TAMPA, FL (PRWEB) September 12, 2013
There have been numerous attempts in recent years within the profession to define or redefine public relations. However, according to a leading agency, one truth is clear: Strong, mutually beneficial relationships with its key publics are vital to an organization’s success.
"By applying public relations as an essential, vital, and critical component of your growth plan, any marketing initiative your brand undertakes has significant potential for measurable success," says Andrew Bowen, APR, founder and chairman of Clearview Communications and Public Relations Inc. "Public relations is so vital to marketing success, we’ve identified the term VITAL as a process."
Bowen says that the five letters in the word "vital" actually can help define the meaning and value of public relations, as follows:
V. The V stands for visibility. In its very basic form, a public relations campaign is designed to achieve visibility for the organization. "Of course, all brands, whether people or organizations, already have visibility. That visibility may be negative, or worse, neutral (invisible), with no mindshare at all," says Bowen. "To cut through the clutter of the 6,000 messages we all receive each day, the visibility component of the public relations campaign must be well planned, effectively targeted, creative, memorable and on steroids. We like to define it as V-squared."
I. The I stands for interest. Visibility can and should drive interest in the brand from various publics, some of them important and some not so important. The right kind of well-planned public relations campaign will achieve levels of visibility that will generate interest from and among specific, target audiences or publics. "Remember," Bowen cautions, "there is no such thing as the general public. There are only audience segments or groups that we must target specifically to generate interest. Here is where behaviors and attitudes begin to change, which is what you want."
T. The T is all about trial, or better yet, trust. After an organization has achieved visibility that leads to interest in its brand, message, product or service from a specific target audience, members of that audience may respond to a brand's messaging by trusting and trying that product or service. "They may trust your message, and take the action you determined as your objective when you planned your public relations campaign initially. Now, we are getting buy-in, action, trial; more behavior change," Bowen observes.
A. The A stands for one of the elements that will define the public relations campaign’s success: Acceptance. Bowen said he believes that when you achieve the right visibility, you have generated interest, there’s a level of trust that may lead to trial, and as the campaign progresses, the goal should be to achieve acceptance of the brand, the person, the product or service, among the organization's target publics/audiences. "Embracing your message and accepting your brand promise is one of the key elements of behavior change," Bowen said.
L. And, now, what he calls the great leap, perhaps the most difficult and tenuous stage of a public relations campaign to reach and maintain. The L stands for Loyalty, brand loyalty, loyalty of thought and action, complete – although potentially temporary – behavior change. If a brand can develop loyalty to its brand promise (as provided in the brand messaging), the organization or person has achieved the objective of the public relations campaign as defined in the original plan.
There is a caveat. "Be aware that brand loyalty is a delicate creature, and maintaining the behavior change you achieved will be your challenge," Bowen declares. "So, your strategic planning phase before the campaign launch must anticipate the inevitable erosion of loyalty and include tactics to minimize or eliminate that leakage of trust over time."
(Bowen, an accredited public relations practitioner with more than 30 years in marketing/communications, is founder and chairman of international public relations firm Clearview Communications + PR Inc. He can be reached at ab(at)clearviewcom(dot)com, or 813-374-3735)