The purpose of this paper is to explain my internship experience as a Public Relations and Special Media Event Coordinator with United Press International. This report will cover my work at UPI and will incorporate general organizational communication and public relations theory relating to my experience with UPI. It will highlight my role and my experiences in the organization, my analysis of the organization's existing communication structure, and further suggest ways that communication can be improved in the diverse and interesting organization that is United Press International.
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
Headquartered in downtown Washington D.C., United Press International is a provider of newswire services to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers around the world ("About," 2008). UPI is global, with offices in Beirut, Hong Kong, London, Santiago, Seoul, and Tokyo ("About," 2008). The organization offers content for both public and private institutions that range from direct-to-print outlets to online media ("About," 2008). According to UPI's website, presently the distribution partners of UPI provide the company's content to an audience of literally millions of decision-makers ("About," 2008). These leaders are dependant on UPI's insightful and analytical content to subsequently make better business and policy decisions ("About," 2008). UPI publishes its content directly to UPI.com, offering a broad range of products to include news briefs and in-depth analyses ("About," 2008).
While at UPI I worked all aspects of a multimedia newsmaker event called Our Water and engaged in several self-directed initiatives for the betterment of the organization. These initiatives included, reinvigorating UPI.com's Military Matters feature webpage, researching and providing a plan for engaging publics via social media websites, and pitching UPIU, UPI's online initiative for aspiring journalists, to appropriate, fruitful audiences. My supervisor was the organization president, who I answered to directly, in addition to the UPIU International Coordinator, who I assisted directly.
Our Water Event
Our Water was a multimedia newsmaker event on preventable water-related illnesses in developing countries hosted by UPI. The intent of this event was to bring journalists and water experts together to highlight the world water crisis. This was to be the first of many events that UPI planned to host with the goal of shedding light on an issue or problem and trying to provide solutions. I was responsible for all preparations, promotion, and logistical organization for this event. To prepare, I first had to diligently research the topic of preventable water-related illnesses and identify and contact organizations and experts involved in working to solve the global water crisis. I arranged the event participants and attendants, secured the venue location, arranged catering, designed the press packet, wrote and sent press releases and facilitated media coverage for the event. Moreover, I had an opportunity to work with video, online, and editing departments to construct a variety promotional materials, such as video advertisements. The event included a broad range of academics and government officials as moderators and panelists and approximately 80 attendees engaged in discussion. The event was a success.
After the Our Water event ended there was a lull at work. I took this as an opportunity to explore new ways to both learn and be beneficial to the organization. Investigating the varied facets of UPI, I identified three areas of interest that I believed could use some improvement: an outdated military feature webpage, an underutilized journalism learning tool - UPIU.com, and UPI's ineffective application of social media.
U.S. Military Matters webpage and UPIU.com
UPI.com houses several webpages, called "features," off the homepage. The U.S. Military Matters feature webpage caught my attention because of my career and my interest in military public affairs. I was disappointed to see that the page was grossly outdated. Looking into this further, I discovered that page views had dropped 77% since January 2009. I brought this to the attention of my supervisor and several others in the office, but no one expressed concern or offered a reason why the page had not been maintained and allowed to slip into decay. Rather, my boss asked that I instead take a look at UPIU.com, another stagnant website, to see if I could come up with a solution to increase traffic to this site.
UPIU.com is an online platform initiated for aspiring journalists. It's open to anyone with an interest in reporting and telling a story, whether that's through text, photo, video, or audio. UPIU.com has aspiring journalists posting from countries all over the world, many of them university students at journalism schools and schools of communication. All the work that gets posted to UPIU.com is reviewed by UPIU editorial staff and UPIU mentors, who offer feedback directly to the authors. In addition, work that meets UPI copy standards is often selected for publication (usually with some editorial tweaking first) to UPI's official news site, UPI.com, with a professional byline. Users benefit not only from exposure to the wide variety of international perspectives reflected in the stories that go up, but also from direct contact with industry professionals, the experience of posting to an online news platform, building an online portfolio, and possibly getting published to a news site that's currently averaging about 5 million page views a month.
