The Role and Impact of Public Relations

Public relations as an industry or practice have only been around since the early 1900s. With the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, young corporations discovered that their growth depended on gaining the goodwill of the masses. Those that succeeded prospered. Those that didn’t met a quick demise. Soon, even individuals – most notably politicians and Hollywood celebrities – were utilizing the wooing techniques of public-savvy companies. In recent years, the power of the media has made public relations a major industry.

The primary challenge in creating publicity is to be able to digest the relevant points being communicated, see them from every angle, and express them effectively from one group to another. Effective practice of PR boils down ideas from one segment of the population and conveys them clearly to others, forming a common ground of communication for the various groups who make up our society. Analysis of any successful PR campaign will reveal clear, concise communication, common sense in appealing to people’s wants and needs, combined with a little imagination.

Once you have thoroughly studied your objective and found a way to convey it effectively, you will want to explore the many arenas open to you to spread your message. Whether you are using television, radio, print, or personal appearances, your message remains constant, but will probably be delivered as each of these media dictate.

By familiarizing yourself with the basics of public relations, you will be better prepared to launch en effective campaign, whether the goal is to increase business, spread goodwill, reflect a positive image, or further community or charitable efforts.

Public relations can have a strong impact on public awareness at a much lower cost than advertising can. The company does not pay for the space of time in the media. Rather, it pays for a staff to develop and circulate information and to manage events. If the company develops an interesting story, several different media could pick it up, having the same effect as advertising that would cost millions of dollars. And it would have more credibility than advertising.

Despite its potential strengths, public relations are often described as a marketing stepchild because of its limited and scattered use. The public relations department is usually located at corporate headquarters. Its staff is so busy dealing with various public – stockholders, employees, legislators, city officials-that public relations programs to support product marketing objectives may be ignored. Marketing managers and public relations practitioners do not always talk the same language. Many public relations practitioners see their job as simply communicating. In contrast, marketing managers tend to be much more interested in how advertising and public relations affects brand building, sales, and profits.

Thus, good public relations can be a powerful brand-building tool. In fact, two well-known marketing consultants have concluded that advertising doesn’t build brands, PR does. They provide the following advice, which points to the potential power of public relations as a first step in brand building.

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