Thursday, July 19, 2012

Building Credibility through Public Relations

A discussion on the Indian-PR forum gave an idea to this article of the credibility of public relations in increasing sales.So thought of discussing some other issues too.
Public Relations plays a very important role in informing and educating publics on issues that is important to them and the organisation. For example, if you were to represent your institution for seeking future candidates for jobs or admissions to a course in your organisation, wouldn't you do all the homework required before you could even start promoting it? Yes, it totally depends on what kind of awareness you are trying to create. For example, if it is only about driving down a point "Do not drink and drive" then it actually has to be put the way it is, as it is plain awareness.But campaigns are not always that simple. I am sure you will agree that even the do-not-drink and drive campaign is not longer simple considering the number of accidents increasing in our Mumbai city.

Sometimes it requires you to tell the publics on information on new products or stores, but again here education is still not the focus.It is a step beyond creating awareness. It could be informing them about a launch of a store or a product which could be useful to them.

There are other times when the publics sometimes need to be educated on subjects like new mobile phones or softwares releases in the market or new devices which would require extensive manuals with detailed instructions. It is said that Windows XP the operating software was sold merely on around 20,000 articles written on it across the globe.

 The more difficult and usually very time consuming campaigns are ones where one requires to help the publics change their beliefs on a certain issue and thus leading to attitude and later behaviour change. All health campaigns are like that. Campaigns leading to stopping of social evils like dowry, children education, female foeticide etc are some more examples. But this usually are the tough ones and time-consuming. We can put our drink and drive ones into this range now.

Public Relations plays an important role at every stage of the campaign. Organizations have to create messages and keep persistently following up the efforts to understand if their campaigns were effective or not and if not why not. The profession of public relations adds credibility to any other promotion effort as it takes pains to educate and inform people on issues and products. So public relations does play a role in increasing sales and reaching the masses through patient and consistent persuasion.

A lot of hard work goes behind creating a message and finally converting that into a sale or a change in the mindset for other issues. Sometimes it is diffcult to exactly measure if the conversion was due to public relations efforts as there are other promotion tools also avaliable which could be working simultaneously. Sometimes plain "Word of Mouth" plays a very important role too either for good or for bad. As a PR practitioner one has to understand the product or the issue at hand to decide the course of action.

A lot of research work ideally goes behind a subject being presented for it to appear credible. Public relations practitioners is like that backstage worker who cannot be seen but is working tirelessly away to make sure the client and the works are being well-represented to the publics, constantly adding credibility to the efforts. As a PR practitioner one has to decide if only PR efforts will work or there has to be a blend of other tools. But understanding the strengths and limitation of public relations efforts is a must.

For more knowledge on developing campaigns, this might help you to begin with, "Theoretical models of Public Relations Campaigns" by James K.VanLeuven and Types of PR campaigns means of raising sales by Dr. Flaviu Calin Rus.

Your views?