After learning of these two areas of needed improvement, I proposed a combined solution. In order to keep the Military Matters webpage up to date and subsequently increase its traffic and draw users to UPIU, I felt the solution was for UPI to engage with the Defense Information School, a school for public affairs and visual information, about using UPIU as an additional teaching tool. The DINFOS' mission is to grow and sustain a corps of professional organizational communicators to fulfill the public affairs and multimedia requirements of the Department of Defense and America's military services, to include the U.S. Coast Guard. These military public affairs practitioners, videographers and photographers could hypothetically submit their stories, videos and photographs to UPIU.com for feedback and possible publication on the U.S. Military Matters webpage. UPIU.com could be a valuable teaching tool, and this arrangement a win-win both UPI and DoD's public affairs community. Moreover, DINFOS instructors need not worry about losing control of submitted content. UPIU.com can be configured so that students' submissions are unable to be put forward without electronic approval from the instructors.
The president of UPI liked the idea and gave me permission to press. I pitched the idea to several DINFOS instructors and the director of training there, all of whom were interested in the concept. Though initially optimistic about the idea of this mutually beneficial partnership taking off, I was frankly not at UPI long enough to see this through to fruition. Both parties were interested, but I am afraid without me there as the link and striving to bridge the gap, this will be another potentially great idea that simply died on the vine. This is a shame, because I still strongly feel this would have been a great arrangement for UPI and DINFOS, and very valuable for DINFOS' students.
UPIU.com is a member of three social media sites - Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. The explosion and relevance of this media cannot be overstated or underestimated. However, at the writing of this paper, none of these sites had been updated or posted to by a UPI employee in over 5 months. According to Holtz and Havens (2009), social networking sites provide "a unique paradigm to forge friendships and business connections in a context unlike any seen before" (p. 189). However, if an organization is merely a member of the site and not engaged in conversation, it can do more damage than good. Recalling this information from a communication consulting class I took last summer, I presented these facts, backed up by literature and a plan to engage on these social media sites. Being part of social media sites means UPI should be part of the conversations therein, and actively establishing relationships with others by engaging in dyadic communication. Social media experts say if you're going to blog or post you must be persistent and consistent, otherwise you will lose potential audiences gained very quickly, and it is extremely difficult to get those people to come back (Holtz & Havens, 2009). Based on my research, I proposed that in order for UPIU to start the social media conversation, and keep it going that it was imperative to have a strategic plan. First and foremost, before engaging in conversation, UPIU employees should get to know the on-line community or fans of the UPIU membership on these sites. Holtz and Havens (2009) suggest "...visit pages and profiles for at least a couple of weeks before even commenting on others' pages..." (p. 190). Next, UPIU employees need to remember that an online community will be turned off by posts that sound like an advertisement or sales pitch. Employees should be sociable and authentic (Holtz & Havens, 2009). Lastly and probably most important, UPIU employees need to remain transparent (Holtz & Havens, 2009). By remaining transparent, the employee is honest in his or her posts and discussions and not pretending to be someone they are not.
I should note that it could be argued that not every organization needs to utilize social media. Rather, as Holtz and Havens suggest, the organization should do a needs assessment survey to find out if social media is compatible with the organization's culture (2009). Regardless, as long as UPI is a member of the above mentioned sites, its employees must be consistent and engaged.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES AND ACCOMPLISHED GOALS
At the start of my internship with UPI, I identified six learning objectives I wanted to achieve while at UPI. These learning objectives were developed with the intent to serve as a guide in helping me maximize the educational learning experience in this professional environment.
To develop a working knowledge of how a media organization/wire service operates in day-to-day functions.
As the PR/Special Media Event Coordinator, I was not technically a part of the day-to-day operations in the media department. However, my time at UPI was nevertheless invaluable because it has given me the opportunity to have first-hand knowledge on the everyday operations of a large media conglomerate. News agencies, news or press associations, or wire services, such as UPI, are fundamental and increasingly important gatekeepers in both domestic and global journalism (Sterling, 2003). They are frequently accused of bias and there is surprisingly very little literature on these institutions and this elicited my interest. During my time at UPI, I developed an understanding of the media industry which I would not have otherwise had, had I not interned at UPI. For example, I was able to, through my observations, develop a better understanding of how and which "news" are considered to be more newsworthy. News may be categorized into "breaking" or "routine" varieties for practical purposes, and can be further divided in routine, staged, and spontaneous (Johnston, 2007, p. 43). Thus, communications differ for different types of events and the role of the media relations practitioner is always changing and dynamic.
