What does your company consider public relations? While many businesses – especially small to medium size – narrow it down to communicating with media sources, the actual definition is much broader than that. In fact, the Public Relations Society of America defines PR as
“a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
"Their publics" means everyone the organization interacts with. That includes media, but also customers, shareholders, the local community and even employees. Needless to say, public relations has evolved significantly since the spread of the internet, which has brought with it both advantages and challenges.
Public relations, as per the definition above, focuses on building relationships first and foremost. What better way to do so than with the many digital tools now available to organizations? Social media and email have made communication more personalized and direct than ever, easing an organization’s ability to connect with members of the media, the local community and customers.
But that ease of information flow goes both ways. The internet has democratized information. Business communication probably never was a one-way street from an organization to its audience, but the two-way nature of that exchange is now more obvious than ever. The various publics are free to voice their opinions about your organization and thanks to the internet, they will be heard.
If you have an impeccable reputation, that’s great. But as soon as you make a mistake, be it in your product or your customer service, people will notice and share their frustration online. That can significantly harm your business, but also offers you an opportunity to repair the relationship. By monitoring what your publics are saying about your brand, you can step in and address problematic situations before they get out of hand.
In short, the digital age has increased the need for a public relations approach that focuses on the "relationship" aspect of PR. For more information on how you can implement such an approach, contact us today!