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Public relations covers a broad series of activities where a business manages its relationships with different parts of the public, e.g. customers, the media, local communities, suppliers, employees and investors.

The main objectives of public relations are:

  • To achieve favourable publicity about the business
  • To build the image and reputation of the business and its products, particularly amongst customers
  • To communicate effectively with customers and other stakeholders

Public relations, which is often shortened just to "PR", has several advantages over advertising in terms of promotion:

  • No direct charge is made for PR, though a business will need to pay for its own PR department or external PR consultant
  • PR is arguably more powerful because the message the business communicates through PR is often more believable than paid for advertising

However there is no guarantee that PR will reach its target audience (the media may fail to feature the story) whereas advertising must be displayed since the space in the newspaper is paid for.

Sponsorship is a specialised kind of public relations and increasingly popular, particularly with larger businesses. A business will sponsor an event, team or individual in order to build brand awareness. A secondary objective might be to emphasise social or ethical credentials, but most sponsorship really does have a commercial objective at heart.

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