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Public Relations Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by -SB- Shobuz Bhai, Italy Aug 27, 2005
Citizen Journalism , Education   Opinions
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Public Relations

What is Public Relations? “Public relations is the management function that identifies, establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the various publics on whom its success or failure depends” - Scott Cutlip Public relations, byname Public Relations is an aspect of Communications involving the relations between an entity subject to, or seeking public attention of the various publics that are, or may be interested in it. The entity seeking attention may be a business corporation, a politician, a performer or author, a government or government agency, a charitable organization, a religious body, and the list continues.

The target public (demographic) may include sectors as tapered as female voters of a political party who are between 35 and 50 years of age or the shareholders in a particular corporation. The target public may be as broad as any national population or the world at large.

The concerns of public relations operate both ways between the subject entity, which may be thought of as the client, and the publics involved. Important fundamentals of public relations is to acquaint the client with the general conceptions of the client and to affect these perceptions by focusing, curtailing, amplifying, or augmenting information about the client as it is conveyed to the public.

Public relations encompasses a variety of marketing activities that strengthen organizations credibility, enhance an organization’s image and develop goodwill. These marketing strategies are usually targeted directly at an audience and may include speeches, special events, newsletters, and annual reports. A public relation involves clearly communicating who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how you make a difference. There is a major difference between publicity and public relations, the terms public relations and publicity are often misused and incorrectly thought of as being interchangeable. Publicity, only one part of public relations, is media coverage such as news stories, feature articles, talk show interviews, editorials and reviews.

Other commonly confused terms are publicity and advertising. The key distinction between the two is that you pay for advertising. Publicity is free, and is therefore more credible and more likely to have an impact on the reader or viewer. In fact, advertising, generally, is not considered part of public relations. According to the Public Relations Institute of America, public relations is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain understanding between an organization and its public (Malan and L'Estrange, 1981).

Public Relations is a broad and complex activity although its basic objective is simple. Its basic objective is to clearly communicate a message or concept of an organization in order to achieve a resonating knowledge within its target demographic. Public Relations exists, liked or not, in all modern businesses, organizations, corporations and the like. Due to their size and complexity they are all in need of, and should be concerned with, their Public Relations. Positive Public Relations with the conscious effort to inform and be informed provides knowledge, understanding, goodwill and a good reputation. It helps keep institutions prepared in an ever-shifting environment of circumstance and public opinion. It is an on-going activity that is forever changing. It must anticipate difficulty and eliminate causes before the problems arise. It is not there to rescue an operation or to apologize for it (Malan and L'Estrange, 1981).

Public Relations is essentially concerned with communication: between people, between people and organizations and within and between organizations. Activities and methods of public relations activities in the modern world help institutions to cope successfully with the many problems that exist, in the creation of prestige and reputation for an individual or a group, to promote products and to win elections or legislative battles. The majority of public relations workers are staff employees working within a corporate or institutional framework while others operate in public relations counseling firms. In industry, public relations personnel keep management informed of changes in the opinions of various publics (that is, the groups of people whose support is needed) such as employees, stockholders, customers, suppliers, dealers, the community, and government. These professionals counsel management as to the impact of any action—or lack of action—on the behavior of the target audiences. Once an organizational decision has been made, the public relations person or department has the task of communicating this information to the public using methods that foster understanding, consent, and desired behavior. For example, a hospital merger, an industrial plant closing, or the introductions of a new product all require public relations planning and skill.

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