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Public relations

Public Relations (or PR) is a field concerned with maintaining public image for high-profile people, commercial businesses and organizations, non-profit associations or programs.

An earlier definition of PR (by The first World Assembly of Public Relations Associations, held in Mexico City in August 1978) was "the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders, and implementing planned programs of action, which will serve both the organization and the public interest." [1].

Others define it as the practice of managing communication between an organization and its publics.[2] Public relations provides an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that provide a third-party endorsement[3] and do not direct payment.[4]Answers.com Marketing Dictionary: Public Relations. Retrieved August 7, 2008. Once common activities include speaking at conferences, working with the media, crisis communications and social media engagement[5], and employee communication.

The European view of PR as practice notes that besides a relational form of interactivity there is also a reflective paradigm that is concerned with publics and the public sphere; not only with relational (which can in principle be private), but also with public consequences of organizational behaviour [6][3]. A much broader view of neo-ubiquitous interactive communication using the [internet] as outlined by Phillips and Young in 'Online Public Relations' Second Edition (2009) which describes form and the nature of internet mediated public relations. It encompasses social media and other channels for communication and many platforms for communication such as personal computer (PC's), Laptop, mobile phone and other mobile devices and online games machines.

PR is used to build rapport with employees, customers, investors, voters, or the general public.[7] Almost any organization that has a stake in how it is portrayed in the public arena employs some level of public relations. There are a number of PR disciplines falling under the banner of Corporate Communications, such as Analyst Relations, Media Relations, Investor Relations, Internal Communications and Labor Relations.

Other PR disciplines include:

  • Financial public relations - providing information mainly to business reporters.
  • Consumer/Lifestyle public relations - gaining publicity for a particular product or service (rather than using advertising).
  • Crisis public relations - responding to negative accusations or information.
  • Industry relations - providing information to trade bodies.
  • Government relations - engaging government departments to influence policy making


[edit] History

In the United States of America, Edward L. Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, is widely recognized as the father of public relations. In Europe and in antiquity there are many more contenders as the founders of the practice. Most notably, according to Bournemouth academic, Dr Kevin Moloney, Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire with her political activism, use of printed news outlets, events management and social gatherings in the late 18th Century in favour of her, predominantly, political clients, has a claim to be an early practitioner.

A conference held at Bournemouth University in July 2010 [4] is to delve more deeply into practices of PR dating back as far as the Roman Empire.

Two hundred years after the death of the Duchess, Bernays graduated from Cornell University in 1912 and opened the first recognized public-relations firm with Doris Fleischman in 1919.[8] As Harold Lasswell explained in 1928, "public relations" was a term used as a way of shielding the profession from the ill repute increasingly associated with the word "propaganda": "Propaganda has become an epithet of contempt and hate, and the propagandists have sought protective coloration in such names 'public relations council,' 'specialist in public education,' 'public relations adviser.' "[9]

[edit] Global alliance

Globally, the profession is represented by The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management [5] which is the umbrella organisation linking PR Professional Associations worldwide. At its World Public Relations Forum in 2010, the Alliance accepted the Stockholm Accords[6] These accords present the practice of public relations in the following terms:

The Communicative Organisation The concept of the Communicative organisation was conceived as a result of the five-year research programme 'Business Effective Communication' a collaboration between the Swedish Public Relations Association, Mälardalen University and the Stockholm School of Economics. During the project a number of cases were studied to define how information and communication can be used in the leadership of organisations in order to achieve a higher degree of external effectiveness.

The value-creation networks The world is no longer a straight line from company to consumer. The organization holds a position in a network full of different stakeholders, and the network decides if you are valuable enough to keep your position. You can be replaced anytime. Your organization needs to find the perfect position where it is so valuable that the network can–t do without you. The key to this is to develop the organisation–s communicative skills. This is where the communicator comes in to save the day.

The contextual leadership The communicator needs to take on leadership in the communicative organization. It is his or her task to put the ideological leadership (i.e the business idea or purpose) into the correct context. However the saying goes, perhaps selling sand in Sahara isn–t the best of ideas. The leadership can take different forms; as system building, mediation, coaching or influencing. The important thing is, communication is an organizational quality, rather than a function.

Sven Hamrefors, professor at the Department of Innovation, Design and Product Development, Mälardalen University, describes the Accords in a YouTube interview here.

