I have been privileged to converse with people who know little or nothing about what public relations is all about. Some of these people confused PR with other disciplines like advertising or marketing, others totally misunderstood what it was all about.
So that we are on the same page, let me reiterate that public relations is all about building mutually beneficial relationships between and organizations and its publics. Although there are different models of public relations practice, in other to be successful in the field, there are applicable rules. These tenets may easily be referred to as the commandments of public relations.
Know your subject.
This concept embraces a bi-dimensional approach. On the one hand, practitioners should understand the intricacies of their trade – public relations; strong writing skills, social media application, excellent communication skills, a readiness to embrace change, are but a few. Conversely, a practitioner should understand his/her client’s needs in detail, taking into account their history, mission, goals, and objectives. Every public relations outreach must first begin with research.
Appeal to keen senses
Yes! Public relations practitioners are professionals too. As such, it is important to understand that the way you dress is how you will be addressed, because looking good is good business. PR is all about suave impressions, and the ability to not only build credible relationships, but also maintain them. PR practitioners must dress and speak professionally.
Credibility guides ego, remember that
Credibility is the essence of public relation practice. It is the quality of inspiring belief; this should be held in high standards. Because of the general notion that PR is evil, credibility is all the more needed to guide practice. Practitioners should strive to put integrity far above personal gains. It is only through credibility that reputation is built. Self-worth must be anchored around reliability.
Concede to nothing but the truth
This tenet is almost synonymous with credibility. Public relations practitioners are already seen as “Spin doctors,” manipulating the truth to suit self-interest. To this end, a practitioner has to work at proving him/herself first before effectively communicating messages – twice the job. PR practice should be guided by ethical principles and the ceaseless need to tell the truth regardless of circumstances. After all, what is the point of building “credible” relationships if they are predicated on deceit? Truth must be the ethical threshold guiding practice.
Work to build bridges not tents
PR practitioners should serve as boundary spanners, building relationships among individuals, or between organizations and their publics. By establishing a win-win situation where both parties benefit, a mutual understanding is created. Practitioners must remember that the ultimate goal of public relations is to create opportunities for people to build two –way relationships, as against lopsided connections mostly fueled by personal gains.
Public relations, if practiced accordingly can foster relationships… come to think about it, as long as interactions continue to happen, we may all be practicing PR in different ways. Any thoughts?