Why Use Public Relations?
by James Woewoda
James Woewoda is the founder and president of Woewoda Communications
In my last post I defined the meaning of public relations.
Today, I am going to answer the question "why use public relations?" Within this context, it should be stressed that my focus will only concern itself with a company whose motive is to make a profit in a capitalist system.
As a PR professional, I have identified six reasons why a company would decide to use public relations as part of their marketing mix.
1) To provide general information: A well planned PR campaign that includes a variety of mediums such as newspapers, radio, television, blogs, guest speaking, press conferences etc.. allows a company the opportunity to provide educational and informative information to a wide audience.
2) To build an awareness: PR helps build an awareness of a company and their product or service. When a client is featured in a trade magazine or interviewed in an early morning (drive) radio talk show, they are able to provide very detailed information that helps their audience gain a better understanding of the company and their product or service.
3) To build community goodwill: When a company includes special initiatives or plans a special event that is community orientated; it helps develop goodwill in the community. For example, when a company decides to create a scholarship fund for a local high school, or plans a fund raising walk for child abuse victims, the community responds by acknowledging that the company is "giving something back" to the community - an act of kindness that does not go unnoticed.
4) To stimulate demand: A well thought out PR campaign that includes a nice mix of PR tools, ie magazine interviews, blogging, guest speaking, television interviews etc.. will help stimulate demand for a company's product or service. For example, when a company introduces a new product at a trade show, they might invite a trade publication journalist to their booth to do a feature story on their new product. By "scooping" the rest of the participants at the trade show, the company may find that once the article is printed their phone will soon be ringing off the hook for orders.
5) To enhance the status of their brand: A public relations campaign that focuses on the positive, and which uses a variety of mediums and platforms which are educational and informative will help create a positive image of the company in the eyes of the public. An example is when professional sports teams have their players participate in charity events to help raise money and awareness for the cause in question.
6) Crisis management: An effective PR campaign can help counter the negative fallout of an event that tarnishes a company's image. By calling a news conference for example, a company can explain their position or quickly answer questions posed by those who are most affected by the negative event.
By being honest and forthright, the company can not only limit the damage, but in many cases their honest response to a catastrophic event can add credibility to their corporate image. For example, in an airline disaster when upper management takes the initiative, and holds immediate and regular press conferences to keep the public and immediate family members informed on the search and rescue efforts, may in the end, help limit the damage to the company's reputation.
Next weeks article: "Who Uses Public Relations?"