What Is Public Relations? PR Functions, Types, & Examples

    PUBLIC RELATIONS

    Public image makes up 63% of the value of most companies today. When there’s a mishap or when the company’s reputation breaks down, it affects company’s entire corporate existence and its affiliates. It takes around 4 to 7 years to overcome a negative reputation. Hence it has become important for a company to invest in good public relations strategies to maintain a beneficial relationship with the public.

    What Is Public Relations?

    Public relations is a strategic communication process companies, individuals, and organizations use to build mutually beneficial relationships with the public.



    A public relations specialist drafts a specialized communication plan and uses media and other direct and indirect mediums to create and maintain a positive brand image and a strong relationship with the target audience.

    Objective Of Public Relations

    The main objective of public relations is to maintain a positive reputation of the brand and maintain a strategic relationship with the public, prospective customers, partners, investors, employees and other stakeholders which leads to a positive image of the brand and makes it seem honest, successful, important, and relevant.

    Functions Of Public Relations

    Public relations is different from advertising. Public relations agencies don’t buy ads, they don’t write stories for reporters, and they don’t focus on attractive paid promotions. They rather promote the brand by using editorial content appearing on magazines, newspapers, news channels, websites, blogs, and TV programs.


    Using earned or free media for promotion has its own benefits as information on these mediums aren’t bought. It has a third party validation and hence isn’t viewed with scepticism by the public.

    The functions of public relations manager and public relations agencies include:

    1. Anticipating, analysing, and interpreting the public opinion and attitudes of the public towards the brand and drafting strategies which use free or earned media to influence them.
    2. Drafting strategies to support brand’s every campaign and new move through editorial content.
    3. Writing and distributing press releases.
    4. Speech writing.
    5. Planning and executing special public outreach and media relations events.
    6. Writing content for the web (internal and external websites).
    7. Developing a crisis public relations strategy.
    8. Handling the social media presence of the brand and responding to public reviews on social media websites.
    9. Counselling the employees of the organization with regard to policies, course of action, organization’s responsibility and their responsibility.
    10. Dealing with government and legislative agencies on behalf of the organization.
    11. Dealing with public groups and other organizations with regard to social and other policies of the organization and legislations of the government.
    12. Handling investor relations.

    Types of public relations

    According to the functions of the public relations department/agencies, public relations can be divided into 7 types. These are:

    Media Relations: Establishing a good relationship with the media organizations and acting as their content source.

    Investor Relations: Handling investors events, releasing financial reports and regulatory filings, and handling investors, analysts and media queries and complaints.



    Government Relations: Representing the brand to the government with regard to fulfilment of policies like corporate social responsibility, fair competition, consumer protection, employee protection, etc.

    Community Relations: Handling the social aspect of the brand and establishing a positive reputation in the social niche like environment protection, education, etc.

    Internal Relations: Counselling the employees of the organization with regard to policies, course of action, organization’s responsibility and their responsibility. Cooperating with them during special product launches and events.

    Customer Relations: Handling relationships with the target market and lead consumers. Conducting market research to know more about interests, attitudes, and priorities of the customers and crafting strategies to influence the same using earned media.

    Marketing Communications: Supporting marketing efforts relating to product launch, special campaigns, brand awareness, image, and positioning.

    Public Relations Examples

    PR stunts or strategies range from donating to an affected community to running a brand activation stunt in a mall. Some of the examples of successful public relations campaigns are:

    Google’s Fight Ebola Campaign

    The outbreak of Ebola virus in 2014 was critical as it was spread among many countries and took many lives. Google, to help the people in need and to build up a positive brand image, started a donation campaign where it pledged to give $2 for every $1 donated to the cause through its website.

    The public relations strategy attracted the media attention and resulted to be a huge success as Google raised $7.5 million.

    Public Relations

    Paramount Pictures The Ring Publicity Stunt

    Paramount pictures to promote its new horror franchise, The Ring, and to get more user attention, took a step forward and planned a publicity stunt where the protagonist haunted the people in a real life scenario.

    The film’s most iconic scene of Samara crawling out of the TV set was recreated in a TV showroom where the protagonist came crawling out of the hidden compartment behind a TV screen and scared people.

    The stunt went viral and the video received over 10 million views on Facebook.

    Just Eat & A Sick Customer

    Just Eat is an online food ordering application which lets users add comments to their orders to inform the delivery person about the right address or to leave the order to the neighbour etc.

    One unwell customer tried her luck to see if she could get the delivery person to stop en-route and get her some medicines. She wrote:

    Will you please stop in the Spar on the way and get me some Benylin cold and flu tablets and I’ll give you the money. Only ordering food so I can get the tablets. I’m sick xx.

    The delivery person delivered both and this public relations stunt went viral over the media.

    Public Relations

    Facebook Paris Support Profile Pictures

    In response to tragic shooting in Paris in 2015 where at least 129 people died, Facebook added a France flag filter which the users could apply to their profile pictures to support France. Millions of people applied this filter and appreciated this effort by Facebook.

    Public Relations

    Advantages Of Public Relations

    Credibility: Public trusts the message coming from a trusted third party more than the advertised content.

    Reach: A good public relations strategy can attract many news outlets, exposing the content to a large audience.

    Cost effectiveness: Public relations is a cost effective technique to reach large audience as compared to paid promotion.

    Disadvantages Of Public Relations

    No Direct Control: Unlike paid media, there isn’t a direct control over the content distributed through the earned media. This is the biggest risk of investing in public relations.

    Hard To Measure Success: It is really hard to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of a PR campaign.

    No Guaranteed Results: Publishing of a press release isn’t guaranteed as the brand doesn’t pay for it. The media outlet publishes it only if it feels that it’ll attract it’s target audience.

    Importance Of Public Relations

    With over 63% of the value of most companies dependent on their public image, public relations has become a very important topic today for numerous reasons:

    Builds Up The Brand Image

    The brand image gets a boost when the target customers get to know about it through a third party media outlet. A good public relations strategy help the brand builds up its image in a way it wants to.

    It’s Opportunistic

    Public relations strategies makes the brand capitalize on the opportunities. Google was in the news for donating to Ebola. Facebook promoted the LGBTQ rights. Coca-Cola did a PR stunt against obesity.

    These opportunities even attract many influencers to share the brand story to their followers.

    Promote Brand Values

    PR is used to send out positive messages which are in line with the brand’s value and its image. This builds up the brand’s reputation.


    Strengthen Community Relations

    PR strategies are used to convey that the brand is as much part of the society as the target audience. This builds up a strong relationship of the brand with the public.

    Go On, Tell Us What You Think!

    Did we miss something? Come on! Tell us what you think about our article on public relations in the comments section.



    About the author

    Aashish Pahwa

    A marketer, a dreamer, a traveler and a philomath. I prefer stargazing to spending nights in clubs.

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