Moreover, I studied the proactive approach in which UPI developed relationships with media outlets. Part of its strategy to increase membership for its services and to be part of the news-making process was to develop events such as, Our Water, which I was primarily a part of. Even staged news or events require information management, which allowed the people involved in Our Water to plan and orchestrate how the events will occur. Part of the process and my experience of planning the event was creating and sending out invitations. This was another proactive element in UPI's approach to developing relationships with media outlets. Invitations were sent to smaller, independent media outlets, radio stations, and various trade publications.
To refine my event planning skills and to be able to educate others how to coordinate and plan events.
As previously mentioned, as the PR/Special Media Event Coordinator, I was fundamentally responsible for every aspect of the preparations, promotion, and logistical organization of the Our Water event. This experience was important in enhancing my event planning skills because it enabled me to use my knowledge of the issues of the event and my analytical ability to exercise sound judgment in the decisions I made during the execution of the event. As such, I developed important skills in planning, budgeting, and motivating in the organization of Our Water in addition to developing skills with working with various departments such as the video, online, editing and advertising department.
To learn new public relations techniques and sharpen my overall skills as a public affairs officer
Working in an environment like UPI - one of the world's premiere media organizations - was an excellent place to hone my public relations and communication skills. My day-to-day job involved a lot of interpersonal communication, a lot of time on the phone and engaged in direct dialogue with colleagues and UPI business associates. This was helpful at simply getting at the root of public relations - which is establishing mutually beneficial relationships. I also did a fare amount of writing at UPI, mostly press releases. This is a fundamental skill I was able to sharpen while at UPI. As mentioned above with Our Water, event planning is an important skill to have as a public affairs officer. After tackling Our Water, I feel ready to take on any military ceremony or protocol event that comes my way. Lastly, this experience helped me sharpen my public affairs skills by seeing how the other side operates. Normally in military public affairs media is who we "deal" with. After the experience at UPI, I feel I have an insider's knowledge that will help me be a better public affairs officer for my future commanders.
To improve upon my writing and public speaking abilities
In the field of public relations the ability to effectively communicate in various disciplines is absolutely critical. Speaking effectively and efficiently was important in the limited meetings I had with my superiors to provide them with status updates. I also learned that effective face-to-face communication also involves actively listening and questioning.
Moreover, as part of my position, I was responsible for the update and maintenance of the online event information site and the project accounts in Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks. The Internet, blogs and social-networking is perhaps the single largest realm of self-expression and free speech on the Internet (Holtz & Havens, 2009). Thus, it was important to be conscientious in determining what content would be included in the online sites. Considerations included disclosure of information, viewing blog content as advertising, and controlling content for possible liability issues.
Lastly, my objective of improving general communication skills was also advanced with the updating and the maintenance of press releases and Our Water's press packet. Phillip Vassallo encourages business writers to know the P.R.I.C.E. of their writing, "[a]fter you have completed your draft, check your writing is Precise, Respectful, Intelligent, Correct, and Expressive" (Vassallo, 1993, p. 464). I incorporated Vasallo's strategy in my various writing tasks for Our Water:
- Precise - Making sure I answered all relevant questions, checked if my facts were accurate, made sure sources are on file, utilized exact works and eliminated wordy phrases (Vassallo, 1993, pp. 464-466).
- Respectful - Establishing that I have addressed the audience/readers' concerns and using an appropriate and positive tone (Vasallo, 1993, p. 467).
- Intelligent - Maintained original objectives, and diligently avoided ambiguity and inconsistency (Vasallo, 1993, p. 467).
- Correct - Checked for spelling, capitalization and misplaced modifiers (Vasallo, 1993, p. 468).
