A great public relations (PR) professional is someone who has a strong understanding of communication, media relations, social media, and brand management.
Only a few of these PR professionals have the formal authority to act within an organization. Grunig, (1976).
Power in the organization comes to public relations practitioners from different sources. The value that the dominant coalition, which is a group of cooperating employees who take key policy decisions in an organization, attaches to the public relations function is one key way. Grunig, (1976).
Grunig, aside from proposing that the dominant coalition be educated to appreciate the potential of public relations, also made some valid propositions to help public relations increase their access to the top.
In this article, I have tried to break down Grunig’s proposition of increased expertise via education, experience, and professionalism of the PR practitioner into six key qualities.
Six key qualities to help increase public relations expertise include:
Strong communication skills: PR professionals must have excellent communication skills, both written and verbal. They must be able to communicate complex ideas to different audiences in a clear and concise manner.
- Media and social media savvy: A good PR professional should have a deepunderstanding of the media and social media landscape and be able to work with journalists, bloggers, and influencers to build relationships and gain coverage or visibility for their organizations. The relevance of each channel is as important as how it is deployed for each audience.
- 2. Strategic thinking: PR professionals must be able to think strategically, anticipate potential issues, and develop plans to mitigate them. They must be able to see the big picture and develop proactive campaigns that support organizational goals.
- Creativity: A good PR professional thinks outside the box, or at best, thinks like there is no box, and comes up with innovative ideas to gain attention and generate buzz for their organizations.
- Persistence: PR is a competitive field, and a good PR professional must be persistent in pursuing media opportunities and generating coverage for their organization.
- Adaptability: The media landscape is constantly changing, and a good PR professional must be able to adapt to new trends and technologies to effectively reach their audience.
- Public relations experts will struggle with the authority to make an impact in an organization or make decisions unless they are part of the top hierarchy because rigid structures preclude decision making at lower levels. The following strategies will help the PR professional stay on top of their job and earn a place at the top hierarchy.
Five strategies to help public relations practitioners earn a place in the dominant coalition
- Stay up to date on industry news: The world of PR is constantly evolving, which means that it’s important to stay informed about the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in the industry. Keep an eye on industry publications, attend conferences, and participate in professional development opportunities. After all, knowledge gives power, and more knowledge gives more power.
- Build relationships: PR is all about relationships, so it’s important to build strong relationships with your clients, superiors, colleagues, community, and media. Make connections with key influencers in your industry and engage with them regularly.
- Be proactive: Rather than waiting for media requests or client demands, be proactive about seeking out opportunities to promote your organization. This can involve pitching ideas, creating content, or networking with key players in your industry.
- Be adaptable: PR can be unpredictable at times, so it’s important to be flexible and adaptable in your approach. Be willing to pivot your strategies based on changing circumstances or new information.
- Measure and analyze: PR professionals need to be data-driven in their approach, tracking the impact of their efforts and adjusting their strategies accordingly. Set clear goals and use analytic tools to measure your success, then share those findings with all relevant stakeholders. This makes you a sought-after thought leader.
As technology and digital communication continue to shape the way that businesses interact with their audiences, social media or digital media puts control of that communication behavior in the hands of the intended targets of any communication. Here is the irreplaceable role digital media plays in public relations:
The role of social media in public relations
In recent times, digitization has become increasingly important to the PR professional, expanding the range of channels that PR professionals can use to communicate with their audiences beyond traditional media outlets. This includes social media, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), video, and other forms of digital content.
The future of public relations is in the appropriate use of digital media and social media, for that matter. PR principles are seemingly becoming more relevant with social media than they have ever been with traditional media, particularly for feedback generation and the achievement of a complete communication cycle. This is because the public can have access to whatever information they want somewhere else and get interactive at the speed of the internet.
Practitioners would have to engage more in dialogue to gather information and do environmental scanning to see what issues are relevant to specific audiences. Based on that, they can advise management on whether its decisions are going to be sustainable or not. Grunig (2010), thereby increasing their formidability.
Here are five important reasons PR practitioners should take social media seriously.
- Increased brand awareness: Social media allows you to reach a large audience and increase the visibility of your brand. You can increase brand recognition and attract more customers by sharing excellent content, engaging with followers, and developing a strong online presence. Even though this comes at a cost, it is more direct and hits your target directly if you get your algorithms right.
- Improved consumer engagement: social media allows you to interact with customers in real time. By replying to comments and messages, you strengthen your relationships with your customers and demonstrate that you value their feedback.
- Low cost: Social media platforms are a low-cost way to market your brand and reach a larger audience. Social media initiatives can be more cost-effective and produce greater outcomes than traditional advertising strategies, which are usually broad.
- Targeted advertising: Social media platforms allow you to target specific audiences based on their interests, demographics, and behaviors. This means you can reach the people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.
- Competitive advantage: social media has become an integral part of the marketing landscape, and businesses that don’t take advantage of it risk lagging behind their competitors and industry players.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Lartey is a social media and public relations expert, a brand strategist, and a leading voice in Africa’s creative industry. Daniel is currently the President of Inkniche Global Ghana, a public relations and social media agency.