Almost all organizations are creating their image for the public knowledge and create information that might be useful for the public. One classic example of the PR is through commercials or advertisements that conveys the message and communication which is significantly related on what the organizations do and any updates on what kind of operations they are doing. For some time, the public relations or PR creates an additional value for the business such as the establishment of the image and creates impression of the organization in the public eye. Since the opinions and impressions of the greater public play an important role for the continuous success of the organization, the PR is often referred to as a strategy. However, understanding the true nature of public relations towards the management recognition is not that explored.
This paper is divided into two parts. First part will discuss how an understanding of public relations theory can help gain management recognition for the practice of public relations, and second is analysing the statement regarding the success of PR in the integration of the traditional media in the context of the strategic approach to communications. Therefore, recognizing the theories and its application of the practice are facilitated in this paper.
Part 1: Discuss how an understanding of public relations theory can help gain management recognition for the practice of public relations?
What is Public Relation?
In the personal point of view, the public relations can be administered by different kind of organizations in order to make establish a massive distribution of information for the public. The practice also assumes to relay all the relative information of the organization or person involved. This also usually states the relationship in between the public and the company and getting the public more informed is the way for these organizations to communicate. Perhaps, the only aim of the public relations is to manage the flow of communication and information in order to enhance the reputation of the organization or individual. There is also an officer that facilitates the flow of information and can play a vital role in establishing the image of the company.
Why there is a Need for PR?
Being told that the purpose of PR is to build and emphasize the image of the organization as well promoting the distinction in between the competitors so that the public is informed that the two organizations are different entities. Also public relations appear like a strategy along the promotional campaigns and other form of advertising. The use of the public relations, therefore, means that is has no boundaries or limitations as long as it can satisfy the objectives set in making the PR strategies. Through emphasizing the nature of the firm’s environment, there is a need for continuous adaptations in the environment, and thus, the importance of PR seems applicable. Organizations, especially those that are for-profit organization, tends to provide the most sophisticated and intensive practice of PR to create a greater impact in their chosen market. Therefore through understanding the concept the PR and expertly managing this certain strategy is needed in order for the business to have a better exposure.
Usually, the continuous PR coverage creates a significant impact in the market particularly in the business environment where the firm concentrates. Also the PRs are also a way for the firms also actively try to influence and shape their environments. This is highly possible through mirroring or interpreting the needs and demands of the market, thereby the firms can respond accordingly and reflected on how they can deliver the initiatives through the PRs. This innovative approach of the firms in building the image is a result on findings the best position in the market and as well as having the gaining the portion of market share. This action can be also interpreted as a way of creating advantage in the market against their rivals (Hasan & Jandoc, 2010). Through the engagement of the firms in the PR, they can target more accurately the market and consumers while at the same time, make clarifications on the surrounding issues that usually rots the image of the company.
Failure in understanding the PR, its basic applications and entire principle may create a greater turbulent on the image of the company. One classic example is the incident that took place on one of the plants of British Petroleum. The unfortunate incident like oil spill happened in 2010 in the Gulf Coast created a negative the impact on the operations of the company and as well as how the public will make opinions on the accident. The reputation of the company truly suffers a lot. The damage has been done and BP cannot change what is already happened. The challenge that the company need to pay attention aside from recreation of the social ties and recuperating on the financial loss is to rebuild their reputation. Rather than continuing the blame game, it is expected that BP should coordinate with the regulations in the industry along with the safety and environmental practices. Many eyes are watching the company, not only the shareholder or the media, but the stakeholders who can be directly or indirectly affected. And because of the incident, the new regulation or rules in offshore drilling has been passed offers tougher requirements on the operators like BP and which includes the practices like designing, cementing, facilitating the blowout preventers and as well as in employee training. In addition, the operators are also encourage to develop the comprehensive plans in managing the risks and hazards in every step of the drilling process with an aim to reduce the risk of human error. These new regulations are based on the BP incident. It is also important to note the immediate action of the organization in pausing the drilling activities and operations of the BP to promote the strict regulation. However, this action subsequently affected the oil industry during a temporary suspension (Hargreaves, 2011). But this action will only mean that the organization is ready for the conservation efforts and related measures in rebuilding processes.