To multiply my multi-taking skills
I had to consistently fulfill deadlines and monitor the progression of the planning process while performing my duties and responsibilities of my position. Therefore, this experience with UPI has thoroughly enabled me to satisfy my objective to multiply my multi-tasking skills.
To gain an understanding of the internal organization and communication within a media house
In order to be well positioned in the industry I considered it important that I gain more diverse knowledge on the operations of a media house. According to Holtz (2004), the success of a company in the public's perception lies in how effectively it manages itself internally - and internal management rests on the principle of effective communication. In this I learned that while an organization may be making profits and may appear successful, there is always a chance that operations can be improved and goals achieved more effectively. Proper organization structure and effective communication are vital elements of an organization.
My internship at UPI presented several challenges that while difficult, added value to the overall experience. These challenges include producing Our Water press materials, the Our Water development process and UPI's internal communication.
Our Water Press Materials
Definitely an invaluable learning experience more than anything else, my work on Our Water was, I believe, a success. The final event was efficiently organized and practically executed, but I now know how I would plan and carry out a similar event even more effectively.
I was able to experiment with different techniques in developing the press packet and press releases and was able to ascertain what worked best. Reflecting back, the informational site for the event could have been more informative and attractive by utilizing more sources. In terms of marketing, I would have added more information on the moderators and the panelists so potential guests would be more informed and enlightened on the relevant experiences of the individuals. In addition, I had some issues with the structure and format of the press packet. In future projects, I know now how to more effectively work and strategize with the different department such as, design and editing departments, to construct and produce a more concise, yet more informative and educational piece of marketing literature.
Our Water Development Process
The planning process of an event of this magnitude was a distinctive experience for me. The Public Relations/Special Media Event Coordinator prior to me set up the initial planning process for Our Water, and I was able to carry the project out to its completion. Thus, I had limited choices in assessing the best way to approach every aspect of the planning and development process of the Our Water event because I essentially had to, in many aspects, utilize the procedures the intern before me had implemented. I think if I was able to approach a project in which I was involved from its initial stages to its completion, I would be in a better position to determine the optimal approaches to carry out its objectives. However, I was able to adapt and I believe I have an excellent understanding on how to prepare and plan for large events and projects such as the one I worked on at UPI.
Some of the problems I encountered throughout the planning process were scheduling conflicts. Because it was necessary for me to work with a number of individuals and departments, effective scheduling was an important part of the development process. I had to effectively and efficiently arrange for the date of the event and venue location at a time and area that was convenient for all event participants.
My experience with UPI gave me a first-hand experience on the internal organization and communication in an organization of such magnitude. While UPI cannot be considered to be unsuccessful, the organization's internal communication needs a great deal of improvement. Most notably, it appears that UPI's president does not take an active role in the running of the company. Communication with management is lacking in this organization as depicted by the fact that the boss never called a meeting in the three months that I worked there. The organization does not have clear job and role definitions, and it was not unusual to find task duplication in the organization where a task was done twice by two different employees. The internal harmony in the organization seems to be lacking as people don't even know each other's names. UPI seems to have a problem with its communication operation where communication is highly characterized by informal and disorganized communication. Employees do not specifically understand their responsibilities as depicted by the fact that two employees can send an email to a customer delivering the same message. Each employee has not been designated duties and responsibilities. This translates to a waste of resources. Also the management does not give clear instructions on what each employee is expected to do. While the recent trend among organizations today is to encourage more interaction within the organization, encourage more informal communication and a near-offhand approach to management, the application needs to be controlled.
THEORIES OF COMMUNICATION AND THEIR APPLICABILITY IN UPI
During this internship, I reflected upon some of the organization and public relations communication theories that I have learned and explored in my communication classes and how they might apply in this organization.
