Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
I’ve had the good fortune to work with leaders who “get” public relations. They value the ongoing conversations their communications teams establish with an organization’s many stakeholders, both internal and external.
They know the long-term success of a business depends on building a reputation for honesty and transparency.
Like other communication professionals, I’ve also encountered misconceptions, typically equating PR with tools used in the practice of public relations: PR means press release, PR is media relations, PR is publicity. And I’ve heard the word that makes communicators shudder: PR is spin.
Your communications partner
Yet, each misconception encountered is an opportunity to open a dialogue. Showing how a strategic communications approach can help an organization succeed is extremely rewarding. PR professionals are at their best working in creative partnership with a client organization to engage its publics and help it achieve its business goals.
Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the world’s largest privately owned PR agency, gave a keynote address at the 2011 PRSA Leadership Rally in New York City. The July 2011 edition of Inside PRSA reports that he noted PR’s power to build genuine trust between a company and its customers. He reminded them that PR can mend wounded brands and help them establish legitimate, honest credibility.
In today’s social, conversational environment, Edelman prefers the term public engagement to public relations. He offers seven rules of engagement.
Today, both business and government suffer from a serious lack of trust. Edelman’s last rule resonates in a difficult business environment. He encourages us to welcome complexity. His counsel is to embrace a coherent way of thinking about issues and analytical methods to identify and address problems.
Edelman also notes that PR must evolve to meet a changed business environment. “The old world of business was a kind of fortress,” he said. “A business makes a profit, it stands alone in protecting the brand, and it controls the information flow. That idea is over. The new expectations of business are profit and purpose. We need to engage, not just advertise … This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Can PR help?
In today’s complex business environment adding a PR professional to your team to help navigate challenges can increase your potential for successful outcomes.
Here, courtesy of PRSA, are some PR management functions:
- Anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinion, attitudes and issues that might impact, for good or ill, the operations and plans of the organization.
- Counseling management at all levels in the organization with regard to policy decisions, courses of action and communication, taking into account their public ramifications and the organization’s social or citizenship responsibilities.
- Researching, conducting and evaluating, on a continuing basis, programs of action and communication to achieve the informed public understanding necessary to the success of an organization’s aims. These may include marketing; financial; fund raising; employee, community or government relations; and other programs.
- Planning and implementing the organization’s efforts to influence or change public policy. Setting objectives, planning, budgeting, recruiting and training staff, developing facilities — in short, managing the resources needed to perform all of the above.
Thanks Natalie Lucier for the spinning fire photo via Flickr.