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Public Relations Objectives for Organisations

What PR professionals set out to accomplish.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

What are some typ­ic­al pub­lic rela­tions objectives?

Here we go:

The Definition of Public Relations

To begin, we must define pub­lic rela­tions:

Pouring Coffee in PR Mug
I love PR, but first coffee.

How To Define Public Relations

Someone once tried to count the num­ber of actu­al defin­i­tions of pub­lic rela­tions, but they allegedly gave up after find­ing over 2,000+ dif­fer­ent versions. 

Amongst so many defin­i­tions of pub­lic rela­tions, here’s the defin­i­tion that I find to be most useful.

Public Relations (PR) = the stra­tegic and tac­tic­al use of com­mu­nic­a­tion to devel­op and main­tain pro­duct­ive rela­tion­ships with stake­hold­ers, influ­en­cers, and publics.

Please note:

Stakeholders in PR = incentiv­ised rep­res­ent­at­ives with vari­ous interests in the organisation.

Influencers in PR = inde­pend­ent gate­keep­ers with audi­ences of import­ance to the organisation.

Publics in PR = situ­ation­al groups with sim­il­ar com­mu­nic­at­ive beha­viours affect­ing the organisation.

Learn more: How To Define Public Relations

The Stakeholders in Public Relations

So, what do pub­lic rela­tions pro­fes­sion­als do? In short, we man­age the com­mu­nic­a­tion with vari­ous stakeholders:

Stakeholders in Public Relations

In PR, we often dis­cuss stake­hold­ers. And our PR spe­cial­isa­tions are named based on which stake­hold­ers we’re respons­ible for man­aging. 1The stake­hold­er mod­el is far from per­fect. There are plenty of over­laps, espe­cially when it comes to media rela­tions. Also, the cor­por­ate com­mu­nic­a­tions func­tion is often regarded as an umbrella … Continue read­ing

Here’s the stake­hold­er mod­el in PR:

  • Corporate Communications = External and intern­al pub­lics, busi­ness journ­al­ists, reg­u­lat­ory insti­tu­tions, part­ners, sup­pli­ers, vendors etc.
  • Investor Relations (IR) = Shareholders, fin­an­cial mar­kets, mar­ket ana­lysts, fin­an­cial insti­tu­tions, trade journ­al­ists etc.
  • Media Relations = Journalists, edit­ors, influ­en­cers etc.
  • Digital PR = Inbound web traffic, brand com­munit­ies, sub­scribers, fans, fol­low­ers, influ­en­cers, social net­works etc.
  • Public Affairs (PA) = Voters, polit­ic­al journ­al­ists, polit­ic­al ana­lysts, colum­nists, interest groups etc.
  • Lobbying = Politicians, legis­lat­ors, gov­ern­ment offi­cials, com­mit­tees influ­en­cers etc.
  • Internal Communications = Coworkers, poten­tial recruits etc.
  • Crisis Communications = Crisis vic­tims, wor­ried pub­lics, the gen­er­al pub­lic, cowork­ers, journ­al­ists, influ­en­cers, cus­tom­ers, share­hold­ers etc.
  • Marketing PR = Potential cus­tom­ers, exist­ing cus­tom­ers, trade journ­al­ists, mem­bers, affil­i­ates etc.
  • Industry PR (B2B) = B2B cli­ents, B2B pro­spects, trade journ­al­ists, trade organ­isa­tions, niche influ­en­cers etc.

A wide­spread mis­con­cep­tion is that the PR func­tion only deals with journ­al­ists, edit­ors, and influ­en­cers (Media Relations) with­in the scope of attract­ing new cus­tom­ers (Marketing PR). But such work rep­res­ents only a tiny per­cent­age of all the stake­hold­er rela­tion­ships PR pro­fes­sion­als must man­age daily.

Learn more: Stakeholders in Public Relations

Examples of Public Relations Objectives

We could also take a closer look at a few examples of what types of object­ives a typ­ic­al pub­lic rela­tions officer has:

Typical PR Objectives

PR is quite sim­il­ar to oth­er white-col­lar indus­tries. A typ­ic­al day for many office work­ers might contain:

  • Read, write, and send lots of emails.
  • Participate in lots of meetings. 
  • Make lots of phone calls. 
  • Read lots of documents.
  • Write lots of text and pro­duce lots of con­tent.
  • Create lots of present­a­tions and lead lots of workshops.

