Last week, the CIPR published their annual ‘State of the Profession’ report exploring the trends, issues and challenges facing the public relations industry.
Public relations (PR) can often have a bad reputation. For those that are aware of its existence, and interestingly enough, there are plenty of people that wear a confused expression when I tell them what I do, they often view public relations negatively. Even in the world of journalism, it’s commonly referred to as ‘The Dark Side’. But, in truth, there is a lot of good taking place thanks to public relations. And it is a force to be reckoned with.
Public relations is at the heart of everything your business does. It gets into every nook and cranny and can impact every aspect of your business. How? Quite simply, if you strip public relations back to its simplest form, it’s all about communication. It is how you communicate with others, both internally and externally, and how others communicate with you.
And what does communication achieve? It builds your reputation. And in the digital age we live in, where your reputation can have a global reach no matter the size of your organisation, the stakes have never been higher. Reputation is paramount to success. To summarise the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) definition of public relations, it is ‘the discipline that looks after reputation. It is the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you’. As you can see, communication is so important, yet often undervalued in relation to the bigger picture of business growth and success.
What are the goals and aspirations of your business? What are you striving for? Public relations can assist in reaching your goals through utilising a variety of PR activities. Tactical approaches to everything from internal communication, corporate communication and crisis management to digital engagement, copywriting and community relations and a whole host of other PR activities can push you closer to where you want your business to be.
With a strategic approach to communication, public relations can be wholly beneficial for your business. From improving your company image and reputation, to increasing your media profile, and promoting your products and services. It can also improve relationships between everyone your business deals with: its employees, investors, key stakeholders, consumers, target audiences and so on.
PR bridges the gaps between the different disciplines of your organisation and should be embedded into every aspect of the organisational structure of your business.
So, where do you start? In reality, you’re incorporating elements of PR into your business already without necessarily realising it. Every piece of communication your organisation does is public relations. So, the next step is to start looking at your communication as part of your business’s overall strategy. Evaluate your existing communications, and the feedback you’ve received, and use this knowledge to influence the strategy and tactics you implement for future communications.
The simplest approach to incorporating public relations into any aspect of your business follows four steps: research, planning, implementation and evaluation. Start asking questions: what are your aims and objectives? Who do you want to talk to and what do you want to say? How should you say it? Did it work?
As you can see, communication is such an important, yet often undervalued, aspect of business. Especially in relation to the bigger picture of business growth and success. It’s worthwhile remembering that communication is two-way. Building relationships takes time and engaging in dialogue with everyone that influences and is influenced by your business is key to reaching your goals. There is so much more to public relations than press releases and publicity. Public relations is a real powerhouse for your business.
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