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Flashcards in Chapter 6 Deck (34):
1

Define Public Relations

According to the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA), public relations is the management, through communication, of perceptions and strategic relationships between an organisation and its internal and external stakeholders.

Public relations entails everything that is undertaken to improve mutual understanding between an organisation and all those with whom it comes into contact. The above process refers to both internal and external stakeholders.

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According to the model of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA), there are seven stages in the planning of a public relations programme.

These include the following:

6.2.1 Situation analysis
6.2.2 Setting objectives
6.2.3 Establishing target groups
6.2.4 Developing the message
6.2.5 Planning the activities
6.2.6 Establishing a budget
6.2.7 Review and evaluation

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6.2.1 Situation analysis

Many academics and business authors have maintained that the first solution to solving any problem is to understand the problem. What is the root cause of the problem? How much does it affect the organisation? Which stakeholders are mostly affected? Why is it a concern for the company?

Once the problem has been identified, the public relations manager proceeds to evaluate the problem in the context of the organisation’s internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats.

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Problems could be categorised into three general types:

Overcoming a negative perception of an organisation. For example, dealing with con- cerns on the part of the public that the organisation is environmentally unfriendly.

Conducting a specific one-off project. For example, launching a new product.

Expanding a continuing programme. For example, implementing an HIV/AIDS aware-
ness campaign

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6.2.2 Setting objectives

In the light of the identified problem and in the context of the organisation’s internal strengths and weakness, what does the public relations manager want to achieve?
For the organisation to move from its current state to the desired destination, what should it do?
What types of resources will be needed to change the status quo?
Do these resources exist inside or outside the organisation?
Are the objectives aimed at creating awareness, enhancing the image, educating or just informing target audiences?

Answers to these questions will have to be converted into achievable objectives.

Examples of public relations objectives are creating interest, stimulating demand, and building product awareness.

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6.2.3 Establishing target groups

The target groups/audiences should be clearly defined and written down. According to Cutlip, Center and Broom (1994:361),

the following factors are used alone or in combination to define target groups:

Geographic.
Demographics.
Psychographics.
Covert power.
Position.
Reputation.
Membership.
Role in the decision making process.

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Geographic.

Natural or political boundaries provide important information for selecting media and allocating programme resources according to population density.

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Demographics.

Gender, income, age, marital status and education are important
factors that should be used to determine the people involved.

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Psychographics.

These refer to psychological and lifestyle characteristics used to
segment people.

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Covert power.

This entails influential people in communities who exert some form of power over people in communities.

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Position.

People are identified as important based on the positions that they occupy.

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Reputation.

Individuals are identified as ‘knowledgeable’ or ‘influential’ based on the
perceptions of others.
These groups of individuals are referred to as ‘opinion leaders’
or ‘influencers’.

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Role in the decision making process.

This refers to being able to identify decision-
makers and the role they play in influencing decisions.

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6.2.4 Developing the message

For the message to be understood, it must relate to the concerns of the target group.

There may be a need to develop a message for more than one target group and the message must be clear, unambiguous and simple.

The process of designing the message must be guided by the objective of communicating.

Once more the message must complement and not compete with other elements of the promotion mix and must maintain the principles of the integrated communication and marketing mix.

For example, informing the public about a new toll road system. This could be done by using methods that reach as many people as possible, such as the media of newspapers and television.

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6.2.5 Planning the activities

Planning entails deliberate actions to do things in a predetermined way. This includes among others the following:

intentional operational steps to be taken in implementation of the plan financing

the time sequence in which events must unfold
specific tasks that should be followed

At the heart of the plan there should be a careful analysis of where, when and how the target market can be reached.

There could be unforeseen circumstances and the public relations manager must have a contingency plan and techniques in place to deal with any misfortunes or undesirable situations.

There also needs to be clarity on how much money is needed to implement the plan.

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6.2.6 Establishing a budget

There should be a balance between under provision and over provision of financial resources in implementing a public relations campaign/programme.

The total cost of implementing the campaign must be determined, and funds must be used for the purpose for which they were budgeted. It is highly unacceptable to realise only at the end of the campaign that there has been overspending.

