1.0 INTRODUCTION

Unlike advertising, public relations employs a wide range of media in communication with its publics, besides the mass media. This is in recognition of the diverse functions and activities of public relations and publics it has to relate with. Some media are appropriate to certain public relations activities.

2.0 OBJECTIVES

At the end of this unit, you should be able to:

  1. Identify specific media used to communicate to specific publics 
  2. Explain the uses of various tools of public relations 

3.0 MAIN CONTENT

3.1 What is a medium of public relations?

The media of public relations are the tool which are available to the PR practitioner to reach their target publics with messages and information about their organisation in their day to day interactions with their these tools are used to achieve the desired mutual understanding.

The news media represented by newspapers, magazine, radio, television film, publications and the internet constitute the major medium used by public relations practitioners to communicate with their various publics. However, in view of the diverse activities and functions of public relations practitioners use a wide variety of media in communicating with their various publics, besides the media of public relations are the tools which are available to the PR practitioner to reach their target publics with messages and information about their organisation in their day to day interactions with them. These tools are sued to achieve the desired mutual understanding.

3.2 Media and Tools employed in PR practice

As stated earlier, the diverse nature of the activities and functions of public relations demands that appropriate media and tools be used to communicate to the relevant publics. These consist of

PR Marketing Media

A variety of media is employed in public relations marketing, ranging from the following:
The mass media – The mass media is used to reach various segments of the organisation’s public with messages about the product of the organisation, new products and product innovations, etc
Publications – This consists of annual reports, brochures, articles, 

audio-visual materials, company news letters and magazines as well as documentary films.
Events – These includes news conferences, seminars, outings, exhibitions,
plant tours, contests, competitions, anniversaries, sports, cultural events, etc. 

 News – news releases about products and services, editorial materials,
sponsored feature articles, as well as new product or service information.

 Speeches – Spokespersons, speaker’s bureau, reprint of previous speeches etc

constitute a veritable medium to interact with an organisation’s publics. Public service activities –organizations utilize opportunities to contribute money and time to charitable and good causes, such as participating in blood donation campaign organized by the Red Cross, Road Safety campaigns, etc. Identity media – Organisations utilize visual identity media to communicate with their publics. These include company’s logo, stationery (letter heads, envelopes, etc) brochures, business cards, sign poster, uniforms, buildings, etc.

Employee Relations Media

As, in PR marketing a variety of media is used to create and maintain mutual relations between an organisation and its workers. These include:

Employee publications of various types

  1. – House journals (both for internal and external circulation) 
  2. – Annual report/newsletters 
  3. – Employee policy manuals, guide books these are used to explain the policy guidelines which staffs are expected to conform to in their interaction with the organisation and its various stakeholders. The guide books are used as a form of indoctrination to build loyalty and cohesion within the organisation. 

Music (public address systems) and atmospheres. Public address systems are useful in large organisations when the chief executives need to have direct interpersonal intercourse with staff to give them first hand explanations and to build morale necessary for productivity in the organisation.
Exhibitions (in house) 

Meetings, conferences, workshops, etc
– Bulleting boards, suggestion boxes, information racks, pay inserts, etc. These are used to pass information to the staff and obtain necessary feedback. Suggestion boxes are used to encourage staff to contribute ideas for the running of the organisation.
– Service awards: They are used to reward staff for meritorious services rendered to the organisation and to encourage staff to emulate the awardees. Long service awards, (10 years, 20 years, 25 years etc) are used to project the organisation as a stable place to work in and be recognized.
– Induction programmes: These are used to familiarize news staff with the orientation and cultures of the organisation. Newcomers are introduced to the ways the organisation conducts its affairs so that they fuse into the organisation team spirit.
Management/employee committee: These meetings provide opportunity to listen to staff complaints and grievances as well as suggestions for future programmes. It helps to reduce conflict and acts as a conflict resolution mechanisms.

Direct Mail” An important medium used to communicate to staff is the direct mail. Messages from the Chief Executive Officer can be reproduced and mailed to each staff in a personal human tone. This helps reduce the distance between the top management and the staff as well as provide opportunity to enlighten the staff on the policies and programmes of the organisation. End of year greetings and felicitations to individual staff helps to build in them a sense of belonging, with the wide use of the internet facilities in organisation, electronic mail message (e-mail) has become an important facet of direct mail.