With the many eyes watching and victims waiting in line, the company finds their position to be in critical and the need to the re-establishment of the image is really needed. The PR strategy, in its certain call, is needed to win back their position in the industry and among the stakeholders. Although it seems hard, the efforts of BP should be diverted on how to improve the regulations and redesigning the essential areas that can ultimately affect their reputation. The future of BP deeply depends on how the business will act now on the corporate social responsibility. In this event, the PR should take an important role in alleviating the issue and at least provide the public a concrete answer. However, the result is not what expected. While the company is fighting over the legal matters in the incident, the PR is making the mess even worse. It appears that the PR strategies is not that ideal, not that it only made series of errors but the PR is also criticized by not even following the internal guideline towards the damage control in the spill. Also, the management and other executives give their insights and optimistic prediction and promiscuous information as their answers in alleviating the spill whereas only too little action was performed. Up to now, the company is still paying for the damages (McClam & Weber, 2010).
The public presence of BP was facilitated by media in which often the information is distorted, misunderstood, or excessive if not lacking. The BP is mirrored to have a lack of ability in facilitating the crisis management and compassion because of the failure to provide the PR. Many opinions emerged saying that the best image that BP can create is by stopping the leak and preventing the further spill. And since it is obviously difficult enough to make an immediate solution, it is essential that PR should not make the matters worse and severe the situation. The wrong step that the PR committed is including the personal opinions and tapping the emotions of the people in the management. Hence, if the failure of providing the immediate solution is manifested, then the purpose of PR should concentrate on getting the pieces back together and at least make it possible to form a concrete statement on what the future plans of the company. But instead, it appears that the PR made is like an open forum wherein the people blame each other and efforts is superficial, while the oppressed are ill-compensated.
What the PR is meant in this situation is to be an ice-breaker that will eventually lead to damage control but even BP’s oil spill plan has cited in the PR that "No statement shall be made containing any of the following: promises that property, ecology or anything else will be restored to normal" (McClam & Weber, 2010). This statement leaves an impression that the company might not be that serious in rebuilding its relationships with the stakeholders. The response of the company is slow and their lack of control on giving the public message from the very beginning created criticism and receives many ill-remarks coming from the media. Hence, the PR is not helping and even creates confusion.
Public Relations Theory
To have a wide range of communication, the organization can promote the public relations effectively as its partner in restructuring and integrating the richer knowledge-based and capabilities of practitioners in advertising. Within the Integration, there is a define coordination and when it is applied in the communication disciplines that will formulate the greater interaction to achieve their organizational goal. In addition the use of media in delivering the information created by the organization is part of the entire strategy and planning. The continuous consolidation of communication disciplines and applying the strategy on it enables the organization to deliver the corporate objectives in a larger audience (Cornelissen and Thorpe, 2002). It is has been the competitive advantage because of the strengthen interrelations among the mass media or other several of communication discipline and the entire organization, especially in the propellers. And from learning the issue on the experience of BP, the media as an effective means of communication and channel of information plays an important role on how the PR can be delivered.
There are four theories that might help in understanding the public relations and is used as models in facilitating the functions of the public relations. These models are based on the study of Rhee (2004).
Press Agentry model is described like a propaganda-type of public relations in which seeks for the attention of the media in any possible way. This is usually applied in the one-way, source-to-receiver communication model.
Public Information model is referred to be truth-oriented approach in the public relations. Through applying this theory in the PR strategy of the organization will make the company more transparent. However, there should be an assurance that the information being disseminated is accurate and the disclosure of the information is legal. Also, the PR should not have any hints of biasness and unfavourable information.
Two-way asymmetrical model is a theory that primarily involved the unbalanced and one-sided communication. The PR manager and the user of this model is much more involved on the use of the social science theory and research on the characteristics of the audiences and highlights the attitudes and behaviors. This is applied in order to successfully persuade the public in accepting the organization's point of view, or at least adjust the organization’s culture in according to what the public expects them to be.