[edit] The industry today

The need for public relations personnel is growing at a fast pace. The types of clients for whom PR people work include the government, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, specific industries, corporations, athletic teams, entertainment companies, and even countries. The title public relations is a broad description of the field because careers that one can have in the public relations field include a publicist, media specialist, analyst, and communications specialist.

The practice of public relations is spread widely. On the professional level, there is an organization called Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the world's largest public relations organization. PRSA is a community of more than 21,000 professionals that work to advance the skill set of public relations. PRSA also fosters a national student organization called Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).

In the USA, Public Relations professionals earn an average annual salary of $49,800 which compares with –40,000 for a practitioner with a similar job in the UK [7]. Top earners bring home around $89,220 annually, while entry-level PR specialists earn around $28,080.[10]

In the industry today it is very critical for public relations professionals to learn and know the importance of new media outlets. New media outlets include blogs, social networking sites, as well as internet radio. Public relations professionals must know that using these new media outlets are ways to directly send messages to their key publicians (also known as target audiences).

[edit] Methods, tools and tactics

Public relations and publicity are not synonymous, but many PR campaigns include provisions for publicity. Publicity is the spreading of information to gain public awareness for a product, person, service, cause or organization, and can be seen as a result of effective PR planning. More recently in public relations, professionals are using technology as their main tool to get their messages to target audiences. With the creation of social networks, blogs, and even internet radio public relations professionals are able to send direct messages through these mediums that attract the target audiences. Methods used to find out what is appealing to target audiences include the use of surveys, conducting research or even focus groups. Tactics are the ways to attract target audiences by using the information gathered about that audience and directing a message to them using tools such as social mediums or other technology.

[edit] Tools

There are various tools that can be used in the practice of PR. Traditional tools include press releases and media kits which are sent out to generate positive press on behalf of the organization. Other widely-used tools include brochures, newsletters and annual reports.

Increasingly, companies are utilizing interactive social media outlets, such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook, as tools in their PR campaigns. Unlike the traditional tools which allowed for only one-way communication, social media outlets allow the organization to engage in two-way communication, and receive immediate feedback from their various stakeholders and publics.

One of the most popular and traditional tools used by public relations professionals is a press kit (also known as a media kit). A press kit is usually a folder that consists of promotional materials that give information about an event, organization, business, or even a person. What are included would be backgrounders or biographies, fact sheets, press releases (or media releases), media alerts, brochures, newsletters, photographs with captions, copies of any media clips, and social mediums. With the way that the industry has changed, many organizations may have a website with a link, "Press Room" which would have online versions of these pieces.

[edit] Publics targeting

A fundamental technique used in public relations is to identify the target audience, and to tailor every message to appeal to that audience. It can be a general, nationwide or worldwide audience, but it is more often a segment of a population. A good elevator pitch can help tailor messaging to each target audience. Marketers often refer to socio-economically-driven "demographics", such as "black males 18-49." However, in public relations an audience is more fluid, being whoever someone wants to reach. Or, in the new paradigm of value based networked social groups, the values based social segment could be a trending audience. For example, recent political audiences seduce such buzz word monikers as "soccer moms" and "NASCAR dads."

An alternative and less flexible, more simplistic, approach uses stakeholders theory to identify people who have a stake in a given institution or issue. All audiences are stakeholders (or presumptive stakeholders), but not all stakeholders are audiences. For example, if a charity commissions a PR agency to create an advertising campaign to raise money to find a cure for a disease, the charity and the people with the disease are stakeholders, but the audience is anyone who is likely to donate money.

Sometimes the interests of differing audiences and stakeholders common to a PR effort necessitate the creation of several distinct but complementary messages. This is not always easy to do, and sometimes ' especially in politics ' a spokesperson or client says something to one audience that creates dissonance with another audience or group of stakeholders.

[edit] Lobby groups

Lobby groups are established to influence government policy, corporate policy, or public opinion. An example of this is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, which influences American foreign policy. Such groups claim to represent a particular interest and in fact are dedicated to doing so. When a lobby group hides its true purpose and support base, it is known as a front group. Moreover, governments may also lobby public relations firms in order to sway public opinion. A well illustrated example of this is the way civil war in Yugoslavia was portrayed. Governments of newly succeeded republics of Croatia and Bosnia invested heavily with American PR firms, so that the PR firms would give them a positive war image in the US.[11]

[edit] Spin

In PR, "spin" is sometimes a pejorative term signifying a heavily biased portrayal in specific favour of an event or situation. While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, "spin" often, though not always, implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics. Politicians are often accused of spin by commentators and political opponents when they produce a counterargument or position.

