Although academics insist on the existence of alternative forms of public influence in ancient civilizations, it is considered that the establishment of the Publicity Bureau in 1900 marks the founding of the PR profession. Most historians on the other hand, believe that Public Relations was first established in the US by Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays, and then spread internationally. Nevertheless, it can be said that the actual development of this profession began in the second half of the twentieth century, when trade associations, PR news magazines, international PR agencies, and academic principles for the profession began to be established.
In the relatively brief period leading up to today, public relations has been defined in many different ways, the definition often evolving alongside public relations’ changing roles and technological advances. One of the most exploited definitions of Public Relations (PR) is that it represents a process of managing the spread of information between an individual or organization (such as a business, government agency, nonprofit organisation) and its target public. In a word, Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation through influencing the public’s opinion. Namely, the aim of Public Relations is to inform the public, prospective customers, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders and ultimately persuade them to maintain a certain view about the organization, products, or political decisions. Nowadays, the fast pace of social media and technology makes PR management even more and more demanding. Each company and even the governing authorities and political powers must use PR management for communicating their message to the mass population in this democratic society. In moments of social crisis, proper communication through PR is also the genuine remedy for settling down prevailing issues.
In addition, it must be emphasized that PR is a costly, time-consuming and labor intensive process. Due to it being compared with advertising, PR is maybe the least understood of all marketing tools. Nowadays, advertising ‘per se’ is simply not enough for the business development. Namely, PR managers must be well-informed about the competition of the business, its products, its customers and their interests. Whereas, advertising includes mass communication with the customers, in PR the customers are seen as individuals. In his article, M. Newlands (2014) states that the ultimate goal of PR is persuading the important influencers or intermediaries. According to him, the important influencers or intermediaries are usually: industry spokespersons, investors, trend setters, analysts, customers, employees, and even the electronic and print media. Typically, businesses have very little control over these influencers which makes the PR management even more stressful, responsible and difficult. The important influencers must be convinced that the business, its products and services are worthy of their time. If the PR managers succeed in communicating this message through the influential intermediaries, the business will gain credibility due to the credibility of the influential intermediaries themselves. In fact, PR is all about building relationships. The relations with the influencers must be maintained for the sake of the business success. PR managers must be also opportunistically thinking and evaluating “what is news-worthy” regarding the business, with a keen eye. If the business is able to do that, PR will help it look more influential, bigger, and more important than it may otherwise be. Having this in mind, every company, especially the newly emerging ones, should invest in experienced PR if they want to achieve a long-lasting image, reputation and a credible brand.
To conclude, PR managers must take up many roles for achieving ultimate success. Knowledge in journalism, lobbying, psychology, sociology are an indispensable tool for this profession. Developing a successful PR strategy is fundamental in taking businesses to the next level. Every organisation, no matter how large or small, ultimately depends on its reputation for survival and success. In today’s competitive market, reputation can be a company’s biggest asset – the thing that makes the business stand out from the crowd, by giving it a competitive edge. Effective PR management can help manage reputation by communicating and building good relationships with all organisation stakeholders. Sadly, there is never going to be an exact answer regarding the importance of PR management, since every PR strategy is going to be custom-tailored to the individual business. However, it can be firmly confirmed that the PR management is the lifeblood of any business or organisation. It is that vital artery, the brain, the engine, the most important factor of the business development. It is through the excellent PR management that the business can ultimately achieve undeniable reputation, increasing in sales and overall success on the highly competitive market.
By: Ema Jakimovska