Two-way symmetrical model targets the communication that delivers a balanced relationship in between the organization and the publics. This can be possible through negotiation and compromise. The PR manager, when intentionally applying this type of model uses much more of the communication rather than focusing on the messages or contents of the PR with a purpose of understanding the public. Through the research and other means can help in motivating or persuade the publics. Based on the name of the model itself, this theory tries to understand the principal motivation or objective to strengthen the public relations.
Often the symmetrical model is called mixed motive public relation that is based on game theory in the public relations (Murphy, 1991). The mixed motive model refers to the phenomenon of public relations people being motivated by both their loyalty to their organization and by the publics affected by behaviors of the organization that employ them. Hence based on Grunig and Grunig (1992 cited in Rhee, 2004) argued that the two-way symmetrical model of communication is the normative model and is an ethical approach to organizational effectiveness more than other models of public relations.
In relating these theories to the case of BP, the general picture of the public relations and its strategies should better be focused on these dimensions in order to avoid confusion and misinterpretations. The theories also classify the kind of communication and approach that can be used most especially if there is a complex situation and PR is a need to at least make the problem lighter. These theories highlights the idea that can be used by organization and be part of the integral strategy in building and sustaining the relationship with the common public.
Part 2: Digital public relations that successfully factors in traditional media such as newspapers, magazines and broadcasts can achieve both broad awareness and more targeted engagement.
The evolution in media is evidence telling that society is ready to discover and improve the things around them. When it comes to media, it doesn’t mean that the television plays the most dominant role. Actually, the entertainment industry is considered as media and these involve the different games, internet, and radio shows. In reviewing the point of view of the statement, I can say that I agree on what argument it’s trying to create. I believe that media creates a stir in delivering the information in this disregards on what form of media to be used. In terms of the digital integration, the access on information became faster and helps the audience gain more advantage because of the convenience in receiving the information. With the enough resources, the PRs made by any type of companies can have its position in the market. Furthermore, through gathering sufficient information in the market, there is a guarantee that the related information is well received and can satisfy the objective of the organization. This means that whatever kind of media that an organization is used, it doesn’t imply or make any changes on the content of the PR. Thus, the media only became and channel to communicate. The digital media such as Internet is not difficult to find and can be also effective or successful like the traditional media as long as it administers the ample amount of information and to have the suitable technology and assistance that can catch in the pace of changes in the society.
It is also not new for the PR to have highly dependent in technologies. The changes in the company, whether internal or external, can make the PR build strong relationship with the technology to make updated and deliver the benefits to the society by sustaining the people with information, education, and entertainment. The technological strategy, hence, became the model and principles of most industries of today that is why the communication and services should be highly competent in terms of technologies and their features (BBC, 2010).
Based on my opinion, the main accomplishment of the digital media is to respond in the needs of company in technological strategy. In this way, the service of the company becomes more responsive, agile, and dynamic. The consciousness of the organization in the financial pressures creates a big impact in the internal development of the organization. However, in order for the PR to maintain its performance in the society, the content should answer any future inquiries that the business might meet. Also, the PR should consider the real-time information because being processed in a media tool (Wells & Spinks, 1999). PR, in particular, is not a department in an organization which needs number of people to create information nor a branch of marketing that should be addressed every now and then but PR is important means of communication and a good PR management is all it takes to help the organization face some serious challenges. The lack of direction on how to handle the PR is a common challenge but continuing efforts can be the route towards success. The experiences of the organization in the technology can be effectively applied in PR as long as the subject is addressed rightfully. The PR with the integration of digital media has a great potential in answering the consumer needs through allowing the technology to be used in their work practice. For an instance, the station needs to simultaneously show or present commercials. This marketing practice can emphasize the function of media by the use of effects and other features. Usually, the creative marketing specialist or creative consultant can handle the typical problem in marketing by exploring the various methods in catching the attention of the audiences (ROC, 2010).
In order to present the argument with fairness, there are advantages and disadvantage of the digital media as a strategic approach of the organization in the PR and communications.