Finally, it is essential to have some form of mechanism in place to link cost to performance and outcomes. If no-one is able to evaluate whether there has been a good return on the investment made, this could just turn out to be a waste of resources.

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6.2.7 Review and evaluation

Finally, the public relations manager must evaluate the plan against the set objectives and make necessary adjustments where necessary. There are various ways to evaluate the success of a public relations campaign:

General feedback.
Press publicity.
Broadcast returns.
Sales results.
Opinion polls.
Subjective internal meetings.
Complaints and criticisms.

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General feedback.

All formal and informal feedback from internal and external target audiences must be recorded. This could include word of mouth, telephonic feedback and mail feedback.

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Press publicity.

All newspaper and magazine articles related to the campaign must be collected and evaluated.

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Broadcast returns.

The frequency and reach factors, especially in the case of radio and television adverts, must be evaluated, for example the number of listeners listening to a particular radio station, the time of day they listen and the period of exposure.

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Sales results.

Although it is generally erroneous to attribute an increase/decrease in sales to a particular ad campaign, PR campaigns can have an impact on sales.

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Opinion polls.

Some form of research could be undertaken using scientific research methodology to have some kind of feedback on the effectiveness of the campaign.

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Subjective internal meetings.

Generic e-mails and informal interviews could be conducted internally to evaluate the staff’s views on the campaign.

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Complaints and criticisms.

The company could invite complaints, criticisms and compliments on the company website, intranet and in internal newsletters to measure the effectiveness of the campaign.

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3. Stakeholders

A stake is an interest or share in an undertaking. In the business context, a stakeholder is therefore an individual or a group that has one or more types of stakes in a business.

Just as stakeholders may be affected by the actions, decisions, policies or practices of the business organisation, so too may these stakeholders have an effect on the organisation’s actions, decisions, policies or practices.

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There are two basic types of stakeholders, namely internal and external stakeholders.

Internal stakeholders include shareholders, employees and members of management (internal customers). These are the people who have a formal relationship with
the business/organisation.

External stakeholders refer to all other groups or individuals who exist outside the organisation and who may influence and be influenced by the actions of the organisation. They include, among others, customers, suppliers, trade unions, interest groups and government.

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There are many ways in which public relations practitioners can continue to manage relationships between the organisation’s internal, external, current and future stakeholders.

These include the following:

Media relations.
Publications.
Corporate advertising.
Promotional activities.
Sponsorships.

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Media relations.

These include all forms of interaction between the organisation and the media, such as press releases, articles, broadcast interviews, photographs and background material.

The most important thing is to have the target audience in mind when planning your message and ensure that the message is understandable, uncomplicated, free of jargon and simple to grasp.

Think of a company sending out a press release to inform the public about the current state of a particular situation.

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Publications.

Depending on objectives and the target audience, both internal and external publications could be used to communicate.

Examples of publications are employee publications, manuals and booklets, newsletters, notice boards, posters and exhibits. These publications must be planned properly, and must complement
and not compete with other forms of communication in the company.

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Corporate advertising.

This is a promotional strategy to interest consumers in the product and the brand name, and create a positive reputation for the business.

The company could use various types of corporate advertising and the most common are adverts aimed at building the image of the brand.

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Promotional activities.

These could include, inter alia, organising a conference, holding an exhibition and planning a customer day.

Most promotional activities require a great deal of time and planning, and should be done with the special help of professionals such as special events organisers.

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Sponsorships.

As part of being good corporate citizens, many organisations spend a lot of money on sponsorships.
This could be sponsoring sporting activities, arts and cultural events and even social issues such as HIV/AIDS. :

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Lobbying.

Lobbying is used mainly during elections.

Lobbyists would normally try to persuade certain individuals to vote for a certain political leader. It is also a very common practice in sports.

This is a specialised part of public relations whereby public relations practitioners identify key decision makers in government, develop special relationships with them, and influence policy as much as possible.

(For example, political organisations advertising their strong points and why it would be advantageous to vote for them.)

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Networking.

People of different backgrounds exchange information, share experiences, exchange business cards for social, religious or professional purposes (for example at a company golf day).