March 22, 2022 |

10 minutes

What is PR? The Meaning & Definition of Public Relations

In this article, we provide a definition and meaning of what is PR and its role in the marketing approach. We touch on what PR specialists do and the different forms of public relations, both positive and negative. It is often confused with other communication practices. To avoid this, we look at the differences between public relations and other forms of marketing.

What is Public Relations (PR)?

What is the definition of PR?

Public Relations is a strategic communications process that sets out to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between two or more parties. For example, this can be a relationship between a company and their public (customers, consumers, general public), a business-to-business (B2B)\ relationship, or a relationship your company has with specific journalists.

The concept of PR includes, in its definition, practices like media requests, shareholder and social concerns, information about the company, questions regarding the brand, and the brand’s image.

What is PR? Definition of Public Relations.

What do you mean by PR?

Public relations is the process of managing and sharing information from an individual or company to the relevant public or target audience to influence their perception for the best.

What is the role of public relations?

PR also aims to generate mutually beneficial relationships by engaging with third parties for various purposes. In this sense, PR tactics are also famously implemented to develop, grow, enhance and protect reputations.

The idea of public relations is that a person, company, or brand is presented to the public in the best light possible. This is done by daily practices by PR professionals such as generating good press coverage and suggesting business decisions that gain the support of the general public. PR is defined as amplifying a brand’s image using organic methods. As an example, positioning a thought leader - a name and a face to represent the company. This adds value to the company image by attaching beliefs and movements that the brand supports. The brand image could also be about new ideas in the industry, and expertise in whatever the industry is. These practices are extremely impactful for companies that have shareholders. Publicly listed companies are valued based on the public’s trust in the company in question.

Types of Public Relations

Media Relations

Creating a good relationship with the relevant professional media, acting as their content source and updating them on a campaign.

Investor Relations

Overseeing relations between the company and corporate investors. Here, investor events, the release of financial reports, and complaints and queries of investors are handled.

Production Relations

This ties in with the direct running of a company. This department supports the firm’s wider marketing endeavors and is often linked to specific campaigns and new or improved product launches.

Government Relations

Representing the brand to government agencies regarding the management and fulfillment of policies and legal obligations, for example, fair competition and employee rights etc.

Internal Relations

This branch handles relations between the company and its employees. So items such as employee counseling, satisfaction with working conditions and, rather importantly, the mediation of any issues between the sides to avoid public disclosure of private corporate information.

Community Relations

This would be industry-specific, and is used in the management of the social and community aspects of the brand. In areas such as an education program or the environment. This department is key to getting people ‘on the side’.

Customer Relations

This department’s responsibility is the task of managing key relationships and addressing customer concerns. They would also carry out market research to understand customer wants and expectations, before a campaign.

Why is PR Important?

PR is important as it is the driving force in building trust. Reputation management, a key part of building trust for organizations, is a long-term process and not something that can be achieved with a one-off campaign program. It needs to be constantly reviewed and maintained in order to solidify credibility. A PR team will take care of building community relations in new, international and current markets.

Through PR, it is possible to gain increased online brand visibility, as digital content lives longer than print media. Online articles can generate continuous exposure for the brand. It is also possible to get links from online sources, supporting the brand’s SEO performance. An experienced media relations approach is also important in increasing credibility and managing relationships with journalists. PR managers aim to get positive, quality coverage for their clients. Healthy media relations are important in PR, to assist in the process of getting valuable news to target audiences

For startup businesses that may not have the funds to make an impact using advertising, PR can make all the difference on a tight budget. It can make a name for the brand in a cost-efficient way. PR can also support community building that allows for the target audience on social media to react and reply, thus going back and forth with engagement. Loyalty can be built as a result of the strong engagement methods that PR teams exercise. PR can also help to enhance the communication of thought leadership. This brings a human feature to the company.

What is a PR specialist?

A PR specialist is someone who helps brands nurture a positive image for the public by creating, planning and executing PR strategies. This can include various promotional campaigns through different channels and formats, such as social media, press releases and real-life engagements.

What degree is useful to work in PR?

There are many routes into a PR career. Public relations, journalism, political science, marketing and communications are all valid. But it's worth noting nothing is set in stone regarding this.

What skills are required?

PR requires the need for softer skills, such as strong oral communication and problem-solving. Strong written skills are essential too. The ability to negotiate is desired, as you manage resources, team conflict and financial matters. You’ll need to work to keep multiple parties happy to get people to work towards a common goal. Time management is also an essential skill. Poor planning means overall campaign objectives are less likely to be met, or delayed. Forward planning and mitigation of anticipated hurdles are key to a successful career in PR. Anticipating issues before they arise prevents delays.Timeliness is essential to clients and effective project management skills are a must-have. Depending on the area you work within, industry knowledge and expertise go a long way to building trust with clients, and are invaluable.