Advantages of Digital Media
The Internet is changing according to what purpose the organization is trying to hold. It has not only reconfigured the way different firms do business and the way the consumers buy goods and services, but it has also become an effective instrument in transforming the value chain from manufacturers to retailers to consumers, creating a new retail distribution channel (Donthu & Garcia, 1999). And in this case, the ability of the digital media to provide information and other related articles through online publishing (e.g. Blogs, Websites, Social Networks, Annual Reports that were made into PDF, and public messages or announcements that are commonly known as PR).
According to Forrest and Mizerski (2001), the web's interactive nature or the ability of the user to receive and transmit messages leveled-up the communication dynamics of users as consumers of advertising messages since the Internet acts as a "many-to-many" channel of communication, of which when applied in PR can be a greater help in disseminating the information. As such, the Internet as the new communication medium transformed the conventional design and implementation of advertising campaigns along with its effects to consumers’ purchasing considerations and behaviors (White & Raman, 1999). Moreover, compared to other broadcasting media such as the television and the radio whose advertising messages are alternately programmed and delivered to the audiences, advertising messages in the Internet is integrated within the editorial content just like in the print media (Hanson, 2000).
The Internet enables two-way communication in which the user can respond to the announcer or even diffuse a counter message and interact with other users in a form of peer-to-peer communication wherein the stimulus and the response can occur on the same medium distinctive from other forms of communication (White & Raman, 1999). Furthermore, the Internet allows a potential integration between information seeking and commercial transactions since a user can respond to a web-based advertisement, decide to buy the item, and then buy it within minutes resulting to a significant shortening of the decision process. Along with minute variations in the short-term reactions to the advertisement among users, Web advertisements can lead to sizable gains in purchase behavior (Kim, 2003).
Disadvantages of Internet
With the advantages of Internet advertising come its drawbacks as well. Since the evaluation of the effectiveness of a PR campaign concludes a successful marketing effort, the importance of accurate and valid assessment of advertising propaganda is highly important. However, in the case of Internet and its integration with the PR strategies, one wrong move may serve as the pitfall for the entire organization. For an instance, when an announcement has been published or launched in the Internet world, it should be expected that there are many people who are eyeing for the news. The critical part is when there are errors in the message or the content is not reliable. The damage is directly affecting the image of the company and since the Internet is a host of millions of audience and around the world, different reactions and opinions will form which can add tarnish to the image of the company. Smith and Chaffey (2001) explained the most of the Web-published works bears a great risk in the page content. Furthermore, when the wrong information has been disseminated, the number of audience who received the message can form their impressions in which can directly affect the performance of the organization.
Hence, the digital media became risky as compared to the traditional media. This is because in newspapers and other publish materials editors which handles the kind of information to be disseminate, in TV and radio, there are production assistants, segment directors, and directors who can collaborate in forming right amount of information to be aired. But in digital media, the PR manager who is responsible should be more careful and should put more thought on the contents, since there will be no one (assuming as if there will be no one would help the PR manager) around to ask for their opinion and can evaluate the public messages. Also too much focus on the personal view and emotions of the people should be disregarded since the focus of making the PR is for the image of the organization as a whole and not on personal opinions. These are the instances of what makes it difficult for the PR to be launched all at once because errors may happen and it can be disastrous for the organization. Catching the attention of the audience is however easy.
Strategic Approach to Communications
Based on the PR theories and the use of the digital media as a channel of distribution, we can say that an organization can strategically employ their unique PR coverage. Certainly, PR coverage associates similar base with media relations. These media relationships must not be utilized when issues as well as crises are elevated in the global marketplace. It is imperative for the firm and its subsidiaries to have continuous communication and collaboration to formulate the effective PR. This serves as grounding information of the entire organization and gauges the stories that should be included or not.
An effective PR coverage will allow adaptations of strategies, precisely in alleviating the problems and thus, earn more trust from the general public and to enable them to identify as well as recognize active potential market issues that may affect the business process in part or in full. It may also arise that organizations have to present flexible connections with the media. This is to gain and achieve a positive PR coverage of their business and operations. In the process, good PR assumption will help business to hinder marketing issues from being transferred to certain type of situation that could possibly harm their products and services as well as harm their brand names and reputation through constructive publicity (White & Raman, 1999).
