What Are the Functions of Public Relations?

by Eryn Travis ; Updated September 26, 2017
The functions of public relations extend beyond media representation.

Public relations functions are designed to benefit an organization by building trust and credibility with targeted groups. In addition, the functions of public relations help raise awareness about an organization as well as give it a chance to define, control and distribute its message to internal and external audiences. Effective public relations functions can also promote an organization or defend it from attack on its reputation.

Media Representation

Representing a company or individual to the media is one of the more well-known functions of public relations. Media management includes developing and distributing both written and video news releases, pitching stories to journalists and responding to reporter inquiries. Depending on the organization, spokesperson duties may also be handled by the public relations department. Media representation also includes monitoring and measuring news coverage of the organization or individual.

Crisis Communication

Protecting a company from a threat to its reputation is another function of public relations. While media representation is a part of crisis communication, preparing a crisis communication plan and training leadership and employees on its components is handled by a public relations department. A crisis communication plan developed by a public relations team typically includes determining specific logistics for expected reporters, the designation of an official spokesperson for the crisis, the development of targeted messages for internal and external audiences and training for company leadership on how to handle tough or hostile questions.

Content Development

Preparing documents, written and electronic, is another function of public relations. Examples of content developed by a public relations department include company newsletters, blogs, speeches and annual reports. Content may also be written for another member of the company, such as a letter to employees from the CEO. Often, a public relations department will work with another department to ensure a project fits with an overall company message. For example, a public relations department may work with advertising and marketing departments on creating a description, report or other content about a new product or service.

Stakeholder Relations

Stakeholders are any persons or groups who have an interest in or could be affected by an organization's objectives or actions. Representing an organization to stakeholder groups is another function of public relations. For example, stakeholder groups may include local or federal governments, advocacy groups or lenders.

Social Media Management

Establishing, monitoring or growing an organization's or individual's online presence is another function of public relations. Specific tasks may include creating or updating facebook pages, tweeting information and keeping an eye on what others are saying in cyberspace about an organization.

About the Author

Eryn Travis has over 15 years of freelance-writing experience. She has written for "Aviation News Today" and was the managing producer and host for the cable TV news show of the same name. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Maryland and is finishing up a master's degree in communication studies from West Chester University.

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