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CHAPTER 10 PUBLIC RELATIONS TOOLS 10.1 What Is Public Relations? 10.2 Earned Media 10.3 Public Speaking 10.4 Events 10.5 Promotions 10.6 Sponsorships and Volunteering 10.7 Other Public Relations Materials 10.1 WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS? AOPA is known for its effective public relations efforts. In AOPA's "The Guide to Obtaining Community Support for Your Local Airport" (AOPA, Frederick, Maryland, 2008), public relations is defined as follows: "PR is not just publicity--it involves EVERYTHING the airport is and does that addresses or affects the public interest. The best time to start a planned, positive public relations program is before you need it, probably right now." The AOPA Guide continues by pointing out that "some airport operators and aviation people believe that a low profile will avoid difficulties." "Actually, there is no such thing as a low profile for an active airport. The mere fact that an airport exists means people will have opinions about it. The low profile approach is a head-in-the-sand self-delusion. A public relations program should include community involvement, political action, and media relations. Ideally, it should be launched BEFORE negative public opinion builds into action and continued even when no crisis threatens." In the end, public relations is about influencing opinion. Since no airport exists in a vacuum, your airport prob- ably already has a formal or informal public relations program. This chapter presents tools you can use to ini- tiate or add to your existing public relations program. 10.1.1 PUBLIC RELATIONS VERSUS ADVERTISING The basic difference between public relations and advertising is that public relations involves getting free pub- licity for the airport--from news conferences to press releases--while advertising involves payment for adver- tising. Although public relations activities are not truly free because they require staff time and other resources, they involve much less cost than traditional advertising. Public relations also produces particularly effective air- port marketing results. 69