Why Is Public Relations a Necessity?Date - September 8, 2019
by Jennifer R. Farmer
It’s a two-letter word that appears in countless articles and even more conversations. We have all heard of “public relations” but few of us understand what it entails.
Put simply, PR is the intentional crafting of a favorable public image. It is the outreach strategy that supports and protects a company’s or brand’s positive perception with the public. PR entails media outreach, goodwill events and gestures, and strategic communications.
To understand how it works, think of a megaphone. PR is like a megaphone ensuring that your message is heard and heard by as many people as possible. A former client-colleague, Mollie Katz, described it this way, “Public relations is like a power strip. Programs and groups plug into it in order to get power to continue leading mission-driven work.”
It is like a musical amplifier, ensuring that people from all corners can clearly hear what is being said and who is doing the talking. See this infographic for a visual representation of public relations.
PR is imperative because it ensures that a message is heard in the way the messengers intend. In his book “Words that Work,” Frank Luntz talks about the importance of understanding how others interpret our words. PR thinks about these considerations and makes decisions on who talks, what they say and to whom they say it to bolster a leader’s public position and perception.
The challenge is that in a 24-hour news cycle, there is no shortage of issues competing for attention. It is often impossible to cut through without PR. Being good at what you do is simply not enough. You have to be good and intentional. Leaders must not only compete with their competitors for securing space on radio, TV or in print media, they must also compete with influencers on a myriad of social media platforms – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest – or at least the platform that their audience pays attention to.
One of the challenges with PR is that because many people don’t appreciate it, many don’t prioritize it. The primary focus for a lot of people is service delivery. For all the myriad issues in the world today, there are groups and leaders who make it their life’s work to resolve those issues. But our mission has to be working to resolve societal issues and telling people we’re doing so.
When a leader or group focuses on service delivery without assembling a PR team, it leaves the brand and message to the whims of competitors and overworked journalists. It is basically leaving its most important asset to chance, and it doesn’t take a genius to know that’s a bad idea. Some people think the media will eventually catch on, but we have to help them catch on.
If you are not devising a proactive strategy to publicize your work, you will undoubtedly be drowned out by competing interests. Part of service delivery is indeed cutting through the clutter and the noise of media and social media. The noise is our daily lives and the things that we care about. The noise is the distractions that take our focus. The noise is the myriad stories competing for attention, the numerous issues begging for coverage and the multitude of leaders who all believe their work is unique and newsworthy.
If you are still wondering why PR is necessary, think of it like currency in a bank. When you focus on it, it grows. And we all know about the importance of having money in the bank. Even if you don’t need it today, you most certainly will need to make withdrawals in the future.
Jennifer R. Farmer is an author, lecturer and strategic communicator for organizations, executives and celebrities committed to social good. She is the author of “Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide.” Follow her on IG/Twitter using @pr_whisperer.