In today’s world, publicity is everything of course along quality service or product. There is a fierce competition in just about every sector, while the consumers typically decide for brands they are familiar with and which they trust. In order to earn the consumers trust, companies rely heavily on marketing strategists but they also rely heavily on PR specialists.
PR Much More than Just Promotion
Unlike marketing which is focused on promotion of the company’s products or service, PR is primarily focused on communication with the public, e.g. the potential buyers and the media. By communicating relevant information about the company and of course its products/service, PR specialists also help in the promotion of the business. But above all, they create a positive public image and establish a relationship with the target audience and media. That way they gradually earn the consumers trust which as mentioned earlier, has a major influence on their decisions including the product/service they choose from the many available.
Besides attracting public attention and helping establish a good reputation which directly influences the sales, PR specialists also play an important role in the times of crisis. Imagine that an angry employee or the competition starts to spread unpleasant rumors about your company. The public does not know the story behind and if you do not react, they may think that the rumors are true. And even if they find it hard to believe, they will remember that they have heard something bad about your company. Now imagine the consumers choosing between a brand from which they have heard only the best and your company. Most of them will not take any chances and choose more respected company instead. And you cannot really blame them because you would probably do the same if you were in their shoes. Therefore it is not a good idea to leave the public wondering about the truth whatever it is and this is where a PR specialist steps in. In the times of crisis like the situation described above, you need someone who reacts quickly and efficiently to at least minimize the damage. And that someone can only be a person who can think and act fast under pressure as well as communicate well with the public and media a PR specialist.
Utilizing PR Services
Large firms typically have their own PR departments. This is without a doubt the best way to utilize PR services because the PR specialists can focus on your needs alone. Having own PR department and keep full time PR specialists, however, is usually too expensive for small to medium sized companies. In order to benefit from PR services without jeopardizing their budget, small to medium sized companies can hire a PR firm or freelance PR specialist for a limited time and job.
Public Relations (PR) Disciplines
In order to represent the client in the best manner possible, public relations (PR) has to cover a wide range of areas. All communication with the target audience and media can be carried out by a single PR specialist but the profession is getting increasingly specialized. According to the areas covered, we know the following PR disciplines:
Like its name suggests, it is focused on financial matters including investments, disclosure agreements, takeovers, adherence to government regulations, etc.. Due to the complexity of the financial matters, financial PR often includes a staff of lawyers who present the clients financial matters in a way that creates and maintains a positive perception of the client in the public. Rather than with the general public, the financial PR is usually specialized in communication with the media, stockholders, businesses and the investor community.
This PR discipline is specialized in presentation of products or service with an aim to attract publicity and make them attractive to the target consumer audience. Although consumer PR in a way helps promote particular products/services and subsequently increase the sales, it has little in common with marketing.
Crisis communication. PR services are especially sought after in crisis situations in which PR specialists are often the best lawyers. The goal of crisis PR specialists is to get the situation under control in a way that causes minimal damage to the client in terms of public image and reputation. In order to prevent the client from losing good reputation, crisis PR requires excellent communication skills in order to tell the other side of the story and change the public opinion. Crisis communication PR methods may also include spin which, in contrary to the common perception, does not always include deceit or manipulation of the public opinion.
It refers to a discipline of PR which is specialized in engaging with the government bodies with an aim to influence policy making. The methods and tools used also include lobbying but the latter is not enough to win the support of the politicians for a particular position. Government relations should not be confused with government communication which refers to communication between the government and the public.
This PR discipline is focused on communication within the company or organization. Most organizations that utilize internal PR usually have their own PR departments which make sure that relevant information is communicated to the employees on time.
Public Relations and the Internet
The Internet has caused a revolution in communication by giving a voice to those that previously could not have been heard. This has opened a whole new world of opportunities for both businesses and individuals that were unimagined in the era of the traditional media. These still play an important role in shaping the public opinion but with the entire globe moving to the online world to search for information and buy products/services, a PR that does not effectively communicate with the online community can no longer effectively shape and maintain the desired public image.
Challenges of the Internet for PR
Although the Internet is one of the greatest inventions in human history, it has dramatically changed the world and above all, the communication. The World Wide Web has opened a number of opportunities but it has also opened a number of challenges, especially for the PR sector that has mastered communication with and through the traditional media. While PR specialists virtually had no competition in the era of the traditional media, the democracy of the Internet has forced them to compete with the entire world. The Internet has given just about everyone the ability to share their opinion just about everything with the entire world in a matter of seconds. The ability to reach thousands or millions of people in virtually no time gave PR specialists a powerful tool but it also made their jobs more difficult, especially in case of an attack on integrity of their clients. Just imagine restoring the clients reputation if the first page of search engine results contains mainly compromising or damaging content.
The Importance of Internet PR
Why businesses and individuals who want to succeed in the modern world cannot afford not to utilise the Internet PR is clearly evident from the example of anti-campaigns. These can either be an unfortunate incident or a carefully devised plan of unethical competition. But regardless of who stands behind and why, negative campaigning can have a devastating effect on public reputation of a company or an individual. The risk of negative publicity, however, is not the only reason why the Internet PR is increasingly gaining in importance. The Internet has a major influence on peoples opinion and the decisions they make, especially when they are uncertain. For example, lets say Joe has difficulties deciding which anti-acne cream to choose. He will open his search engine and look for information about the creams he is considering buying. He will most likely take into account a variety of factors including the price and other peoples opinions but his decision will also be influenced greatly by the information he will be able to receive about a particular product. And if he finds little information about how the product is supposed to work, how soon he will be able to see the results, etc. there is a great chance that he will not buy that product. In order to encourage Joe to at least consider buying your cream, he needs to be provided accurate, trustworthy and up-to-date information about both the product and your company. And this can be achieved only through an effective Internet PR.