Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Public Relations = Media Relations?

This week's edition of The Economist has an important article on the PR industry that everyone in the profession should read. From my perspective, there are some “ouches” in there. I believe that the story reinforces the fact that many folks in our industry have lost sight of the fundamental purpose of public relations, which has led to a skewed perspective by the population at large.

What do I mean? The general notion stated in this article (and that I've heard almost everywhere) is that Public Relations=Media Relations. It starts and stops there. That perception is extremely unfortunate, because PR should/could be so much more. To quote from one of my favorite textbooks Public Relations Practices Fifth Edition by Patrick Jackson, Fellow PRSA and Allen H. Center, Fellow PRSA:

“Although everyone in the organization can affect its relationships with various publics, establishing public relations policies, goals, and activities is clearly a managerial function. Public relations staffers are part of management.”
Did you catch it? PR is not about getting your face/name in the paper. Its not about news releases or press conferences or newlsetters or speeches. It's about managing relationships with key publics. From another part of Jackson and Center's book:
"If all public relations does is maintain the status quo, it is being used ineffectually. In addition, if it changes only the way people feel or think about the organization - and vice versa - it has not realized its full potential. Effective public relations elicits mutually favorable behavior from both the organization and its publics."

That's important stuff to remember. No matter what you may have heard, public relations does not JUST equal media relations. That is mixing up the table saw with the new wood table. A tool with the end product.


Anonymous Bob said...

YES!!!! You need to put this in the next FPRA newsletter. That misperception drives me crazy and I truly believe it limits the effectiveness of so many practitioners.

1:14 PM  

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