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Public Relations | What is PR | More Than Just Media Relations

Hajila Komora

Understanding Public Relations

Public Relations (PR) is a great tool to use as part of your business strategy, but in order to harness its power for your good, it will be useful to start at the beginning and get a good understanding of what PR is and what it can do for you.

What is PR?

There are many different definitions and perspectives of PR and what its role to an individual or business is or should be. For purposes of simplification, this article defines Public Relations as:

“The deliberate, planned and focused programme of activities that an individual or organisation undertakes to reach out to relevant individuals or groups for purposes of gaining mutual understanding and cooperation, with the ultimate aim of achieving individual or business objectives.”

Simply put, PR enables you to develop, communicate, entrench and protect your corporate and/or brand image, through the most effective means.

Public Relations More Than Just Media Coverage

As you can tell from the definition, Public Relations is not restricted to getting one’s story published in the news media. Although this is a function of PR, the field is actually much more complex. Unfortunately over the years, the expectation of what PR should deliver to a business has often been reduced to media coverage because of a hunger for publicity needs, as well as the cost effectiveness of getting a story published in the media versus a paid advertising campaign.

A Critical Business Tool

Public Relations is a critical tool that enables one to connect in a relevant way with relevant individuals or groups through a planned and sustained set of initiatives. Relevance is determined by one’s business objectives and the right mode of ‘connection’ – apart from media relations – could be anything from a letter to a face-to-face meeting with an influential group or policy maker; or internal communication to members of staff, a launch event; or an Annual General Meeting; or production of materials such as reports, company profiles, newsletter and even Crisis Communication.

Getting the Foundations Right

Before you embark on any Public Relations campaign, you will need to sit down – alone or with a team – and clearly articulate:

  1. exactly what you want to achieve through your campaign;
  2. why you want to use this means of engagement;
  3. how it links back to your business objectives;
  4. how long you want to run your campaign; and
  5. how much you want to spend on it.

This is called ‘counting the cost’ and is a critical part of determining your way forward.

Also, going through this planning process will enable you to determine whether you have the skills in-house or whether you need to recruit an individual or an agency to support you with the implementation of your campaign.

It is critical that your PR campaign support your business objectives, otherwise you may simply be throwing good hard-earned money away, and you don’t want that.

I would encourage you to see PR as a part of your business strategy and a tool you use to achieve your goals, invite people to support your ‘cause’ and communicate your achievements and even challenges.

Hajila Komora is a Communications Professional with over 13 years of experience in Public Relations and other aspects of Communications working both on the client and agency side. She has a BA (Hons) in Political Science and Literature and an Advanced Diploma in Communication Studies from Chartered Institute of Marketing/Communication Advertising and Marketing Foundation.

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