There are no legal constraints anywhere in the world to prevent anyone from claiming to be a public relations expert, From time to time some public relations leaders have advocated licensing for their field, but most appear vehement in opposing such intrusion of government into their profession, Professional societies serving the public relations field exist in many countries of the world at both local and national levels, Their preoccupation with defining and enhancing ethical practices reflects their concern with the ambivalent image of the field within the intellectual community and the mass media, which perceive public relations as a manipulative and self-serving occupation available to a client for hire, Film, television drama, the press, and politicians reinforce this stereo type when they dismiss actions or statements by public figures as simply “public relations gestures.” Related to this problem is the growing trend on the part of many organizations to use other names to describe the public relations function: public affairs, media relations, public information, and external relations, to name a few. This practice may reflect··a hostility and suspicion encountered by public ,relations personnel within the organizations they serve, In contrast to a traditional-line department that can point to hard data to demonstrate its contributions to the growth and well-being of the organization, a public relations department almost never generates comparable data. Perhaps for this reason, public relations executives are rarely moved into top operating management positions of large organizations. More often, the public, relations department is used to provide on-the-job sensitivity training to a high-potential executive who might benefit from a limited assignment to a department dealing with the “people problems” of business.
Despite its critics inside and outside the professional, public relations shows every indication of being a growth field in many countries.
Clearly, many companies and institutions feel the need for this expertise in trying to reach audiences that are already saturated with an endless barrage of sophisticated messages from other sources, With the future characterized as an information society,many executives look to public relations for help in charting a reasonable course of action and policy in dealing with that future.
Public Relations and Advertising
The distinction between an advertisement and a PR news Item-or any news item is this: an advertisement is a controlled announcement issued how, when and where its author wishes, provided he pays the price for occupation of the space, time or site, and provided the announcement does not offend voluntary codes or the law. Moreover, an advertiser has the right to be conceited and biassed in his own favour, He is entitled to say Bloggs Baked Beans Are Best’ as boldly, as loudly and as often as he likes, provided he keeps the peace.
But no matter whether a newspaper or magazine be biassed for or against the Government,blood sports, immigration, women’s lib or pacifism, it will spurn any news story from a PR source which is biassed in its own favour.
Public relations-of which advertising is a part if we regard PR as total communication to every public of an organisation will not succeed if it tries to. put words into the editor’s mouth. It must not comment in its own favour, The difference between writing advertisement copy and a news story is that the superlatives are left out of the second, No editor will print a story saying ‘Bloggs Baked Beans Are Best, at least not without a snide a side so the makers claim Bloggs Baked Beans Are Best is a legitimate puff in the legal sense, but it is a meaningless generalization otherwise, But PR news stories must never be puffs, and there is no worse insult to a PR practitioner than to deride him as a ‘puff merchant’. Historically, in the days of coffeehouse newspapers, ‘puffing’ was the art of advertising.
No, the editor will want to publish facts, and they must be facts of interest to his readers, Every story must be judged by its reader Interest In other words will it help to maintain or increase readership PR people do the favours, not editors, The beans are of a certain kind in a particular sauce, They are packed in a certain kind of container, They can hold a particular quantity, It is a food that can be served in a particular quantity, And so on and on These are facts, unembellished, advertising nothing because they influence no action. Facts can merely inform,perhaps arouse curiosity for more facts, but they cannot advocate or persuade, A maintenance manual or a technical data sheet instructs or specifies, It does not sell. Nor does a news release.
Public relations deals in information, and it is nonsense to try to distinguish between ‘information’ PR and ‘promotional’ PR, The point of these lines is to emphasis that advertising can fail if the organisation; product or service is not understood, and so PR can be very important in a marketing operation.
For example, if it is believed that flying is dangerous people will neither book seats on flights nor send freight by air. All the advertising in the world will not convince people otherwise. Nigerian Airways suffered this PR problem when their VC-10 crashed and Nigerians mistrusted their airline until they were eventually convinced of its efficiency. The maggot of misgiving was so prevalent that when the writer flew from Lagos to London by Nigerian Airways Boeing 707 a curious BOAC official in London wanted to know how the home-coming flight had compared with the outgoing one by BOAC VC-10!
There is no doubt that advertising works better when prospects know what you are talking about. This is very true with new things, whether they be a jumbo jet, a garden insecticide, a sewing machine or the pill.
By image we mean a correct impression, Not a concocted one, not an improved or polished one, but a true idea of a policy, product or service.
In this busy complex world most of us have garbled notions about lots of things, This is inevitable, The PR practitioner tries to put this right by creating in our minds an idea that is free of our inhibitions, prejudices, ignorance and misunderstandings, Sometimes the image changes with the times.
Press relations implies good relations with the press, and that means helping the press to publish material which sells papers, Press relations can succeed only when a service is provided for the press, This mean supplying news, pictures, background information time and while it is still news, All communication media-press, radio, television, newsreel–are included under this heading.
The reader may retort with some indignation that it is not his business to help the media make a profit-surely they do that well enough out of his advertising! The point is that if the reader wants his organisation and its activities, policy, personnel, products or services reported, and reported accurately, he must take the trouble to understand the how, what and when of media requirements. When he serves the media first he succeeds in incidentally serving himself, but if he seeks only his own advantage he will fail to serve either himself or the media, This is the elementary criterion of press relations.