Ask a person on the street what PR is and they may not be able to give you an answer. They may liken it to marketing, spin or propaganda. However, Public Relations is none of those things. There are many complicated definitions to be found online or in textbooks but, for me, PR is all about reputation; it’s about building and retaining relationships. PR can help organisations to build credibility, influence and brand awareness.

The valuation of the world’s largest companies has changed drastically over the last 40 years. 80% of a company’s value is now in intangible assets, it’s tied up in goodwill, brand and reputation, just 20% is fixed assets. A good reputation is not earned overnight, it is fragile and can be lost quickly. When a company or organisation has a good reputation people are more likely to try its products, believe its reputation, want to work for it and support it in difficult times.

PR messages have more credibility than advertising or marketing and can have longer lasting impact. However, Public Relations has to be planned. PR done for short-term objectives will produce short-term results. You may receive media coverage after winning an award but it will be soon forgotten. PR should be deliberate, carefully thought out and concerned about where your company is now and where it wants to be.

By Sinead Aherne

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