Public relations (PR) helps better a company’s reputation/overall image. Or at least that’s my understanding of it. This is my first class focused completely on public relations. In previous classes that have a small section PR, I’ve learned that techniques are used to help better communicate information about a company. These techniques make PR useful and they include social media, special events and endorsements. Social media can be used to get messages out to the public. These messages could put a personality to the company and reach out to the community and gain brand awareness. Special events encourage community engagement. A fun event can positively associate to a company and this can help the company have a better public image. Endorsements or partnerships can also be good for a company. Celebrity endorsements can bring awareness to a brand by reaching a different crowd of the celebrity following. Partnerships can be good for brand image. For example, Dawn soap supporting wildlife. When buying dish soap, people might put Dawn in their cart to feel good about benefiting their wildlife foundation.
These are a couple elements I am aware of when it comes to public relations, but this is also only a small part of PR. I researched more and found other activities include publicity, press releases, advertising, events management, crisis management, media relations and more. While researching, there are many different variations on what public relations really is.“Public relations is a field more often characterized by what it does than what it is. Ask a practitioner to define the field and the likely response is a listing of the activities that are included under the rubric of public relations” (Bruning & Ledingham 2000, p. xi). All of the activities of PR fall under the communications category. PR specialists need strong communication skills both written and verbal to send out clear and detailed information for their client. Messages can be as serious as a press release or simple as a social media post.A huge part of public relations is representing a client.
“Public relations scholars and practitioners, for example, want to solve problems as defining the contribution that communication make to an organization, segmenting and targeting publics, isolating the effects of communication function, understanding the roles and behaviors of public relations practitioners, identifying and magazine issues, using communication to increase the satisfaction of employees, learning how public relations interacts with marketing, or defining how organizations should participate in the public affairs of a system of government” (Grunig, 1992, p. 7).
Learning more about what public relations excites me for this fundamentals of PR course. The class represents a real life public relations scenario of having a client and help solve their problem. Prior to this, I had a vague understanding of what exactly public relations was. The quote from Grunig showed me a big part of PR that I seemed to be missing. I was unaware of such major factors of the field such as solving a client’s problems and the crucial communication skills needed for success. PR helps companies be understood by the public and this has to be done in not only a strategic way, but a way that makes sense. This communication to the public can create mutual understanding. From there, a positive relation can be established (du Plessis, 2000). Researching through a few books to explore the meaning of public relations gave me a better understanding of the field. What makes a student truly understand something is being hands on with it. I’m excited to learn more about what public relations is in this course, but also how to go about PR strategies and activities for a client to solve their problem.
du Plessi, D., (2000). Introduction to Public Relations and Advertising. Juta Education (Pyt) Ltd. Lansdowne, Cape Town.
Grunig, J. E., (1992). Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management. Lawerence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Mahwah, NJ.
Ledingham, J. A., & Bruning, S. D., (2000). Public Relations as Relationship Management. Lawerence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Mahwah, NJ