What is the role of public relations within an organization’s integrated marketing communications (IMC) plan? Evaluate how the success of a PR campaign can be measured. Support your position. Incorporate concepts and examples from this week’s lecture in your post.
Welcome to the world of public relations! Just what is public relations? Is it advertising? Is it marketing? Is it community activities or crisis management? What do public relations professionals do? Has anyone known a PR professional? Exposure to this individual will reveal a flurry of unending energy and enthusiasm. One of the most important skills of this individual is the ability to develop relationships and contacts with every kind of person. A PR professional can call a CEO and have his or her phone call returned! In addition, a PR professional must possess superior writing skills as well as verbal communication skills. Could this be why Ashford faculty members hold high, rigorous standards for writing?
According to the Public Relations Society of America, public relations professionals communicate with the external publics of an organization. Is this the same as marketing or sales? No! According to Cameron, Wilcox, Reber, and Shin (2008), sales is a function of marketing. Sales is focused on an organization’s customers and selling the products of the organization. The objective of sales is to increase market share and profitability. Ogden & Ogden discuss three differences between public relations and advertising: since the organization does not pay for PR, it cannot control the message; PR may not always be positive; and the third difference is the public tends to believe the information from PR is from a trusted and reliable resource (Ogden & Ogden, 2014).
Public relations is focused on building relationships and implementing communications strategies that will build goodwill for the organization. Public relations is what we see when organizations are working on Habitat for Humanity or the Salvation Army bell ringer or the Toys for Tots campaigns. Public relations’ only focus is to build a positive relationship and create goodwill with its publics. PR never thinks of sales or market share or profitability.
One important function of the public relations professional is to be the liaison between its publics and the organization in times of an emergency, conflict or crisis. Did you know there are four stages of the conflict cycle? Many organizations in our current economic downturn are experiencing layoffs, job cuts, and wage reductions. It is the PR professional’s job to “spin” what is typically viewed as a negative into something positive.
Crisis management is another area of responsibility for a PR professional. A crisis is something that interferes with the normal business operation. Spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico was clearly a crisis. Do you remember who the organization used as their initial spokesperson? British Petroleum (BP) had their CEO, Tony Hayward, in front of the cameras to reassure the public all measures were being implemented to restore the surrounding environment from the damage of the oil spill. Mr. Hayward also told the public their vessel’s leak had been contained when that was not the case. What was the public reaction? Outrage! Vehement outrage and an insistence on containing the oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. As you may have read in the news, Mr. Hayward violated just about every PR rule and was replaced.. For more information, click http://www.deepwaterhorizonsettlements.com/ to see the final outcome and BP’s legal responsibility.
Celebrities whose names have become their brand also hire a PR professional. Think of celebrities such as Tiger Woods or Kobe Bryant, for example, who have had negative publicity. How have their managers handled the crisis and tried to rebuild the positive brand image of the athletes? Has either athlete lost endorsement contracts as a result of negative publicity? Who is a recent celebrity in the news trying to rebuild a brand? The world of PR can be a fascinating glimpse into what is happening behind the scenes. Should a public relations policy be made in the middle of a crisis? Of course not . . . organizations should have protocols and PR releases already on file that can be implemented at a moment’s notice.