Public Relations may very well be an aspect of your job without you even knowing it. No matter whether your official job title ends up being that of marketing director, corporate communications facilitator, or content writer (that’s me, as an intern!), public relations is most likely involved in the work that you’re doing. Most establishments have PR professionals, and if they don’t they should be looking, hint hint.
Public Relations can oftentimes be a misunderstood profession. As a social science without “hard facts”, outsiders sometimes struggle with seeing the value a PR professional can bring. In actuality, public relations is a vital part of any business. It’s important that you have the know-how, especially if public relations happens to be an aspect of your job.
The Public Relations Formula
The acronym R.P.I.E. has been driven into my brain at least a hundred times (and I still have two semesters of college to go). I know it well, and not just because it happens to include one of my all-time favorite desserts.
R.P.I.E. stands for Research, Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation — the four technical steps to the public relations process.
Public relations in one of its most basic definitions, is about creating and maintaining positive relationships between a company/business and its clients. It’s a PR professionals’ job to keep a company’s image positive and its public satisfied. PR professionals must display superior communication skills both verbally and through other various platforms.
The four step system mentioned above is utilized when carrying out PR strategies in order to improve someone’s image, manage a crisis, or continue customer welfare. R.P.I.E. is not merely a sequential list of steps, but rather, a system that is continuously referred to throughout the entire process. Let’s break it down step by step.
A public relations plan starts out with the PR professional objectively looking at the business and finding the areas in which it needs to improve. Our research involves us asking a lot of questions.
Do people know about your business?
Does your business have a good reputation (online and offline)?
In what ways do you feel you need to improve?
The amount of questions can be overwhelming, but it’s a major part of getting to the root of the problem. After taking these questions into consideration and locals, you will probably be able to form an idea of what work needs to be done.
At this point, the PR professional will begin organizing information from the initial research step and begin to create a plan in order to solve a problem(s) that the business is facing. This could involve a multitude of tactics, including, but not limited to:
- A social media overhaul
- Throwing an event (awareness, philanthropy, fundraiser)
- Various writing projects (press releases, blogs, whatever style will best align with your brand)
- A renovation (to the company’s atmosphere, branding, products, etc.)
Many of these go hand in hand, for example, a press release would probably be written with the details of an event that is being hosted. Get cracking and get creative. Also — be sure to set goals to keep on task.
Here’s where the real fun (and difficulty… mostly difficulty though) ensues. This is when the public relations practitioner has their hard work displayed. It’s really scary, but the most important step of the process. This is where we take visible action in order to implement change.
In this final step of the public relations process, where we look back on what we have previously accomplished and evaluate how it all went. In a cyclical fashion, we arrive once more at an abundance of questions.
Did your business accomplish all that it wanted to from the implementation step?
Were you able to meet any/all of the goals you set for the business?
If improvement is necessary, how can this be maintained?
Small Businesses Should Be Big On PR
Maintaining positive relationships can be tough, especially when there are so many other things to think about within an establishment. Not all businesses can be good at looking good (at least on their own), so it’s important for them to have PR professionals for the job. From writing press releases, planning events, to managing social media, PR proficiency will take your company the distance.
No matter the size of your business, from an independent start-up to a well-established corporation, having a public relations support system is something every company should consider. The benefits that can amass from a successful public relations campaign for a small business are monumental. Companies already have so much they need to focus on, and shouldn’t have to manage their public image all on their own.
A small business can have this job performed by someone in-house, but there are many benefits to hiring an agency for this type of job.
Who To Put Your Faith In
An agency has professionals that can pretty much do it all. From SEO specialists (people who understand the ways to increase your website’s rank) to graphic designers, content writers, and social media strategists, an external agency offers a wide array of benefits. Hiring an agency will make running the rest of your business much simpler — they will work with you to make sure your business is getting all that it can from the skilled individuals under the firm’s umbrella.