In simple terms, public relations (PR) is the “development of public opinion for a public corporation” and corporate communications (CC) is “the strategic development of corporate message for a public corporation.”
PR and CC are seen as separate disciplines and yet are closely related because PR and CC both are about developing public opinion.
Flynn said that you must differentiate between the designations “public relations” and “corporate communications.”
If you are working for a company, you need to know how to run the business and you need to know how to do what is called “formulating the message.”
But you also need to know the elements that build that message into a “brand story” so that people know and believe the message you are communicating.
This can be different for different industries, but these elements are likely to include strategy, PR tactics, creative concepts, and persuasive thinking.
In the previous articles in this series, we discussed the skills that you need to develop if you want to have success in this field.
These skills include storytelling, media relations, journalism, research, social media skills, data analysis, and online presence.
One skill in developing a compelling story is using compelling anecdotes to tell the story.
Classic examples of effective storytelling include Susan Orlean’s best-selling book, The Orchid Thief, or her articles in The New Yorker.
Orlean was able to tell a compelling story because she is a master at understanding and interpreting human behavior.
She is also a master of the human form because her book is based on the subject of plant theft.
Storytelling requires you to “look at the data and break it down into smaller pieces so you can see the bigger picture.”
The best stories are simple and easy to understand, but they also have a ring of credibility that draws people in.
For example, with your PR, you should focus on the “toll” your clients are paying in terms of credibility and support.
When you try to connect with journalists or key opinion leaders, try to share a compelling story that brings the client’s story to life.
Building relationships with media requires you to understand how the media works.
Journalists tend to be overwhelmed, and they need help developing relationships that are based on trust.
“They’ll get more access and information from you if you help them work through their own communication style,” said Flynn.
Your job is to provide real-time and long-term value to your media contacts. You should be providing value that will help them “get through the media chaos.”
Dealing with the media can be “very emotionally charged.”
With media relations, there are rules that you should follow, but they don’t always work as intended.
For example, if you are promoting a product launch, you may need to do your research to explain why people should care.
Make sure you don’t simply expect the media to care about your product without understanding why they should care.
Once you have prepared your message, you should “be ready to talk to the media at every opportunity.”
Social media has become an important way for public relations professionals to reach a variety of audiences.
Many public relations professionals are discovering the power of social media to engage people in meaningful conversations.
If you are having a problem, you can post a solution on social media.
You can also post testimonials about your services, and you can promote your product.
These kinds of campaigns can build credibility and drive awareness.
Public relations professionals who are building brands have to develop their digital presence.
Before you do, you need to do your research, and you need to spend a few minutes learning how to build your social media presence.
Analytical skills are necessary for public relations.
It’s no longer enough to send a press release and hope your words are heard.
You need to know what’s happening in the social media universe before you decide to post something.
“The old rule was that people who put out bad information were discredited.
Now the message must be backed up with data,” said Jeff Folsky, one of the authors of Wharton’s Public Relations Management course.
Although you don’t want to put out bad information, you also want to offer useful information.
For example, if you are providing input to a meeting, you need to get a clear message to the decision-makers, even if your input is controversial.
Data analysis can also provide the intelligence for an effective social media campaign.
You can create tools that alert you to conversations around your competitors.
One way to do this is to post a quote on Facebook from someone who has left a negative comment, and you can then search for negative comments.
This can help you to find your own negative comments and filter them out before they get posted. It can also help you to determine if the negative comments are accurate and see if they can be defended.
You can also post articles on Facebook that are related to your business, and you can gather data from people who have liked your posts.
You can analyze the data, and you can decide whether it supports your position.