For those outside the industry, the definition and function of public relations can be difficult to understand. According to the Public Relations Society of America, public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics. So what does this mean, exactly? Simply speaking, public relations exists to communicate messages that build reputation for brands, while helping the brand and a target audience deepen their mutual understanding of one another.
PRs work to influence target audiences with a brand’s core values and latest news, uplifting the reputation and public image of the brand by leveraging earned, owned and paid channels. But as PR practitioners, how should we help the brand to achieve its desired results? Once we define our public, how do we go about relating to them? Here are the four Rs to keep in mind to ensure success:
Ambitious messaging that is trying to be everything to everyone ends up speaking to no one. Use research and insights to understand your audience segments and, through channel management, you can tailor messaging that speaks authentically and mindfully to specific interests or issues. If you wish to engage with the family segment, for example, create content around their interests – recommending family-friendly restaurants or hotels instead of the hottest bars around town. The key here is to be clear about who you are targeting, so that you will be able to create and amplify the relevant content through the appropriate channels.
In our ever-changing world, it is truly important for a brand to create unique talking points for differentiation. This is not always easy, but it is the value of public relations. From brand positioning, missions, values, offerings, ways of presentation and so on, PRs should deliver forward-thinking advice and craft the messages and tactics together with a brand to ensure they stay on top of the market.
The digital era has altered the game tremendously for both the journalism and PR industries, with one of the most obvious changes being the dramatic shortening of the news cycle. For brands, this means that any negative feedback requires prompt action to address the issue, but sometimes this can present an opportunity for PR practitioners to turn crisis into applause. At the beginning of this year, Cathay Pacific accidentally sold first and business-class tickets at economy-class prices thanks to a computer error, and, after just 24 hours, the airline decided to honour the purchases with a Tweet signed off with #lessonlearnt.
Relationships are the fundamental element of public relations. Therefore, we should always build and maintain positive relationships with our close partners including media, influencers, photographers, designers, production teams and so on. Be a reliable partner to those you work with, so whenever we need to collaborate on behalf of brands we’re working with, life is made much easier through well-established mutual trust.