The techniques of spin include selectively presenting facts and quotes that support ideal positions (cherry picking), the so-called "non-denial", phrasing that in a way presumes unproven truths, euphemisms for drawing attention away from items considered distasteful, and ambiguity in public statements. Another spin technique involves careful choice of timing in the release of certain news so it can take advantage of prominent events in the news. A famous reference to this practice occurred when British Government press officer Jo Moore used the phrase It's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury, (widely paraphrased or misquoted as "It's a good day to bury bad news"), in an email sent on September 11, 2001. The furor caused when this email was reported in the press eventually caused her to resign.

[edit] Spin doctors

Skilled practitioners of spin are sometimes called "spin doctors," despite the negative connotation associated with the term. Perhaps the best-known person in the UK often described as a "spin doctor" is Alastair Campbell, who was involved with Tony Blair's public relations between 1994 and 2003, and also played a controversial role as press relations officer to the British and Irish Lions rugby union side during their 2005 tour of New Zealand.[citation needed]

State-run media in many countries also engage in spin by selectively allowing news stories that are favorable to the government while censoring anything that could be considered critical. They may also use propaganda to indoctrinate or actively influence citizens' opinions. Privately run media may also use the same techniques of 'issue' versus 'non-issue' to spin its particular political viewpoints.

[edit] Other

  • Publicity events, pseudo-events, photo ops or publicity stunts.
  • Talk show circuit. A PR spokesperson (or his/her client) "does the circuit" by being interviewed on television and radio talk shows with audiences that the client wishes to reach.
  • Books and other writings.
  • Blogs.
  • After a PR practitioner has been working in the field for a while, he or she accumulates a list of contacts in the media and elsewhere in the public affairs sphere. This "Rolodex" becomes a prized asset, and job announcements sometimes even ask for candidates with an existing Rolodex, especially those in the media relations area of PR.
  • Direct communication (carrying messages directly to constituents, rather than through the mass media) with, e.g., newsletters ' in print and e-letters.
  • Collateral literature, traditionally in print and now predominantly as web sites.
  • Speeches to constituent groups and professional organizations; receptions; seminars, and other events; personal appearances.
  • The slang term for a PR practitioner or publicist is a "flack" (sometimes spelled "flak").
  • A Desk Visit is where the PR person literally takes their product to the desk of the journalist in order to show them emerging promotions.
  • Astroturfing is the act of PR agencies placing blog and online forum messages for their clients, in the guise of a normal "grassroots" user or comment (an illegal practice across the larger practice areas such as the European Union).
  • Online Social Media and internet mediated public relations practices.

[edit] Politics and civil society

[edit] Defining the opponent

In the USA but not in the larger PR markets, the tactic known as "defining one's opponent" is used in political campaigns. Opponents can be candidates, organizations and other groups of people.

In the 2004 US presidential campaign, Howard Dean defined John Kerry as a "flip-flopper," which was widely reported and repeated by the media, particularly the conservative media. Similarly, George H.W. Bush characterized Michael Dukakis as weak on crime (the Willie Horton ad) and hopelessly liberal ("a card-carrying member of the ACLU"). In 1996, President Bill Clinton seized upon opponent Bob Dole's promise to take America back to a simpler time, promising in contrast to "build a bridge to the 21st century." This painted Dole as a person who was somehow opposed to progress.

In the debate over abortion, self-titled pro-choice groups, by virtue of their name, defined their opponents as "anti-choice", while self-titled pro-life groups refer to their opponents as "pro-abortion" or "anti-life".

[edit] Managing language

If, in the USA, a politician or organization can use an apt phrase in relation to an issue in interviews or news releases, the news media will often repeat it verbatim, without questioning its aptness. This perpetuates both the message and whatever preconceptions might underlie it. Often, something that sounds innocuous can stand in for something greater; a "culture of life" sounds like general goodwill to most people, but will evoke opposition to abortion for many pro-life advocates. The phrase "States' rights" was used as a code for anti-civil rights legislation in the United States in the 1960s, and allegedly in the 1970s and 1980s.

