Module JP010

Introduction to Public Relations

Module author

William (Bill) Michael Mahon III

PennState University

Learning objectives

After you have completed this module, you will have a broad overview of the public relations profession. You will have a handle on basic platforms, philosophies and techniques to help your company, institution, non-profit organization or client maneuver through the opportunities and challenges of modern strategic communications, including:

  • Understand how research can help identify problems and solutions;
  • Set goals and objectives and identifying tools that can help you reach them;
  • Develop an appreciation of how the traditional news media work and how to achieve your goals while serving their interests and needs;
  • Identify how one person can boost attention for your business or cause bur also appreciate how just one person has the power to ridicule you and your client across the entire world wide web with a comment, photo or video;
  • Appreciate the incredible communications power at your fingertips with modern social media platforms and a little creativity;
  • Know how and when apology or laughter can be very powerful communications approaches.

Chapter 1: Strategic Communications Research
1.1 Communications Audit
1.2 Secondary research
1.3 Primary research

Chapter 2: Generating Goals and Objectives

Chapter 3: PR Resources

Chapter 4: Media Relations
4.1 News Releases
4.2 Op-ed Articles:
4.3 Letters to the editor
4.4 Press kits
4.5 Media Pitching
4.6 Radio and television spots
4.7 Comment sections

Chapter 5: Press Conference and Event Planning

Chapter 6: Media Interviews

Chapter 7: Social Media
7.1 Social Media Platforms
7.2 Social Media Fails

Chapter 8: One Very Loud Voice

Chapter 9: Aggressive Creativity

Chapter 10: Personal Branding

Chapter 11: Crisis Communications
11.1 Rules for crisis response
11.2 Crisis response examples
11.3 Media monitoring
11.4 War room

Chapter 12: Communications Style
12.1 Advice on Ethics and Honesty
12.2 The Art of Public Apology
12.3 Communicating With a Laugh

Study points 2
Reading extract Introduction to PR


Why Open School of Journalism believes that public relations is important

Public relations involves the act of managing how information about the company is disseminated to the public. Most public relations professionals are hired to help companies build a positive brand image for the company through constant communication in the press and also to help mitigate negative press that the company may receive. In general, they help to manage the reputation of the company.

The entire point of public relations is to inform the public or employees, partners, investors, and prospective customers. The primary goal of the information is to promote products, support leadership, or to help persuade a particular political group. Professionals in the field will typically work for PR firms, government agencies, and other businesses and organizations. Non-profit organizations can also benefit from hiring a public relations professional.

Public relations professionals are skilled at maintaining relationships with thought and opinion leaders, the target audience, and also the media. They may write news releases, design communications campaigns and other content for news and feature articles. They may write speeches, work with the press and arrange interviews with the company.

Communications skills are a necessity for anyone in public relations. They must know how to convey even the most difficult topics succinctly and clearly. They must know how to communicate with media and cooperate with other people helping them to bring new exposure to their companies.


Why study public relations?

Public relations is important in any industry because it helps companies remain competitive. Companies must stand out in order to sell more products and services than the competition. With so many startups going out of business within the first four years, it takes special effort to help make your business remain competitive. Any negative publicity can damage the company's reputation and also decrease sales.

When consumers trust a company and their products, and they understand how a company works, they are more apt to buy the products or services. When they become loyal customers because they trust you, they will reduce their marketing expenses. Loyal customers are less of an investment than new customers.

Most customers will sell a product or service that they trust and know represents quality. These evangelists can help you sell a product or service faster with little or no investment. It's a much wiser decision to invest in good public relations and then, reap the rewards of your investment later in the future. Public relations is a wise decision that will help most any business.

Tools, such as blogs and other social media networks, have been employed to help companies accomplish their goals. It's a low-cost way to communicate to the public and other interested parties. As long as it protects the reputation of the company, it is typically deemed useful in the public relations world.


Overview of the module

To work in public relations, you need to master certain skills. This requires taking courses that will prepare you to communicate written and verbally and will also help you master time management and multitasking skills.

There is power in a customer's words and actions. A single negative comment can spread faster than any good one. You'll learn the power of consumer discussion. You can identify how a person can use social media platforms and creativity to gain exposure. You should also know how use laughter and apologies to smooth over tough situations. Here is a list of the contents you should master to become a successful PR representative:
  1. Strategic Communications Research: Strategic communications are designed to teach PR professionals how to communicate with the media in order to establish a good rapport and reputation with the public.
  2. Generating Goals and Objectives: You must know how to generate goals and objectives in order to know what you need to achieve before completing an action. Enroll in a class that will teach you how to effectively master this concept.
  3. PR Resources: There are numerous public relations resources available, but they are no good if you don't know what they are, how to find them, or how to use each one of them to your benefit. To be a proficient PR professional, you must master  Media Relations,  News Releases,  Op-ed Articles,  Letters to the Editor,  Press Kits,  Media Pitching,  Radio and Television spots, and  Comment Sections.
  4. Press Conference and Event Planning: Press conferencing and event planning are a part getting the word disseminated about your product or service. It can be helpful in evangelizing for the product and getting a good word spread about your product or service.
  5. Media Interviews: Every candidate should learn how to master media interviews. This is an essential part of every PR professional's career.
  6. Social Media: Social media is another helpful tool that can help a company gain exposure for their products or services. This coursework will teach students about  Social Media Platforms ans Social Media Fails.
  7. One Very Loud Voice: One very loud voice discusses and identifies the "voice" of the company and how it should be used to persuade people to buy or trust your product or service.
  8. Aggressive Creativity: Aggressive creativity is one area that PR professionals should master to obtain their certification in the field.
  9. Personal Branding: Personal branding is one way in which you can entice people to buy or trust your product or service. When people look at your logo and they think good thoughts, they are more apt to buy your product or service. Personal branding is an area that's recommended. Here's the coursework that can help you accomplish the goal.
  10. Crisis Communications: When there is a crisis in the company, you'll need strategies to effectively handle the situation. The coursework is designed to teach theory and give practical examples of how to handle the situation.
  11. Communications Style: Communications style is important. How you communicate can determine how easily you can diffuse an audience that's disenchanted with your company. The coursework will teach you and help you master  Advice on Ethics and Honesty,  Ahe Art of Public Apology, and  Communicating With a Laugh.