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Chapter 2: PR functions
Public relations roles and functions
• A PR practitioner serves as an intermediary
between the organisation he/she represents and
all the organisation’s stakeholders/publics.
• PR involves research on all stakeholders:
receiving information from them, advising the
management of their attitudes and responses,
helping to set policies and constantly evaluating
the effectiveness of all PR programs.
Marketing and PR (Kotler & William, 1978)

- Serve and satisfy customer needs at a profit

- To produce goodwill in the company’s various
publics s that these publics do not interfere in
the firm’s profit making ability
Marketing and PR
• “marketing is the management function that identifies
human needs and wants, offers products and services
to satisfy those demands, and causes transactions that
deliver products and services in exchange for
something of value to the provider.” (Broom, 2009, p.
• “Public relations is the management function that
establishes and maintains mutually beneficial
relationships between an organisation and the publics
on whom its success or failure depends.”
• Effective PR often contribute to the marketing effort by
maintaining a hospitable social and political
Public Relations’ Publics
• Publics or stakeholders are “any group of people
who are tied together, however loosely, by some
common bond of interest or concern and who have
consequences for an organisation” (Newsom,
2013, p. 88).
– E.g.: employees, suppliers, the media, customers,
government, investors, local community or any groups
that are affected by the organisation.
Public Relations’ Publics
• Two traditional categories of publics:
– External publics - those outside the organisation
who have interest in the organisation
– Internal publics – those who share institutional
• As publics are very important to organisations,
their needs must be taken care of. Therefore,
specific functions are introduced for PR
practitioners so that communication between
organisations and the publics be can more
PR functions
• Media relations
• Community relations
• Government relations
• Consumer relations
• Industrial relations
• International relations
Media Relations
• PR activity targeted specifically for the media with the
intention of building good relationship between the
organisation and the media.
• Media relations and publicity form the backbone for
public relations practice.
• It involves targeting the “gatekeepers”.
• However the ‘seal of approval’ that media coverage
confers on an organisation’s news and information is
called the third-party endorsement.
• The relationship between the media and PR
practitioners is often described as friendly adversary.

Building positive relationship
with the media
 Be a trusted source of information for the journalists.
 Talk when not “selling”. Although you may not have
anything to provide to the journalist, communication
should not stop.
 Do not expect “news” agreement. Do not complain if
the story is not published.
 Do not hide or reluctant to share news with the
 Never lie or you will lose their trusts.
 Read the paper to keep track of the happenings
around you.
Building positive relationship
with the media
 When dealing with the media:
- Reporters never shut down.
- You are the organisation. Be careful with what you say.
- There is no standard issue reporter. One cannot treat
journalists as bad just because of one unfortunate
- Treat journalists professionally. Differences between
the two professions must be understood.
- Be aware that journalists are trained to be skeptical.
- Do not “buy” a journalist. Never threaten or coerce
journalist in order to get them to write good stories
about you/organisation. 11
Media relations
• Issuing news of activities to external audience
• Establishing and maintaining contact with media
• Handling responses to inquiries from news media
• Coordinating press conference
• Tracking and evaluating media coverage
Community Relations
• Involves dealing and communicating with the citizens and
groups within an organisation’s geographic operating
• “an institution’s planned, active, and continuing
participation with and within a community to maintain
and enhance its environment to the benefit of both the
institution and the community” (Lattimore, 2009: p.
• Organisations needs to have good and effective
community relations plans in order to be recognised as
good corporate citizens.
• Effective community relations depends on recognizing the
interdependence of institutions with their communities.
Community Relations
• Every community has a vital stake in the success of its
institutions and vice-versa.
• Good community relations aids in securing what the
organisation needs from the community and in providing
what the community expects.
• Community relations practitioners would spend time:
• identifying and building relationships and networks with
community leaders and organisations, and government
officials, developing
• managing plans to meet community needs and issues, and
• managing partnerships with organisations in the
Community Relations
• Organisations also provide philanthropic support
to the community as part of their social
responsibility effort.
– E.g.: cash donation, in-kind donation and employee
• Two trends in corporate giving:
– Channeling funds and corporate talent into problem
areas which organisations feel significant and in which
they want to make an impact.
– “Venture philanthropy” where organisations give
money to charities that have solid business plans and
create income to support the nonprofit work.
Consumer Relations
• The bridge between the consumer and the
manufacturer (Lattimore, 2009)
• Deals and communicate with the consumers of an
organisation’s products and services.
• Business environment requires both organisations
and consumers to be much more diligent and pro-
active than ever before and at the same time
improve their image with consumers.
• The emergence of consumer movements has also
encouraged companies to pay attention to
consumers’ needs.
Consumer Relations
• The goal of consumer relations is to improve an
organisation’s relationships and communication with
consumers by investigating consumer issues and
conveying the results to the management.

• Consumer relations objectives:

• Keeping old customers
• Attracting new customers
• Marketing new items or services
• Expediting complaint handling
• Reducing costs
Consumer relations
In summary:
• Assuring that organisation’s consumers are
• Deal with consumer enquiries, complaints
• Advise senior management on consumer
related issues and concerns
Employee Relations
• Employee communication or internal communication or
employee relations, is about “how public relations
professionals in corporations, counseling firms, and non-
profit organisations help promote effective
communication among employees and between line
employees and the management”.
• Employee relations has become more important due to
several factors:
– Employees want information about their companies
– Open communication leads to manager satisfaction
– Effective two-way communication is key to addressing new
business challenges
– Employee communication can be critical to maintaining good
customer experience
Employee Relations
• However the establishment of effective employee
communication programs rely on the organisation’s
organisational culture. Organisations with
participative cultures may empower employees to
contribute ideas and make decisions.
• Public relations practitioners can make three
contributions to the workplace:
– Establish organisational communication policy based on
goal-oriented approach
– Design and implement organisational change programs
– Provide expertise as employee communicators
Employee relations
Example of activities:
• Preparing and publishing employee and
membership bulletin, newsletter etc
• Employee and member conferences, tele-
• Communication with management and board
• Tour, employee recognition banquets and award
Investor relations
• Communicating with owners
• Communicating with related groups such as
financial institutions, brokers, securities, and
financial analyst
• Preparing and coordinating annual meetings,
conferences, seminars, and communication
material such as annual report, quarterly
Government relations
• Known as Public affairs
• Monitors regulations and legislations affair
• Maintaining a goodwill with government
• Directing programme designed to promote
organisation point of view in regulation and
Additional reading
Marketing and Public Relations (Kotler and William, 1978)

Furnishing the Edifice: Ongoing Research on Public Relations As a Strategic

Management Function (Grunig, 2006)

Is using social media “good” for the public relations profession? A critical reflection