Presentable market branding presentation is ideal for attaining a constructive PR as one imperative factor to keep media relationships constant. This could serve as a distinct advantage, provided that the business’ PR coverage are consistently generated and crafted professionally. The PR coverage will be determined within the masses that arrive on business news on a daily or weekly basis. The organizations should follow strict guidelines on what to present and get known to the public and if successful in disseminating marketing communications then PR coverage might be realized in good standing (Higgins, 1999; Cutlip, et al., 2006). There is then some reasonable weight for the industry to stand the amount of PR coverage and handle them well and track them for business recording purposes.
For such, PR is a kind of industry wherein competition can be intense and PR coverage is being utilized for multifaceted purposes by business regardless of size in addition to the nation of origin. True enough that PR team and people are busy individuals whom getting hold of are a bit hard in this modern day information occasion (Gumpert, 1997). Nevertheless, the better possible manner for firms to contact these people has to be determined and recognized by accountable people at businesses. This serves as one vital function that requires care as well as skills in order for the business to establish, generate and manage effective PR coverage through the help of extensive media relationships.
PR coverage is part of every business life around the world. There has been quick increase of innovative media and its impacts to industries duly exist. Specifically through the emergence of internet medium that provides good PR coverage interaction like that of digital PR coverage of such products and services. Basing on data from Lifetips (2007), the term public relations is currently utilized by many businesses; however, some aspects of it are not exactly similar to that of PR coverage for business process. Henceforth, a good PR coverage stresses the connections that businesses and its industries generated with PR editors as well as analysts. Ideally, PR coverage expands the business’ relationship to the customers and the audiences so to speak. Surprisingly, Bland et al. (2001) asserted that there are several business practitioners who dedicate lesser time frame to achieving a good PR coverage through effective media relations. This is because PR base in media were divided into conventional PR and innovative media by some business related scholars and practitioners (Cutlip et al., 2006; Higgins, 1999). A good PR coverage is important to the business and will strengthen incredible growth of interactive business media.
There are still traditionalists who want to read about business activities on hard copies rather than pushing the remote control of online and or digital television (Digitalstore, 2007). This is why a number of newspapers as well as magazines are duly published yearly. However, the internet has been booming all throughout even though some argued that internet increase is becoming a stagnant reality. PR coverage is an innovative challenge for business that surely transformed what PR and media employed to have. Cutlip et al. (2006) have discussed that the inclusion of PR coverage in business assumes ample part of market adjustments as well as changes. Thus, there is adequate evidence that, internet based PR coverage is recently has been an important communication tool on which media relations are comprehensively manifested. White and Raman (1999) argue that internet has been the primary controlled PR coverage in support of the mass media in the long run. Some skills and passion are needed by the business to take advantage of good PR experience. Beforehand the internet emergence, marketing through advertising was the effective way to transmit communications via media assumptions.
Hill and White (2000) mentioned that business intends to strengthen business identity, collect and gather evidence, provide information to stakeholders and PR based media via the internet. According to Fulton and Guyant (2002), internet supported coverage gives opportunity to businesses to introduce and launch their brands and products globally. Through valuing a good PR coverage, businesses allow direct as well as effective communication with the community and the main public regardless of location factors and cultural barriers. For instance, if something happens in Apple or Samsung now, then in span of few days it can be broadcasted throughout the globe. Good PR management is needed as well as considered properly for legal matters of business industries. Being successful in managing PR coverage, the business will be interested to get in contact with other organizations. This PR coverage, in return will add value to business publicity.
Learning the public relations gave a lot of thought such as the strategic construction of the public messages. Through the help of the theories related in the PR, there is a clear framework on what should be done in creating the PR. Furthermore, the integration of the PR into the digital media as a most efficient way in disseminating information is gladly accepted. However, the risk involved such as committing errors on the messages may also hurt the organization; therefore, the PR manager should be skilled and trained on how to facilitate the PR function and coverage.
