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Public Relations(PR).

Public relations as part of the marketing communications mix.


Public Relations

Public Relations (PR) is a single, broad concept. It is broad since it contains so


many elements, many of which will be outlined in this lesson. Public Relations (PR) are
any purposeful communications between an organisation and its publics that aim to
generate goodwill. Publics, put simply, are its stakeholders. PR is proactive and future
orientated, and has the goal of building and maintaining a positive perception of an
organisation in the mind of its publics. This is often referred to as goodwill.

Yes it is difficult to see the difference between marketing communications and PR since
there is a lot of crossover. This makes it a tricky concept to learn. Added to this is the
fact that PR is often expensive, and not free, as some definitions would have you
believe. PR agencies are not cheap. Below are some of the approaches that are often
considered under the PR banner.
Interviews and photo-calls.
It is important that company executives are available to generate goodwill for their
organisation. Many undertake training in how to deal with the media, and how to
behave in front of a camera. There are many key industrial figures that proactively
deal with the media in a positive way for example Bill Gates (Microsoft) or Richard
Branson (Virgin). Interviews with the business or mass media often allow a company
to put its own perspective on matters that could be misleading if simply left to dwell
untended the public domain.
Speeches, presentations and speech writing.
Key figures from within an organisation will write speeches to be delivered at corporate
events, public awards and industry gatherings. PR company officials in liaison with
company managers often write speeches and design corporate presentations. They are
part of the planned and coherent strategy to build goodwill with publics. Presentations
can be designed and pre-prepared by PR companies, ultimately to be delivered by
company executives.
Corporate literature e.g. financial reports.
Corporate literature includes financial reports, in-house magazines, brochures,
catalogues, price lists and any other piece of corporate derived literature. They
communicate with a variety of publics. For example, financial reports will be of great
interest to investors and the stock market, since they give all sorts of indicators of the
health of a business. A company Chief Executive Officer CEO will often write the
forward to an annual financial report where he or she has the opportunity to put a
business case to the reader. This is all part of Public Relations.

Organising events.
Corporate events are used to woo publics in both a formal and an informal manner. A
formal corporate event could include a manufacturer inviting employees from all of its
many distributors to visit its manufacturing plant for a training day. This has a direct
business payoff. A more informal event could include a day at the races or a short-
break abroad, where clients are wined and dined at the cost of a company, in order to
generate goodwill. This has an indirect business payoff.
Facility visits.
Visits to a factory, such as a chocolate factory, or a facility, such as a nuclear power
plant also generate a positive perception of an organisation. In the case of a factory
visit, loyal customers or other interested parties can experience for themselves what is
behind a well-known product. In the case of a nuclear power plant, concerned or
misinformed publics have the chance to see for themselves what really occurs behind
locked doors. Here the organisation has the chance to deal with a delicate topic in a
planned proactive manner. Public buildings such as parliament buildings or churches
would be included under facility visits.
Publicity events and 'stunts.'
Publicity events fall under the banner of guerrilla marketing. Here an organisation will
take the opportunity to seize upon a particular moment to hijack public attention.
Publicity events and stunts are practiced by both companies and private bodies
(including pressure and political groups). A famous example of a publicity stunt was
one conducted by Fathers For Justice (a British pressure group for divorced fathers),
whereby individuals, dressed as Superheroes, invaded Buckingham Palace in London.
Sponsorship and charitable donations.
Sponsorship is where an organisation pays for their product or service to be associated
with an activity or event. Organisations commonly sponsor sporting events and such
as The Olympics, sporting stars and other celebrities, or medium, for example
television programmes. The sponsors gain exposure, and also align their product or
service with the attributes of the sport, celebrity or medium.
Many companies (often those in profit!) make donations to charities and good causes.
When donations are publicised, again the benefits generate goodwill for the
organisation. It should be noted here that Microsoft's Bill Gates donates substantial
amounts to good causes that are often not reported. This is true corporate
philanthropy.
Product placement in media.
This is an interesting and original use of PR. There are very many examples in movies
and TV programmes that 'place' products. For example, a car manufacturer places a
car in a movie and the hero drives it, or wears a watch that is looked at by the villain
displaying the time, underscored by the manufacturer's logo. Today, computer games
include banners and posters during game-play as the action unfolds. Examples of
product placement in games would include field sports with adverts placed alongside a
pitch, or car racing games where you pass billboards displayed in a city.
Lobbying government bodies.
Lobbying is named after the 'lobby' area of the British Houses of Parliament where
traditionally 'lobbying' would have occurred. Lobby in the past would have meant
catching the eye of a Member of Parliament, in order to persuade him or her to take
up a particular cause or argument. Today, lobbying firms are hired by organisations or
individuals with a specific cause to promote. For example, a charity could lobby for a
change in laws regarding pharmaceuticals or armaments. The charity would hire a
lobbying firm to promote their cause with elected politicians.
Press or media releases, conferences, contact and
entertainment.
Press or media releases, conferences, contact and entertainment are pivotal Public
Relations strategies. In the past, the press were the original target (e.g. newspapers
and magazines) but today the whole media industry forms the target (i.e. radio,
websites, TV, New Media and so on). Media releases are drafted by a PR company, for
example, to report financial information prior to the release of company reports.
Media conferences are called often at short notice to inform the media directly on a
current event that has just happened, or that is about to happen. Media contact
includes interviews with key personnel, and could include speeches, presentations and
speech writing by the PR company. Finally entertaining the press, or media, is
undertaken when trying to gain as much media space as possible. This could be for a
product launch or to promote an acquisition.
Advertorials in newspapers, magazines or on websites.
Advertorials are paid for advertisements that are designed to appear like copy (i.e.
normal reported text). Many countries insist that advertorials do contain a line of text
to explain that they are sponsored or placed by an advertiser. Advertorials are often
used to imply that some ground breaking treatment or solution has been uncovered.
Corporate promotional materials, websites, in-house
magazines and customer magazines.
The market for promotional materials is large. Promotional materials include items
such as pens, balloons, mouse mats, and so on. They tend to carry a company's logo
and contact details, and are another way to promote goodwill between and
organisation and its publics. Websites are a vital marketing communications and public
relations tool that can convey information to publics on how to contact an
organisation, key personnel, products and services, corporate history, and financial
reports, as well as any other targeted and planned information.
In-house magazines are used for internal marketing, communication and change
management from within the organisation. In-house magazines are targeted at
internal publics. Conversely, customer magazines help organisations to communicate
with external publics (mainly customers) on all sorts of topics such as good news
stories, product launches, customer clubs and many other subjects.