What is the Nature of Challenge of Public Relations?

By Tiara Ogabang

‘What is the nature of challenge of public relations?’ 

Well, that’s a very big question for us to try and answer, but we’ll do our best to talk about some of the most common challenges you can expect to encounter if you decide to join the public relations industry. 

It’s a unique line of work where the nature of a situation can change in a heartbeat. You can’t coast your way along with just one skillset, either. You’ll learn more and more over time, understanding to handle all kinds of different problems. 

We’re going to explore a few of these challenges here. We hope that this article will help prepare you for just a few of the difficulties that public relations presents to professionals every day. 

Understanding the needs of each client 

Public relations is all about serving your clients, and while it may seem simple enough to find out what those clients want, but in practice, it can be easier said than done. 

For one, a client may not have settled on their campaign goals before approaching a PR firm if they expect their PR team to help them determine what those goals should be. 

Alternately, a client may not be able to articulate their needs right away, especially if this is the first time they’re utilizing public relations services. 

To help minimize this challenge, you can hold consultation meetings or phone calls with the client before any papers have been signed. 

Honest communication throughout the entire process of working with a client can be another effective way to make sure that everyone has the same expectations and agrees fully with the current direction of the campaign.  

That direction might change later on, but that’s a whole separate challenge we’ll be talking about soon enough.

Understanding the needs of each client

Resolving disagreements with coworkers 

In any workplace, there are going to be moments when you disagree with your coworkers about something. 

It could be a purely professional disagreement, likely about a current campaign, or it could be something much smaller having to do with personal issues. 

The social dynamics of an office environment can be a challenge in their own way, but regardless of what the disagreement happens to be, it’s best to try and resolve it sooner rather than later. 

Resolving a disagreement also doesn’t always mean convincing someone else that you’re right. It might involve a compromise, or it might even end with you changing your own viewpoint on an issue. 

In a worst-case scenario, when a disagreement has ballooned drastically, your office’s human resources department can get involved and mediate the dispute. 

But in most instances, approaching the other person on your own and letting them know that you want to work this out can solve many different types of problems. 

When you’re honest with yourself and your coworkers, this particular challenge is greatly minimized. 

Changing the course of a campaign 

Returning to purely professional concerns, public relations campaigns sometimes need to be altered, especially if the current campaign has resulted in negativity or outright indifference among your target audience. 

Generally, major changes to an existing campaign should be avoided. Altering a campaign or starting from scratch can also mean increased costs, as well as many additional hours you’ll need to spend on this client’s account, which could get in the way of work you need to do for other clients.  

But if the campaign isn’t achieving anywhere near the desired results, then changing the approach can sometimes be unavoidable. 

This is an especially difficult challenge since it can also damage the trust of the client. The client might even start to become nervous about using your services. 

One of the best things you can do in this scenario is to have a meeting or series of meetings, in-person if possible, where everyone who has a say in the direction of the campaign can sit down together and work things out. 

If there is an executive on the client side who’s only been watching the process from a distance, see if it’s possible to include them as well. 

If a campaign isn’t meeting the client’s expectations, it’s often due to miscommunication of some kind. 

The ways in which you change a campaign will depend on the specifics of that campaign, but as for agreeing on and executing changes, clear communication needs to be your foundation.

Changing the course of a campaign

Reaching multiple demographics 

In an ideal situation, the target audience for a public relations campaign will be highly specific. The more narrow the target audience, the easier it is to create a campaign that speaks directly to that audience. 

But a client may have a target audience that’s quite broad, or they might present you with what they consider to be multiple target audiences. 

In these cases, the campaign materials need to be broad as well, and that’s no easy task. 

Finding ways to reach different groups at the same time, with the same campaign, is going to take a lot of effort and maybe even some clever problem-solving. 

But one thing’s for sure: if you succeed in reaching that target audience, you’ll know it, and your clients will be thankful for your help in achieving their marketing goals, whatever those goals happen to be at the time.  

Integrating new techniques

As things stand right now, public relations agencies have adapted very well to online marketing, a venue that didn’t even exist thirty years ago. 

It took time, but public relations professionals adapted to this brand new marketing opportunity. 

In fact, PR companies are continuing to find ways to take browsing habits into consideration to create highly targeted marketing materials based on the user’s interests. 

On the one hand, this serves as an example of how the public relations industry can effectively adapt to changing conditions. But it’s also proof that public relations will continue to change. 

This brings us to another challenge of working in PR: integrating innovative new methods into your workflow. 

Never assume that public relations avenues are static. Learning about methods already in use is definitely important, but you should stop short of becoming complacent with how things are right now.