By Stephen Abbott, principal of Abbott Public Relations
Public Relations remains a mysterious and nebulous concept for many, though it's actually not a mystery at all. It's an art and a science, applied to business and personal situations to address and solve problems that, if they're left to fester, can have a deleterious effect on one's reputation. That, in turn, can lead to reduced respect, reduced influence in one’s profession and, perhaps most crucially, reduced sales of one's products and/or services.
I've used the acronym "Add Up" as an example of how I approach public relations on behalf of clients and illustrate the process APR uses on their behalf.
Analyze the situation. Jumping in without even rudimentary analysis of the situation is like jumping into a lake one has never seen before – foolish, and possibly dangerous. A situation analysis in PR usually includes discussions with all of the relevant publics involved, be they management and owners, employees, customers and other stakeholders involved in some way with an organization, company or community. This helps the PR professional learn all the facts on the ground that could be leading to problems that may be contributing to a decline in reputation.
Determine problems. Being able to name a problem is a first step towards solving it. This is true in one's personal life and of course it's true in business as well. Once the situation is fully analyzed, PR professionals can then research the problems as they truly exist and begin to understand what PR tools and tactics will need to be addressed, which is the next step ...
Diagnose the situation. Doctors use their analysis of a patient's health to determine a diagnosis. In the same way, PR professionals can use the analysis and problems that arose in the early stages of the process to come up with a diagnosis, allowing them to move forward to the next stages.
Understand publics. Without an understanding of the publics who will be affected by the messages to be used to address problems and issues, we can't be as effective as we otherwise would. Some PR practitioners don't get this, and end up "shouting from the rooftops" to get their message out, thus possibly squandering all the previous effort in researching and diagnosing problems. Instead, a clear, targeted message is planned and prepared to go out to clearly identified targets. This is absolutely essential for the success of any PR campaign.
Present the campaign to publics. All of the research, analysis and planning leads up to a campaign that is presented to predetermined publics, i.e., those who will most benefit from and be positively influenced by messages that enhance the client’s reputation and standing in the community, their ability to continue to grow or expand, or other goals that can be measured over time.
This final "implementation phase" utilizes tools and tactics of the PR professional that best meet the needs of the campaign at hand. This expertise, along with the ability to comprehend and work through the previous steps, is why it's best to hire a PR professional to enhance, change and manage your reputation.
Public Relations and the enhancement of reputation it can bring with an effective PR campaign is vitally important to the continued success of your business, organization or personal fulfillment. The accomplishment of business goals is tangibly connected to maintaining good relations with publics your business interacts with daily, as well as creating inroads with those who will become clients and customers in the future.
Contact Abbott Public Relations to learn more about how your reputation can benefit from Public Relations in 2011.