using media is also a vital function. Handling inquiries from press and people at large is a part of the function.
The PR personnel are expected to maintain liaisons with Government units at local, national and international levels. They are expected to uphold good relations with the community as ‘good neighbours’. This includes compliance with environment protection standards, giving employment opportunities to locals, and cooperating and participating in locality development programmes. Communication between company and shareholders and with other investors is also an important part of maintaining relations. Sometimes the PR agency may have to prepare annual/quarterly reports and planning meetings of stockholders.
The major aspects and perspectives of public relation are covered in this article.
Preparing and publishing in-house magazines is also sometimes the function of a PR agency.
Major Areas of PR Activity
PR persons have to maintain cordial relations with the press at all levels, from editor to reporter. Press and PR are both dependent on each other for their bread and butter. Providing well written and well-timed press releases, helping the correspondent to write their articles, easy accessibility, forbearance of press criticism, avoiding biases and undue favours to some papers are some of the features of press relations. The PR man should project the culture of the organisation while disseminating information about the product or service. Journalists need news to remain in the business, and PR needs publicity. Thus, there is a give and take between the two. This interdependence of PR and press should be understood. The major aspects and perspectives of public relation are covered in this article.
A product does not sell on its own merit, it needs to be advertised. The purpose of advertising may be to disseminate information, persuade or influence people to consume the product. There are many media for advertising like newspaper, radio, TV and so on. Usually, it is the PR person who decides the budget and which media to use for advertising.
Bringing out brochures, folders, pamphlets, circularletters, in-house-magazines and similar materials are the responsibility of PR department. While preparing the material simplicity, clarity, cost, true image of the organisation and attractiveness are the points to be remembered.
Other Media coordination:
Use of other audio-visual media, films, exhibition, hoardings, puppetry and folk-songs come under the range of operations of PR department. Good public speaking and courteous speaking over the phone can also add to the positive image as spoken words are still one of the best modes of communication. They have to maintain good relations with other publicity media like radio and television.
PR with Constituents:
Along with the local press, PR persons also have to have a liaison with local community, financial analysts, bankers, major leading institutions, share-holders and potential investors. Internal PR activities include maintaining relations with all employees including executives and other senior personnel, so the PR man gets all the information, keeps himself informed of all the happenings in the organisation.
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