In this lesson, we are going to talk about the four-step process used in public relations. On the job, it's not often you hear of the four-step process. Instead, this process is a conceptual model that helps us think about the different steps that contribute to the practitioners process. Here, I'd like to look at three different models and think about the commonalities in connection to the definitions we learned about in the previous module. For your reference, I'm including an article from the Institute of Public Relations that is available online. I also I'm including two textbooks. You can pick up a version of either of these options online at a good price. These books offer a good introduction to the field of public relations. These are the topics we are going to cover in this video. First, I'm going to give an overview of the four-step process, and then we're going to walk through different models. I'd like to draw your attention to the notion that there are different models for the process like the many different definitions of public relations. This is an industry that refuses to unify on definitions and concepts despite efforts from organizations like PRSA and IPR. Unlike fields like journalism, many practitioners do not agree on what public relations is or how to practice it, which is ultimately why we see different definitions, different four-step models. But the lack of unity only stands to harm the field of public relations long-term. Almost like we have an identity problem as a profession. We should remember that strategy decisions occur at different levels within the organization. The public relations process is vigilant at problem-solving and uses intelligence to strategize and implement. This is a cyclical process that we consistently engage in, not a linear one. It's very common for practitioners to go back to research, to make campaign, to make adjustments. This is something else to highlight about public relations versus advertising or even marketing. Public relations is nimble, and that is by design. We have to be able to bend and flex depending upon the environment or the reaction from our stakeholders. That's what makes public relations so powerful. We are always striving to be part of the conversation. If you recall from the earlier module, by definition, public relations is two-way symmetrical communication aimed at achieving long-term organizational goals by leveraging messages and relationship-building among key stakeholders. To be successful, public relations engages in environmental scanning. This process identifies emerging issues. Those might be issues that have happened a few times or have the potential of happening more frequently. For example, a Fuzzy's Taco Shop location just open in Boulder, Colorado. Thinking about public relations as a management function, there are issues that we know could happen. Complaints about food quality or customer service. Fuzzy's are independently owned stores, and so the Boulder location has to be prepared for anything that might reflect poorly on their location. Public relations should safeguard the brand's reputation by foreseeing any potential issues. As we'll talk later, issues have the potential to develop into crisis. We monitor the environment or scan the environment for issues that need manage. We use intelligence from internal and external sources. We engage in research and consider future and potential impacts of issues. Keeping abreast of the issues and participating in strategic management allows public relations to provide direction from the corporate or organizational level. I know this is a lot of words on the screen, but bear with me here. We talked in the previous video about the evolving nature of the field of public relations and strategic communication. Throughout time, public relations has changed based on media outlets and the information landscape. Although there are many different definitions of public relations, there are some foundational aspects to the practice of public relations. On the screen, you are seeing PRSA's public statement on public relations from 1982. In this statement, PRSA tries to encapsulate what PR as a management function means. I highlighted some of the key functions that we went over in Module 1, anticipating, analyzing, and interpreting public opinion. This means that PR practitioners must be up-to-date on trends and issues relevant to the company or organization. For instance, if my company is a cannabis brand, it's important that I'm up-to-date on the changing laws, not only in my state but across the nation. It's important to know the guidelines related to marketing and advertising a product like cannabis or how the finances operate in relation to federal taxation. The same thing for a technology brand. I want to be aware of new innovations and competitors' product development plans. I want to be abreast of government regulations that might affect business practice. To be good at PR, you have to be in the know. Counseling management at all levels. This is that management function. But this ensures that the company moves fluidly and the talking points are the same. The relationships are being made with key stakeholders. There's a strategy that's guiding the brand. Ultimately, we are trying to achieve the company's mission and uphold the core values. Then notice researching, conducting, and evaluating on a continuing basis. This is important. We should be constantly evaluating and changing course if needed to ensure our objectives are met. These four steps don't just happen once but we are constantly moving fluidly between the steps in order to achieve the communication objectives. Lastly, planning and implementing. So often we think this is the fun part of public relations for tactics but good strategy is what drives the planning and implementing stage, and strategy is born of research. All of these pieces fit together to produce the strongest plan to solve the communication problem. Now let's look at several different acronyms of the four step process. We'd start with race. Race here stands for research, action, communication, and evaluation. Research and analysis are recognized activities in the public relations process. Knowledge is needed for the design and implementation of communication plans. According to Cutlip and Center, research provides useful intelligence offering a foundation for defining the communication strategy and the key messages. Each step is as important as the others but the process begins with gathering intelligence to diagnose the problem. Information and understanding developed in the first step motivating guide subsequent steps in the process. Part of this first step in research is knowing and understanding the audience. This also means knowing where the audience gets information and what media they consume. In the action and planning step, we strategize about the best ways to solve the communication problem, goals and objectives are created in this step. You might have heard of smart objectives; specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. What's important here is the measuring time. These elements help us evaluate the communication. Next is communication and this is the implementation step. This is the strategy playing out in our tactics. What are tactics? Well tactics include executions like a press release, or media relations, a special event, or newsletter, or social media. Tactics are the doing part of public relations. Last is evaluation and this is a focus on results. Did we achieve the objectives? Evaluation has legitimatized the field of public relations because this is how we show value to clients. Now, let's talk about another acronym, ropes. The rope model is research, objectives, programming, and evaluation. Just like the previous race model, research is always the first step. The rope model calls attention to the importance of the objectives. This step of the process focuses in on what we hope that communication will achieve. Then instead of action, this model uses programming to refer to the implementation of the communication strategy. Then evaluation is the fourth step. This model includes this step, the S for stewardship. Stewardship refers to the maintenance of relationships with stakeholders. To me, this is just a natural part of public relations or should be. To be mutually beneficial, it's important that the relationship is nurtured and maintained, not that it end after the transaction. There are four dimensions of stewardship; reciprocity, responsibility, reporting, and relationship nurturing. Reciprocity is the idea of two-way symmetrical communication mutually beneficial relationship. Responsibility means there is no gap between promise and delivery and that the company meets stakeholders' expectations. Reporting is the idea that companies should communicate internal developments with key stakeholders as appropriate. This reflects transparency and authenticity which builds trust. Last is relationship nurturing and this is fostering relationships and showing existing stakeholders that you are invested. Now, the last four step acronym we'll cover today is R-pie. The R-pie model is perhaps the most straightforward of all three; research, planning, implementation, and evaluation. All of these acronyms reflect conceptualized models of public relations that ultimately propose an approach to problem-solving, decision-making, action implementation, and evaluation, public relations require intelligence. Thus again we see research as the first step in conducting public relations practice. Here, planning is part of the process and if you'll recall, planning is a key term and defining public relations. We aren't about short-term actions or stunts, instead we went to achieve long-term goals for the mission of the company. Then implementation and evaluation. Gathering intelligence can support strategic planning but also help with the issue of management. Communication can adopt a proactive mode for managing the environment for the interest of the company or organization. You'll notice that the different acronyms or models reviewed here today are conceptually similar. The four-step process recognizes that to be effective, public relations must be used as a management function. Practitioners should be proactive in identifying the issues and scanning the environment. Research and analysis informs strategy and strategy informs tactics or the programming that is implemented. Finally, public relations has always struggled to show value but in today's digital landscape, it is much easier to demonstrate what public relations achieves for a company. These different acronyms all describe the components of public relations practice.