Positive PR

Positive PR is the byproduct of a proactive company. PR specialists work to shape the brand’s reputation and present it in a positive light. This includes anything the brand is related to - its ideas, product, achievements, people, or leaders. The role of positive PR is to improve how the audience perceives the brand and what it's associated with.

Positive public relations builds on the values and beliefs of the brand. For example, in the healthcare and medicine field, it will create a campaign to raise awareness for an important topic in healthcare. This way, the brand will not only be seen as supportive of the topic but also build a reputation for acting on it.

Examples of positive PR exercises

  1. Campaigns to raise awareness
  2. Data-driven press release indicating organizational action/achievements
  3. Two-way communication for a more intimate connection with the audience

Negative PR

Negative PR does not build on anything new, but rather deals with the response to any negative connotations surrounding a brand’s reputation. In that sense, practices in this area are ex post facto (after the fact) actions that will mitigate any damage that might occur from a previous event involving the company.

Examples of negative PR exercises

PR protects the brand against negative publicity. For example, if an organization's product malfunctions or in any way causes harm to its consumers, the PR team will deal with a backlash and potential threat to the existence of that product, and company. In these cases, emergency response methods must be used to ensure that the company is not associated with profit-making but rather puts the consumer or relevant audience first and foremost.

Examples of Negative PR, or damage control, are:

  1. Reactive Crisis Communication (responding to the audience and reassuring them of the organization's priorities in this context
  2. Releasing messages as a response or apology, addressing the current crisis in question
  3. Strategies to restore reputation by focusing on keeping the brand’s values and acting to help the damaged party

Differences and similarities: PR vs other departments

Public relations is often confused with marketing, advertising and communications. People use these terms interchangeably. But they are different. You can learn more about the difference between PR and other departments here.

Public Relations vs. Marketing

Marketing is focused on promoting and selling a specific product, whereas PR is focused on maintaining a strong reputation as a whole. Marketing on the other hand focuses on raising awareness to stimulate the purchases of products and services by using consumer-driven techniques like product placement, advertising, pricing and promotions. The fundamental difference is that while PR focuses on increasing a brand’s presence and creating a long-lasting positive image for that brand, whilst marketing focuses on increasing revenue and boosting the promotion and sale of specific products and services.

Public Relations vs. Advertising

Advertising, which is the function of marketing, is a technique of drawing public attention to products or services, mainly through paid announcements. Public Relations on the other hand doesn’t pay for placements. PR is a strategic communication process that aims at building a mutually beneficial relationship between the company and the public.

Public Relations vs. Communications

Communications is often used as an umbrella term to include PR. The main difference between public relations and communications is that PR is strategic and communications are tactical.
Public relations focuses on creating and managing the brand. This is done by building relationships with key stakeholders, such as the media, customers, investors, and employees. Communication is the delivery of the message.

To take a deeper look, we can identify 4 main categories where PR and other forms of marketing differ from one another.

  1. Daily tasks: a day in the life of a PR specialist might include tasks such as writing press releases, contacting and reaching out to media outlets, pitching story ideas and crisis management. In contrast, a marketer might work on creating advertising campaigns for a product or service, reviewing customer research and implementing paid promotions of goods and services in a day.
  2. Areas of focus: the focus of a PR expert is to establish relationships that add value to the brand, create partnerships with mutual benefit, and manage the image of the company. Marketers focus on meeting the needs of the customer, acquiring more customers, and promoting the operational qualities of the product or service.
  3. Target audience: PR aims to reach customers as well as employees, investors, journalists, media outlets, and other stakeholders. Marketings primarily attempt to reach consumers
  4. Performance metrics: a PR campaign’s success depends on its potential reach, share of voice, social engagement, the quality of the coverage, the domain authority of its online presence and traffic earned from media outlets. Marketers mainly focus on sales, traffic, leads, cost-per-click and return on investment.

Conclusion

Public relations is an industry with greater potential than one might think. Its impact reflects how the public perceives companies, brands, and people in a given sphere. It affects whether a brand is seen as just a mere corporation set to make money, or if it has values, ideas and beliefs attached to it, as well as priorities that differ from just financial gains. PR specialists work to make sure that a brand’s reputation is maintained and a positive image is created for the public to engage with. Their activities constantly spread brand awareness, initiate campaigns, tell stories of their achievements and ideas, and tackle negative content that can stain the firm. Whereas marketers aim to increase sales and spread awareness about products and services through paid methods

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