Defining Public Relations
Public relations, as defined by a colloquium at San Diego State University, “is the management process whose goal is to attain and maintain accord and positive behaviors among social groupings on which an organization depends in order to achieve its mission. Its fundamental responsibility is to build and maintain a hospitable environment for an organization.”
Think of the above definition like a principal of the Hippocratic Oath: “First do no harm.” That is the objective of any good PR professional or firm. Our job is to promote our client in a positive light. When a landscape architect designs and implements a golf course, it is our job to highlight the positive attributes of this course: low water usage does not interrupt the local ecosystem, or the golf course uses only native plants and grasses.
To use another popular reference, “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.” The role of ASLA’s communications team is to make our members stand out and gain the attention of local and national media. If we do not promote our success then it is as though it did not happen which prevents the potential for a snowballing affect/shared benefits. Furthermore, if not promoted well or to the best of your resources, then the optimal effects do not benefit the profession. The information and communication economy solidified PR as even more necessary and you will find involving members can be very fun, economical and easy once you get going. Later in this guide, we will discuss the methods used to position our members as experts in the field of green design as well as urban planning and residential planning.
First, let’s briefly discuss the difference between PR, advertising, and marketing. Knowing the difference is critical when formulating a PR campaign.
Public Relations vs. Advertising
In recent years, the lines between public relations, advertising and marketing have been blurred. Large PR firms seem to do both marketing and PR, but the difference between PR and advertising is clearly defined. Advertising is paid media, such as $1 million for a commercial. Public relations is earned media, such as two journalists and three local news camera crews showing up to your event.
The media coverage was earned. TV time and sections of newspapers are for sale; journalists are not.
Public Relations vs. Marketing
While most people see marketing and public relations as one entity, they are not. Their boundaries occasionally overlap, but PR is concerned with building relationships and generating goodwill for the organization.
Marketing is concerned with customers and selling products and services.
In short, public relations strive to obtain earned media that works to increase the public’s image of an organization.
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