Advantages and disadvantages of public relations (PR)
This article aims to examine some of the advantages and disadvantages of public relations (PR). It also explores issues such as definitions, types, and techniques of public relations. PR is an art of convincing others. It is a method to capture the consideration and attention of the publics without paying for it!
Definitions of public relations (PR)
According to the Institute of Public Relations UK (2003) cited in Lancaster and Reynolds (2004) public relations is the deliberate, planned, and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its public. It is a promotional and free technique that is used to gain media coverage (BBC, 2021).
What does public mean in the context of PR? A public is a group of people united by a common interest that is specific to them or their situation. Such groups are often known as stakeholders (BPP Learning Media, 2010, p.362).
The role of public relations (PR)
The role of public relations is to identify the relevant publics for an organisation and influence them by changing their hostile positions (if any), reinforcing the positive opinions, and transforming the neutral opinions into positive ones.
Advantages of public relations (PR)
Public relations activities guarantee a good flow of information between an organization and its public. It goes a great distance in sustaining the image of a company in the eyes of its external, connected, and internal stakeholders.
Public relations activities contribute to the way in which an organization is perceived by influencing the media and sustaining relationships with the stakeholders.
As PR communications are not perceived in the same light as advertising, they tend to have more credibility. For example, an article in newspapers or magazines discussing the effectiveness of a product may be perceived as more credible than an advert on those platforms for that product.
Cost effectiveness is another advantage. For instance, an organisation may have to hire ad firms and spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns which are not feasible for small companies. On the other hand, the cost of most of the PR techniques is very low.
Reaching out to more publics has now become easier due to digital technologies. Social media is now part of the public relations in most nations, although its standing varies from nation to nation. The motivation behind digital PR campaigns is to generate an internet presence through relevant content campaigns, which might help build the authority and trust of an organisation.
Disadvantages of public relations (PR)
Public relations activities may turn out be firing back because of mismanagement and a lack of co-ordination with the marketing department. When the marketing and the PR department of a company operate independently, there is always a risk of getting stuck in inconsistency in communication.
Lack of control is another disadvantage. Companies can control their ad campaigns; however, they cannot control how they are painted by the media, when their message will be processed, and where it will be placed.
Not all organisations have the skills to run sophisticated PR campaigns. Particularly, digital public relations may require different and special skills which may then require organisations to hire specialist employees resulting in incurring more costs.
Examples/techniques of public relations (PR)
Some of the best examples/techniques of PR are press release, promotional videos, exhibition, celebrity endorsement, newsletters and magazines, employee conference, company brochure, annual reports, and shareholders meeting. Most of the organisations around the world conduct some kind of PR campaigns now and then.
Types of public relations (PR)
There are many, yet seven types of public relations many PR experts often talk about. There are as follows:
Building and maintaining a good relationship with the media organisations. An organisation’s PR activities may focus on securing free media coverage by reaching out to journalists, bloggers, vloggers, influencers, editors, and other relevant publics.
Reaching out to the local community to listen to their concerns, and feedback regarding issues such as the impact of the organisations on the local community, employment opportunity, environmental protection etc.
Business expansion often depends on the investors. Therefore, maintaining relationship and regularly updating them with important and relevant information is very important.
Organisations must adhere to the rules and regulations set by the government. The issues concerned are but not limited to CSR, employee welfare, and consumer practices.
Taking care of the employees and listening to them. Communicating with them regularly and advising them on their roles and responsibilities is very important for any organisations. Employees also need to know how their employers are progressing and if there are any challenges that may have impact upon them.
No customers, no business. Therefore, understanding their needs and desires and updating them with what is being done to address them, plays a big role in the success of a business.
PR Campaigns often support the marketing campaigns of an organisation by creating brand awareness and building a positive image.
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Last update: 29 June 2021
BBC (2021) Promotion, available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zj4c7nb/revision/4 (accessed 29 June 2021)
BPP Learning Media (2010) Marketing Principles, BPP Learning Media, London
Lancaster, G. Reynolds, P. (2004) Marketing, 1st edition, New York: Palgrave Macmillan
Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.