What is Public Relations? Public relation can be defined as “the actions of a corporation store, government individual or enterprise in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community employees’ customers, citizens and stakeholders”. (Dictionary .com, (vi.1)). This means that public relation is the process or measure put in to place to influence positive attitude from external customers of an entity or institution. (Eric Yaverbaum, Et al, p 16-18)
The public relation’s aspect in any organization is of particular importance because the department in charge is responsible to lay down mechanisms and infrastructure that enhances exquisite communication channels between the organization and its customers, suppliers, stakeholders and competitors. It is a very important department because it forms the bridge between the company and the outside world. Therefore a very importance management functions in any organization. (Eric Yaverbaum, Et al, p 16-18)
- ii) Research
The starting point of putting up a successful marketing campaign is the research aspect. Research is at the heart of the Public relations campaign and involves a thorough understanding not only of our company but our customers, potential and otherwise. The questions that we need to ask ourselves are how are the products or services unique or special? What products or services are the customers looking for and how will our company meet satisfy those needs? These calls for a thorough SWOT analysis that will enable us analyze our weaknesses and strengths and define the existing opportunities and the threats that do exist within the target market. It is only after carrying such a thorough audit and market research that we can comfortably embark on putting up the campaign.
- ii) Strategic Planning and publicity objective and plan
Strategic planning will involve three key areas
- Who are my Audience?
This will involve the process of identifying or defining my target market in terms of demography, culture, education levels, their values, income levels, and the environment within which they leave. By defining my target audience, it will enable me develop the key message for the campaign. (Baskin, Otis & Arnoff, Craig, 69-88)
What is the Marketing Objectives of the P.R Campaign?
The marketing objective of the campaign should be SMART, which means the objective should be specific, measurable, achievable, result oriented and time bound. (Baskin, Otis & Arnoff, Craig, 69-88)
A P.R campaign usually has two main objectives; first is to support and facilitate the business objectives and secondly is to enable the person in charge of P.R be accountable for the work he/she has done. This means that it indicates whether the P.R practitioner has achieved the objectives that he/she set out to accomplish.
In the objective, a time frame within which such objectives are going to be accomplished should be determined so that it will enable us measure the effectiveness of the specific campaign within a specific period.
- What messages must we communicate that support our marketing objectives?
- The content of the message is very important because this will determine the response that we will get from the audience. The media that should be used should determine message content, how is the message going to be communicated, in written or oral form? Who is our target audience? What should the message achieve, is it to arouse interest, inform adopt an attitude or is it a general sales lead? Sometimes also a P.R campaign is carried out to mitigate the impact of bad publicity or a crisis that befalls a company. Contents of the message that I am going to choose should be suitable to the audience I am targeting. My message should relay message/messages that ensures it positively impacts the audience. (Baskin, Otis & Arnoff, Craig, 69-88)
Message content should also be take in to consideration factors like the age of the audience the demographic aspect of the audience, gender, tradition and culture, level of education and language.
These factors are very important to put in to consideration because the audiences depending on such factors interpret messages differently. (Baskin, Otis & Arnoff, Craig, 69-88)
The message content should be short and precise and easily understood. The content needs to conjure positive memories of the product/service/company, it needs to excite, elate and educate at the same time.
iii) Develop a Public Relation Campaign Schedule
Designing a schedule for the campaign will enable the company create a synergy that will coincide with the activities of the other marketing and sales departments. By creating the synergy the success of the campaign will be enhanced greatly because of the support from other functions of the company. This will also create an image of teamwork, cooperation and unity of purpose. (Eric Yaverbaum, Et al, p 68,318)
Besides this, it will allow the P.R practitioner understand the products and services better which will be the same case for the marketing and sales department personnel being able to understand the operations and functions of the P.R. department.
