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Putting the Public (S) Back in PR

When I first got into PR about 20 years ago, I had little experience in the profession. I remember one of the managers in the PR department: people said he was excellent because he was great at schmoozing. Others would talk about being outgoing and friendly as part of PR. People with little understanding about PR always mentioned how "you deal with the public" in PR. (In reality, the customer service department actually worked more with the "general public" than the PR department). Well, suffice to say, these traits are good to have in any profession. In today's business schools, many courses integrate soft skills training as part of their curriculum.

Of course, anyone in the PR field, knows that being a solid PR practitioner goes much deeper than a good handshake and smile. And, in fact, the "public" in public relations (which is often coined "publics" by PR execs and academia) is called the "stakeholder" in business terms. In marketing, these audiences are often referred to as "target audiences."

The key in PR is developing an active plan to communicate and work closely with these publics/stakeholders/target audiences. Many times, this begins by performing what is known as a <strong>"gap analysis." </strong>From this research and analysis, we determine what the publics think about our company or client at this time, and then develop a program to improve the relationship among those constituents (yet another descriptor). (BTW, as a sidebar, members of the press are not a public. Press and media are channels by which a good PR pro works with to reach their intended public. More to come on this topic over the coming weeks). In the meantime, I have included a grid of publics (up above) that are part of PR programs. Some programs will only focus on a few of these ultimately depends on budget, goals and objectives, and a few other intangibles.


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