Organization Communication Theory
The early 20th century structure and paradigm of communication in organizations were such that the management dictated what the employee was to do and the methods and procedures of how it should be done (Heath & Bryant, 2000). The structure of communication in the organization was autocratic and power oriented in nature such that it was initiated at the top and flowed downwards to the junior employees (Heath & Bryant, 2000). Classical organization approaches took the rationale that employees are engaged to work and not to think and managers were aimed to hold authority and control (Heath & Bryant, 2000). This theory tends to emphasize the fact that efficiency takes precedence over humanity. It assumes that employee's only reason for working is to get money or other tangible rewards and they therefore have to be supervised closely for them to deliver. It also assumes that information moves from the management downwards to the junior staff and does not take into consideration the fact that information can actually flow down to management. While this theory is considered old fashioned and obsolete, it has been with us for a long time and still finds application, though limited, in most organizations (Heath & Bryant, 2000). My internship experience with UPI made me realize that employees need clear direction and need a leader who is clearly in control.
Recent years have however seen a shift of approach where nowadays organizations aim to empower the employees to so as to meet the organization's goals (Heath & Bryant, 2000). The human resource management theory tends to emphasize more on organizational climate and culture and to a big extent disregards communication channels (Heath & Bryant, 2000). The focus of this theory is to improve organizations profitability by sharing and involving employees in the decision making of the company. Relationships within the organizations are negotiated all with the aim of improving survival and profitability. Workers are most productive and enjoy their work more when they feel that they have control over their jobs. This rationale is based on the assumption that if workers are competent in what they do, it is best that they are involved and their ideas incorporated in undertakings to improve work design and job performance. In this theory, communication takes many directions; downwards, upwards and horizontally. Communication is encouraged where worker's decisions are considered and management is responsive and open to the needs of the employees. This theory is believed to foster "openness, trust and proper distribution of control within the organization" (Heath & Bryant, 2000, p. 304).
The contingency theory on the other hand recognizes the dynamism of an organization and allows for flexibility in application of management theory (Heath & Bryant, 2000). It advocates that an organization's management cannot effectively be based on one theory. Particular situations may call for a classical sort of approach for example when leading a team of surgeons the lead surgeon has to direct what is to be done. But while trying to get the best performance of these activities, a more interactive and inclusive approach such as the human resource management approach may be more appropriate.
The systems rationale for an organization sees the organization as a set of subsystems that comprise the system (Heath & Bryant, 2000). Organization communication is the interaction between people and this theory deems it necessary in order to serve a common purpose. The sender receiver concept enables more effective communication as the sender can get the feedback and know if the right message was delivered. This concept also considers an organization as a dynamic entity that is in contact with the environment.
Public Relations Theory
United Press International has a legion of people, vast resources and a myriad of activities dedicated to communication. Interestingly, much of their external and internal communication is decidedly one-way regarding the flow of information or not flowing at all. For example, UPI simply pushes out news via its website and internal communication is few and far between. The organization does not ask for input from the public on its practices or important news issues and employees rarely communicate or share information.
According to Botan and Taylor, "a functional perspective, prevalent in the early years of the field, sees publics and communication as tools or means to achieve organizational ends" (2004, p. 651). In contrast to the functional perspective of UPI is a "cocreational perspective, where publics are not just a means to an end" (2004, p. 652). This perspective, in line with Grunig's excellence theory and referred to as the two-way symmetrical model, "proposed that individuals, organizations, and publics should use communication to adjust their ideas and behavior to those of others rather than to try to control how others think and behave" (2006, p. 156).
Nearly all of the methods employed by UPI focus on a traditional, monological communication strategy; however, as communication and public relations theory has evolved, many scholars have shifted their focus to a more dialogic approach to communication. Two such communication models are the two-way symmetrical model and the cocreational model.
Grunig, Grunig, and Dozier offer the two-way symmetrical public relations model as the ideal form of public relations when compared to the asymmetrical, press agentry, or public information models. It is a public relations approach which is based on research and "attempts to balance the interests of the organization and its publics" using communication to manage conflicts with its strategic publics (Grunig, Grunig, & Dozier, 2006, p. 47). This approach is generally accepted as the most ethical form of public relations, integrating continual dialogue between organizations and their publics attempting to incorporate feedback and negotiate compromises to help satisfy the interests of both parties. Two-way symmetrical public relations communication generally results in better long-term relationships between organizations and their publics as opposed to monological approaches.
