by Evan Whittaker
As you may know, the academic Public Relations Program at the University of Central Missouri recently found its new home in the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies. In previous years, the PR Program has been part of the Communications Department for rather obvious reasons; PR focuses heavily on communication. So, considering the recent move to the business college, does PR really have an important place in a business environment?
In a word: absolutely.
Public relations can serve numerous valuable purposes in any business. Here are a few examples:
Connecting with consumers
This is perhaps the most obvious answer. One of the primary goals of public relations is to ensure that the messages an organization sends to its publics (and vice versa) are strategically distributed and meaningfully understood. When considering the goals of a business, the benefits of PR become readily apparent.
In essence, a business aims to create value for shareholders by providing products or services to consumers. Public relations professionals can craft strategic, targeted messages for the business to attract and retain those consumers. In addition, PR pros can ensure that the business has a clear understanding of its consumers and is receiving clear messages from them. This can help the business to refine and expand its offerings, thereby creating a mutually beneficial relationship.
PR in management
Public relations also can be extremely useful in communicating with a business’s internal publics, such as employees. If you take a minute to read how PRSA defines public relations, you’ll see the phrase “management function” appears several times. That’s because the knowledge and training public relations professionals receive in the areas of organizational communication, strategic messaging and audience analysis all prove extremely beneficial for business managers.
A key element of executive leadership is the ability to communicate effectively with employees, and arguably PR professionals are among the highest skilled individuals when it comes to crafting effective messages that maximize understanding. By facilitating clear and meaningful communication between management staff and employees, PR pros can help to create a positive and constructive work environment.
Investors often play a vital role in a business’ success. Their investments add value to the business and provide it with the opportunity to grow. This undoubtedly designates investors as an important public for virtually every professional organization.
Often, the struggle for businesses regarding investors is not only to attract new prospects, but also to retain those who have already invested. A PR professional can be a valuable asset for a business’s investor relations program because, although the investors’ interest is often primarily focused on financial information, public relations practitioners are highly skilled in communicating strategic messages to specific audiences. This means that input from a PR pro regarding the best ways to convey this information can be the difference between attracting/retaining investors and a missed opportunity to expand.
These are just a few examples of the numerous public relations functions that can benefit nearly any business. The relocation of UCM’s PR Program to the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies signifies a growing trend, as business-minded professionals are beginning to acknowledge and support the benefits PR can bring to the table.