Pictures: Organisations use pictures of events in which the organization is involved to reach the staff with information on the goings on in the organisation. These pictures are used to supplement text information.

Community Relations Media 

The press and mass media: These are used to pass information about the organisation to the general public as well as the position of the organisation on current issues, particularly environment. Oil companies for example can use the mass media to explain its position on the youth restiveness on the
Niger-Delta, the plans to reduce environmental pollution, amnesty plan for repentant militants as well as the company’s corporate social responsibility development programmees and projects to improve the standard of living of its host communities. 
Open house, factory visits and tours: Organisations utilize houses and factory visits to familiarize their publics with the goings on in the organisation or institutions. This helps to increase the knowledge of the public on the activities of the organizations and their positive impact on their lives. Opinion leader meetings: These provide forum to interact with the leaders of the community who are expected to influence other members of the community in their attitude to the organisation.

Involvement of company’s employees in civic activities: Companies encourage their staff to participate in community development activities, contribute their expertise and experience in project execution and generally partake in socio-cultural activities. This helps endear the organisation and its employees to the community as well as project them as socially responsible members of the community.

Publicity vans and photo exhibitions: These are used to mount publicity campaigns to promote the organisation’s activities and generally enlighten the community. Film shows and photo exhibitions are particularly useful medium in community relations.

Social and Economic Projects

Public relations as we noted earlier, consist of good deeds which are subsequently communicated to gain acceptance and approval. Social and economic projects undertaken in communities have the capacity to win organisation enduring friendship. Programmes such as award of scholarship to deserving indigenes, construction of schools roads civic centres, health centres,

sponsorship of cultural festivals, youth sports competition provision of water, etc are medium used in community relations to win the hearts of the community and show understanding and support to the organisation.

Supplier/Dealer Relations Media

Visiting representatives: These are used to interact with dealers and suppliers, find out their problems, offer suggestions where necessary and
generally build cordial relationships necessary for success of the organisation.
Open House between company and dealers/suppliers is used build rapport between these two critical publics. The suppliers and dealers are taken through the processes and operations of the organisation to assure of the quality of the products they deal in or how the components they supply are utilized. This interaction helps to solidify the relationship.

Correspondence: Organization employ various forms of correspondence to reach out to their dealers and suppliers to communicate new product lines or innovations, new distribution programmes as well as price changes and up-coming promotion activities and campaigns. These correspondences are
helpful in building dealer loyalty and cooperation from suppliers. A letter of commendation from the Chief Executive of a company to the dealers goes to demonstrate the high regard and recognition that the organisation accords them.

Special events (dealers and suppliers awards)

Organisation utilize the occasion of special events such as awards to outstanding dealers to show-case its business and reward dedicated and hard-working partners. Awards to dealers usually has the effect of motivating other dealers to put more effort in promoting the organisation’s product and build mutually rewarding relationships.

Financial PR Media

Corporate and institutional advertising: This medium is used to project the total image of the organisation among the general public. Corporate advertising is utilized to explain the policies of the organisation, its future growth potentials and capability. It is also used to show-case its achievements, explain its constraints and challenges and generally to court public understanding especially among the institutional regulators and the investing publics.

Facts behind the figures: This forum is used to present the organisation’s performance to the Stock Exchange, stock brokers; etc to highlight the salient details of the organisation’s operating circumstances which brought about the increase or decrease in its performance during the financial year under review. At this forum, the company is able to respond to the concerns of stock-brokers and other critical stakeholders whose activities impinge on its quotation at the stock exchange.

Annual General Meetings (AGM): This is the forum where the directors of the company meet and interact with the shareholders and present to them the results of the company’s operations in the preceding year. A well attended and well managed AGM haw the capacity to generate good publicity  for the company Annual General Meetings is also used to build loyalty among the stakeholders who are afforded an opportunity to comment and receive answers on any aspect of the company’s operations, especially as it affects the shareholders interests. The publicity given to AGM’s goes a long way to project the organisation as a good place to invest and do business.

