5 Enduring Functions of Public Relations In Nigeria

Public relations is one of the most lucrative branches of communication and media studies discipline. In fact, it is among the most sought after professions in today’s highly competitive tech-driven world where brand building and customer relationship largely determine who controls a particular business territory. This is a highly challenging profession which drives individuals to expand their horizon to the fullest of their potential, while also providing the platform for ambitious young communication practitioners to impact the society. To have a successful career in PR takes more than just a good degree. You gain a sense of fulfilment on the job as you get affiliated with renowned brands and personalities.

Public relations is relevant in any business or for any individual to grow as it helps in creating a name and identity for the brand and it builds a relationship between a brand and its customers and the media. You just need to understand what the role of a PR professional is so that you won’t struggle to decipher what your job specification is when consulted by any establishment.

The basic role of a PR professional is to build and enhance a specific brand’s image, reach out to the relevant media to convey the brand’s philosophy and maintain a good relationship between that brand and its numerous publics. The PR professional also creates unique strategies with which to place a company of specific brand on a higher pedestal. For you to be successful in this field, you need to be an extensive individual with skills in communication, research to writing and creativity. One other very essential task of PR is to create strong brand positioning in the market for your client. This gives your client a competitive advantage. However, there are five key functions of PR which you should easily remember. These functions are summarized by Frank Strong of Sword and Script Media, in very simple and easy to understand language.

 1. Audience identification

This should be the beginning of any effective communication program. This is all-inclusive research that factors in the wants, needs and behavioral triggers of a population segment. The imperative here is to focus on what the audience needs—not what a business or brand wants to say.

2. Clearly Defined Positioning

Whether a business has defined its positioning or not, every brand has one. Three department stores provide a clear way to view positioning—think about the differences between Walmart, Target and Nordstrom. Each occupies a unique position in the market, and, more importantly, our expectation of the experience we will have in those stores.

It is more challenging in B2B marketing, but characteristics like speed, scale, reliability and customer experience all contribute. B2B marketing refers to Business to Business marketing which is the marketing of products to businesses or other organizations to be used in production of goods, general business operations (such as office supplies), or for resale to other consumers, such as a wholesaler selling to a retailer. This is different from B2C marketing, also called Business to Customer marketing, which entails marketing practices, strategies and tactics used in pushing products or services to customers.

Positioning is what you are and what people believe you are. In technology, the classic comparison of Salesforce to Oracle is an iconic example. Salesforce positioned itself as the antidote to software as it brought predictable pricing and short-circuited premise software implementations.

3. Messaging

Messaging is the intersection of audience identification and positioning. Frank Strong says PR needs messages to do one important thing: Resonate. The path to finding messages that resonate begins with answering these questions:

  • What do people think about your business or brand today?
  • What do you want people to think?
  • What messages can you send that facilitate how you want to be perceived?

4. Message Distribution

This deals with how to get messages across to target audience. Message distribution is medium of conveyance – it’s how you get a message to an identified audience. It used to be we had three choices:

  • Rent a medium with advertising
  • Earn coverage in a medium by being useful
  • Earn word-of-mouth with guerrilla marketing

Today, we have both more options within those traditional choices and more options in general. Technology has lowered the costs of publishing and this means that PR people can build our own medium. That is the essence of content marketing, and why PR and content marketing work best when working together.

5. Feedback and measurement

After the first four steps of these PR fundamentals, evaluation is required.

Traditionally, it was challenging to link a message to an outcome, but that has changed considerably as information became digitalized. Now we can measure such factors as web traffic acquisition and behavior with accuracy.

That feedback loop happens at far greater speeds today—you can put a message in the market and understand pretty quickly if it’s resonating. Indeed, for many in PR, that’s a big part of the reason why two feels like the new five.

Finally!

These are summarized versions of basic PR tasks packaged in ways to easily remember them. Every PR practitioner should understand how to execute these tasks for clients in any industry.

(Facts first posted on Sword and Script)

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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