The subject of public relations is not new and it has been there and in practice since time
immemorial. Man has always tried and wanted to communicate to make him understand, e.g. Pictograms ( Chinese characters are still an example ).1000 of years ago wall paintings in the caves of primitive people, Writings on tablets of stone, ancient buildings , pyramids, early temples , mosques , cave paintings in Zimbabwe bear pictorial messages. Holy Books also communicate and tell people about faith. So, it will be appropriate to say that public relations are as new as civilization. Let us now first of all try to know and understand about public relations.
Now a days PR is misunderstood and supposed to try & create a favourable image or climate of opinion and/or improve a tarnished image. This is not true. This is only marketing & advertising which is only a segment of PR. PR is about creating and understanding through knowledge which often involves effective change. So it means that PR is a form of Communication which applies to any sort of organization, commercial or non-commercial in the private or public sector.
The universally accepted definition of public relations as per Edward Burney's popularly known as the Father of PR is that:
• “It is a planned & sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an
organization & its publics.
•”However, Quentin Bell, another PR consultant thought the word persuasion would be better
than mutual understanding.
• Some PR professionals also described PR as a “phenomenon & necessity of our times.”
Yet there is a very simple and different definition for easy comprehension of Public Relations. For better understanding if we take the two initials of the word Public Relations i.e. P and R then we define “P” for Performance for Public and “R” for Result as against Relations.
In the olden days for PR purposes people used Pictograms ( Chinese characters are still an example. ) , 1000 of years ago Wall Paintings in the caves about primitive people , Writings on Tablets of stone, Ancient Buildings e.g. pyramids , early temples & mosques ,cave paintings in Zimbabwe bear pictorial messages. Holy Books communicated and told people about faith. while these days' bill boards, hand outs, print and electronic Media, sponsorships, free sampling, corporate identity practices, audio and video mediums, conferences, seminars Special Offers, etc. are few of the visible PR techniques used to achieve defined objectives.
Whether the PR of an organization is sound or not depends upon the type of organization and on a situation at a given time. It is therefore imperative that we should assess as to how PR serves various organizations. Let us therefore first of all classify the type of organizations.
Classification of Organizations
1. A business corporation.
2. A trade organization
3. A non profit organization.
4. A public utility company.
5. A communication medium
b) Radio stations.
c) TV channels.
6. An educational institution.
7. A financial institution.
8. A religious group.
9. A political party.
10. A labour union.
11. 11. A travel group.
12. A government agency.
Although PR activity / Plan will vary from different classification of organizations yet basic and broad principles would remain common. Let us analyze and determine various phases of PR for organizations. At this time we will only remain confined to the general principles and at later stage we will discuss them specifically. Basically the hallmark of good PR policy is to attract and achieve the goodwill of the concerned public. We therefore consider 5(Five) Phases of different factors which influence people's attitude.
A Public relations for business today involves complete analysis and understanding of all the factors that influence people's attitudes towards a company. It usually has five phases:
I. Determining the attitude of public towards the company/ organization.
This may be the employees, the customers, the shareholders, or some other segment of the public. When the attitudes are known, it is possible to see where the company is misunderstood and where its policies and actions are creating unfavourable opinion.
II. Analyzing the state of opinion.
It may be that investigation discloses unrest among a group of employees - unrest that may well break out into very serious uprising. Or the shareholders may express the desire to know more about the company and its products.
III. Formulation of policy.
Analysis may indicate that certain policies of the company should be modified to improve the attitude held by certain groups. Often the change involves eliminating causes of misunderstanding and misinterpretation.
IV. Planning means of improving opinion/attitude of public.
With an understanding of what people think of the company and a clarification of the company's policies on matters that affect public opinion, the groundwork has been laid. Next comes the programming of activities that will explain the company and its products, will overcome misunderstanding and will promote goodwill.
Implementing Planned Activities.
The tools of public relations -- publicity, institutional advertising, printed materials, employee activities, shareholders reports, company publications and other things - are then employed to do the job.
What does Public Relations Accomplish?
There are many objectives that may be achieved through expert public relations activity. Any one of them, any group of them, or all of them may be the basis for accompany public relations program. Professional public relations direct every activity toward reaching a selected objective; extraneous efforts are avoided - mere volume of press clippings is meaningless. Objectives that may be sought include:
- Prestige or favourable image and its benefits.
- Promotion of product and sales, idea and rewards.
- Goodwill of Employees.
- Prevent and solve Labour problem.
- Goodwill of stock / shareholders.
- Overcoming misconceptions and prejudices against the
- Goodwill of customers/consumers.
- Formulation and guidance for making policies.
Do'S and Don'ts IN PUBLIC RELATIONS.
Public Relations are a tough job. But all said and done it is worthwhile to render such services.
These services are needed and recognized on a rapidly broadening scale. But these are already being accepted quite universally. In order to practice public relations there are certain do's and don'ts which are identified below:
• Do not try to run a business without knowing / learning a great deal about the people you have
to do business with - employees, investors, suppliers, customers - in other words, Your publics.
• If you are overcommitted and cannot give enough thought to PR then hire someone to assist
• Do not rely upon public relations techniques to “mop up” after mistakes are made. Always use
public relations thinking before any new policy or practice is developed.
• Be sure people close to you understand your public relations thinking and your program.
• Seek the assistance of your executives and employees in developing good public relations.
• Do not depend upon too much on your own guesswork regarding what others feel and think. •Use adequate and objective surveys.
• Try to select a very few points --- preferably just one -- that you want to get across to any given public. Then concentrate your PR effort on establishing that viewpoint.
• Never forget that PR should be supported by Performance that deserves goodwill of your public i.e. Result.