• Edward Mponda

Public Relations? What Public Relations?

If I can confidently say that every business transaction begin with public relations, then I should be comfortable to mention that every business profit is a result of good public relations - the statement also holds true when it comes to an organisation establishing and maintaining those business connections for organisation's success and continuity.

Over the years, Public Relations has been buoyed by growing necessity for governments and organisations to improve relationships with stakeholder publics. Organisations are making every effort to establish and maintain strong relationships with those publics identified as important to organisational survival and growth. Governments and corporations invest in great public relations campaigns to create buy-ins; be it selling a not-so-popular war that attract public outrage, or building strong brand relations with the customer base to retain market leadership (respectively).

It is clear that public relations is quintessentially core to the strategic direction of an organisation, and for effective organisational management. Not only is public relations seen as a function for managing organisational relationships, but also as exceptional at offering management advise in dealing with critical issues that can be harmful to an organisation’s reputation and those relationships. As such, public relations has the audacity to advise and support management on broad policies and procedures that are favourable in creating a strong bond between the organisation and its public. It is that capacity to identify and get the feel of an organisation’s operating environment (especially where it conflicts with the public's interest and threatens organizational survival) that makes public relations strategically important in organisational management. Where public relations practitioners are engaged at top management, it is highly expected for an organisation to have policies, procedures, and actions that mutually benefit both the organization and its public.

For instance, when an organisation is faced with issues of legal consequences in nature, getting an opinion from public relations practitioners within the organisation can be the difference in the organisation’s approach towards considering a mutually beneficial outcome, to avoid reputational crises. Clearly, legal and public relations counselors approach situations from different perspectives. Where legal personnel may advise the organization to engage in ‘litigation’, public relations may prefer engaging communicating and negotiating with the other party after considering the damage litigation would bring on the corporate body and the organisation’s or brand’s reputation.

In 1994, a Greenpeace chapter of England accused one of the major and renowned fast-food chain of promoting eating habits that were perceived harmful to human health and well-being. Pamphlets to that effect were found being distributed in the streets of London by five protestors. The fast-food giant, in a legal initiative, demanded that the protestors apologise for their actions or appear in court as defendants in a libel suit. Of the five, three protestors apologised while the other two faced trial. Although the court ruled in favour of the fast-food giant, the court of public opinion ruled in favour of the protestors. Further, media outlets propelled the idea that the court case made the fats-food giant appear confrontational and bullying its own concerned customers, who had no resources to defend themselves with legal representation (instead of listening to them). It was considered one of the public relations disasters for the fast-food giant.

Effective organisational management increasingly recognise the essence of public relations in attaining organizational success and continuity. Without prejudicing internal roles in public relations, outsourcing can also bring a fresh perspective to an organisation’s public relations issues and problems. Regardless of which divide the practitioner is from, creating a great public relations campaign takes understanding the issues and problems, applying a creatively thought-out plan, and putting together an appealing execution - just to mention a few.

#Publicrelations #StrategicPlanning #Leadership #PJElwyns #BrandReputation #ReputationManagement #CorporateCulture

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