Annual Reports: Public quoted companies (Plc) are required by law to publish and circulate to their shareholders and the statutory regulatory authorities as well as tax authorities annual reports of their business activities. Annual Reports are useful in analyzing how the organisation has employed its human and material resources to generate the revenue accruing to it, how it has made its obligations and generally how well the business is being run. The level of disclosure and transparency as contained in the annual report goes a long way to win the sympathy and understanding of the organisation as an ongoing concern, responsible corporate citizen and reference point for its bankers, and investment analysts.

Press Luncheons: This forum is used to interact with business editors, economic and financial analysts who influence media coverage of the business press. At press luncheons, the executives of the organisation who are usually for removed from the prying eyes of financial journalist have the opportunity to build bridges which can be useful in time of need.

Shareholders correspondence: Apart from the annual general meetings, shareholders have little opportunity to influence the direction of affairs in their companies. Regular correspondence however can be handy to an organisation to keep in touch with its share holders: to exp-lain to them exceptional plans and progress of the organisation as well as events as they affect the organisation. Regular correspondence contributes to build better understanding which is vital in their relationships.

The Mass Media: Finally, it is important to note that the mass media is indispensable in any communication programme that public relations involves. Through the mass media, an organisation gets access to all the critical publics discussed above. Without the mass media communication
efforts will at most secure limited publicity, or non at all. In this modern day and age, the mass media plays a pivotal role in reaching virtually all the publics of an organization efficiently and at a lesser cost. As we earlier stated, if public relations is seen as doing good works and getting recognition
for it, the mass media is indispensable in publicizing our good deeds that can win us public acceptance.

Public Affairs and Government Liaison Media

Lobbying – In the modern democratic dispensation, lobbying has become an accepted method of influencing legislative and executive officials. Lobbying is employed by interest groups such as trade associations, trade groups, etc to push for favourable legislation or government intervention on certain issues. For instance, the oil industry group regularly use public relations professionals to lobby members of the national assembly to vote against the Oil Industry Reform Bill some of whose provisions they see an constituting obstacles to genuine investment in the upstream sector of the oil industry.
Women and Child Rights support groups have regularly employed the medium of lobbying to fast track legislation on the Rights of the Child and other related matters.

Personal Visits

Another medium employed in government affairs is personal visits. Heads of organisation’s and institutions organize visits to important government functionaries like the President, Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, State Governors, etc. These high level personal visits afford the visitors the opportunity to interact with the officials at the highest level of government. The opportunity is usually utilized to make requests for one matter or another or to reassure those in government of the continued support of their organizations. This is no way modern business can survive without government support; or at least understanding. The opportunity offered by personal visits can as well be used to create better understanding between the organizations and those in charge of the government affairs.
Business patronage, gifts, parties: An important medium of communicating with public officials is through some form of patronage. Organisations can target government functionaries who they can support their projects. From the Better Life Programme to Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation and to other projects embarked upon by wife of President and governors there are ample opportunities for companies to “buy in” into these programmes by supporting some aspects they

chose to identify with. Such patronage has the effect of improving the image and reputation of the donors among the general public and the promoters of such projects.

Organisations use seasonal gifts such a Christmas hampers, Sallah rams, end of year bonuses, etc to show appreciation to staff, customers and friends of the organisation. It is commonplace to give these seasonal gifts to government officials, legislators and other bureaucrats to create familiar relations between them and the organisation. End of year parties are also used to bring staff and friends of the organisation together to socialize and build enduring relationships.

Public opinion campaign: Organisations can sponsor public opinion campaigns to present to the authorities the views of the public on a given issues. Such campaigns are designed to involve the public to participate in the formulation of public policies. It is hoped that the force of public opinion will make the government pursue certain policies or alter some it had earlier contemplated on.

4.0 CONCLUSION 

In conclusion, it should be noted that while the mass median is an important medium of communicating public relations messages and information, the diverse nature of public relations activities makes it necessary to employ a variety of media to reach the different public relations publics.

5.0 SUMMARY

This unit has examined the various media and tools used by public relations to communicate with their various publics. It has noted the diversity of the media and tools which consists of communication and non-communication media. The tools offer the public relations practitioner a wide choice of means to create and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its various publics.

6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT

Enumerate and discuss the media and tools used in public relations marketing and community relations.

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MEDIA AND TOOLS OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

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