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One of the main concepts of organizational communication is public relations. It is a fact that for an organization to achieve its objectives it must have and uphold a good public image. Public relations, is a topic or a field concerned with maintenance of public image for organizations, associations, programs or even the image of high-status individuals. It is only about how the community perceives an organization (Bernays, 1995). Developing a good strategy for public relations is very instrumental to control the image of any business. For example, BP experienced a public relations nightmare during the oil spill. The gulf oil spill made BP adopt aggressive measures in controlling the damage on its image. BP invested a lot of money, time, and energy into improving its image. A good public relations strategy can aid in building a good relationship with employees, customers and the public in general. The objective would be a good reputation and name recognition for an organization. A well-contemplated public relation strategy can provide a way forward in times of emergency or even work as a part of marketing plan. In creating an efficient public relations strategy, an organization should consider some few steps, which include discovery, public relations plan, public relation policy, plan implementation, and evaluation (Grunig, 1999).
Discovery is a process that involves the following; the understanding of what the organization is dealing with, whom the organization serves, and who in the society interacts with the organization. This process involves extensive research. Another process is the development of a good public relation plan. This process is comparable to the establishment of business targets; thus, it should be a part of strategic planning (Caponigro, 2000). The public relation goals should focus on the communication of the discovery process. It is vital to have a well-contemplated communication plan for community, employees, and those that interrelate with the business. In addition, the plan should include both reactive and proactive measures. Proactive in the sense of marketing the products or services of an organization, maintaining a good public image and improving name recognition through the increase of market share. On the other hand, the plan can be reactive in how it is going to deal with unplanned and unanticipated outcomes (Casey, & Ritchey, 1999).
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Another important step is public relations policy. This step involves a written down process to follow in responding to situations and communicating. This consists of communication between the organization and its employees, communication with news media or using communication as an advertisement campaign. The implementation of the plan is an important step, which requires dedication. This process requires scheduling, budgeting, and a detailed agenda to implement the plan. Excellent results depend on good timing and efficient budgeting. The final part is an evaluation of how great the plan is functioning. Having well defined targets will help to evaluate the success of public relations. These processes seem to work extremely well for any organization (Ferguson, 1994).
Public relations engross the development of positive relations for an organization and its products with customers. It involves a wide range of communication tools and channels. Conventionally, public relations involved working with news media members in building favorable image through printing of stories and media broadcast. However, thing have changed today hence public relations involves keeping an eye on different media houses for comments touching the products of an organization, implementing exceptional programs, events in order to build a friendly atmosphere in the market. In addition, public relations include management of crisis that may destroy the company's image or the image of its products. Lastly, public relations may involve using stories or articles in building awareness of its products (James & Todd, 1984).
Public relation has many advantages that cannot be available in other forms of promotions. Firstly, it is an extremely credible type of promotion. This is because the community does not perceive public relation communications in the same way they see advertisement. For instance, a good story about a fresh product in a local newspaper may have a superior influence to a full-page advert. This is more so, if the story is in the business section of the newspaper. Secondly, a well-organized public relations campaign can provide the market with more detailed information about a product than other promotions. This is possible since the media provides more time and space for product enlightenment than product advertisement (Herbert & Mary, 2002). Furthermore, other media outlets may have an interest in well-detailed information of a particular company; thus, printing it. This in turn, spreads a single story to numerous locations around the world. Another advantage is that a company can achieve its goals on public relations at a lower cost than other forms of promotions. Particularly small companies should make use of public relation communications rather than hiring advertisement agencies (Cutlip, 2004).
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In conclusion, today's world of business is incredibly competitive. Every organization should have a way of making itself noticeable or have something that can make them be appealing. Public relations serve the company by assisting in giving the media and the public a high-quality understanding of the company's deals. It is an important channel of getting feedback from the community through research on different areas. In addition, a public relation member of staff must be able to work under immense pressure. The staff must be able to handle many questions from the public and media. Finally, a good public department can build a healthy relationship with investors, customers, donors, employees and the community. Having a good reputation through public relations can work better for any organization than other forms of promotions. Therefore, any organization should consider having a working public relations department.
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