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Functions Of Public Relations

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Functions of Public Relations

Public relations is everywhere today. It is a practice that has become an important aspect of any business venture. Whether an organization is not for profit, for profit, or governmental, they still need and desire to communicate their purpose within the community and public relations allows this to happen. There are several publics in which the PR practitioner must correspond with and each requires a different means of communication. Internal publics are inside the organizations such as clerks, managers, and stockholders. "External publics are those not directly connected to the organization: the press, government, educators, customers, suppliers, and the community" (Seitel, 2004). Each public plays a key role in the PR of the organization. The many functions of PR can also be categorized based on what purpose they serve the organization.
Organizational Functions of Public Relations
"There is a fundamental difference between the functions of public relations and the functions of marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising promote an individual product or service. Public relations promotes an entire organization" (Seitel, 2004). There are several functions of public relations and they can be categorized into organizational functions and societal functions. Some of the organizational functions of PR are: media relations; employee relations; and community relations. "PR specialists must understand the attitudes and concerns of community, consumer, employee, and public interest groups and establish and maintain cooperative relationships with them" (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2006).These functions are organizational because they maintain goodwill between the organization and consumer by providing information on how the organization contributes to the overall well-being of the community.
Media relations is a function of PR that directly works with the press. This allows the press to publicize the organization in the best possible light so that the organization can gain notoriety and a position in the community. Employee relations deals with the internal publics of the organization. The managers and employees who work for the firm are provided with current information on policies that affect their well-being and the future of the organization. Again PR promotes good will but this time it is between the organization and those that it employs. Community relations positively reinforces the organization's message and image within the community. This promotes the organization as a positive performer and member of the community.
Societal Functions of Public Relations
Some of the societal functions of public relations are publicity and marketing communications. Publicity is a marketing related function that generates positive exposure for the client. "People who handle publicity for an individual or who direct public relations for a small organization may deal with all aspects of the job. They contact people, plan and research, and prepare materials for distribution. They also may handle advertising or sales promotion work to support marketing efforts" (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2006).
Marketing communications is another marketing related function. This function includes creating brochures, displays and promotional offers for the client or employer. This information communicates to the community the purpose of the organization and what it has to offer. Both of these societal functions of PR are marketing and advertising related. They are PR because they address more than one product or service but they use marketing tactics and ideas to promote the good will of the organization.
Reasons for categorizing functions of Public Relations
The reason the functions of public relations are being categorized is because of the immense growth the field of public relations has faced in the past few decades. "In the United States alone, public relations is a multi-billion dollar business practiced by more than 200,000 professionals. Employment is projected to increase through 2010" (Seitel, 2004). The need by organizations for good public relations will lead to specialists in the field and this will dictate a more specific public relations campaign. With designated functions, the organization will be more prepared to create a campaign that will be competitive and justify the organization's desire to be number one in their line of business. "Private and public organizations depend on good relations with groups and individuals whose opinions, decisions, and actions affect their vitality and survival" (Seitel, 2004).
What similarities and differences exist between organizational and societal functions of PR?
The main difference between organizational and societal functions of PR is that "the public relations organizational function is more concerned with maintaining order with the organization's publics. In contrast, the marketing or societal function focuses more on the beneficial exchange between the organization and the consumer" (Armour, 2006). These functions can and sometimes do overlap as the profession of PR becomes more prominent in organizations today. The function of the public relations department is distinct from any other department within an organization. Few of the others share the power and contact with management that the PR department does. That is why it has the power to take on marketing activities that involve the good will and reputation of the organization as a whole.
The main similarity between organizational and societal functions is that they all have the same desired end result. All functions of PR are performed in order to build good will between the organization and the community it serves. The various functions pertain to certain aspects of a PR campaign and give each organization a competitive edge with which to build this the bond of trust and respect.
"Public relations is a distinctive management function which helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communications, understanding, acceptance, and cooperation between the organization and its publics" (Seitel, 2004). Each public plays a key role in the PR of the organization. The many functions of PR can also be categorized based on how they are used within the organization. Organizational functions such as media, employee and community relations serve as a way to maintain goodwill between the organization and consumer by providing knowledge regarding the organization and how it contributes to the overall well-being of the community. Societal functions use marketing tactics and ideas to also promote the good will of the organization. Some of these tactics include publicity and marketing promotions. It is important to keep in mind that marketing and advertising may only promote an individual product or service but public relations always promotes the entire organization

Armour, Luke (2006). Public Relations Autonomy. For Immediate Release. Retrieved
March 11, 2006 from

Bureau of Labor Statistics (2006). Public Relations Specialists. Washington D.C.
Retrieved March 11, 2006 from

Seitel, F. (2004). The Practice of Public Relations, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle, NJ
(9th ed.). Chapter 1. Retrieved March 5, 2006 from

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