[edit] Conveying the message

The means by which a message is communicated can be as important as the message itself. Direct mail, robocalling, advertising and public speaking are commonly used depending upon the intended audience and the message that is conveyed. Press releases are also used, but since many newspapers are folding in the USA, they have become a less reliable way of communicating for American practitioners, and other methods have become more popular.

In the USA and India, news organizations have begun to rely more on their own websites and have developed a variety of unique approaches to publicity and public relations, on and off the web.[12]

Long after many initiatives across the world by more advanced nations; the use of online communication by al-Qaida dating back to 2001, the country of Israel has employed a series of Web 2.0 initiatives and are indicative of how a small nation can use internet mediated communication. Israel's initiative in 2008 included a blog,[13] MySpace page,[14] YouTube channel,[15] Facebook page[16] and a political blog to reach different audiences.[17] The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs started the country's video blog as well as its political blog.[17] The Foreign Ministry held the first microblogging press conference via Twitter about its war with Hamas, with Consul David Saranga answering live questions from a worldwide public in common text-messaging abbreviations.[18] The questions and answers were later posted on IsraelPolitik, the country's official political blog.[19]

[edit] Front groups

One of the most controversial practices in public relations is the use of front groups ' organizations that purport to serve a public cause while actually serving the interests of a client whose sponsorship may be obscured or concealed. Critics of the public relations industry, such as PR Watch, contend that some PR firms involve a "multi-billion dollar propaganda-for-hire industry" that "concocts and spins the news, organizes phony 'grassroots' front groups, spies on citizens, and conspires with lobbyists and politicians to thwart democracy." [20]

