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  PR doesn't stand for Press Release!  (By: Zeeshan ul Rub Jaffri)

Not very long time ago, when I met a big business group of Pakistan regarding their public relations need and described them the various long-term benefits associated with a comprehensive PR strategy, they gave a instant blank look. When I described them the whole PR strategy that I developed for them, they were more interested in knowing the expected expenses rather than being interested in the image of their group, and how their business can benefit from it.

When told that a long-term PR strategy would cost them only 20% of their yearly advertising budget and would bring far better positive results for the groups overall standing, they hardly agreed to roll-out a press release in media regarding their new venture.

In Pakistan people still think that PR or Public Relations is all about meeting people, socializing, creating contacts and entertaining oneself. This is absolutely incorrect. Few of our entertainment gurus have jumped into this business and to the contrary of its real genesis have made it all about meeting, socializing, partying, and entertainment. Organizing cocktail parties and gathering up few celebrities is termed as a typical PR activity and photographs of the same are published in few fashion magazines and reported back to clients.

We still need to educate ourselves that Public Relations is about image. It is not about socializing or directly marketing the products or services, instead it is about marketing the image of the company or the group among the targeted audience through a variety of activities and media mix.

When we meet people in businesses, what they want is a marketing brief to be published in shape of a news item. Corporates in Pakistan are least concerned about their long-term corporate image. They still see a press release as a perfect solution to their PR needs. Marketing persons and brand managers are more interested in short term gains for their brands when it comes to public relations, instead of working out a long-term strategy to create brand loyalty and enhancing their organizations image amongst the target audience, an image that would ultimately help them achieve their marketing targets and goals.

There is no denial of the importance of rolling-out a press release to achieve the PR targets but it can workout best if blended with a mix of supporting activities. When a client set up a state of the art manufacturing facility, first of its kind in Pakistan, they were advised to work on a long-term strategy that can be more beneficial and client can also enjoy media support for creating favorable awareness about their new venture, but having listened the whole strategy the client again settled on a press release only. Had they agreed to work on a long-term strategy and plan a proper activity to disseminate the information about their state of the art facility, they would have remained alive in media for much longer time than for a single day as is the life of a press release.

We need a corporate-image-driven approach to Public Relations, ensuring that Public Relations strategy is reflective of the clients core values and also focus on supporting overall marketing objectives rather than a simple feel-good factor.

Public Relations is a mix of activities, backed by a comprehensive media management support in order to create the favorable awareness about the operations, services and products etc of the organizations. A blend of different activities, such as seminars, workshops, conferences, road shows, meetings and other PR stunts, and their proper media management could turn out to be the most beneficial of the strategies in terms of gaining the masses support for organizations ventures and winning their confidence.

Businesses need to learn that with the growth in their profits, their image among the stakeholders, such as; partners, shareholders, employees, vendors, suppliers, industry, regulatory bodies and the government should also grow. The best strategy to enhance the image of the business is to engage the targeted audience in properly planned activities and keep the media posted with all positive developments of the business so that it keep the targeted audience abreast regarding the progress and achievements of organizations or business groups.

In order to create goodwill and positive image at corporate level as well as among masses, organizations, apart from their satisfactory services & products, should plan yearly PR activities to ensure that their progress and dynamism continues to reflect and media continue to support their objectives.

According to a well established definition, Public relations is about reputation - the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. We need to understand that public relations is about selling the image of the organization. Succeeded in selling the image to the targeted audience in todays competitive market will make you stand out from the crowd and gives you a competitive edge over your competitors.

Published in Synergyzer Magazine

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