Public Relations focuses on shaping and maintaining the image of a company, organization or individual in the eyes of the client’s various publics. Public, in PR terms, can mean anyone who ever has or ever will form an opinion about the client. Depending on the nature of the client's work, these publics could include clients, potential clients, voters, members of the local community, members of the media, students, parents of students, online fan groups, foreign citizens, etc. PR professionals can create a positive public image for an employee or company.
According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), public relations involves a “strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” People in the public relations field analyze the public perception of a company and decipher how it might positively or negatively impact the company. Those who work in the public relations field deal with a company's policy decisions, their courses of communication and action, and consider public scrutiny and the company’s social or citizenship responsibilities.
Overall, public relations is meant to be a communication process that is beneficial to many different groups and companies.
Advantages of Public Relations
PR is considered a highly credible form of promotion. One powerful effect of public relations is that it establishes credibility for a product, company or person in the minds of targeted customer groups. PR professionals can stimulate awareness of and demand for a company's products or services, as well as developing a stronger image for their firm. Public Relations creates the perception that the company is active, and provides an advantage over competitors who do not use PR effectively.
A well-structured PR campaign can result in the target market being exposed to more detailed information than they receive from other forms of promotion; media sources often provide more space and time for explanation of a product. Depending on the circumstance, a story that mentions a company may be covered by a large number of additional media outlets in many locations. Public Relation's objectives can be achieved at very low cost compared to other promotional efforts, particularly advertising.
Employers look for a wide variety of skills. In PR, it is imperative to establish and nurture strong relationships with key media outlets. However, some other skills may include:
- Leading and growing high-profile social media initiatives
- Drafting press releases, media alerts, and ongoing client correspondence
- Outstanding written skills with significant experience in writing news releases, Q&As, media talking points, scripts, press statements, etc.
- Capability to create multi-media presentations that tell a persuasive story
- Strategic and problem solving ability; can identify the source of problem, impact of the problem as it relates to other functions, its impact on stakeholders, options for resolutions etc.
- Strong "client service" mentality and ability to anticipate, set and manage expectations
- Strong understanding of news media
Specific Jobs of a PR Specialist
A Public Relations Specialist spreads information via media (TV, radio, internet, newspapers, etc). Their purpose is to create and maintain a favorable public image for their employer or client. They write material for media releases, plan and direct public relations programs, and raise funds for their organizations. A PR Specialist might also spend time writing newsletters to keep past and present customers in the loop of a company's activities. Planning special events is another strategy used to target an audience that a business wants to speak to.