General / PRSSA

Public Relations from an Interpersonal Perspective

By: Mark Hollander, PRSSA VP

Think of a person in your life who is really nice and caring. Now think of a person you believe is sometimes rude or overconfident. Both of these people have helped you shape an opinion about them through personal interactions, or what you have heard about them from other people. In the field of public relations, companies can be thought of in the same way. PR is all about that split-second perception someone has about your brand.

If a person does you a favor or listens to you in a time of need, undoubtedly your perceptions about them will improve. From that point on, you may mention to a mutual friend that they’re nice, trustworthy, or caring. This is similar to how a company communicates with its audience. By convincing potential customers that it provides good support, treats its employees well, or practices sustainability, a company is improving public perception. Additionally, companies then hope that this positive view is furthered via word of mouth to other consumers.

Apple exemplifies these strategies. In recent years, a large emphasis on business has been put on environmental responsibility. In order to reach out to consumers and show that they are committed to helping the environment, Apple created a special part of their website – Apple Environment. Although Apple probably does truly care about the environment, they are also giving their customers yet another reason to purchase their products instead of their competition.

By promoting the best possible version of themselves, companies hope that people will then be more willing to spend money on their products. The same can be said for people in everyday life – treating others kindly and painting a positive picture of ourselves can go a long way in fostering the relationships we care about most.

If you currently work in PR or aspire to in the future, you probably have been asked by at least one person a question such as, “What exactly is PR – what do you do?” After answering them with something along the lines of, “I manage a company’s public image,” it may be useful in the future to apply this metaphor to better communicate exactly what you do professionally.

What are some ways you find yourself explaining public relations to people who ask? Comment below!