Good public relations is all about communication - whether in public or behind the scenes - to get your message across to your audiences successfully.

Your audiences might be politicians, journalists, customers, agents, suppliers, commentators, shareholders, employees and potential users of your product or service.

There are multiple facets to any organisation, all of which need to be conveyed thoughtfully and carefully to the target audiences, such as its corporate identity, its products, its philosophy, its customers, its performance record and its reputation.

Communication in its most productive form is two-way. Organisations that invest in systems and structures that encourage contact and dialogue between them and their audiences can expect to prosper from the relationship.

That's where Comms comes in. Good Comms people should have the experience and the contacts to help organisations carry their message direct to those they want to influence - in a format that is designed to achieve maximum penetration.

It's all about paying someone to get your message across because you believe they can reach the audiences better than you can.

So, what is comms?

Everyone has their own answer to this question, and few people outside the industry have any real clue of what goes on in the name of comms.

The public and media love beating up on the Spin Doctors, those highly paid people who contrive to manipulate the news by putting their 'spin' on events.

On the other hand, some young people plan a career in comms because they want to mix with sports stars and pop groups, to attend record launches and parties to introduce a new perfume, to meet famous people - the glamorous side of comms life. At Newsaplenty, we know it is not always glamorous. Much of comms is procedural and everyday.

At one end, there is political lobbying, seeking legislative change (or status quo) to benefit a client. At the other end, it's getting a couple of scantily clad 'promotions' girls to drape themselves over a product, and/or invited guests.

Then there is a large chunk in between - corporate comms, financial comms, investor relations, media relations, consumer comms, fundraising comms, events management, sponsorship management, crisis management, media training, employee relations.

The skill is in being able to recognise the problem, to determine the possibilities and to formulate the best plan of action. It's not just a matter of how we choose to deliver our client's message: whether via satellite, CD, video, glossy brochure, newsletter, press release, press conference, one-on-one briefings, direct mail, or personal letter.

In most cases, it's practical common sense. There are no rules to follow; therefore there can be no guarantees. You can't do comms by numbers - each scenario is different.

A campaign strategy might work famously one time, and disappear without trace the next. Throughout it all, the comms company must be able to demonstrate that it did all the things and took all the steps that a prudent, experienced comms company should do to maximise the impact of the client's message.

It may not be possible to prove that the comms campaign rented more cars, sold more cornflakes, raised cancer awareness. However, the comms company should gather proof in the form of TV video, audio tapes, press clippings and so on to prove that it did everything to maximise success.