MEANING OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
The British Institute of Public Relations defines public relations as: “a planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and the public.” Public relations is the maintenance of a favourable relationship between an organisation and the general public.
Public relations can also be defined as the activities of a corporation in building and maintaining sound and productive relations with special publics such as customers, shareholders and with the public at large, so as to adapt itself to its environment and interpret itself to the society. In a summary, public relations is the image building done by an organisation to give the public favourable impression about its aims and policies.
Importance of Public Relations
- Public relations ensures the maintenance of a favourable relationship between an organisation and its publics.
- It helps in maintaining good personal relations with the employees.
- Public relations helps to increase the goodwill of a company.
- One of the aims is to advertise the products of the organisation.
- It helps to build the image of a company or organisation.
MEDIA OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
- Trade fairs.
- Gifts / Free samples.
- Television and Radio.
- Feature articles.
- Seminars, Workshops and Conferences.
- Provision of after sales services.
- Sponsored programmes.
- Discharging social responsibilities.
- Charitable ventures.
Exhibition is a medium through which organisations display their products to members of the public in selected places, e.g. Muson Centre at Onikan or National Theatre at Iganmu, both in Lagos state. It is a special event where the goods are well arranged with the price tags fixed on them. The main reason is to create awareness for the product of the company. Exhibition is sometimes used for one line of good, e.g. art exhibition.
2) Trade Fairs
Trade fairs are large national or international exhibition which may be held annually or at much longer intervals. Many local and international firms do participate in a trade fair. An organisation would participate by booking and setting up a stand to promote its products. Samples of their products can be displayed to appeal to the emotions of the potential buyers. An example of trade fair is the Lagos International Trade Fair that normally takes place at the trade fair complex along Badagry expressway.
Differences between Trade Fair and Exhibition
- Trade fairs are always held outdoors.
- They are large in scope because they attract more firms.
- It may involve outright sales of products.
- Wide variety of goods are involved.
- It may be held indoors.
- It is limited in scope because they attract fewer firms.
- It may not involve outright sales.
- It is sometimes used by one industry or one line of goods.
3) Free Samples / Gifts
Manufacturers of products give free goods regularly as samples or gifts to their customers to maintain goodwill. These gifts may be in form of money or materials, e.g. clocks, calendars, pens, pencils etc that may improve the public image of the company. The gifts will have the logo of the company printed on them.
An organisation can show special films in order to arouse the interest of the customers so as to build or boost the image of the company.
5) Television and Radio
Television is the most glamorous of all the media. Since both radio and television have large audience, an organisation may establish a good image for itself by sending information as news item through them. Musical jingles and documentary films can also be presented, which go a long way to boost the image of a company.
6) Feature Articles
A feature article is a medium of public relations which is concerned with the publication in the national dailies or magazines information about the company’s product, its quality, uses and benefits. Also included is information about the calibre of management team, investment capacity and profitability.
7) Seminars, Workshops and Conferences
An organisation can organise seminars and press conferences to highlight its various activities to the general public. This will bring the company closer to the consuming public and it will boost their image.
8) Provision of After Sale Services
A company can create for itself a favourable impression in the minds of their customers by rendering customer services. By listening to the customers’ complaints, their patronage may be retained. This will in no small measure boost their image. Such services like installation, servicing or maintenance are public relations tools.
9) Sponsored Programmes
To build a good image for itself, a company can sponsor programmes like sporting competition, life telecast of sporting events, e.g. football match. There are various examples like the Coca cola Challenge Cup, Pepsi Professional Football League etc. in Nigeria.
10) Social Responsibilities
By participating in local community affairs and contributing financially to community projects or developments, the image of a company can receive a boost. Some firms provide the community with social amenities like schools, roads, hospitals and electricity.
11) Charitable Ventures
A firm can contribute financially to charitable organisations. They can donate money to motherless children homes, spinal cord injury society, disabled homes etc.
Customers services are services which a company can adopt in order to attract customers to their business and to endear itself to them. This helps in facilitating trading activities. Customer services can be divided into two: presales services and after sales services.
a) Pre-sales Services
These are services provided to the customers before the goods are bought. The services are as follows:
- Granting of Credit: Financing or credit may be provided to the customers.
- Sorting of Goods: Goods may be sorted into appropriate lots for buyers.
- Availability of Goods: The goods can be readily made available to meet emergency needs of the consumers.
- Assisting to Set up Storage Facilities: The seller can assist in setting up storage facilities ahead of purchase of certain goods.
- Provision of Sufficient Information about its Product: The seller can provide sufficient information about product features, how to use it and benefits to be derived from using the product. This is done through advertisements.
- Dispatching of Price List and Quotation: This will show the current price and terms of trade for a product ..
- Giving Personal Attention and Conducive Environment: The care and attention which a seller shows the buyer can also ensure good relationship and constant patronage. The seller can create a conducive environment by providing beautiful decoration in the shop.
- Granting of Discount: This is also a presales service given to customers to induce sales.
b) After Sale Services
After sale services are extra services sometimes made available to a customer after he has purchased the product in order to ensure continuous patronage. These include:
- Home Delivery: The seller provides transportation to deliver the goods to customers’ premises
- Free Installation Services: The seller can also embark on installation of customers’ products because of their expertise about the goods.
- Servicing, Repairs and Maintenance: Maintenance and servicing facilities are provided at convenient locations.
- Provision of Spare Parts: The seller can make provision for adequate supply of replacement parts.
- Provision of Free Advice on Use: Information about the best way to use the product can also be provided.
- Free Replacement of Faulty Parts Under Guarantee: The seller makes provision for faulty parts to be replaced, especially when the product is under guarantee or warranty.