Working with the Media: A Guide for Volunteer Organizations and Commissions

Public Relations

The goal of public relations is to favorably influence peoples’ opinions. Good public relations uses a communications process that promotes peoples’ understanding of and sup-port for issues and activities. Successful public relations is hard work. It requires good writing skills, the ability to work well with people, a good visual sense, and the courage and initiative to contact and speak with a wide variety of people, including reporters and editors.

Good public relations is a prerequisite of political success: political success requires public support, and good communications helps develop that support. To be successful politically, you must identify and communicate with the people who are interested, have the power to influence outcomes, and are affected by your issues, as well as the general public.

Taking the time to plan for a public relations effort is essential. Questions to ask as you plan include:

  • Who are we reaching now, and what new people do we want to reach?
  • How do people perceive us?
  • What do we want to tell them, and how do we want to tell them?
  • What actions are we asking people to take?

In short, your planning should identify the desired outcome of your public relations effort.

Remember that public relations means more than just working to get your news stories covered by newspapers, radio, and television stations. While the media are important, there are many ways to reach people without depending on a news organization to deliver your message. Your public relations effort can include identifying and communicating directly with organizations, volunteer groups, and community leaders and officials through personal contacts, correspondence, postcards, and newsletters.

Truth and honesty are essential in public relations. Efforts to influ-ence public opinion must be based on good character and responsible performance. There are so many good, positive stories that there is simply no need to embellish your story or be untruthful.

In public relations, offense is more effective than defense. In other words, the best public relations efforts work proactively to create a good public image for an organization. Public relations is not as effective when relegated to the role of defensive action.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35