The PR coverage is ideal for the organization such as BP if applied wisely. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the PR coverage may take effect if it is amiably planned and this particular planning must be connected to the strategic agenda of the business. Therefore BP and other types of organizations must be aware that in this existing climate of business competition as well as accountability, achieving and realizing a good PR coverage is an important advertising issue that needs appropriate attention and assessment. PR should be attractive to the business people, to the customers as well as the media example, the online media. Nonetheless, it is crucial to be strategically minded and honest in doing PR communications for keeping up with a constructive and highly competitive market. It is also vital for the firm’s PR not to overstate or overdo an event. If it does, it might reflect as well as manifest a negative PR coverage which is not healthy for any business – taking the example of BP. The business must look into the media relations undoubtedly and pose no questions on matters they are writing about the business as much as possible. Every organization matures and reflects on the past experiences.
BBC, (2010) BBC Technology Strategy
Bland, M., Theaker, A., & Wragg, D., (2001) Effective Media Relations, 2nd ed., The Institute of Public Relations.
Cornelissen, J., & Thorpe, R., (2002) The Organization of External Communication Disciplines in UK Companies: A Conceptual and Empirical Analysis of Dimensions and Determinants, The Journal of Business Communication, 38(4).
Cutlip, S.M., Center, A., & Broom, G.M., (2006) Effective Public Relations, 9th ed., Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Digitalstore (2007) Available at: www.digitalstore.com/marketing/mstern/trad_mktg.html, [Accessed 10 Jan 2013].
Donthu, N., & Garcia, A., (1999) The Internet Shopper. Journal of Advertising Research, 39(3): 52-58.
Forrest, E. & Mizerski, R.. (Eds) (2001) Interactive Marketing: The Future Present. NTC Business Books, Lincolnwood, Illinois:
Fulton, S., & Guyant, A., (2002) Beat the Press, American Book Business Press, Salt Lake City, UT, p. 215.
Gumpert, D.E. (1997) Freshening the web site, The Public Relations Strategist, 3: 42-4.
Hanson, W., (2000) Principles of Internet Marketing, Cincinatti: South Western College Publishing.
Hargreaves, S., (2011) Offshore drilling: Slow comeback after BP. CNN (April 20). Available at: http://money.cnn.com/2011/04/20/news/economy/bp_oil_spill_drilling/index.htm [Accessed 10 Jan 2013].
Hasan, R., & Jandoc, K.B., (2010) Workers' Earnings in the Philippines: Comparing Self-employment with Wage Employment, Asian Development Review, 27(1): 43+.
Higgins, R., (1999) The future of public relations is on the internet, The Public Relations Strategist, 5: 6-10.
Hill, L.N., & White, C., (2000) Public relations practitioners’ perception of the world wide web as a communications tool, Public Relations Review, 26(1): 31-51.
Kim, II-W. (2003) How Large Corporations Use Data Mining to Create Value. Management Accounting Quarterly, Jan. 2003.
Lifetips (2007), Available at: http://pressrelease.lifetips.com/tip/110480/mediarelations/mediarelations/mediarelations-definition.html [Accessed 10 Jan 2013].
McClam, E., & Weber, H.R., (2010) BP’s failures made worse by PR mistakes: Oil giant struggles to contain undersea gusher ... and its own messaging, (June 6) Available at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37647218/ns/business-world_business/t/bps-failures-made-worse-pr-mistakes/#.UO4_5KxHEco [Accessed 10 Jan 2013].
Rhee, Y., (2004) The employee-public-organization chain in relationship management: a case study of a government organization. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park.
ROC, (2010) Making HCM a Business Priority Available at: http://www.roc-group.com/sugo_assets/106/2010-04/roc_casestudy_bbc_roadmap.pdf [Accessed 10 Jan 2013].
Smith, PR., & Chaffey, D., (2001) E-Marketing Excellence: At the Heart of E-Business. Oxford, UK: Butterworth Heinemann.
Wells, B., & Spinks, N., (1999) Media relations: powerful tools for achieving service quality, Managing Service Quality, 9(4): 246-56.
White, C., & Raman, N., (1999) The world wide web as a public relations medium: the use of research, planning, and evaluation in web site development, Public Relations Review, 25: 405-19.