“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
That definition, which was adopted by the Public Relations Society of America, can be more simply stated as: PR is communicating effectively with all of the publics that will help your business succeed.
Why the plural – publics? There are many groups that contribute to the success of a business.
The most obvious are customers/clients and prospects. In those areas, PR shares territory with marketing, but there are distinctions. Marketing is traditionally sales-focused, while PR involves more information sharing (think informative blog vs. advertisement) and building relationships with publics beyond consumers.
Your employees, staff or volunteers. These publics are not targets for sales strategies, but your communicating with them and developing effective relationships with them is critical to your success.
If you are a nonprofit organization, donors are an important public that you need to communicate with regularly to build strong relationships.
Vendors, suppliers, affiliates, collaborators – all of these impact your business, and your building effective relationships with them can help grow your business and contribute to its success.
Each of these publics have different information needs and your relationship-building with them will vary. But every one of them deserves your time and effort – because their participation and their word of mouth about your business or organization will profoundly impact your business success.
Good story: A speaker at a workshop I attended described how his relationship with the delivery service he utilized saved the day for him. He installed massive sound systems in theaters and arenas, and when he arrived at one job, he discovered that the wrong equipment had been delivered to the venue. Calling on help from suppliers and a delivery service he had established strong relationships with, he was able to get the right equipment delivered, after normal business hours, enabling him to have the proper equipment installed in time for the performance.