Every organisation, no matter how large or small, ultimately depends on its reputation for survival and success.
Customers, suppliers, employees, investors, journalists and regulators can have a powerful impact. They all have an opinion about the organisations they come into contact with - whether good or bad, right or wrong. These perceptions will drive their decisions about whether they want to work with, shop with and support these organisations.
In today's competitive market, reputation can be a company's biggest asset – the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd and gives you a competitive edge. Effective PR can help manage reputation by communicating and building good relationships with all organisation stakeholders.
Definition of PR
Public relations is about reputation - the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.
Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.
The following terms are used in the definition of PR:
- 'Organisation' can be a government body, a business, a profession, a public service or a body concerned with health, culture, education - indeed any corporate or voluntary body large or small.
- 'Publics' are audiences that are important to the organisation. They include customers - existing and potential; employees and management; investors; media; government; suppliers; opinion-formers.
- 'Understanding' is a two-way process. To be effective, an organisation needs to listen to the opinions of those with whom it deals and not solely provide information. Issuing a barrage of propaganda is not enough in today's open society.
PR in practice
Public relations takes many forms in different organisations and comes under many titles, including public information, investor relations, public affairs, corporate communication, marketing or customer relations. To add to all the confusion, not all of these titles always relate accurately to public relations, but all of them cover at least part of what public relations is.
At its best, public relations not only tells an organisation's story to its publics, it also helps to shape the organisation and the way it works. Through research, feedback communication and evaluation, the practitioner needs to find out the concerns and expectations of a company's publics and explain them to its management.