The House of Public Relations

A lot of my time in the past couple of years has been spent in educating a variety of people on the basic fundamentals of Public Relations. I have also used these crystallised insights in the academic sphere to demystify a simple, yet complicated concept called Public Relations. I have created what I call the House of Public Relations.

Let us for a moment imagine a two-storey house built with a solid foundation and important aspects on each of the floors. To my mind the Foundation of Public Relations is made up of Communication, Campaigns and Common Sense. All good public relations are built on a brilliant base of at least two of these elements.

The ground floor of this house is where all the daily grind takes place. The living room, the dining area, the kitchen and the study. The kitchen here is all about Content. PR professionals are constantly ideating, developing, creating, distributing and evaluating content. Content could be in the form of text, images, sound and events. This content is then shared. The dining area is where the sharing happens with various stakeholders. This sharing happens by Connecting. Connect is a crucial aspect of Public Relations. The four primary constituents with home connections are made are – Employees, Customers, Investors or Shareholders and Communities. Sharing with employees happens through internal communications and with communities through corporate responsibility. Crisis discussions is what happens in the Living Room where families discuss the risks they face, the potential issues that they may have to confront, how these can become a full-blown crisis and sometimes lead to disaster – which are four stages of a crisis. Crisis Management starts with mitigating risk, planning to deal with one and repairing damage that comes despite the very best of planning. The study room is where Counsel takes place. Most often PR professionals are advising the face of the organisation on behaviour and presentation of the individual and of the brand. All this is done to offer the world at large a solid product or service which is key to all the Four Cs mentioned above.

As we take the stairs to the first floor where the three bedrooms are located. The master bedroom which is Strategy. The children’s room which is about Storytelling. These are two significant factors of good public relations. Every successful Public Relations case has these two at the core. The guest bedroom is a collection of three Is – Impact, Innovation and Influence. These are deployed as and when the need arises just as a guest bedroom is put to use as and when there are visitors. Impact takes place through a solid push to the story and strategy. Innovation happens through evolved thinking and unusual ideas and Influence is the power to use people of certain stature to socialise the brand.

Continue imagining this house as you climb to the second floor. This is made up of five balconies which are open to sky and comprise of Goodwill, Reputation, Engagement, Affinity and Trust. Each of them is important in their own way and some brands need one or more of these depending on various circumstances. One or more of these elements can also be used to measure a brand’s success. Goodwill is the sum total of various things a brand does to remain favourable to an audience long after the brand has gone out of sight. Reputation is about the beliefs one holds based on personal experiences or what they have heard, seen or read. Engagement is the feeling that a brand leaves you with based on online and offline interactions. Affinity is the likeability a brand creates in order to remain the first preference. And Trust is what most brands aspire for in order to reach the ultimate point in a brand-customer relationship. This is Blind Faith and this is the light hanging outside the house that keeps it away from danger. Religions attain that, some political leaders achieve that and very few product and service brands get that status. This in simple terms is the House of Public Relations.

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Amith Prabhu
Amith Prabhu is the Founder of the PRomise Foundation which organises PRAXIS, India’s annual summit of reputation management professionals.

He is also the Founding Dean of the School of Communications & Reputation (SCoRe).

He can be reached at @amithpr on twitter.

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