By. Rhonda Greenwood, Vice President, Public Relations Director
One of the biggest challenges a public relations professional faces is not the work itself, but rather, defining public relations for people outside of the industry. (Try explaining the PR profession to your grandmother!)
The first thing that comes to mind for many is that public relations is the work of a publicist or a “spin doctor.” And, although writing news releases, pitching stories to the media, facilitating news interviews and preparing clients for them are all very important, they’re only part of the picture.
The Public Relations Society of America’s definition of this evolving field is:
“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
- Simply put, today’s public relations professionals help build relationships for organizations, businesses and individuals in order to make them look good and to persuade others to act in some way (make a purchase, change behavior, become a partner). We use these and other PR tactics to make that happen:
- Telling their story through the media which helps personalize and build familiarity for a brand. (There’s no better tool for building credibility.)
- Engaging people through social media and providing opportunities to interact with the brand, often turning them into informal brand ambassadors via personal blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and the list keeps growing.
- Recruiting influencers in businesses, community organizations and social organizations to become part of a movement and drive the message deep into the community via blogs, emails, newsletters and other organizational communications channels.
- Connecting the brand with key audiences in one-on-one conversations at events or by other grassroots means.
Public Relations Process
Whether a brand wants to use public relations to motivate residents to register to vote, to avoid drinking and driving, or even to buy furniture or hamburgers (which Love Communications has successfully done through the years)–regardless of the objective, our “relationship-building” process is the same:
- Define the goal (what we want to happen as a result of the public relations efforts)
Determine the target audience(s)
- Research the target audience and determine where they receive their information, what motivates them to act and what individuals and organizations may influence them to act
- Get creative and outline specific relationship-building strategies by which we can build awareness and even affect behavior change: a street team that creates pop-up events to introduce people to a new product, a news conference to educate community leaders about an important issue, a Facebook contest inviting people to post photos and videos of themselves interacting with a product, or monthly email newsletters with updates on pending legislation.
Public relations can be complex, and it’s very time consuming for organizations to build important relationships with the media and in the community on their own. So that’s why public relations firms like Love Communications continue to thrive. We have those relationships and continue to build new relationships for our clients, whether on Twitter, in the local media, at a national trade show or in cities big and small across the US.
So the next time someone asks me what I do for a living, I’m going to say, “I connect my clients with people, and make my clients look good in the process.” I’m hoping grandmas will get that.