What is Public Relations?

Public relations done well connects a business with its audiences, from investors to clients, from media to neighbors, from employees to competitors. It is not limited to just publicity. Many practitioners, and those hiring, mistakenly believe PR means “press release”. Publicity is only one aspect of public relations. Developing any kind of relationship takes effort and determining both the correct audience and the needs of the business. Relationship with a business as an inanimate object is impossible. People do business with people; public relations personifies a business for clients to relate to.

Public relations takes planning. A small business needs to define the goal (think big-not just sales).  Once that is decided, determine the audience and figure out where they communicate: social media, public forums, word of mouth,  television, etc. At this stage it’s critical to develop the message that reaches the audience.  Then choose the public relations strategies to use those channels. Step by step planning helps with implementation. don’t forget a budget. Outline the timeline (how often you can commit to doing the pr/marketing, when you have a business to run not to mention the product/service you provide). Wrap it up with evaluation to keep testing the market or the tools and see if they are working.

Once the plan is in place, consistency in the delivery will be important. Can’t do PR occasionally.

The elements of public relations for starters include employee relations, customer relations, media relations, donor/investor relations–developing a connection and understanding with the key audiences. Employee and customer relations can help generate future sales. Donor/investor/customer relations keeps clients–easier to keep them than to find new ones. Media relations and social media efforts build your expertise. Publicity is getting coverage of your business or  or an event you are hosting in front of the media that reaches your audience. Government relations may be needed if you are impacting neighborhoods or need laws adjusted because of impacts to your customers or your business. Many businesses are now dealing with multicultural customers, another relationship. Events can be both a strategy or just a tactic for media.

Look at your time allotment, your communications skills and your target audience and come up with a plan. This helps you determine what you as a business owner can do on your own or what you need to outsource. My PR Coach can teach you how to do your own.


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