Where Does Public Relations Fit in Your Company?

PR’s 9 Corporate Roles

Public relations or PR for short has changed a lot lately. While PR may be described in many different ways, everyone agrees that public relations is the corporate function that crafts an organization’s message(s) to its diverse publics. Among public relations many audiences are customers, prospects, investors, employees, suppliers, distributors, media/journalists, social media networks, government regulators, legislators and the public.

To complicate their role, PR professionals are in charge of providing a variety of communications services that an organization may either fill internally or outsource to contractors. Because these communications involve content creation, they can have a big impact on a business’s search optimization efforts.

PR’s 9 corporate roles

Depending on what your organization needs and expects, PR can fulfill a wide range of corporate roles. Here are public relations’ nine main corporate roles:

  1. Publicity. Often considered “free media” versus paid advertising, this is the traditional public relations’ function involving attracting attention, mainly of the press and talk show hosts, to raise the profile of celebrities, businesses and brands. It also involves getting clients placed due to their star quality. The goal is to get mentioned or promoted by the media entity or host.
  2. Media relations. This area of PR focuses on building relationships with journalists so that they call you when they’re working on a story related to your industry or business.  Additionally, it’s important to have conduits to get your organization’s position out in case of an important development or crisis.
  3. Crisis management. This public relations specialty helps a company craft its message when there’s a high profile issue with a company, brand or competitor. This involves mitigating the negative press and public opinion surrounding what is usually bad news. Given that social media provides the platforms for individuals to magnify their message, it’s important to have brand monitoring in place and to respond to the 1-2% of customers that need a company answer. Further, in today’s social media landscape, this can translate to creating additional targeted content to reduce the crisis’ amplification.
  4. Investor relations. This communications specialization relates to the information public companies must report regularly to their investors, the financial community, regulators and the government. With the expansion of online communications tools, the PR function has grown to include the presentation of this information to a broader audience through webinars, presentations, podcasts and videocasts.
  5. Social media marketing. Since many social media tools are by nature communications platforms, public relations professionals often take the lead for implementing a firm’s social media strategy across a variety of networks and formats to ensure that the company’s messaging and branding remain consistent. As part of this role, public relations contributes to a firm’s search optimization efforts.
  6. Branding. As the bearer of the organization’s name or alternatively as part of the marketing department, PR may be the brand ambassador to ensure that a firm’s brand message is presented consistently across media, both offline and online. This is particularly true where external presentations are involved.
  7. External communications. Depending on how the public relations function is defined, it may be responsible for the organization’s external communications across the breadth of its target audiences including prospects, customers, government, trade associations, suppliers, distributors and the public.
  8. Event marketing. Public relations professionals can be involved in events to help expand a business or brand’s reputation including activities like press tours of the company’s facilities and fundraisers for not-for-profits. Also this may involve coordinating public presentations by management at special events and conferences as a speaker and/or member of a panel to raise the firm’s visibility.
  9. Internal communications. Larger companies have internal communications departments dedicated to engaging with their own employees which may also be part of the PR organization. This can include responsibility for an intranet and/or wiki as well as other methods of contact such as newsletters, particularly those related to HR.

There are many ways in which the modern corporation can deploy its PR capabilities. How does your business organize its public relations function? Which roles does it cover? Do they all contribute to their bottom line? Does it outsource any of these functions?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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