Welcome to AskDD.com, your Internet destination for all questions regarding public relations (PR). We cater to all sorts of interesting individuals:
- People new to the public relations industry
- Experienced practitioners who want to boost their careers
- Managers and owners of agencies who want to increase profits
- Clients who wish to establish agency relationships
- Managers who want to evaluate the costs and benefits of their in-house PR shops
So, let’s start with the basics. PR is meant to enhance the image of individuals and organizations. It focuses on communications between a client and the outside world, exposing clients in the most favorable light to their audiences. This is often done by highlighting news items and items of public interest in connection with the client. Very often, an attempt is made to get third-party communicators to write or speak about the client in a favorable way without resorting to direct payments. The client is directed towards activities such as delivering speeches at conferences and, if applicable, giving interviews and press conferences.
PR specialists have a common set of tools they use to help spread word about their clients, including:
- annual reports
- press releases
- media kits
- social media outlets
The social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook are interesting in that they allow for a dialog instead of one-way communication. This can be rewarding but may have risks attached as well. For instance, a social media forum is open to any kind of comment, pro or con. It is therefore important for PR websites to maintain control over comments and moderate new ones for appropriateness. Traditionalists gravitate towards media kits because the content is totally controlled. Media kits are printed or online material in folder, e-book or loose-leaf form that contains promotional materials, including a press release, biographical and background data, newsletters, photographs, videos (on memory sticks), and other information. Websites with a Press Room section often allow visitors to download media kits after registering with the site. However, a relatively recent trend has shown that press releases and various other social media campaigns can actually increase search rankings – which means a free increase in search engine traffic.
Video news releases are increasingly popular tool for PR. These are media spots that mimic real-life newscasts but are actually produced by a PR company. They are distributed to local TV stations and cable outlets to run as regular program content, usually without attribution. A PR company gets free publicity and the station fills up air time with interesting material for free. This kind of tactic is often used in PR crisis management, in which the client needs to present its side of the story in an often hostile environment. Another approach often used for political clients is called astroturfing, in which people are recruited (and perhaps paid) to represent for or against a particular issue in the hopes of creating a public groundswell. PR firms associated with the Tea Party have been accused of such activity, which nevertheless has been effective in many circumstances.