A Holistic View of Public Relations 

By Kaylin R. Staten

Public relations is at the heart of Hourglass Media. It’s what we do every day, but it could be challenging to define or explain to others.

In its truest and intended form, public relations is “the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on whom its success or failure depends,” according to the APR Study Guide.

Holistically, the public relations profession includes:


  1. Trusted counsel: We advise and anticipate any situation.

  2. Internal communication: We engage employees and other internal stakeholders to build trust and reach goals.

  3. Media relations: We develop a more public trust through relationships with local, regional, national and international media representatives.

  4. Community relations: This is another more public method of establishing trust and support by working with community groups.

  5. External communication: This involves trust building and reaching goals and objectives with customers/investors/other stakeholders. 

Public Relations Four-Step Process 

6. Research

7. Planning

8. Implementation

9. Evaluation


10. Publicity and special events

11. Issues management

12. Crisis communications 

In public relations, the communications plan is a core component of the Planning stage. These steps are:

Overall Goals for Public Relations

The overall goals tie into your problem statement and research methods. This is a broad, universal statement of being. It is recommended to have one to three goals. Anything else would become too overwhelming and could convolute your messaging. 

Key Publics

Make a list of each public you would like to communicate with. Always think about internal and external publics and ask yourself, Who will be affected or will act on the messages I’m sending? 

Objectives for Each Public

Your SMART Objectives for each goal will be listed here. You will have one to three objectives for each goal: 

  • Specific (which audience will take which action)

  • Measurable

  • Achievable 

  • Realistic

  • Time-Specific

The goals and objectives are often the same for each public, but they can also vary. Variables happen more often with strategies and tactics, however.


Strategies explain HOW you will approach your problem statement and related communications plan. This is where you will explain exactly what you want to do in order to achieve your goals and objectives. You can have several strategies for each objective, and some publics will have varying strategies. No public is the same, and you have to look at that fact behind the scenes.

An example of a strategy would be to: communicate with internal stakeholders about community events. 


Tactics are WHAT you will do to carry out your strategy. To build off the example of the above strategy, a tactic to go along with, “ communicate with internal stakeholders about community events” would be to release an employee eNewsletter to talk about internal and external happenings.


Activities are what you do in order to employ your tactics. This is where you get more specific. You may decide that the employee eNewsletter will go out weekly to each of your 50 employees. You’ll decide that you’ll use a free service, like MailChimp, to send out these emails. You can even say that every Thursday at 2 p.m. will be the day and time you send the eNewsletter every week. 


Keep in mind that what you did during the Research section will come back to either haunt or help you in the Evaluation section. Put your objectives in this section. When the campaign is over and you’re in report mode, you will be able to quickly assess whether you met your SMART objectives and other Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Expectations (ROE). 


What do you need in terms of physical items and man and womanpower in order to accomplish your goals and objectives?


How much will your efforts cost, and do you have enough money to cover all expenses? This is where you include each line item, from staff time to advertising expenses. 

Timetable and Task List

This is where organization is king. You create a timetable and task list for each tactic and activity underneath your goals, objectives and strategies. This is your road map, and it will lead you through the Implementation stage. Create a spreadsheet or use a software program to ensure that you and your team have the timelines and task assignments. A checklist could have these items on it: update employee email list, decide on weekly topics, compile community events list, look over open rate, etc.


Kaylin R. Staten, APR, is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer based in Huntington, WV with nearly 16 years of professional communications experience. As CEO and founder of Hourglass Media, she uses her compassionate spirit and expertise to delve into the heart of clients’ stories. She is a recovering perfectionist, mental health advocate, wife, cat mom and Leia Organa aficionado. Connect with Kaylin on LinkedIn.