The cocreational communication model takes the dialogical communication approach a step further as Botan explains, "traditional approaches to public relations relegate publics to a secondary role, making them an instrument for meeting organizational policy or marketing needs; whereas dialogue elevates publics to the status of communication equal with the organization" (1997, p. 196). This approach emphasizes the role of publics as cocreators of meaning and communication and their function in agreeing on shared meanings, interpretations, and goals (Botan & Taylor, 2004). The cocreational perspective focuses on relationships extending beyond the attainment of organizational goals, ensuring publics are more than instruments in an organization's endeavor but "partners in the meaning-making process" (Botan & Taylor, 2004, p. 652).
Dialogical communication, unlike monologic communication, gives differing communicators a chance to air their views and to be heard reciprocally. This assumes that these parties are sincere; therefore mutual trust is very important in this type of communication. In addition to promoting trust, this communication is spontaneous, sensitive, open and generally genuine and therefore every party is accommodated. Monological communication takes on a dimension of exploitation and manipulation in that it does not consider the importance of both parties in communication, but rather insinuates that important communication is passed to others, and not be returned. Due to these factors many organizations consider the dialogical approach superior.
From a corporate standpoint, the chemical company BASF is a stellar model of dialogical communication. BASF's Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, Dr. Jurgen Hambrecht, is quoted: "To meet the challenges of the future together, we need an open dialogue and a spirit of mutual cooperation..." (BASF Chemical Company, 2009). BASF maintains a communications policy of transparency, divulging or making available all information about their business related activities to the public. This fosters an unfettered cross flow of communication between their customers, employees, leadership and stockholders, making dialogical communication the norm for this organization.
Impact of the communication theories on my internship
I realized that UPI does not fall under any of the communication theories in existence. Whereas the classical theory requires that the management play a more direct role in the management and daily operations of the company, the human resource theory requires that there is more integration and communication with and between the employees both of which UPI does not satisfy. The effect of lack of direction from the management had both a positive and a negative effect. By the offhand style of management I was able to find my way and be more innovative and this enabled me to implement the event Our Water almost single handedly as well as improve the Military Matters webpage and start a DINFOS-UPIU partnership. This gave me ample exposure on the organization of an event which I could otherwise have not had if the other members of the management were more actively involved. On the other hand, the lack of more diffuse communication, the lack of clear directions from the boss created a sense of disillusionment and isolation.
Applicability of the theories in my internship
While communication with the employees may be one of the most important forms of communication that an organization may undertake, (Holtz, 2004) many organizations including UPI have segregated it to be one of the most neglected aspects within the organization. Many organizations assume that communication is automatic and will happen when it is called for and is necessary. This leads to neglect of communication with the employees and the outside world. Leaders in an organization need to understand the principles of communication and their role in fostering this communication. It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure effective communication in order to achieve maximum results. Holtz (2004) quotes a survey done by the Society of Human Resource Management in America that suggested that companies that do not have respect for their employees risked generating a negative image to the public. The study suggests that proper communication with the employees creates a perception of reputation and credibility boosting "staff morale, productivity, performance and retention" with the employees (Holtz, 2004, p. 4).
While communication theories provide a wider understanding of the basis of management operation, their full application may be limited by the intrinsic needs and nature of an organization. In discussing my particular case of UPI, the application of the classical theory would mean that all directions originate from the boss and trickle down the hierarchical structure to the staff. The staff responsibility would be to act on the directions. The human resource theory on the other hand would mean more improved communication in the organization where there is effective flow of information from the management down to the staff, from the staff to the management and within the staff themselves. The contingency theory would require a dynamic approach to the various issues. In this approach the boss will be required a more directing role in some instances while in other instances he will be required to play as a team player. Contingency theory seems to be the theory that would achieve best results. It would ensure the boss takes a more direct role and gives directions where necessary.
Formal and informal networks
The wide adoption of technology and the more intensive uses of computers in communication and the recent trend for organization's application of a more relaxed approach to management is putting a strain on the formal structure of management (Monge & Contractor, 2003). The concept of formal and informal organizations seems to be diminishing in the recent years primarily due to change in organization structure and management philosophy (Monge & Contractor, 2003). The recent trends are the uptake of a team based approach which by its nature encourages of lateral form of communication. Lateral communication has been boosted by the information technology that ensures "point-to-point and broadcast communication without regard to traditional hierarchy" (Monge & Contractor, 2003, p. 10). Present day communication networks are predominantly dynamic in nature and can emerge or change to satisfy the prevailing requirements or technological shift.
