Public Relations Meaning, Features and Difference

Table of Contents:-

  • Public Relations Meaning
  • Features of Public Relations
  • Difference between Public Relations and Publicity

Public Relations Meaning

Public relations is the strategic practice through which organizations, companies, and individuals effectively communicate with the public and media. Through public relations, companies communicate with the target audience directly or indirectly through media to create and maintain a positive image and create a strong relationship with the audience. Examples include newsletters, press releases, public appearances, etc., as well as utilisation of the World Wide Web. A public is any group that has an actual influence over, a company’s capacity to accomplish its objectives. Public relations (PR) involves a variety of programs/events designed to promote or protect a company’s image or its products.

“Public relations professionals engage in various communication activities to establish and uphold positive relationships between the organization and its public. Customers, employees, stockholders, the government are officials and society”.

According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), “Public Relations (PR) help an organisation and its publics relate to each other to the benefit of both”.

According to the Indian Institute of Public Relations, “Public relations practice is planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its public”.

In the competitive business world, companies must distinguish themselves from rivals to attract new customers and retain existing ones. However, it is equally important for them to establish and uphold a favourable public perception. A PR firm helps them both create and maintain a good reputation among both the media and the customers by communicating on their behalf and presenting their products, services and overall operation in the best light possible. A positive public image helps create a strong relationship with the customers which in turn increases the sales.

Features of Public Relations

The nature of public relations is as follows:

1) Message

Public relations require a clear message for the organisation to communicate. A good rule of thumb is to make the message both clear and concise while maintaining precision and avoiding any potential ambiguity. Ideally, the message should not only convey information or present a viewpoint but also motivate the audience to take specific actions. This is important to achieve the desired outcomes.

2)Public Relations is generally a cost-effective form of communication

Besides having minimal production costs, you can conduct public relations activities through various online platforms at a significantly lower cost than buying advertising space or airtime in traditional media outlets.

3) Objective

A well-executed public relations campaign should possess a clearly defined objective. In theory, the objective could be as straightforward as increasing awareness about a product, service, or brand. However, ideally, it should be more precise and targeted. This could include a company increasing sales of a product or a pressure group changing public or government behaviour. A specific objective not only simplifies the process of planning and execution of a campaign but also enables one to measure its success more effectively.

4) Targeting

Public relations campaigns often aim to reach a specific target audience rather than the entire population. It is crucial to identify and focus on the group that is most likely to respond favourably to the intended message. By doing so, we can maximize the campaign’s effectiveness and achieve the desired outcomes. For a company. this could be the type of mer most likely to buy a particular product or service, which takes into account interests, tastes and spending power. In the context of a membership group, the target audience would consist of potential members. Conversely, in the case of a campaign group, the target audience could encompass potential activists, supporters, or individuals in positions of authority who possess the capacity to make decisions that advance a cause.

5) Relatively Uncontrollable

The organization’s ability to directly control the interpretation and handling of its public relations activity is minimal. Additionally, the company lacks control over the press release’s full publication and the specific timing and location of its release. In the worst-case scenario, a misinterpretation of the press release could lead to highly unfavourable outcomes.

6) Saturation of Effort

The fact that many companies compete for an amount of media attention puts pressure on the public relations effort to be better than its competitors. There cannot be a guarantee that the PR activity will have any impact on the targets at which it is aimed.

7) Credibility

Individuals will have more credibility when the information is presented as news or opinions than if it is presented as an advertisement. This is because the consumer may consider a message as coming from a non-commercial and impartial source.

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Difference between Public Relations and Publicity

Publicity is any unpaid form of non-personal presentations of ideas, goods or services. Of course, publicity people are paid. However, they try to attract attention to the firm and its offerings without incurring media expenses. For example, movie studios endeavour to secure appearances by celebrities on popular TV talk shows. This strategic move not only generates significant interest but also boosts ticket sales for new movies, all without the studio having to bear the cost of TV airtime.

According to the American Marketing Association, “Publicity is any form of non-paid commercially significant news or editorial comment about ideas, products, or institutions”.

Basis of Difference Publicity Public Relations
Type Publicity may be positive or negative. Public relations are always positive.
Time-Period It is a short-term strategy. It is a long-term strategy. PR programme extends over a long period.
Cost It need not be paid by the organisation. It is paid by the organisation for doing PR.
Control It is not always under the control of the person about whom publicity is made. It is under the control of the firm or its agent.
Mode Uses press releases to achieve the purpose. Uses sponsored events to achieve the purpose.
Nature Controlled by the firm. It can control the amount of impact that the event makes. Uses sponsored events to achieve the purpose.
Impact Creates impact by deeds. Period

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