All of the above is cer­tainly true for the PR pro­fes­sion as well. But more spe­cific­ally, there are many dif­fer­ent types of typ­ic­al PR objectives:

  • Keep stake­hold­ers, influ­en­cers, and pub­lics well-informed and up to speed.
  • Increase aware­ness via earned, shared and owned channels.
  • Educate the mar­ket and modi­fy perceptions.
  • Increase word-of-mouth by cre­at­ing social objects.
  • Increase pos­it­ive pub­li­city and decrease neg­at­ive publicity.
  • Coach and pre­pare cor­por­ate spokespeople.
  • Provide train­ing in com­mu­nic­at­ive leadership.
  • Facilitate cowork­er advocacy.
  • Promote cor­por­ate open­ness and trans­par­ency internally.
  • Manage insider threats.
  • Introduce new products or services.
  • Manage inquir­ies from journ­al­ists and analysts.
  • Strategic work (pos­i­tion­ing, per­cep­tion man­age­ment etc.)
  • Establish and devel­op mutu­al rela­tion­ships with key publics.
  • Monitor word-of-mouth and press coverage.
  • Improve intern­al communications.
  • Prevent and man­age crises.
  • Manage issues before they escal­ate and become real problems.
  • Influence pub­lic opin­ion and legis­lat­ive processes.
  • Develop the PR strategy and keep the PR plan updated.
  • Gather action­able insights from data ana­lys­is and focus groups.
  • Produce and pub­lish inform­a­tion­al and edu­ca­tion­al con­tent for vari­ous earned, shared and owned channels.

Learn more: Public Relations Objectives for Organisations

The Golden Rule of Measuring Communications

And as a final remind­er — set­ting the object­ives is likely to have a more sig­ni­fic­ant impact on the organ­isa­tion than meas­ur­ing them.

The Golden Rule of Measuring Communications

In the long-term, what you decide to meas­ure in stra­tegic com­mu­nic­a­tions (PR) will impact your organ­isa­tion more than any actions taken due to any meas­ure­ment output.

If an organ­isa­tion focuses on the wrong met­rics, it might estab­lish, main­tain, or devel­op the wrong long-term rela­tion­ships. 2The insight is based on 18+ years of prac­tic­al con­sult­ing exper­i­ence.

Learn more: The Golden Rule of Measuring Communications

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: The Barcelona Principles 3.0

Barcelona Principles 3.0

The PR industry has united around a series of prin­ciples for meas­ur­ing com­mu­nic­a­tions. The latest iter­a­tion comes from AMEC, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication.

1. Setting goals is an abso­lute pre­requis­ite to com­mu­nic­a­tions plan­ning, meas­ure­ment, and eval­u­ation—The found­ing prin­ciple of SMART (spe­cif­ic, meas­ur­able, action­able, rel­ev­ant, and time-bound) goals as a found­a­tion for com­mu­nic­a­tions plan­ning has been pro­moted to an essen­tial pre­requis­ite. It pushes meas­ure­ment and eval­u­ation as a core com­pon­ent of the plan­ning pro­cess, artic­u­lat­ing tar­get out­comes and how pro­gress towards these will be assessed.

2. Measurement and eval­u­ation should identi­fy out­puts, out­comes, and poten­tial impact—Previously, the Principles recom­men­ded meas­ur­ing out­comes, rather than simply count­ing out­puts. The updated prin­ciples extend this to con­sider longer term impact of com­mu­nic­a­tions strategy. According to Levine, this means think­ing about “the chan­nels we are impact­ing, and change we would like to see through cam­paigns, events and activ­a­tions.”

3. Outcomes and impact should be iden­ti­fied for stake­hold­ers, soci­ety, and the organ­isa­tion—From the ori­gin­al focus on busi­ness met­rics, such as sales and rev­en­ue, the 2020 update embraces a more hol­ist­ic view of per­form­ance. It allows the mod­el to be more inclus­ive of a broad­er range of organ­isa­tions and com­mu­nic­a­tions roles that are not neces­sar­ily profit-driv­en.

