When I started interning at Forbes Associates, I viewed ‘PR’ with the usual misgivings. In my previous work as a Youth Mentor in London, I had noticed that my mentees, many of whom lacked stability and role models in their lives, were heavily influenced by narratives presented in music, film and the media. And we all know examples in today’s world of human rights abuse, corporate scandals and government affairs that have been ‘sweetened’ by insincere or manipulative cover-up campaigns.
While working at Forbes Associates, I have learnt firsthand how genuine professionals in public relations help clients to tell their real story in a way that people can relate to. Good PR significantly strengthens the reputation of clients through well-constructed and sincere communication strategies.
Working as a PR Consultant has shed light on my previous work and life experiences and has changed the way I interact with prevalent narratives and corporate messaging in everyday life. What I have come to realise is that our world is swamped with messages that can affect how we think, feel and act, whether positively or negatively. Understanding the role of PR in the transmission of these messages, and the ethics behind PR, is necessary for all of us.
Here, then, are some key PR concepts which I think are useful for anyone seeking to understand what PR and PR campaigns should (and can) really be about:
Behaving with honesty and integrity at all times as a matter of principle is of particular importance in good public relations, and is therefore one of Forbes Associates’ Core Values.
These present an audience with a synopsis of mission, purpose, culture and services offered, in a sentence or two.
For a unified strategy, and to maintain integrity, PR must align with the wider aims and objectives of the client– embracing, as appropriate, families, parents, children, schools, investors, government ministries etc.
It’s vital to decide the intended outcome of the message: are we trying to connect feelings of national sentiment to an event? – shift the audience’s perception of our client? – demonstrate direct relevance to stakeholders’ lives? – etc.
Short-term vs. long-term
Sometimes a PR strategy might benefit the client best at a certain time of year – for example, connecting with peoples’ desire to help others during Ramadan. Longer-term strategies may prove more complex to implement, but can reap greater rewards by introducing a deep-seated change in opinion or attitude.
The world of PR to me is now about telling the stories of organisations and individuals in a way that will encapsulate audience interest and lead to change – of thought, feeling, actions, or all three.
In short, among the sea of narratives that is our world of information today, a strategic plan is required to ensure that the message your client wishes to deliver is received and digested in the right way, by the right people, at the right time.