Issues in Public Relations

November 16, 2023
OPINION: Issues in Public

Even local public relations efforts have global impact in today's market.Even local public relations efforts have global impact in today's market.

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Public relations has been somewhat reinvented in the 21st century. The Internet has made it easy to put out a message and at the same time, has made it hard to be heard. The clutter of PR messages can desensitize readers and viewers, but a message goes viral often enough to make the possibilities intriguing. A small business that utilizes PR will have to overcome a number of obstacles.


Through most of the 20th century, public relations professionals had to work hard to gain access to media outlets. This meant editors at those outlets tended to screen PR messages for accuracy, professionalism and quality. In the 21st century, anyone with an internet connection can get a message out in seconds. This has resulted in a lot of exaggeration, boasting and untrue claims that hurt the credibility of promotions that utilize PR. As a small-business owner, you have to find ways to establish your credibility when putting out a message. This can include your own credentials and background, getting third parties to endorse your message and offering facts and figures to support your PR claims.

Multiple Channels

The days are gone when television, radio and newspapers were enough to reach your audience. PR in the 21st century must choose the pathways to the target audience. For example, a PR campaign could focus on text messaging as a way to target young people, switch to an email campaign for the parents of those young people and rely on traditional newspaper stories to reach seniors. In addition, each message might have to be stated differently to suit the method of distribution. Your campaign for your small business must use the right channel with the right message to reach your audience.

Measuring Impact of Social Media

Social media can look like a PR person’s dream. It’s simple to spread the word on the various social media sites. In fact, many of these link to each other so that a message appearing on one appears on the others. What’s difficult is measuring the impact of using social media. For example, Facebook users often object to advertising and PR messages that appear on their personal pages. PR messages may be dismissed and ignored. As a small-business owner, you face the challenge of crafting your PR messages in ways that social media users will welcome. In addition, a small-business owner must survey customers to see if they found out about the business through social media or by other means.

Two-Way PR

A public relations message was once a one-way effort. In the 21st century, the target audience can reply to messages immediately. A small business may need to designate an employee to monitor social media responses to see if they are positive. This means you must be prepared to alter your message as you get feedback from your target audience.

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