5 enduring functions of public relations

Even amid today’s turbulent, rapid pace of change, these PR essentials remain unchanged.

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Two is the new five.

When people ask what will happen in the next five years, chances are that whatever it is will happen in just two.

A colleague said that at a recent seminar, and it really captures the chaotic pace of change we all must now endure. Our day-to-day work is fast and intense, and we must account for a dizzying array of new strategies, platforms and technological wonders.

It often makes me wonder: When we went to the office 20 years ago, what did we do all day? I think we spent a little more time on the fundamentals of PR, which, if we can pause long enough to take a breath, look like this:

1. Audience identification

Any effective communication program must begin by identifying the target audience. This is all-inclusive research that factors in the wants, needs and behavioral triggers of a population segment. The imperative here is to focus on what the audience needs—not what a business or brand wants to say.

2. Clearly defined positioning

Whether a business has defined its positioning or not, every brand has one. Three department stores provide a clear way to view positioning—think about the differences between Walmart, Target and Nordstrom. Each occupies a unique position in the market, and, more importantly, our expectation of the experience we will have in those stores.

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