Public Relations or PR is the business of persuasion. With PR, you are trying to promote an idea, convince an audience inside or outside your sphere to purchase a product, recognize your accomplishment, or support your position.
According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public Relation is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Organizations must understand PR and know about the different types of public relations programs as these are essential for an organization’s time and resource management.
This article will highlight these different types of public relations programs while also signifying the importance of each from a business perspective.
Table of Contents
What Are Public Relation Types?
Public Relations Program types are unique combinations of business and communication skills. PR is all about strategic communication, and for it to succeed, businesses need to set up, execute, and monitor the different types of public relations processes.
What Are the 7 Types of Public Relations Programs?
The types of Public Relations Programs come under the following 7 categories:
- Media Relations
- Community Relations
- Public Affairs
- Crisis Communication
- Social Media Communications
- Internal Employee Communications
- Strategic Communications
1. Media Relations
There is a specific type of public relations program that involves getting attention from journalists, broadcasters, bloggers, and other platforms, and this is Media Relations.
Media Relations PR comes with the primary purpose of strengthening the bond and connection between an organization and its stakeholders or people directly or indirectly attached to the company.
PR professionals take several short-term and long-term initiatives to garner these valuable relationships. There are also online platforms that help PR agencies get both paid and earned media coverage.
Companies usually get in touch with potential journalists and bloggers by sending pitches through these platforms, one of which is HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Once the journalist finds the pitch newsworthy, he turns it into an article or a part of the campaign he is working on.
The outcome is a significant boost in the popularity and recognition of the brand, customer conversions, and media coverage with subsequent positive effects.
2. Community Relations
Community Relations is another prominent public relations program that builds a meaningful and positive relationship between an organization and a local community through various campaigns. The purpose here is to ensure that the public's interest at large aligns with the brand/business in question.
Organizations, through PR agencies, commit to the interest of the community and gain a significant competitive edge over others. Community Relations results in a positive connection that boosts the company’s image, something all businesses eventually look for.
Companies can use different mediums for executing community public relations strategies, including their social media profiles. Similarly, donations and sponsorships often translate to various opportunities for organizations to demonstrate their support and care for the local communities.
3. Public Affairs
At a more significant level, Public Affairs help to maintain the relationships between the Government and politicians.
This is a particular type of public relations program. The function of a PR specialist is to ensure that the organization’s (in this case, the Government) views are aligned with the interests of the public. The Public Affairs team generally works in an essentially synchronized manner so that only the most compelling and relevant information passes on for decision-making at the administrative level.
Public Affairs PR is quite demanding as it requires industry insights and data-driven metrics for effective communication. In-person meetings, careful drafts, and in-depth research are a must for handling Public Affairs.
4. Crisis Communication
Crisis Communication, another type of PR, involves dealing with any crisis.
The crisis can be anything and of varying intensity. The company’s founder might engage in an unwanted spat with a person on social media or there might be a defective product line that results in a negative public image for a brand.
In such situations, the crisis communication specialists come to the forefront and explain the problem with maximum transparency to maintain the organization’s positive image in the eyes of the customers and the public.
In Crisis Communications, the company’s spokesperson uses channels like press releases, social media, and media coverage campaigns to ‘clear the air’ around the particular situation. For this, internal communication with the organization's employees is as important as external communication because everyone must be on the same page when handling the crisis.
5. Social Media Communications
With Social Media Communication as a part of the types of PR, the purpose is to promote a company’s reputation and gain positive outcomes. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn have become integral communication channels for most organizations.
Outreach happens the fastest on social media, and social media communication also generates exponential results, especially when you execute campaigns collaborating with the social media influencers.
It is a fact that consumers feel more confident and comfortable buying anything online when some social media influencer recommends the same. Social media communications as part of PR help in seamless communication between an organization and its customers and consumers, irrespective of the real-life geographic boundaries.
6. Internal Employee Communications
Employees, the people who work in an organization, are any company’s most valuable assets. Keeping them on the same page or aligned with the brand’s initiatives and intentions is crucial. Internal communications with the employees are also a type of Public Relations program like external communications.
Timely and open communication with the internal employees ensures that the people are working at an optimal rate and that the workspace processes are running smoothly. Internal employee communications PR is a process that is also an organization’s way of valuing, caring for, and satisfying the people throughout their tenure with the company.
7. Strategic Communications
Strategic Communications is about giving out the brand’s coordinated messages to help achieve specific goals and objectives. It involves the distribution of information following a thorough knowledge of the company’s priorities. This is the final type of Public Relations program where PR somewhat overlaps with advertising and marketing.
All communication activities should then support and emphasize these priorities. The PR experts, through strategic communication, ensure the maintenance of the organization’s profile with customers, media, and employees through controlled messages and frequent updates.
Strategic Communications PR has the following steps:
- Identifying the Audience, i.e., who organizations need to communicate with?
- Determining goals and objectives, i.e., why communicate at all?
- Developing the key messages, i.e., what is there to communicate?
- Drafting a tactical plan, i.e., how and when to communicate the relevant messages?
- Identifying evaluation measures, i.e., how to know and understand if the communication plan is successful?
How Are Public Relation Types Different from Advertising?
Public Relations is often confused with advertising. However, there are quite a few subtle differences between the two.
The most obvious is that advertising is paid media while public relations is earned media. This also explains why storytelling (72%) is the most critical skill of a PR professional.
Also, advertising can be highly pricey, while PR firms charge monthly or for specific projects.
While both are crucial, it is essential to note that PR people deal with crisis management, image enhancement, and the creation of stable relationships. That is why PR tells you what you need to hear while advertising agencies tell you what you want to hear.
Role of PR Professionals in the Various Areas of Public Relations
The primary objective of Public Relations is to foster and maintain a positive reputation of the brand by sending out direct, meaningful, and relevant messages. As such, PR professionals have a crucial role in an organization regardless of the types of PR the company chooses to focus on.
PR people are the best storytellers because they know how to create narratives to advance their messages and agenda. On the one hand, they use PR to build reputations and on the other hand, they formulate the best responses and steps to mitigate damage, when the situation is bad.
The prominent roles and functions of PR agencies and professionals can be summarized as follows:
- Analyze, anticipate and interpret the opinions and attitudes of the public towards a brand
- Draft strategies for every campaign of the brand
- Create and distribute press releases, and write speeches and content for the internal and external websites
- Develop a thorough crisis public relations strategy
- Handle media relations and investor relations
- Deal with legislative agencies and Government on behalf of the organization
- Deal and communicate with both employees of the organization as well as public groups and other organizations on various matters
Types of Public Relations Programs Takeaways
Public Relations is an ongoing process irrespective of the function that an organization has implemented in place. Choosing and emphasizing the public relations programs helps organizations scale their business, bring in new clients and customers and maintain a long-term, healthy relationship with them.