In the United States, Public Relations dates back to the Revolutionary War. The strategies and tactics used to swell the ranks of patriots dedicated to the Revolutionary cause and staging of the Boston Tea Party are examples of early public relations. President Thomas Jefferson first used the term “public relations” in 1807. In his “Seventh Address to the Congress,” he replaced the words “state of thought” with “public relations.”
Unfortunately, the perception of public relations has not always been positive. In the 1800s, P.T. Barnum became a master publicist by generating article after article for his traveling circus. His “public be damned” philosophy and the use of exploitative ...view middle of the document...
Counseling, Research, Media Relations, Publicity, Employee/Member Relations, Community Relations, Public Affairs, Government Affairs, Issues Management, Financial Relations, Industry Relations, Development/Fund Raising, Minority Relations/Multicultural Affairs, Crisis Management, Special Events and Public Participation and Marketing Communications are all elements of Public Relations according to the PRSA Foundation.
Media Relations deals with communicating the organization’s messages to selected reporters and editors and then, following up to see if the message is reported accurately. Evaluation is an important and often overlooked part of this process. Public Affairs has to deal with developing effective involvement in public policy and helping an organization adapt to public expectations. Also, it is also a term used by military services and some governmental agencies to describe their public relations activities. Issues Management is identifying and addressing issues of public concern in which an organization is, or should be, concerned. Industry Relations is dealing with other firms in the industry of an organization, and with the trade associations related with that organization. Marketing Communications is a combination of activities designed to sell a product, service or idea, including advertising, collateral material, publicity, promotion, packaging, point-of-sale display, trade shows and special events.
An organization of today cannot operate in a vacuum. Many audiences are listening and watching. When something negative happens, there are groups that will use it to attack the organization. The best crisis plan is PREVENTIVE, not reactive. Identifying the possible things that could go wrong that would have a negative impact on the organization is a key step in the crisis management process. Prioritize them as to likelihood and degree of negative impact. Then address each by asking “what are we doing now to prevent this from happening?” A Crisis Plan should include responses to the list of possible problems and who’s responsible, what to say and what NOT to say during a crisis.
Maintaining a favorable relationship with the communities in which the organization has an interest is also crucial. Community Relations is continuing, planned and active participation with and within a community. Before beginning a Public Relations plan, the client must be made aware of how they stand in the eyes of their publics. The best way to do this is to run a Communication Audit. Communication Audits are strategic, research-based processes of evaluating an organization’s communications (and sometimes, marketing) program by using interviews of key audiences, focus groups, surveys, evaluations of an organization’s communications vehicles. The end result is a report that includes the research as well as recommendations on how the organization can improve its communications.
On top of the different major practices of Public Relations, there are also...