The press conference is not enough

Date of publication: September 1, 1989


The paper draws attention to the poor perceptions of public relations by both practitioners themselves and their clients, examines the reasons for this and postulates that the adoption of professionally conducted research and planning will go some way to countering the criticisms. It illustrates what can happen when research is conducted in the traditional manner and demonstrates, by case history, the effectiveness of a PR campaign conducted using research and planning to their full capability. The PR industry seems to exhibit the exception to the rule that familiarity breeds favourability: the more people know about it, the less well they think of it. The "straw poll" type of research traditionally carried out by PR companies is shown to be both incomplete, potentially misleading and often dangerous in that it can frighten a client out of a necessary action because it has no real basis of accuracy. Such investigations should not be presented as research even though they can be useful in identifying possible issues. The root of the poor perceptions of PR is a misunderstanding about its nature beyond that of media relations, on the part of both clients, and some PR practitioners. In order to broaden the understanding of PR, agencies must have the facilities available to take time to think. PR will not be taken seriously until it embraces the concept of planning. This paper outlines the skills of a planner, as applied to PR. This will mean a major investment on the part of the agencies, and their clients, but it will result in more effective campaigns. In order to demonstrate effective PR using both research and planning, the BUPA case history is outlined. Research was used as one analysis tool in problem definition and strategy development. It was then used to provide PR material and to attract the larger audiences. Attendance, coverage and assessment research all testify to the campaign’s effectiveness.

Gillian S. Greenway


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