Public Relations

Public Relations

Many people confuse public relations with publicity, which refers to getting new media coverage. But public relations are broader in scope. As per the definition of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), public relations help an organization and its public to adapt mutually to each other.

Public relations focus on an organization’s relationships with its public. By public, we mean a group of people with whom the company or organization has to interact in creating and delivering value.

Objectives Of the Public Relations Program

Professional public relations programs help business organizations accomplish their objectives. They can fulfill some of the objectives listed below.

  • Presenting a favorable image and its benefits

  • Promotion of products or services

  • Detecting and dealing with its public

  • Determining the organization’s posture in dealing with its public

  • Goodwill of the employees or members

  • Prevention and solution of labor problems

  • Fostering the goodwill of communities in which the organization has units

  • Goodwill of the stockholders or constituents

  • Overcoming misconceptions and prejudices

  • Forestalling attacks

  • Goodwill of suppliers

  • Goodwill of the government

  • Goodwill of the rest of the industry

  • Goodwill of dealers and attracting other dealers

  • Ability to attract the best personnel

  • Education of the public in the use of a product or service

  • Education of the public regarding a point of view

  • Goodwill of customers or supporters

  • Investigation of the attitude of various groups towards the company formulation and guidance of policies

  • Fostering the viability of the society in which the organization functions

  • Directing the course of change.

Tools of Public Relations

Public relation has its origin in publicity with a broader focus as it addresses a wider set of audience. David Yale defines publicity as supplying information that is factual, interesting, and media newsworthy and not controlled by the company.

Publicity a critical aspect of public relations is described as the process of planning, executing, and evaluating programs that encourage purchase and consumer satisfaction through credible communication of information and impressions that identify companies and their products with the needs, wants, concerns, and interests of consumers.

Public relations involve activities related to persuading customers and prospects to buy (or continue to buy) the firm’s products and services. We list here a set of publicity tools:

Press Releases

The press release is the basic building block of a publicity program concerned with story placement.

Fact Sheets

Fact sheets include more detailed information on the product, its origins, and its particular features.

Press Kits

The press kit pulls together all the press releases, fact sheets, and accompanying photographs about the product into one neat package.

Video News Releases

The Video News Release (VNR) is the video equivalent of a press release.

Employee/Member Relation Program

Corporate public relations people often spend a great deal of time developing employee communication programs, including regular newsletters, informational bulletin boards, and internet postings.

Community Relations Program

Many companies actively encourage their employees to take part in community organizations, and local corporations are often major sponsors of community events and activities such as art presentations, blood donation drives, and educational activities.

Financial Relations Programs

Financial relations people are responsible for establishing and maintaining relationships with the investment community, including industry analyzers stockbrokers, and journalists specializing in financial reporting.

Industry Relations Programs

The primary public that industry relations specialists deal with is other businesses operating within the same industry, as well as trade associations.

Development/Fund-Raising Program

This is a particularly important area for not-for-profit organizations such as art organizations, educational institutions, and community service programs.

Special Events

Event marketing is rapidly gaining popularity. Besides linking their brands to existing events, marketers are also creating events of their own, designed to reach special targets.

House Ads

A company uses various media like newspapers, magazines, and broadcast stations to prepare advertisements for the internal public. The public relations program manages these house advertisements.

Public Service Announcements

These are ads for charitable and civic organizations that run free of cost on television or radio or in the print media. These are called public service announcements.

Corporate Advertising

This kind of advertising promotes corporate image or corporate viewpoints. These advertisements do not talk about products and services.


Companies publish various publications in the form of pamphlets, booklets, annual reports, books, bulletins, newsletters, inserts and enclosures, and position papers.

Speakers, Photos, and Films

Many companies use speaker bureaus to communicate with people about topics of public interest. Some publics like news media also want pictures and video films for use in their media.

Displays, Exhibits, Events, and Tours

Exhibits, displays tours, and events are important tools for public relations. Companies use displays and point-of-purchase materials for image building.

Public Relation Strategies

Public relation is a part of integrated marketing communication. Public relations strategies could be either proactive or reactive. A proactive public relation strategy is decided by the objectives of the company and what the company seeks to publicize.