Recommendations to enhance the communication effectiveness of the organization
Whereas UPI is a successful company and my responsibility in the company did not involve an analysis of the weaknesses in the company, I nevertheless feel that incorporating some of the theories in their organization would be beneficial to the company. Thus through my synthesis of both organization and public relations communication theories, I advance the following recommendations:
The management and particularly the boss should take a more active role in the management of the organization. Whereas the classical theory seems to provide a solution for this, it would be too extreme and the contingency theory attempts to explain how the ideal situation of the company should be. In accordance with this approach while the boss should be a team leader, it is important that he takes a more active role and gives directions to the employees. As much as the "free style" mode of organization is gaining wide popularity, it is important that the leadership of the organization remain in control and steer the organization toward their goals and principles so the company doesn't lose its focus (Heath & Bryant, 2000).
In order to avoid cases of conflict, it is important that the company sets roles and responsibilities for each employee. It is also important that standards are set and that guiding principles, policies and codes of conduct dictating behavior and communication is put in place. This in accordance with Heath and Bryant (2000) who states policies ensure this will ensure that the whole organization operates in harmony. This will eliminate chances of conflict as presently witnessed in the duplication of duties in the organization.
The company should emphasize proper communication by coming up with guidelines on proper communication, create an awareness campaign on the new guidelines and provide training to the employees (Holtz, 2004). The training should attempt to emphasize the benefits of more integrated communication both at the management level, the staff level and the management-staff levels (Holtz, 2004). It should also aim to clarify the importance of one to one communication as it fosters a more harmonious relationship (Rainey, 2009).
Communication conflict and suggestion on how to eliminate it
One particular communication conflict that kept coming up in UPI is the duplication of duties. This would bring about disagreement among the staff when they realize that they have been working on the same assignment. The lack of clear responsibilities and lack of effective communication seemed like the main cause of this issue. Most management and communication theories and approaches had the purpose of eliminating or reducing conflict in the resulting structure (Rainey, 2009). Fredrick Taylor (1919) admits that in his scientific approach to management, one main intention was to diminish conflict within the organization (Rainey, 2009). Recent organization matrix however design conflict in the organization structure with the rationale that if managed properly conflict can have some positive benefits by helping the management come up with more elaborate job descriptions and responsibilities (Rainey, 2009). In this case however the conflict was of no benefit as it resulted to waste of resources, disagreements and lack of morale among the employees. Rainey (2009) asserts that conflict can start or be aggravated by;
"organizational or subunit culture, values, goals, structures, functions, authority and leadership processes, environmental pressures and demographics and individual personalities of organization or group members" (p. 371).
When two individual's or group's responsibilities or domains overlap or are not well defined, there is a high probability of tension or conflict developing (Rainey, 2009). Rainey further recommends that an organization should have laid down structures and regulations that dictate the duties and responsibilities of each member of the organization (2009).
As emphasized by Holtz (2004), it is important that proper and effective communication in the organization is ensured in order to foster harmony. At UPI, many members do not know each other and members exhibit an overreliance on mechanized means of communication, i.e. email, Skype, instant messaging. As Heath and Bryant (2000) point out, the choice of vehicle for message transmission is dependent on many features and key among them is the proximity. Where situations allow, Heath and Bryant (2000) recommend face to face communication as one is able to get the response immediately and with the benefit of having the human touch and reading the emotions with which the message had been delivered.
My internship experience was educational and has confirmed my desire to continue in Public Relations and Communication after graduation. Through my time at UPI, I gained incredible real work experience that will assist me greatly in both my career and academics. Having been given an abundance of creative and leadership freedom in my work, I also thoroughly enjoyed my experience mainly because my responsibilities were diverse and interesting, which consequently contributed to motivating me. Most importantly, I will be able to use the skills I learned during my internship experience at UPI in work on future projects.
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