Instances with the use of front groups as a PR technique have been documented in many industries. Coal mining corporations have created environmental groups that contend that increased CO2 emissions and global warming will contribute to plant growth and will be beneficial, trade groups for bars have created and funded citizens' groups to attack anti-alcohol groups, tobacco companies have created and funded citizens' groups to advocate for tort reform and to attack personal injury lawyers, while trial lawyers have created "consumer advocacy" front groups to oppose tort reform.[citation needed]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Jensen Zhao. Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd. Ed. Retrieved from: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_gx5209/is_1999/ai_n19125848/
  2. ^ Grunig, James E. and Hunt, Todd. Managing Public Relations. (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), 6e.
  3. ^ Seitel, Fraser P. The Practice of Public Relations. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007), 10e.
  4. ^ name="answers.com"
  5. ^ Rubel, Gina F., Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers, Doylestown, PA: 1 ed. 2007, ISBN 978-0-9801719-0-7
  6. ^ name=On the definition of public relations: a European view
  7. ^ Answers.com Marketing Dictionary: Public Relations. Retrieved August 7, 2008
  8. ^ [1]. Retrieved December 18, 2009
  9. ^ pp. 260-261, "The Function of the Propagandist", International Journal of Ethics, 38 (no. 3): pp. 258-268.
  10. ^ "Public Relations Specialist Careers: Employment & Salary Trends for Aspiring Public Relations Specialists". http://www.collegedegreereport.com/articles/public-relations-specialist-careers-employment-salary-trends-aspiring-public-relations-spec. 
  11. ^ See Peter Viggo Jakobsen, Focus on the CNN Effect Misses the Point: The Real Media Impact on Conflict Management is Invisible and Indirect, Journal of Peace Research, vol.37, no.2. Institute of Political Science, University of Copenhagen (2000).
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ Israel Video Blog aims to show the world 'the beautiful face of real Israel', Ynet, February 24, 2008.
  14. ^ Israel seeks friends through MySpace page, Bobby Johnson, The Guardian, March 23, 2007.
  15. ^ Israel uses YouTube, Twitter to share its point of view, CNN, December 31, 2008
  16. ^ Israel's New York Consulate launches Facebook page, Ynet, December 14, 2007.
  17. ^ a b Latest PR venture of Israel's diplomatic mission in New York attracts large Arab audience, Ynet, June 21, 2007.
  18. ^ Battlefront Twitter, HAVIV RETTIG GUR, The Jerusalem Post, December 30, 2008.
  19. ^ The Toughest Q's Answered in the Briefest Tweets, Noam Cohen, The New York Times, January 3, 2009; accessed January 5, 2009.
  20. ^ PRWatch
  • Bernays, Edward (1945). Public Relations. Boston, MA: Bellman Publishing Company. 
  • Biagi, S. (2005). Media/Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media. Chicago: Thomas Wadsworth.
  • Burson, Harold (2004). E pluribus unum: The Making of Burson-Marsteller. New York: Burson-Marsteller. 
  • Calcagni, Thomas (2007). Tough Questions, Good Answers, Taking Control of Any Interview. Sterling, VA: Capital Books, Inc.. ISBN 978-1-933102-50-4. 
  • Caponigro, Jeff (2000). THE CRISIS COUNSELOR: A step-by-step guide to managing a business crisis. New York: McGraw-Hill/ Contemporary Books. ISBN 0-9659606-0-9. 
  • Phillips, David (2009). Online Public Relations. London: Kogan Page. ISBN 9780749449681. 
  • Cutlip, Scott (1994). The Unseen Power: Public Relations, A History. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0-8058-1464-7. 
  • Ewen, Stuart (1996). PR!: A Social History of Spin. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-06168-0. 
  • Forman, Amanda (2001). Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire. New York: Random House USA Inc; New Ed edition. ISBN 0-037-5753834-0. 
  • Grunig, James E.; and Todd Hunt (1984). Managing Public Relations. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 0-03-058337-3. 
  • Hall, Phil (2007). The New PR. Mount Kisco, NY: Larstan Publishing. ISBN 0-9789182-0-7. 
  • International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)
  • Macnamara, Jim (2005). Jim Macnamara's Public Relations Handbook (5th ed. ed.). Melbourne: Archipelago Press. ISBN 0-9587537-4-1. 
  • Nelson, Joyce (1989). Sultans of Sleaze: Public Relations and the Media. Toronto: Between The Lines. ISBN 0-921284-22-5. 
  • Phillips, David (2001). Online Public Relations. London: Kogan Page. ISBN 0-7494-3510-0. 
  • Seitel, Fraser. The Practice of Public Relations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 10 ed. 2006 ISBN 0-13-230451-1
  • Stauber, John C.; and Sheldon Rampton (1995). Toxic Sludge is Good for You: Lies, Damn Lies, and the Public Relations Industry. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press. ISBN 1-56751-061-2. 
  • Tye, Larry (1998). The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays & the Birth of Public Relations. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-70435-8. 
  • Tymson, Candy; and Peter Lazar (2006). Public Relations Manual. Sydney: Tymson Communications. ISBN 0-9579130-1-X. 
  • Stoykov, Lubomir; and Valeria Pacheva (2005). Public Relations and Business Communication. Sofia: Ot Igla Do Konetz. ISBN 954-9799-09-3. 
  1. Scott M. Cutlip/ Allen H. Center/ Glen M. Broom, "Effective Public Relations," 7th Ed., Prentice-Hall, Inc. A Simon and Schuster Company, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 07632, 1994, Figure 10-1
  2. Center, Allen H. and Jackson, Patrick, "Public Relations Practices," 5th ed., Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle, N.J., 1995, pp. 14'15
  3. Crifasi, Sheila C., "Everything's Coming Up Rosie," from Public Relations Tactics, September, 2000, Vol. 7, Issue 9, Public Relations Society of America, New York, 2000.
  4. Kelly, Kathleen S., "Effective Fund Raising Management," Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, N.J., 1998
  5. Wilcox, D.L., Ault, P.H., Agee, W.K., & Cameron, G., "Public Relations Strategies and Tactics," 7th ed., Allyn & Bacon, Boston, MA, 2002
  6. Grunig, James E. and Hunt, Todd. Managing Public Relations. (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), 6.

[edit] Further reading

  • Edward Bernays. (1928) "Propaganda".
  • Boorstin, Daniel J. (1972) The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. New York: Atheneum.
  • Ewen, Stuart. (1996) PR! A Social History of Spin. New York: BasicBooks.
  • Hall, Phil. (2007) The New PR. Mount Kisco, N.Y.: Larstan Publishing.
  • LA YEllow Shuttle. '
  • Seib, Patrick and Fitzpatrick, Kathy. (1995) Public Relations Ethics. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace and Company.
  • Friedman, Marsha. (2009) Celebritize Yourself: The Three Step Method to Increase Your Visibility and Explode Your Business. North Carolina: Warren Publishing, Inc. "Celebritize Yourself".

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