4. Communication meas­ure­ment and eval­u­ation should include both qual­it­at­ive and quant­it­at­ive ana­lys­is—“To under­stand the full impact of your work, it is cru­cial that you use the full suite of meth­ods to meas­ure those out­comes,” sum­mar­ised Levine in describ­ing the evol­u­tion of this prin­ciple to not just quanti­fy but also under­stand how mes­sages are being received, believed and inter­preted.

5. AVEs are not the value of com­mu­nic­a­tion—The mes­sage remains con­sist­ent and clear; “we con­tin­ue to believe that AVEs do not demon­strate the value of our work.” It is import­ant that com­mu­nic­a­tions meas­ure­ment and eval­u­ation employs a rich­er, more nuanced, and multi-faceted approach to under­stand the impact of com­mu­nic­a­tions.

6. Holistic com­mu­nic­a­tion meas­ure­ment and eval­u­ation includes all rel­ev­ant online and off­line chan­nels—Our found­ing prin­ciple that social media can and should be meas­ured is so obvi­ous today. The 2020 iter­a­tion reflects the game-chan­ging shift in social com­mu­nic­a­tions’ cap­ab­il­it­ies, oppor­tun­it­ies, and influ­ence, such that all rel­ev­ant online and off­line chan­nels should be meas­ured and eval­u­ated equally. The AMEC meas­ure­ment frame­work pro­motes clar­ity across earned, owned, shared, and paid chan­nels to ensure con­sist­ency in approach towards a com­mon goal.

7. Communication meas­ure­ment and eval­u­ation are rooted in integ­rity and trans­par­ency to drive learn­ing and insights—Sound, con­sist­ent, and sus­tained meas­ure­ment calls for integ­rity and trans­par­ency in recog­ni­tion of today’s atten­tion to data pri­vacy and stew­ard­ship as organ­isa­tions com­ply with new reg­u­la­tions, such as GDPR. This is also a state­ment that meas­ure­ment isn’t simply about data col­lec­tion and track­ing, but about learn­ing from eval­u­ation and apply­ing insight back into com­mu­nic­a­tions plan­ning. It recog­nises the need to be trans­par­ent about the con­text in which pro­grammes are run and being aware of any bias that may exist in the tools, meth­od­o­lo­gies and inter­pret­a­tions applied.

Download the Barcelona Principles 3.0 Presentation here

Read also: How To Measure Public Relations

PR Resource: How To Measure Attitudes

How To Measure Attitudes

How do you meas­ure atti­tudes? There are a few things to think about to get your meas­ure­ment right. 3The Handbook of Research for Communication and Technology, 34.5 Measuring Attitudes. In AECT.

An atti­tude meas­ure­ment should meet the fol­low­ing criteria:

  • Valid
  • Reliable
  • Simple to Administer, Explain, and Understand
  • Replicable

There are four main types of meas­ur­ing approaches:

  • Self-Reporting
  • Reports of Others
  • Internal Reporting (Sociometric Reporting)
  • Records

There are four main types of meas­ur­ing methods:

  • Questionnaires and Rating Scales
  • Interviews
  • Reports (Logs, Journals, Diaries etc.)
  • Observations

I’m a big fan of using ques­tion­naires and stand­ard­ised inter­views for PR measurements:

Validity. Attitudes are psy­cho­lo­gic­al, so I strive to cla­ri­fy what I want to meas­ure, noth­ing more, noth­ing less. And I nev­er add any unne­ces­sary complexity.

Reliability. People exper­i­ence the world dif­fer­ently. But even if atti­tude meas­ure­ments aren’t exact, their use­ful­ness for PR more than makes up for it.

Learn more: How To Measure Public Relations

1 The stake­hold­er mod­el is far from per­fect. There are plenty of over­laps, espe­cially when it comes to media rela­tions. Also, the cor­por­ate com­mu­nic­a­tions func­tion is often regarded as an umbrella cat­egory for the oth­er disciplines.
2 The insight is based on 18+ years of prac­tic­al con­sult­ing experience.
3 The Handbook of Research for Communication and Technology, 34.5 Measuring Attitudes. In AECT.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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