Like sales promotion, public relations can be a vital part of the promotional mix. Public relations is any communication or activity designed to win goodwill or prestige for a company or person. This could include publicity, information about a company or product that appears in the news media and is not directly paid for by the company. Publicity can be good or bad. Reports of children overeating fast food, which can lead to obesity, is an example of negative publicity. Public relations includes many other activities, such as lobbying, event planning, acting as a press agent, managing internal communication, and coordinating crisis management for communications.
Naturally, firms’ public relations departments try to create as much good publicity as possible. They furnish company speakers for business and civic clubs, write speeches for corporate officers, and encourage employees to take active roles in such civic groups as the United Way and the Chamber of Commerce. One of the tools of the public relations department is the press release, a formal announcement of some newsworthy event connected with the company, such as the start of a new program, the introduction of a new product, or the opening of a new plant. Public relations departments may perform any or all of the functions described below.
The Functions of a Public Relations Department
|Public Relations||Function Description|
|Press relations||Placing positive, newsworthy information in the news media to attract attention to a product, a service, or a person associated with the firm or institution|
|Product publicity||Publicizing specific products or services|
|Corporate communications||Creating internal and external messages to promote a positive image of the firm or institution|
|Public affairs||Building and maintaining national or local community relations|
|Lobbying||Influencing legislators and government officials to promote or defeat legislation and regulation|
|Employee and investor relations||Maintaining positive relationships with employees, shareholders, and others in the financial community|
|Crisis management||Responding to unfavorable publicity or a negative event|
Much of sales promotion and publicity is about creating buzz. Buzz marketing (or viral marketing) is intense word-of-mouth marketing. Word-of-mouth is essentially a linear process with information passing from one individual to another, then to another. A marketer has successfully created a buzz when the interactions are so intense that the information moves in a matrix pattern rather than a linear one and everyone is talking about the topic. Leading-edge firms now feel that they get more bang for their buck using buzz marketing than other forms of promotion.
Text adapted from Introduction to Business, OpenStax under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/introduction-business/pages/1-introduction