Public Relations Management: Skills, Activities & Departmental Structure

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  • 0:01 Public Relations
  • 0:55 Public Relations Department
  • 3:00 Public Relations…
  • 3:44 Public Relations Activities
  • 5:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Jennifer Lombardo
Expert Contributor
Steven Scalia

Steven completed a Graduate Degree is Chartered Accountancy at Concordia University. He has performed as Teacher's Assistant and Assistant Lecturer in University.

Companies utilize a public relations team to create mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and stakeholders. In this lesson, you will learn about public relations management, skills, activities, and the departmental structure.

Public Relations

How does a company create an effective public relations management team? In this lesson, we will discuss who is responsible for managing public issues and the skills required to do so effectively. In addition, we will explain the structure and the activities of a public relations department.

What is public relations? It is a communication process that creates mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and various stakeholders. The process is ongoing and is critical to creating a positive corporate image and handling business crises. N&N Chocolates has had their share of public relations disasters, including one with mouse droppings found in their chocolate drop bags. Lately, most of their public relations efforts are focused on improving corporate image. Let's take a look at how they have organized their public relations department.

Public Relations Department

Most public issues are dealt with by a boundary-spanning department called external affairs or public relations. At N&N, this department is made up of savvy individuals who are experienced at dealing with top management, media, the public, consumers, and other stakeholders to ensure continuing communications. There are specific skills that are needed for a public relations employee to be successful. They are:

1. Time Management

When N&N had their mouse dropping crisis, it created multiple public issues for the public relations department to also handle. A public relations professional needs to have excellent time management skills in order to balance multiple tasks at once. N&N's team had to handle media and consumer inquiries about the mouse droppings, while also planning a crisis response to stockholders upset over the stock price dropping. Finally, due to the crisis, the public relations team was put in charge of additional announcements detailing plant closures and layoffs due to the public relations nightmare.

2. Organization

Another skill that is needed to handle the pressures of dealing with the public is the ability to organize and be detail-oriented. If a public relations employee is not able to keep track of tasks, respond quickly, and stay focused, the result will be catastrophic for the company. N&N could not have a public relations executive forget to respond to media requests or consumer needs, as it would tarnish the company's image even more.

3. Computer & Writing

Computer and writing skills are vital for every public relations employee to master. N&N's workers spend each day writing and typing press releases, emails, and proposals to improve their corporate image after the chocolate issue. Experience in Photoshop and Quark can also benefit a worker with design projects. For example, one public relations employee is designing a media kit, or prepackaged press pack of company information to highlight N&N's new focus on charity work with local children's hospitals.

Public Relations Office Structure

The establishment of the public relations organizational structure depends on how many stakeholders are part of the company. For example, N&N Chocolates' Vice President of Public Relations reports directly to the CEO. Under the VP, there are separate managers who have executives and assistants for areas of stakeholders, such as government, media relations, community/corporate image, creative services, and crisis management. When N&N had to deal with the mouse dropping issue, the crisis management team was tasked with the project. Currently, the community/corporate image and the creative services department are working on rebuilding the positive corporate image by focusing on the company's charity work.

Public Relations Activities

N&N Chocolates' public relations department has numerous activities that they are responsible for within their scope. The department handles:

1. Advertising & promotion of the corporation's image and philanthropy, or charity work, by creating executed messages via the media to build a positive image for organizations.

This is the current project of N&N Chocolates' team through their focus on charity work. They just completed a public service announcement, which shows how 5% of all profits are being used to build playrooms in children's hospitals across the country.

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Additional Activities

Public Relations Management - A Business Case:

The case study below will allow you to apply your knowledge of Public Relations Management in a real-life business context.


You are a management consultant specializing in Public Relations. You receive a call from Montgomery Burnsy, a billionaire that owns a travel agency.

"I urgently need your help. Last night, there was a social media storm regarding our latest tropical resort in Brazil following a report that we deforested huge plots of land in order to build our complex. Within a few hours, there were hundreds of angry protesters in front of my house, chanting that I was killing the planet and ruining the greenery of the Amazon forest. This hurts me so much because this couldn't be further from the truth - I have a green heart! When we bought the forest land from the government, we actually bought a second plot of land that was deforested by a timber company years earlier, and we reforested it. Our rule was simple: For every tree that we cut down, we planted 10 new ones. In addition, the company donates 20% of its profit annually to UNESCO missions in the Amazon forest, and I personally donate $1,000,000 of my annual salary to local not-for-profits. My mindset to build the tourist resort in the Amazon Forest was that eventually, someone was going to build one... It might as well be done by someone as dedicated as I am to maintaining the biodiversity and greenery of the Amazon Forest."


Select two Public Relations Activities that you believe are best suited to respond to this crisis and, for each activity, describe your action plan in detail as well as your reasoning (100 words minimum per activity).


Students are encouraged to get creative with their responses. There are many acceptable answers as long as case facts are integrated. Some examples of key case facts include:

  • The company's initiative to plant 10 trees for every single one deforested.
  • The company's annual donation to UNESCO missions.
  • The owner's personal philanthropy.

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