Module 2.
PR events

Module 3.
Understanding the media

Module 4.
Effective media releases

Module 5.
Preparing the newsmaker

Module 6.
Crisis management

Module 7.
Campaign strategy

Module 8.
PR Tool Kit





Module 1: Introduction to Public Relations

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) provides some useful guidelines in defining the work of the public relations professional:

Public relations helps our complex, pluralistic society to reach decisions and function more effective by contributing to mutual understanding among groups and institutions. It serves to bring private and public policies into harmony.

Public relations serves a wide variety of institutions in society such as businesses, trade unions, government agencies, voluntary associations, foundations, hospitals, schools, colleges, and religious institutions. To achieve their goals, these institutions must develop effective relationships with many different audiences or publics such as employees, members, customers, local communities, shareholders, and other institutions, and with society at large.

Effective public relations should encompass the following:

  • Anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinion, attitudes, and issues that might impact the operations and plans of an organization.

  • Counseling management at all levels in an organization with regard to policy decisions, courses of action, and communications.

  • Researching, conducting, and evaluating, on a continuing basis, programs of action and communication to achieve the informed public understanding necessary to success of an organization's aims.

  • Planning and implementing the organization's efforts to influence or change public policy.

We’ll be looking at case examples of these principles applied to strategic public relations campaigns, as well as circumstances that warrant quick spontaneous action. One basic rule of journalism: don’t just tell people about something. SHOW them. We’ll examine lots of public relations case studies — real life stories providing insight into principles of PR. Let’s start with a couple.

Case Studies

There are many case examples of effective public relations. But examples of bad public relations tactics can be more interesting. Here’s one:

  • The Disney Corporation proposed opening $650-million Civil War theme park in the U.S. state of Virginia. This was greeted by a public outcry and media ridicule. The American Civil War was some 130 years ago, but it is still on many Americans’ minds. More Americans were killed in Civil war than World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars combined. There were not as many deaths as in the USSR’s Great Patriotic War, but it is still a very painful memory for many Americans. Many people perceived the Disney Civil War theme park as trivializing history, exploiting the tragedy. It received lots of bad press. Cartoonists depicted Mickey Mouse on the battlefield. Disney soon backed off the proposal. This demonstrates how even with lots of money for public relations (and Disney has plenty of PR money), you can still wind up looking bad. (Learn more about this case)

And there is no shortage of PR victories. One of the most successful of American media relation campaigns happened right in Russia:

  • When McDonalds opened its Moscow restaurant in 1990, opening ceremonies were carried live by all three major U.S. television networks in morning programs, reaching millions of viewers. The program anchors interviewed McDonalds officials and executives (PR people were prominent both in front of and behind the cameras). It was a big story in America. The media used McDonalds as a symbol for capitalism entering Russia, but the important symbol for McDonalds was getting its golden arches on TV to a large viewing audience.

We’ll look at many more case studies as we go on.

Module 2: PR events: how to attract media and public attention.