7 Immutable Principles of Public Relations

Public Relations went through a lot in recent memory. From eDMs, integrated marketing, content marketing, social media and now mobile media – PR pros went over each other trying to catch the latest trend. Likewise, professors couldn’t hold their breath long enough to soak in the latest buzz word and squeeze these into their students.

But lest we end up getting lost in the tech wormhole, PR professionals everywhere must remember that while technology will always change, PR principles will always remain the same.

Arthur W. Page is sometimes referred to as the father of “corporate public relations”. The society which bears his name composed of senior public relations executives from Fortune 500 companies, lists a series of public relations heuristics generally referred to as the Page Principles. These seven principles were derived from the lifetime of work, including speeches and writings, of Page.

Public Relations manThese principles, forged in an era when the typewriter reigned supreme, remain quite relevant today. PR veterans, newbies and students alike will find these principles useful in an ever changing world. Here they are with a 21st century twist.

  1. Tell the truth. Let the public know what’s happening and provide an accurate picture of the company’s character, ideals and practices. Do not lie or you will be found out. The web makes it easy to check out your story and reach out to people who can verify the truth. It’s incredible how some companies still insist on lying. Here are 10 businesses caught lying from the businesspundit.com.
  2. Prove it with action. Public perception of an organization is determined 90 percent by what it does and 10 percent by what it says. 100 percent agree. Consumers now have the ability to take to task companies for any disconnect in what they are doing and what they are saying. With just a click on their messaging app, people can ask their friends if a company is as good as advertised. Cbsnews.com lists a few brands who couldn’t keep their promises.
  3. Listen to the customer. To serve the company well, understand what the public wants and needs. Keep top decision makers and other employees informed about public reaction to company products, policies and practices. Don’t be a certain leader who attended a celebration instead of empathize with his hurting people. Thus, started a series of PR fumbles that will be studied for generations to come. Listverse.com rolls out 10 reviled businessmen who served themselves first instead of their stakeholders.
  4. Manage for tomorrow. Anticipate public reaction and eliminate practices that create difficulties. Generate goodwill today. A company involved in the community will have happy neighbors, cheerful employees and contented customers. Firms that weave CSR into their operations will also gain good results in their bottom line in the long run. CSRs are not just side projects anymore but part of a firm’s KPIs. Forbes’ Devin Thorpe further elaborates on the benefits of CSR.
  5. Conduct public relations as if the whole company depends on it. Corporate relations is a management function. No corporate strategy should be implemented without considering its impact on the public. The public relations professional is a policymaker capable of handling a wide range of corporate communications activities. CEOs must empower their PR team to bring results as part of corporate strategy. Instead of being confined to a marketing function, PR should be adding value by managing the communications between a company and its public. The PR Institute of Australia explains further.
  6. Realize a company’s true character is expressed by its people. The strongest opinions — good or bad — about a company are shaped by the words and deeds of its employees. As a result, every employee — active or retired — is involved with public relations. It is the responsibility of corporate communications to support each employee’s capability and desire to be an honest, knowledgeable ambassador to customers, friends, shareowners and public officials. That’s why companies can fire employees who post racists slurs on their personal FB page. Bad employees can cost businesses a lot says www.kinesisinc.com. Luckily, bad employees are not too hard to spot as seen in YouTube.
  7. Remain calm, patient and good-humored. Lay the groundwork for public relations miracles with consistent and reasoned attention to information and contacts. This may be difficult with today’s contentious 24-hour news cycles and endless number of watchdog organizations. But when a crisis arises, remember, cool heads communicate best.

PR is a long-term affair. Getting press releases published is not PR. Advertising is not PR. Events are not PR. Online community management is not PR. It is all these and some more. PR is about building relationships. And relationships are dynamic, constantly moving from one plane of communication to another. Good PR is based on truth, up-to-date information, and all the other principles listed above. With these principles in tow, PR pros can make a positive impact on society.

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