By Ismael D. Tabije
Public relations is the art and science of managing communications between an organization and its key publics to build, manage and sustain its positive image. It comprises of the activities and policies used to create public interest in a product, person, idea, institution, or business establishment.
By its attributes, it is committed to promoting particular interests to the public in the most favorable light. Thus, its goal is to create, through the organization of news and advertising, an advantageous image for its client, be it a business corporation, cultural institution, or private or public individual. In doing so, numerous research techniques and communications media are utilized.
Precursors to public relations are found in publicists who specialized in promoting circuses, theatrical performances and other public spectacles. In the United States, where public relations has its origins, many early PR practices were developed in support of the expansive power of the railroads. Later, PR practitioners were –and often are -- recruited from the ranks of journalists. Some journalists, concerned with ethics, criticize former colleagues for using their inside understanding of news media to help clients receive favorable media coverage.
Despite many journalists' discomfort with the field of public relations, well-paid PR positions remain a popular choice for reporters and editors forced into a career change by the instability of the print and electronic media industry.
Public relations practitioners deliver information through the media to target audiences or, with the advent of the Internet, directly to specific stakeholder groups. Because similar opinions tend to be shared by a group of people rather than an entire society, research may be conducted to determine a range of things such as target audiences, appeal, as well as strategies for coordinated message presentation. PR may target different audiences with different messages to achieve an overall goal. Public Relations sets out to effect widespread opinion and behavior changes.
Modern public relations uses a variety of techniques including opinion polling and focus groups to evaluate public opinion, combined with a variety of high-tech techniques for distributing information on behalf of their clients, including satellite feeds, the Internet, broadcast faxes, and database-driven phone banks to recruit supporters for a client's cause.
Although public relations professionals are stereotypically seen as corporate servants, the reality is that almost any organization that has a stake in how it is portrayed in the public arena employs at least one PR staff. Large organizations may even have dedicated communications departments. Government agencies, trade associations, and other nonprofit organizations commonly carry out PR activities.
Public relations should be seen as a management function in any organization. An effective communication, or public relations plan for an organization is developed to communicate to an audience (whether internal or external publics) in such a way as the message coincides with organizational goals and seeks to benefit mutual interests, whenever possible.
Copyright 2007 Ismael D. Tabije
About the Author
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