I personally interviewed over 50 graduates for a spot at the School of Communications & Reputation in the last five months. One of the questions I asked some of them was how many alphabets are there in the English language? Invariably the answer was 26. The correct answer is one alphabet with 26 letters in it. That’s a trick question. Well, I wanted to share that as the starting paragraph of this column because I’m sure one out of three PR professionals had that fundamental understanding wrong.
In a chat with my colleague Anubhuti, she shared an interesting infographic about something which had 26 words mentioned from A-Z. She then asked me if there was the ABC of Public Relations. That prompted me to coin this. This is in continuation and to complement the House of PR, about which I wrote a few weeks ago and can be found here.
Public Relations is misunderstood. I have been having an off and on discussion with few people on Twitter to make them better understand this profession. Here are my 26 cents on it.
Authenticity – All Public Relations should begin and end with efforts to reach stakeholders while being authentic. It is a simple word and has strong meaning.
Business purpose – Public Relations is pointless if it is not aligned with business purpose. Very often public relations activities are planned mindlessly which do not have an end goal.
Credibility – Public Relations programmes should be crafted with an intent to create increased credibility for a brand or organisation.
Data – There is plenty of data available, which if carefully tapped can guide the creation of smart Public Relation campaigns. The ability to slice and dice it will be key.
Engagement – Most public relations outreach is built to attain engagement between a brand or organisation and its stakeholders. This is also an objective of a campaign.
Familiarity – While advertising creates awareness, the right public relations helps to create familiarity.
Goodwill – There is no greater currency in the world of business and personal relationships than that of Goodwill. It goes a long way in helping brands grow.
Honesty – If relationships are not carried out with honesty then it is clearly quackery. So, good public relations is not about burying a story but honestly admitting that one messed up and making amends.
Issue Management – Public Relations plays a major role in salvaging difficult situations for brands which are in the realm of issue management. If not managed well, they turn into crisis and disaster.
Juxtaposition of communication and campaign – The foundation of good Public Relations is well thought out campaigns that are used to communicated to audiences with common sense.
Kindness – At the heart of Public Relations is kindness. Without it, the relationship between a brand and public is meaningless.
Leading from the front – Public Relations happens from the top. A chief executive or a leader of government is the chief PRO ably assisted by a communications director. There is no ambiguity.
Media Intelligence – Earned media plays a significant role in good public relations. Given this, the ability to have the right media intelligence is of utmost importance.
Neutrality – Public Relations can fight for a brand in the court of public opinion. But PR can play the role of bringing warring factions together. Being neutral in such situations is paramount.
Openness – Transparency is an important factor in achieving public relations goals. It all starts with a culture of Openness.
Perceptions – Ultimately, public relations programmes are initiated to create right perceptions and correct wrong perceptions.
Quest for blind faith – Every brand dreams of blind faith that customers should have in them, given that the service or product quality is superior.
Reputation is everything – The other name for public relations is reputation management. The past, the present and the future life of a brand collectively makes it what is.
Strategic storytelling – Good public relations is built on good strategy. And good strategy invariably includes great storytelling. Strategic storytelling is the big deal in PR
Trust creation at the core – It all boils down how PR efforts lead to trust creation. A great product that is not trusted because either the after sales service or the people who own it are dubious can be harmful.
Understanding brand management – It is critical to ensure a fair understanding of brand management to be able to devise relevant public relations campaigns.
Visuals – A picture tells a thousand words. Video is the future of communication. No better way to share these through the transformative power of earned and owned media.
Written word – The written word will always remain strong and powerful. Hence, writing skills of a high calibre are crucial to be able to drive great Public Relations
X Factor of Counsel and Connect – The bedrock of Public Relations revolves around people. Therefore, the ability to offer counsel and connect with stakeholders is an aspect that makes or breaks brands.
Yes we can attitude – Worthy Public Relations efforts are all about a Never Say Die or a Yes we can attitude. Because despite all planning sometimes there are unexpected situations.
Zealousness – Being devoted and diligent are what rock stars in Public Relations are made up of. If you are not one already, you can be one today. All it needs effort.
Hope these 900 words help in creating a better understanding of this profession, which is both an art and a science and often misunderstood.