What is Public Relations (PR)? - Definition


What is Public Relations (PR)? - Definition

Public Relations is all the communication between a business organization or individual and the public or more explicitly, between a business and its customers and potential customers.


What is Public Relations?

Public Relation (PR) is the deliberate, planned and sustained efforts to establish and maintain beneficial relationships between an organization and public. It comes from recognition that without the active support from the public, the organization will have difficulty to carry on and grow. Shareholders, suppliers, customers, agents, employees all have stakes in an organization. In the case of tourism, the trade and commerce within the vicinity of the destination and the local people also have a stake. The local residents at the destination probably have the biggest stake. Their life styles and the environment are affected by the influx of tourists. Tourists being visitors from a different culture and society (even if within Nigeria) may be accustomed to behaviors different from the locals. There could be a fear that the younger generation may be 'spoilt' by mixing with the tourists. The increased activity accompanying tourists’ growth may bring in undesirable persons, thus affecting the sense of security. If the local people start reacting to these 'encroachments' into their ways, their behaviors may significantly affect the pleasure of the tourists. PR is essential to ensure that the relationships are conducive to the growth of tourism. Better understanding between tourists and the hosts/residents at and around the destination can make them feel favorably inclined to each other. This can be possible through contacts and interaction. It is part of PR activity to make such contacts contribution towards a better understanding. The contract becomes more useful if expectation of both is known and each is aware of the do's and don'ts.

The tools of public relation are the same as for publicity plus:

1) Journals/Newsletters.

2) Sponsored visits.

3) Sponsorship of activities.

4) Special drives and interest group meetings, etc.

PR efforts are aimed at key personnel and seek to shift the people toward:

1)    Sympathy from Hostility

2)    Acceptance from prejudice

3)    Interest from apathy.

4)    Knowledge from ignorance.

PR effort has to be credible but they are difficult to evaluate for effectiveness. PR is the business of everybody in the organization. The top management may lay down the policy. But what others in the organization do also conveys message to the public. This affects their relationship with the organization. The training and education of staff at all levels on how to deal with customers/people with courtesy and consideration has to be a part of the PR effort. As tourists professional you have to be extremely caution of this aspect. Leading organization have PR department and many others have at least a PR Officer. But many tend to ignore this. This may have adverse effects in the long term or may be in the short term itself.


Personal Selling

Personal selling is a part of promotion. Advertisements and other non-personal communications are not adequate to persuade customers to make choices. The information required to make choices are more than those available at awareness levels. The gap can be reduced via personal interaction. Even then the quality of service and integrity producers is difficult to know.

Salesperson's Duties

Salespersons (boy or girl) have to call on people to sell. Ideally salesperson has to:

1)   Find prospects, that is, get names of people who are likely to buy.

2) Qualify the prospects, finding enough data on th e prospect to decide whether there is need and capacity to buy.

3)   Approach the qualified prospect by fixing up appointments for presentation.

4) Make the presentation during which the salesman will explain what the product can do to the prospect and get him sufficiently interested to try the product.

5)   Close the sale, that is, make the customer buy.

6) Provide after sale service that is to ensure that the experience with the product is the same or better than what was promised during sale and the customer has no complaints.

A service, being intangible, presents a lot of uncertainties to the prospect. The salesman / girl of a service, if perceived as non-professional, or not credible, increases those uncertainties. They should be seen as reliable, friendly and meaning well. They should emphasis conveniences but not ignore to mentions pre-cautions necessary in usage. Effective salespersons understand and emphasis with the customers and are more acceptable to the customers. They also demand services from the organization on behalf of their customers.


Purposes of Salesperson

In practice, all sale calls are not for affecting sales. The other purposes served through such call are:

1)   Data collection and updating prospects list.

2) As a PR effort, to tell about new products and achievements of the organization.

3) As a service to check on customer's experience and satisfaction level with what they have bought, leading to feedback for product development.

4)   Intensive sale campaigns in specific areas from time to time.

A salesperson must be sensitive to the reality of the situation they are in at any particular time and adjust their normal styles and presentations accordingly. Or else, they might be embarrassed.

For example,- if the salesman of a vacuum cleaner, who, to demonstrate the effectiveness of his product, scattered a lot of rubbish on the costly carpet in the prospect's living room, later found that there would be no electricity for the next four hours.

Generally (subject to exceptions always) people like to: Think for themselves and understand the product at their pace. They do not like to be hustled.

1. Have second opinions and look at options before buying, particularly if the commitment is heavy. In services the commitment is usually irreversible.

2.  Be respected for their views. Experienced sales person do not contradict or deny directly the prospect's statements. They avoid an argument. They agree with a 'Yes' and then express an alternative view with a 'but'.

While buying goods, the buyer takes home what he has bought and uses it there. A post sales call is necessary to know the experience. In the services business, the production and consumption occur simultaneously as an interaction between the consumer and the representative of the producer. This representative is usually not the salesperson. In the case of many service, the feedback can be heard during the service transaction itself, example being, cinema, entertainment, beauty clinic, laundry etc. in many other services the feedback is delayed. Example of this is medical treatment or repair services. In the case of insurance the service is delivered (at the time of claims) long after the purchase is made. During the intervening period, nothing should happen to nullify the arrangement made. Ensuring all this is post sales service.

Tourists destinations are sold personally to intending travelers by travel agents, hoteliers cruise operators and other intermediaries. Post sales calls help to check whether experience was consistent with expectations and promises. Such feedback obtained during post sales calls helps improve the tourism product and eliminate dissatisfying elements.



Activities that take place within the unit are called Merchandising. The objectives of merchandising are to make customers within the premises:

1)   Aware of facilities or offers available,

2)   Want to avail of those facilities or offer on impulse, and

3)   Have a memorable experience.

Merchandising relies on displays of materials and skills. Utilization of facilities within hotels by resident guests can be improved through merchandising.

A provider of tourism services has considerable opportunity for merchandising i.e. to make the customer who is in contact, buy additional services which he may not have original planned to buy. May be he did not know of the availability of the services or did not know enough to evaluate its true worth. If the additional service on offer is unique and exclusive to that location, the additional costs would seem to be negligible compared to the opportunity he may not visit the place, at least for quite some time.

"If Merchandising is done before the tour commences, the tourists will be ready for it. Otherwise, depending on the availability of money and time resources, there could be disappointment."

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