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The Public Relations Process Alyssa Kaye Simmons February 24, 2012


Research Every assignment for every type of job requires research of some kind, or the gathering of information through different processes. But in the field of Public Relations the reliability of the research is vital to the final outcome of the job or assignment that a person could be working on. Without research and tests of the subject, the job could easily fall apart. There are many different ways to research and focus on the task at hand. The first type of research is Primary Research. When a Public Relations firm or organization conducts it’s own, new research it is called Primary Research! If information has already been gathered by other companies or even by individuals then it is considered Secondary Research. As a PR specialist we will be expected to as many different why? And how? Questions beginning with the defining of the issue at hand and how the results of the research with be used. Another important factor in the research process is the examination of the overall costs and concerns with the problem that you are focusing on. The answers to these questions all come together to help the PR person to form a strategy and achieve credibility, both of which are important factors to the final product. Qualitative Research is a big part of public relations. This deals more with interpretations and insights, and less with numbers and statistics. The most expensive form of Qualitative Research is personal interviews. Staff time is the largest portion of the PR budget, so personal interviews take up a huge amount of that pricey staff time. When basing information off of public opinion, many firms will use intercept interviews as a form of talking to the public and asking their thoughts and opinions on things. This is much easier than scheduling specific interviews or meetings. But you also have to consider if this form of interview is more efficient or not. Most people don’t like to be confronted or asked many questions in public places. It is


considered to be very unscientific but it gives the firm or company the opportunity to get their name or message out to the public! Individual interviews are costly and time consuming but are sometimes considered the most effective because of the time and people involved. Focus groups are another alternative to the individual interview. With around eight to twelve people representing the targeted audience, this form of research is usually very effective. The numbers and scientific process of research is the Quantitative Research. This research mostly consists of random sampling and the gathering of numbers needed to address the problem you are looking at. You have to consider the probability, percentages, and accuracy of the samples that are taken. They could be spot on and give you all the right answers, or your results could end up the exact opposite. In our world there are so many different ways of reaching people. But which way is the right one? In some cases telephone surveys may work, but in another an E-Mail or snail mail might be better suited for the job. This is why research is so important! In PR you have to look for what is best suited for your specific problem or job and go after it. Without research you could end up not reaching a single person and never solving your problem correctly. Action/Program Planning My dad has always told me that, “Actions speak louder than words,� and it’s true! Without action we have no credibility or belief that we can reach the goals that we are hired to achieve. The next step in the Public Relations process is Program Planning. This is the step where public relations persons take their research and put it into action, making their attempt to solve to situation at hand. But before they put their plan out in public for the world to see, they plan and strategize.


The management by objective approach, also known as MBO, allows the PR professionals to form a plan that focuses on the specific needs and objectives for the organization. When using this method the PR persons have to consider many different steps carefully in order to perfect their strategy and turn it into action. The client and employer’s objectives should be a top priority and should be the one of the first goals to be achieved. But you also have to be able to look at what the audience wants to see or hear. When you intrigue the audience you gain your success and accomplishment of the goals. But in order to intrigue your audience you have to reach them, and this is where your research comes in handy. Part of the action process is to use your research to decide what works best to reach your target audience. Each employer has key messages that need to be sent to their audience. The PR person’s job is to find the best way to send that message, may it be through email, telephone, or any other form of media, one type of media will work better than the rest. Timing and budget are also things that are important to consider. The budget spending are mainly placed into two separate categories; staff time and out of pocket expenses (OOP). But in the business of PR you never know what could happen, so at least 10% of the budget should be for unexpected costs. Timing is everything. A campaign or project can be the most effective at specific times, when the message means the most to the target audience. PR professionals must pay attention to the things going on around the time of the campaign to see what will work in their favor. All of these important factors combine to create the action and program-planning step in the public relations process. This process is key to creating the perfect strategy and to carry out your plan.


Communication Public relations is communication, and in order to be a professional communicator you have to know quite a bit about people and have they receive their messages, process information, and what is the best way to reach them. One of the best ways of communication is a simple two-way conversation. Whether that be through the PR people and a small group for a discussion, or two people sitting down for a conversation, two-way communication is the most effective way to communicate. In communication there are several types of audiences that you must consider. If you have an audience that would clearly rather be elsewhere, you are most likely conversing with a passive audience. Passive audiences require much more creativity and excitement in the delivery of the message; otherwise they will get bored and lose interest. The best audience is an active audience! Active audiences are engaged and excited about the topic, ready and eager to learn more about it. They will talk and ask thoughtful questions because they truly want to hear what you have to say. With this audience all you need is the knowledge they seek and the answers to their many questions. As a PR person you have to hold your audiences attention. You must consider their time and show or tell them what they want to see and hear! If they lose interest, you lose them and you no longer have a public to receive your message. Communication is key in our society, but as a PR professional, it is everything.

Evaluation Every job has its ups and downs and every time you work with a client things can go different ways. The process of evaluation allows PR people the room to grow and explore


their triumphs and their mistakes. If you evaluate yourself and the steps you took during the process, it helps so that maybe next time you can better prepare yourself to handle the situation. Evaluating the work you do only helps turn PR people into PR professionals. For a good evaluation, clear objectives are needed. The objectives are the important criteria that were discussed and decided upon during the program planning. Some objectives are informational, and those are more easily achieved. Informational objectives simply provide information to the target audience and allow them to see your key messages. Other objectives are motivational, which are much more difficult to accomplish. To accomplish the motivational objectives, PR people must basically ask the target audience to change the way they see and feel about certain things. Public opinion is the belief system of the audience and is very difficult to change in a person. Systematic tracking is one of the many effective ways of evaluation. It uses computer software and databases to analyze how well the target audience reacted to a company’s key messages! Pilot tests also tend to work well. Before a company decides to take their campaign or message national, they perform pilot tests in selected cities or towns and see how the public takes their message. In order to succeed in any evaluation technique, the PR people must measure several different things involving the audience. You must consider the audience’s awareness, attitude, and action. All three of these add up to be a very important part of the evaluation procedure. They help you decide which route to take and how to present the message to the public.


The public relations process