Opinion: PR is as much science as it is art

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IT is no secret that effective public relations tactics are central to the development of successful business, enabling organizations to build relationships with stakeholders, promote brand values and manage their reputation, writes Sadhbh Sullivan

Everything an organization does or says has the ability to affect the perceptions of its stakeholders. Enacting appropriate processes for public relations has the ability to alter how individuals perceive and understand reality. 

Although, historically, the importance of public relations has often been underestimated, in a constantly evolving digital world where individuals and organizations can share information online instantly and at any time, PR has cemented itself as one of the most important functions of modern business. Its importance has been recognized by some of the world’s leading business people, including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who acknowledged: “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on PR.” 

While the importance of PR is clear in large economies, the profession is equally crucial in smaller economies, where organizations depend on efficient and effective communications to promote business, mitigate crises and maintain connections with their various communities. According to a census carried out by the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII), PR contributes over €1.2 billion to the Irish Economy, with over 2,800 individuals working in the profession in agency, in-house or self-employed roles at both private and public capacities. 

The industry’s continued growth is reflected by the increasing amount of employment opportunities available to communications enthusiasts and is likely a result of the constantly changing digital landscape in which organizations operate. The influx of new social media platforms and forums that enable the sharing of public opinions, such as TikTok and Instagram, require Irish PR professionals to remain up to date on digital trends, in order to create efficient and effective campaigns. 

As traditional and modern public relations practices continue to merge, public relations practitioners are faced with a host of new challenges impacting how brand reputation is managed. Although the convergence of communications tools may appear daunting, many modern devices enable practitioners to make informed decisions for themselves and their clients. The surge of big data available to PR professionals enhances the creation of targeted campaigns. Although PR has been considered a creative process in the past, today’s PR is as much science as it is art, with many online tools enabling organizations to sift through large amounts of data for accurate insights into the sentiment of their stakeholders. 

Although constantly evolving, the future of the Irish PR landscape is bright, as practitioners continue to upskill, finding new and innovative ways to use the media landscape to their advantage. To maintain industry success, organizations must adapt their practices to meet the needs of the evolving digital world, using their existing resources, such as big data, to create informed, creative public relations campaigns.