Public relations is a staff function within s company which is concerned with the purposeful and ongoing attempt to establish a mutual understanding with all the stakeholders (both internal and external) of the organization.
Staff functions are differentiated from line functions. Staff functions are supportive functions. Examples of staff functions are public relations and human resources. Such functions directly support line functions.
Line functions are the main functions of the organization and are concerned with directly achieving the objectives of an organization. Examples of line function is sales. Line functions directly affect the operating profit and the bottom line. Whereas, staff functions are support which is necessary for line functions to function satisfactorily.
What we need to understand now is where does public relations fit within an organization.
Public relations is one of the elements of the promotional mix. Other elements are advertising, sponsorships, direct marketing, sales promotion and personal selling. Promotional mix is used to ensure success of the integrated communication of the organization.
Public relations practitioners usually undertake public relations campaigns. Public relations campaigns are a set of deliberate and planned activities directed at targeting various stakeholders within a specified period with the purpose of achieving certain objectives.
Objectives of public relations can be to create awareness, to educate, to attempt to alter attitude or behavior, to persuade or just to inform.
Public relations can use various tools to achieve its objective. Such tools include sponsorships, publicity, special events, media relations and promotions.
There are various types of public relations campaigns that organizations can use. They can be categorized broadly into: issue oriented, politically oriented or product/service oriented. They can alternatively can be categorized into campaigns which have as its goals to create awareness, campaigns which attempt to inform public (public and stakeholders are synonymous), campaigns that have as its goal to be a reminder of something that the public already believes in, campaigns that attempt to alter attitude and, lastly, campaigns which attempt to modify behavior.
Public relations uses different media to achieve its objectives. Such media includes internal media (targeting internal stakeholders), mass media (targeting external stakeholders), private media and folk media (both targeting external stakeholders).