For many people, Public Relations is a nebulous activity. Its meaning is barely understood and its practitioners, at times, are regarded almost as charlatans. This is regrettable because Public Relations has an important part to play in all forms of corporate understanding. For the modern business organization, its role is vital.

Once a firm has grown beyond the stage when it is personified by its proprietors, or the members of its Board, it has a need for a Public Relations service. Unfortunately, Public Relations is often suspect because it is equated, in the eyes of the public, with an attempt to deceive, to 'pull the wool o'er our eyes'. Yet this is the antithesis of its real purpose, which is to explain that which may not be fully apparent and, by so doing, to remove prejudice and misunderstanding based upon ignorance of the facts.

Just as advertising will not sell, repeatedly, a product or service which fails to provide value for money, neither will Public Relations, however skilful its methods, create permanently a good impression of an organization whose activities are opposed to the best interests of its customers, its shareholders, its employees or the public at large. While no company, any more than an individual, is likely to be wholly perfect, one must concede that all successful businesses must possess the virtues of enterprise coupled with fair-dealing, in order to remain successful. In the highly competitive world in which we live, however, it is not enough merely to be virtuous. One must be seen to be virtuous. One must give a good impression. Public Relations takes account of this need to focus public attention on all the favourable aspects of a company's activities. By so doing, it endeavours to create a good climate of opinion in which the organization can pursue its legitimate aims.

The task of Public Relations, therefore, is to ensure that the company is seen to have an effective and valuable influence upon the well-being of the trade or industry in which it operates. A good public image is not something which occurs accidentally. It requires conscious effort and that effort needs to be channelled correctly to be effective. Since a good public image is essential to good marketing, Public Relations is an activity of vital interest to the ONLINE MARKETING Manager.

Good public relations is synonymous with good communications. This requires a knowledge of communications media, especially the press, radio and television. It is for this reason that many Public Relations men are former journalists or, at least, have had journalistic training. In small firms, it is often sufficient to employ a single Public Relations man. He has the facility of calling upon the services of one of the Public Relations agencies as and when occasion demands. Larger organizations usually have their own Public Relations Department.

What makes for good public relations? Many firms do not give serious thought to their need of Public Relations until some event occurs which compels the management to recognize that need. Very often, this is the belated realization that their market-ing plans are being frustrated, due to trade or public misconception of the importance of the company's past achievements or of its future potential.

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