Before any of my CAP classes, I thought of public relations as the process of people as individuals, businesses, and organizations interacting with one another. I thought that the focus of public relations was primarily one of managing how the public (hence public relations) views an individual, business or organization. Thus, trying to make that person or company appear in the best way possible to the public eye. All so a likable image of the corporation or individual is promoted to the public, resulting in that individual’s or company’s product sales or whatever goal they are trying to accomplish (that requires the public’s attention) to progress as well.
Before learning anything about public relations, I imagined someone working in the field of PR as the person who would clean up the mess of a client. Especially after they said something on live television or on social media that would tarnish their public image. As a more realistic example, imagine if a company or a famous public figure such as McDonald’s or Britney Spears were to “accidently” tweet an offensive remark or publish an ad that has sexist undertones. Previously, I thought that fixing this type of issue was the main job of a person working in public relations. I conceptualized that the PR staff would try to control the situation and make an effort to manage the views of the public in the best way possible. I imagined that the PR staff would be the ones that crafted the heartfelt apology to Britney’s fans. One that addresses how sorry Britney is that her comment offended people. Or a statement from McDonald’s about their ad that attempts to explain how it wasn’t intending to portray a sexist situation. Now that I have taken CAP 105 last semester, I have seen how much more Public relations involves than just cleaning up the mistakes of a client. But, I still don’t understand much about Public Relations outside of the social media aspect.
In my mind, Public Relations is special because it involves creating content around a very specialized topic. I think it’s an interesting field because it involves thinking creatively and outside of the box so that you can accomplish a specific goal that a client wants you to solve. To me, I like the idea of having some type of restraints (the client’s goal and how they want the job to be done) but also allowing room for creativity. I also enjoy the idea that in PR you can do so many different things for clients that are all within the same field of PR.
I believe Public relations is a useful construct because maintaining a public image is something that not everyone is good at, but it is something that is necessary for a company to be very successful. If all businesses and individuals had to do it themselves it would be very difficult for some of them. That’s one of the reasons I personally think public relations is so useful and important. An individual can hire a PR company and they can take the task of maintaining a liked public image off of that new client’s plate. Of course, the client will provide its’ input but doing that is much less work than managing an image. Another reason I think PR is useful is because it can make connections for companies and individuals all over the world that simply just wouldn’t happen without having a social media presence on the internet. A company or individuals outreach can grow so large just because of the way PR companies can portray their clients, and now there’s almost unlimited access to millions of people with the use of the internet.
After doing some research about Public relations, I found that there are many articles that explain why Public Relations has value (PRSA) and why companies need it (Lautenslager 2003) and also that at the moment Public Relations is a field that is currently evolving (Savic 2016). Reading these articles made me realize that I am not the only one that doesn’t understand exactly what PR is and that there are many jobs of PR that overlap into many different fields. Many people are confused about the difference between marketing, public relations and advertising and what specifically PR does to help progress a company (Newlands 2014). These articles helped me understand the difference and to see more of the things that Public Relations encompasses beyond just the social media aspects. The articles also allowed me to understand that PR builds a lot more credibility with customers and involves much more personal and in-depth communication with both customers and influencers than advertising.
Newlands, Murray (2014, Dec 3) Why Public Relations is Important for your Business Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/murray-newlands/why-public-relations-is-important-for-your-business.html
PRSA Communicating Public Relations’ Value Retrieved from https://www.prsa.org/intelligence/businesscase/communicating_public_relations_value#.WH1BhbGZNp8
Lautenslager, Al (2003, Nov 17) Why You Need PR Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/65672
Savic, I. (2016). Mediatization of companies as a factor of their communication power and the new role of public relations. Public Relations Review, 42(4), 607-615. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2016.03.017