Public Relations


For people who do not work in Public Relations (PR) there is major uncertainty and misperception about what PR is all about and what it is not. While a capable PR practitioner promotes good, clear and simple communication, there currently is confusion about concepts in PR.

There have been derogatory comments – from journalists to broadcasters, that PR people are spin-doctors, insincere and superficial social butterflies. The implied PR people’s concern for sound-bites, photo opportunities, celebrities, lavish launches and long lunches – give an impression that PR is frivolous, shallow and unnecessary. A major misperception indeed.

Public Relations, in my opinion, is a fundamental component in the 21st century ‘intelligent’ organisation’s corporate and business strategy. In fact, I subscribe to the concept that PR, or Communication if you will, is the Fifth Factor of Production – after Land, Labour, Capital & Entrepreneurship. How good is a ‘great’ product if no one knows or is aware of it?

There are important objectives driving any PR programme – to generate/increase awareness, to enhance reputation, to improve trust in the brand, to create a point of difference, to educate, to reassure, to manage issues, etc. When the going gets tough, in the event of a major issue or worse still a crisis, the PR function is central to the organisation’s survival and recovery – and this extends even to governments.

Gone are the days when the CEO’s P.A “looked after PR”. We are in the Spring of the 21st century and the PR function now should be reporting to senior management or to marketing, or sometimes to both, particularly when products or services are involved.

It is heartening, for me at least, to see an experienced PR practitioner being part of the senior management team and Board decisions are informed and influenced by the advice that the PR practitioner gives. Similarly, PR consultancies should be given their dues and are used more effectively, to give objective advice and to provide additional resources.

One final note before I say Adieu: Evaluation of PR activities or programmes should be given its rightful place – at the onset of PR planning and is no longer an afterthought. We must always remember that ‘what cannot be measured, cannot be managed’.

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