Do any organizations appoint public relations officers anymore?

The role of the public relations officer is to obtain publicity for the respective group by contacting news organizations and social Web sites regarding fund raisers, upcoming special events, and general information such as election of officers.

Too often we hear complaints about not giving coverage or showing up at a certain event, when we actually were never informed of it. Very often an organization will merely take for granted that someone will contact the media when nobody is actually appointed to do so.

At one time, virtually every organization had a public relations officer. We, in the media, liked this because it meant we would be kept abreast of that club's happenings. We had someone in the organization with whom we could communicate.

Public relations officers write press releases, get contacts within the media and contact them personally by phone or e mail, and even take photos of events and submit them to the media.

Social media such as Facebook has done a lot of harm to public relations. Some think merely listing an event on Facebook or other social sites is adequate, when generally such notice reaches only "friends" lists.

It's convenient to post events on Facebook and similar sites, but veteran public relations personnel know how important it is to reach all media genres - newspaper, television, radio.

Such things as class plays, school music groups, local bands, civic organizations, and municipal authorities and boards should appoint a PR director.

The public relations person should be in contact with the news media and work to get positive publicity for his or her organization.

The better the organization - specifically the public relations chairman - does at his or her job, the more publicity that organization likely will receive.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com