by Beth Winston, Demand Media
Almost all large organizations either have a public relations department or outsource their public relations needs to a company.Public relations is seen as a vital part of maintaining the organization's image and of communicating its message to its customers, investors and the general public. A positive perception of a company or non-profit can increase its sales and improve its bottom line. The functions and key tasks of a public relations specialist can be varied.
Public Image Strategy
Public relations strategists will work with top executives in the organization to craft an overview of how the company wants to be perceived, and how it is going to project a positive image. This can involve focusing in on exactly the right message, and then deciding on the broad outlines of a campaign to disseminate that message.
Public relations professionals often arrange events to raise the profile of the organization or lend its brand and name to a charitable event that represents the philosophy of the company. Think of a corporation sponsoring a Special Olympics event, or a hospital organizing a health outreach day in its town.
Talking with the media is a core function of public relations departments. Public relations professionals field questions from reporters, arrange for interviews with key individuals in the organization and write press releases to make the media aware of company events or achievements.
One emerging function of public relations is to maximize an organization's positive use of social media to build its image. Managing a Twitter feed, a Facebook page and a YouTube channel are all vital ways to connect with possible new customers or stakeholders. Monitoring public comment about the organization on the Internet can also give PR professional's early warning of any emerging trends or problems.
Sometimes a company or organization is struck by a disastrous event that ruins its public image. This might be an oil company that has to deal with a high profile spill, or a food company that has a contamination event. Public relations professionals decide how the organization will repair the damage to its image, communicate how it is dealing with the problem and regain control of its message.
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