The Schedule is an important tool also because it will enable us the questions about where, when and who. (Eric Yaverbaum, Et al, p 68,318)
- iv) Develop a plan to attack
This stage is perhaps the most important aspect of the P.R campaign; this is because it is at this stage that our planning and preparations will be brought to light. This can be termed as ‘the moment of truth’. At this stage we need to decide on what vehicles or mediums to use to convey the message to the target audience. The purpose of this stage is to create publicity or making sure we get adequate visibility for our products, our company and owners in the broadcast and print media. (Anderson, Gavin, 416)
There are various factors that determine the medium that should be used. The number one factor that should be put in to consideration is how much the company is willing to spend on the campaign. In most cases advertisement over the electronic media are quite expensive and for their effectiveness they need to be done over a period of time to attract any meaningful attention. This will obviously cost some money. (Anderson, Gavin, 426)
Another important factor that should be considered is the accessibility of the medium to my target audience, how often does the audience access the particular medium and at what time? It would defeat the purpose for example; to target college students during the day on a weekday because they might not get into contact with the message, in such a scenario it would not be advisable to use broadcast or electronic media within that specified time. (Anderson, Gavin, 431)
There are various forms of vehicles that a P.R person can successfully tap into and utilize. They include;
-Press releases: This a form of written statement that is distributed to news media with a purpose of correcting or building and image, avert negative media coverage especially during a crisis, and attract media attention to the activities of the enterprise.
-Letters to the editors: The editor of a publishing media is a very important person because he/she decides what is to be printed or not. By cultivating a good relationship with them will ensure that most of your articles to that particular newsprint are given some level of consideration sometimes. This will also enable the company reach and announce its presence without spending so much money.
-Customer testimony or Success Stories: This is an effective way of getting credibility ratings from your audiences especially if the testimonies come from respectable people within the society. By utilizing this resource the audience curiosity is aroused and would definitely play a major role in how they perceive the company and whether they would want to associate it.
– Sponsoring of events: This is another way that the company can garner some positive ratings from the market. When the company sponsors an event it is likely to boost the image of the company in the public domain. The P.R department should research and select events which would likely attract the targeted audience. It is also at such events that the company is able to interact and develop a relationship with the customers. Other events that fall into this category include charitable events that not only enables the organization participate in a worthwhile cause but allows the company get recognition in the community thus building a strong relationship.
Other forms of communication channels include seminars, brochures, press conferences, product demonstrations and so on.
- v) Measuring Public Relation Campaign Success
This is the last step in the Public relation campaign and indicates how successful or unsuccessful the whole event was. By measuring level of success the company is able to understand where and which adjustments need to be made. The measuring also acts as a precursor for any future campaign, where we can build on the challenges and opportunities gained from the previous exercise. (Eric Yaverbaum, Et al, p 234)
There are various ways of measuring the success of the campaign depending on the medium that has been utilized in the first place. One can measure success by the number of articles that have been generated in the press. Therefore it is important to set targets on the number of articles that need to appear on the print media.
Having this in mind it is important to have all the figures of circulation and audience from the print and electronic media respectively. These figures will be able to give us the rough estimate on the number of people the campaign has reached.
If one is using the web as the tool for campaign then the number of hits would be a very good indicator. One can also analyze the number of sales leads, number of uptakes for publicized resources like help- lines and websites, how many samples have been given out and so on. (Eric Yaverbaum, Et al, p 296)
Many P.R. practitioners combine a number of methods to measure the level of success, therefore one is not limited to any particular method.
The success of any campaign depends on various variables that the organization or firm decides to utilize. However careful research and planning are the major factors that should be put into place because this will determine the level of success of the whole exercise.
Anderson, Gavin “A global look at Public Relations” In: Bill Cantor (Hg.): Experts in action. Inside Public Relations, 2ND Edition, White Plains, NY: Longman, 1989 pp 412-433.
Baskin, Otis & Arnoff, Craig. Public Relations: The Profession and The Practice. 3rd Ed. Brown & Benchmark 1992.
Retrieved on 14th December 2007 from:Dictionary .com, (vi.1)):
Eric Yaverbaum, Robert W. Bly, Ilise Benun, Richard Kirshenba: Public Relations For Dummies, 2nd Edition (May 2006)