Public relations is typically defined as a set of actions aimed at creating and maintaining a good image of a person, a company or any organization. The image can be built for the general public (consumers, clients, investors, public institutions, social organizations, etc.) and also for an organization’s own staff (internal communications).
In light of the growing complexity of the communications sector, the work of a PR firm has vastly expanded due to a series of factors, including digitalization, globalization, real-time events and the emergence of social networks.
Channels of communication are no longer the same: on top of newspapers, magazines, radio and TV, social networks and influencers have joined the list of established channels and are gaining more and more ground against traditional media. And this forces organizations and companies to develop their digital strategies using new messaging that is very different from the ones used in traditional communications avenues.
Today hardly any company can abstain from transparency. Starting from what it does, what its income is, to how it operates (e.g. environmental and social impacts). Gone are the times when hiding could be a solution: whoever does not communicate disappears out of the public’s mind or can easily find itself in crisis situations.
Professionals of all kinds now are aiming to “position themselves” to show a more favorable image or to get closer to their audience.
In all of these tasks having a good PR firm to advise is essential: a strategy and a communication plan are now necessary for most business projects and organization initiatives. Mapping stakeholders, identifying issues that need to be handled, prepare messages with the appropriate storytelling that efficiently reach the audience – these tasks are all included in the mandate of a PR firm and what a modern PR firm is ready to do. Managing and understanding the media is still the cornerstone of a good PR firm’s activities. No wonder that according to Wikipedia, about 80% of media content today is generated as a result of actions by public relations specialists and not from own research and findings from the media.
Another outcome of a modern, social media-driven communications sphere is that reputation crisis is on the increase thanks to social networks where users can freely upload content without the necessary fact-checking that traditional media is expected to do. When such crises are more likely to occur and more likely to be amplified by the volunteer news spreaders, the work of a communications professional becomes even more essential to safeguard reputation.
Not managing reputation properly or suffering reputation damage in a crisis situation today may easily dent a company’s stock market value in a matter of hours or minutes.
A PR company is best suited to prepare a crisis plan in advance, set up a crisis team and prepare spokespeople at tense media training sessions and crisis simulations.
When choosing the right communications advisor, the right team and the experience and closeness of a PR firm are key in the selection. Closeness not only with clients, but also with the media through ethical, trustworthy and long-term relationships.
While previously PR teams were often led by former journalists who are well aware of the way traditional media operates, today’s PR professionals are multidisciplinary communications experts who can tackle the different aspects of an integrated communications operation that clients now need. They now come from very different backgrounds, some of them are former sociologists, designers, marketers, political analysts, photographers, film makers and so on. And their tasks vary just as much, ranging from production of digital content to press analysis.
A key channel of communication that survives the digital age are events. Organizations and corporations use a wide variety of events to build personal relationships and share emotional moments with their clients, prospects and other vital stakeholders. Events can simply deliver content and messages but are also suitable to build loyalty and add much-wanted emotions to brands. To serve these varied and complex goals, events cannot be prepared without setting goals, developing attractions, select speakers and invited guests, define the setting and theme and many other vital aspects for which having a PR professional is essential.
With the communications scene getting ever more complex and intricate than before, handling the public image of a company, organization or person is best to be trusted to those who are well trained to navigate this environment: PR firms.