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PR in Action
Public Relations is composed of many marketing tactics that enable companies to enhance credibility and image. It can also assist in developing goodwill and influences public opinion. Forms of PR tactics are speeches, special events, news releases, and annual events. PR is targeted to a specific audience. It’s a very affective way of saying who you are, what you do, and how you can make a difference. Effective PR comes in many forms. Most of us are more familiar with flyers, brochures, and websites. There are many other tactics that can be used depending on the needs of the company or organization. Which one to use would depend on many factors such as the objectives of the organization, size, and location. It would also depend also the characteristics of the audience and the organization’s budget. Some examples of effective PR strategies include publicity, special events, newsletters, press releases, charitable contributions, sponsorships, and thank you letters.
One example of public relations in action regards anti-abortion activists. Almost ten years ago, anti-abortion activists had to revamp their image in the aftermath of attacks on two abortion clinics. John C. Salvi III was sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing two people in a rifle shooting rampage in December of 1994. The trial portrayed Mr. Salvi as a terrorist that represented anti-abortion causes. During the trial, he showed no remorse for the deaths or for the deaths of innocent bystanders. To him, he was acting out a noble cause. (Goodman, 1995)
The general public assimilated this movement as violent and hostile. Because of the often angry protests with picketers at the abortion clinics, many feel this action is creating and condoning vigilantes like Mr. Salvi.
Because of this situation, it’s given the pro-life cause a bad name. This is not what the movement is all about. One is not considered to be pro-life if he goes around killing people.
The group feels that much of the real blame can be directed towards the news media that gives very discriminative coverage. Every story you read gives the reader then conclusion that pro-life is assumed to be a negative movement. However, opposite is really the case. If anything, the cause is to promote human life and not destroy it. They disassociate themselves with this act of violence. Even evidence at Salvi’s trial showed that he did not belong to any activist group or association. However, this tragic event has given the pro-choice activists the ammunition needed to induce the public to perceive them as nothing more than terrorists instead of right to all life activists in which they really are. (Goodman, 1995)
From my perception of what happened and from my PR readings, I believe that this organization should have been out in the open right away denying any association with Mr. Salvi. I think trying to put out fires after the damage is done is more harmful than just dealing with anticipated bad publicity. They could have possibly showed more compassion or showed their support by raising money for the families of the deceased and denouncing all acts of violence. They needed to make a stand ASAP and gain the public’s trust or at least their respect. Sometimes, I think by doing nothing, the public may perceive this as the act was accepted by the party. I believe more should have been done to show that there wasn’t any association to these crimes and acts of violence.
Another example of effective public relations practices is participation in special events. Special events can be an effective way to draw attention to an organization by bringing people to your place of business or bringing your business to another location. Some examples of special events are fund raisers, open houses, award ceremonies, and speeches. As the store manager of an AT&T Wireless Services retail store, I have used this practice successfully on a number of occasions. AT&T Wireless offers discounts to employees of corporations who agree to generate a given amount in revenue per year in wireless services. One organization that receives these discounts is Hilton Hotels.
By reaching out to the Human Resources department at the New Orleans Hilton Riverside Hotel, I found that they were holding an annual Health and Wellness Fair for their employees. Here, employees on their lunch break or off shift would flock to the Grand Ballroom in the hotel and visit as many of the fifty or so booths available to them. The employees were able to enter raffles and pick up a number of corporate give-aways such as pens, mouse pads, rulers, etc. For my business, I created flyers advertising the special discounting available to Hilton employees. The event was a huge success and we activated many phones that day.
The third and final example of effective public relations strategies that will be discussed in this paper discusses press releases. Press releases or press kits could be used to alert the media of an upcoming event or to respond to public speculation. Being respectful and having a good rapport with the media is always an added bonus. One very witty public relations firm, in my opinion, is Duffey Communications Inc. Back in 1996, the firm mailed out press kits to 80 reporters for a Denmark software maker. These press kits were based on a cowboy theme and touted “In the wild, wild world of Windows, we’re whipping business into shape” in a press release (Fellman, 1998 para. 2). The firm even included a bullwhip! The largest indicator of the success of the blitz was when the group director of the project found the whip hanging in the offices of some of the reporters who received the kit. (Fellman, 1998) Costs for two press kit mailings were less than $2000 total. In my opinion, the distribution of this memorable and fun press kit was a successful public relations strategy.
Public relations comes in many forms. Good public relations can add to the success of an organization or individual and bad public relations can lead to its downfall. It is not necessary to be costly when attempting to promote an organization. What is required is creativity and an able hand on what will and won’t work with your target market.
References
Fellman, Michelle (1998). Flashy press kits still work, despite e-mail, faxes, cynics. Marketing News; 08/17/98, Vol. 32 Issue 17, p1, 22, 2bw. Retrieved from EBSCOhost database.
Goodman, Ellen (1995). The Line Between Persuasion and Terror. The Boston Globe Newspaper Co. Friday, January 6, 1995; Page A21. Boston, Massachusetts.