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Public Relations Techniques

    Standard Public Relations Techniques

    Public relations encompasses a variety of marketing tactics that all share a common focus: managing public perceptions. The most common PR tools are listed in the following table and discussed below.

    Public Relations Technique Role and Description Examples
    Media Relations Generate positive news coverage about the organization, its products, services, people, and activities Press release, press kit, and interview leading to a news article about a new product launch; press conference
    Influencer/Analyst Relations Maintain strong, beneficial relationships with individuals who are thought leaders for a market or segment Product review published by a renowned blogger; company profile by an industry analyst; celebrity endorsement
    Publications and Thought Leadership Provide information about the organization, showcase its expertise and competitive advantages Organization’s annual report; newsletters; white papers focused on research and development; video case study about a successful customer
    Events Engage with a community to present information and an interactive “live” experience with a product, service, organization or brand User conference; presentation of a keynote address; day-of-community-service event
    Sponsorships Raise the profile of an organization by affiliating it with specific causes or activities Co-sponsoring an industry conference; sponsoring a sports team; sponsoring a race to benefit a charity
    Award Programs Generate recognition for excellence within the organization and/or among customers Winning an industry “product of the year” award; nominating customer for an outstanding achievement award
    Crisis Management Manage perceptions and contain concerns in the face of an emergency situation Oversee customer communication during a service outage or a product recall; execute action plan associated with an environmental disaster

    Media relations is the first thing that comes to mind when many people think of PR: public announcements about company news, talking to reporters, and articles about new developments at a company. But media relations is the tip of the iceberg. For many industries and product categories, there are influential bloggers and analysts writing about products and the industry. PR plays an important role in identifying and building relationships with these individuals. Offering periodic “company update” briefings, newsletters, or email updates helps keep these individuals informed about your organization, so you are top of mind.

    The people responsible for PR are also involved in developing and distributing general information about an organization. This information may be in the form of an annual report, a “state of the company” briefing call, video pieces about the company or its customers, and other publications that convey the company’s identity, vision, and goals. “Thought leadership” publications assert the company’s expertise and position of leading thought, practice, or innovation in the field. These publications should always be mindful of the same messaging employed for other marketing activities to ensure that everything seems consistent and well aligned.

    While some consider event marketing a marketing communication method of its own, others categorize it with public relations as we have done here. Events, such as industry conferences or user group meetings, offer opportunities to present the company’s value proposition, products, and services to current and prospective customers. Themed events, such as a community service day or a healthy lifestyle day, raise awareness about causes or issues with with the organization wants to be affiliated in the minds of its employees, customers, and other stakeholder groups. A well-designed and well-produced event also offers opportunities for an organization to provide memorable interaction and experiences with target audiences. An executive leader can offer a visionary speech to generate excitement about a company and the value it provides—now or in the future. Events can help cement brand loyalty by not only informing customers but also forging emotional connections and goodwill.

    Sponsorships go hand-in-hand with events, as organizations affiliate themselves with events and organizations by signing on to co-sponsor something available to the community. Sponsorships cover the gamut: charitable events, athletes, sports teams, stadiums, trade shows and conferences, contests, scholarships, lectures, concerts, and so forth. Marketers should select sponsorships carefully to make sure that they are affiliating with activities and causes that are well managed and strategically aligned with the public image they are trying to cultivate.

    One person handing an award to another.

    Innovation Award, sponsored by IBM and the United Nations Development Program, being given to given to Kenya’s Information and Communication Technology Authority

    Award programs are another common PR tool. Organizations can participate in established award programs managed by trade groups and media, or they can create award programs that target their customer community. Awards provide opportunities for public recognition of great work by employees and customers. They can also help organizations identify great targets for case studies and public announcements to draw attention to how customers are benefitting from an organization’s products and services.

    Crisis management is an important PR toolset to have on hand whenever it may be needed. Few companies choose this as a promotional technique if other options are available. But when crises emerge, as inevitably they do, PR provides structure and discipline to help company leaders navigate the crisis with communications and actions that address the needs of all stakeholders. Messaging, communication, listening, and relationship building all come to the fore. When handled effectively, these incidents may help an organization emerge from the crisis stronger and more resilient than it was before. This is the power of good PR.

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