When people think about public relations (PR), images of schmoozing with clients and excessive amounts of champagne may come to mind. But professional, properly-executed PR activities involve much more than a free lunch, and have the power to gain enormous exposure for your business, build your brand, attract new clients and customers, as well as improve internal relations between staff and management.
A basic definition of public relations is the establishment and maintenance of a good image for the company, its products and services. If you search the internet, you will find many definitions of PR, but the key is to understand that public relations extends to all aspects of how a company deals with and communicates with its potential and existing audiences, including responsiveness, professionalism and presentation.
Public relations activities generally encompass the avenues you use to communicate with both your external and internal audiences. Your external audiences may include your customers and clients (existing and potential), suppliers, share-holders, external stakeholders, the community, governments or authorities, the media, or the general public. Internal audiences are usually your employees or contractors. It is very common for businesses to concentrate on their external relations and ignore those people closest to them, but attention to your internal programs can mean the difference between highly-informed and motivated staff compared to employees who feel “they never know what is going on”.
Externally-focused public relations activities to help build your business:
- Websites and online activities
- Press releases to media outlets such as online publishers, newspapers, magazines, radio and television
- Professionally-written brochures and product flyers
- Newsletters, e-newsletters, company magazines
- Product launches
- Seminars, workshops, conferences and networking events
- Forums, blogs, and social media avenues like Facebook and Twitter
- Evaluation forms and customer surveys
- Thank you cards or corporate gifts
Internally focused PR activities to strengthen employee relations:
- Employee newsletters, memos, notice boards, emails
- Regular meetings, team training sessions
- Social club activities
- Employee feedback and suggestion boxes
- Staff-only website areas and intranets
- Company-funded dinners, celebrations, award ceremonies and achievements
- Employee of the month
Just like planning your business and your marketing, public relations activities, both internal and external, should be strategic and focused on achieving corporate goals. Be consistent with your messages and activities, know what you are trying to achieve and why. If you aren’t already doing so, take another look at your public relations activities, make an effort to give them the attention they deserve and you will see beneficial results as you improve your business both inside and out.