Public Relations: a personal reflection
I studied Public Relations as part of my Masters degree and absolutely loved it. It was the combination of strategic planning and tactical output that attracted me most to the profession; the ability to set goals and find creative ways to achieve them.
One of the key things I learnt is the importance of research in Public Relations and the emphasis of accountability on PR professionals. I’m now more aware and appreciative of the need to justify where and why money is spent on PR activities and the importance of evaluating a PR campaign’s success.
Considerable progress has been made in evaluating PR activities and informing clients and employers about exactly what has been accomplished. Systematic research has become more commonplace, mainly as a result of the need for public relations professionals to prove their value to the “bottom line”. The current ecomonic climate has put an even greater strain on PR (and advertising) budgets resulting in any spend being scrutinised to the nth degree.
One area of growing importance to Public Relations professionals is that of relationship management and how important it is to measure the nature and quality of relationships to establish and monitor the value of public relations. It’s important to evaluate PR strategies and tactics to determine which are most effective in cultivatng relationships. In PR today, social, mediated, cyber as well as interpersonal relationships are key to effective public relations.
The internet has revolutionalised communication and opened up new opportunities for PR professionals to communicate with their target market, most of them most cost effective than traditional media. I read an article by the editor of PR Influences in 2007 www.prinfluences.com.au which stated that Roy Morgan research showed that most daily newspapers in Australia posted readership declines whilst the latest figures for key news websites had posted double-digit growth in terms of ‘unique browers’. The number of people using the websites of both News Ltd and Fairfax newspapers jumped by at least 20 percent. No doubt that figure has since risen further.
In today’s media-rich information age, and as PR professionals implement more meaningful measurement techniques, PR is in a stronger position than ever to make a valuable contribution to a company’s bottom line and deliver a true return on investment.