This public relation strategy is done to project a positive image of the company. This is done to encash the opportunities available in the market. A reactive public relation strategy is to solve a problem or defend some issue. This is mostly a defensive strategy.

Proactive Public Relation Strategy

This is done to project the positive aspect of the company; such as employee achievements, awards granted, contributions to the community, or some social cause addressed by the company. The main components of PR are as follows:

Public relation audit

At this stage, the company should identify some positives which are noteworthy. The next step is to gather information, questions are passed to customers and corporate personnel, and information is noted. The information so gathered may be about the products and services of the company, new product introduction, brand performance, etc.

Public relation plan

Public relation plan deals with communication issued by the firm, components of public relation plan include:

  • Situation Analysis: This involves the detailed breakup of information gathered during public relation audit.

  • Program objective: The objective set here is not sales. It could be to verify the credibility of product performance or efforts made by the R&D department of the company.

  • Program Purpose: Here the role played by this program, in relation to the company’s advertising and other communications should be specified. This is where public relations effort as a part of IMC is clearly defined.

  • Communication: Which media vehicle is to be used to communicate, is it a press release, interview, in-house magazine, etc?

  • Message: Just as advertising messages are designed, public relations messages are also to be developed. Some research can be done using depth interviews or focus group methods. Eg. Excessive consumption of alcohol damages the liver and will draw more attention among those who consume liquor rather than calling it a social evil.

    Proactive public relation makes a positive contribution to the IMC effort by the company by enhancing the image, perception, and reputation among the public.

Reactive Public Relations Strategy

When some events which are beyond the control of the firm take place, the company may resort to a reactive public relations strategy. Eg. Pepsi, and Coca-Cola facing a ban in some parts of the country. In this case, the company issues a co-coordinated statement to the general public, and media, and provides clarification.

The effect of such a statement is that the public views the company to be sincere in its effort to address the issue. They think that the company is trustworthy. In a reactive public relation strategy, the reaction of the company has to be very quick. There are 2 distinct steps to be followed:

Public relation audit

This step is essential to identify the problem. The information gathered by the company gives clues to issuing corrective statements based on facts.

Weak area identification

This is an exercise, where the company needs to identify its potential weak areas where things can go wrong.

Example: Environmental issues arising out of waste disposal, use of certain ingredients which may be harmful, etc. The coordination of public relations into an integrated program will enable the company to identify and manage all aspects of communication.

Advantages of PR

PR has the following advantages:


PR communication is not perceived in the same light as advertising. This is because the public knows that the media is not being compensated for providing information. Whereas the public knows that advertisement money is paid to the medium and hence the content may be true or may not be true.

Example: Automotive award given by CNBC for the best car is considered to be very reliable information. This is because the company is not advertising to promote its products.


The cost of PR is very low compared to the cost of advertisement.

Avoidance of clutter

Because PR is perceived as a news item, the clutter effect of ad, will not be there. A story regarding a new product introduction or a breakthrough is treated as a news item and is likely to receive attention. This can be clearly seen when car manufacturers introduce a new product through a slot on the CNBC network rather than a newspaper advertisement.

Ability to reach specific groups

Because some products appeal only to a small market segment, it is not feasible to engage in advertising. In such a case, PR is an easier way to communicate with this segment.

Lead generation

Information about medical breakthroughs and technological innovation can be well communicated through PR since a number of questions, may have to be asked about the same.

Image building

Effective PR helps to develop a positive image of the organization. People approach organizations due to their reliability, consistency, and past experience. This is the basis for the success of the company.

  • Tapan K Panda, Marketing Management, Excel Books.

  • Schramm Wilbur, How Communication Works, in the Process and Effects of Mass Communication, Ed. Wilbur Schramm and Donald F. Roberts, 1971.

  • Burke Raymond R. and Thomas K. Srull, “Competitive Interference and Consumer Memory for Advertising”, Journal of Consumer Research, June 15, 1988.

  • Strong E. K., The Psychology of Selling, McGraw-Hill, 1925.


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