The art of Public Relations

The art of Public Relations

Public Relations or PR in short, is a very broad subject.  PRISA, the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa, defines PR as the management, through communication, of perceptions and strategic relationships between an organisation and its internal and external stakeholders.

Ok – so what does this really mean – one might ask?

Essentially Public Relations is those things that a company does to create a better relationship with people inside and outside of the organization.

In general Public Relations activities can consist of the following: generating publicity, newsletter articles or staff communications, media releases, news channels distribution, media planning , sponsorships, social responsibility projects, , question and answer lists, interviews with the media, editorials, special events management , tradeshows to name but a few.

There are often certain misunderstandings regarding our profession – especially when people confuse Public Relations with Advertising. According to Baskin (1997:206)

…. publicity is a broad term that refers to the publication of news about an organisation or person for which time or space was not purchased…..

Advertising, on the other hand, is described by Cutlip et al, (1994:10) as,

…. information placed in the media by an identified sponsor who pays for the time or space.  Advertising is a controlled method of placing messages in the media….


The following table highlights the most significant differences:


1.  You don’t pay 1.  You pay for it
2.  You have some input in what is said 2.  You control what is said
3.  You have some control over the way it is said, but it can be minimal 3.  You control how it is said
4.  You cannot really control the audience, but you can try to target the medium 4.  You control to whom it is said
5.  The news editor controls the placement 5.  You control where it is placed
6.  The news editor controls the frequency of placement 6.  You control the frequency
7.  Minimal costs 7.  Extremely high cost
8.  It carries the implicit endorsement of the medium. 8.  The audience knows you paid for it


One must also remember that public relations is a natural process. One that is constantly evolving and requires proactive policies and procedures in order to identify opportunities and threats, and to respond accordingly.  A poorly designed outdated strategy coupled with haphazard implementation can result in a public relations disaster with severe consequences for the company or organization.  A company’s public relations plan therefore needs to operate within the framework of its overall corporate communication programme.

Z PR has been involved with the business of creating great relationships with stakeholders for the past 24 years. Z PR can assist with a comprehensive range of corporate public relations, promotions, staffing and marketing- related strategies. Based in Bloemfontein, the consultancy effectively service clients all over South-Africa. For more information visit, email or phone 051 522 9574.