In the case of the public sector in India, the PR person will not be able to carry out a purposeful campaign unless he/she is aware of the following:
- The magnitude of operations of the public sector as a whole;
- The concept, the culture, and the philosophy of the public sector in our economy and in democratic structure; and
- The intrinsic difficulties of PR work in the public sector in the context of the coexistent competition and hostility of the private sector.
Public sector includes the following undertakings:
- Wholly owned and managed by government;
- wholly owned by government but managed privately under the overall supervision of government
- Where majority of ownership and controlling interest is in the hands of government.
Features of the Public Sector
- The public sector exists on no profit basis.
- It belongs to the people and is financed by the involuntary savings of the people. Therefore, unlike the private sector, where the share-holders alone are financially interested in the undertaking, the public sector has to be responsive to the financial interests of the public at large.
- The public sector has to be responsive to the public opinion, while the private sector needs worry only of the share-holders.
- The public sector is concerned with basic industries such as steel and coal involving huge investments, long gestation period, initial losses, and lesser return to the capital.
- It looks after the employees’ welfare and offers maximum employment.
- It generally lessens the regional and economic inequity while reflecting the site of industries.
- The public sector takes over ‘sick industries’.
Since public sector employs a very hefty force, an optimistic PR approach is therefore needed to deal with a large number of people. The PR man is obligatory to create a feeling of identity and of common purpose among the workers. Greater sharing of information in a participative manner with the workers is necessary to establish cordial relations. With proper PR, the management decisions such as new work methods, employment of workmen, etc. can be implemented without confrontation with the workers.
The public sector PR attempt has to be directed to take away the distortions of one sided publicity that prevails at present. This task needs to be performed by public undertakings collectively and not by any undertaking in isolation.
Since public and private sectors are harmonizing to each other and both compete for scarce resource-capital, foreign exchange, skilled manpower, etc. The PR man in the public sector, however, should not run down the private sector but should explain and highlight the pioneering work assigned to the public sector.
PR man should not only be well versed in publicity practices but should have a clear grasp of the basic objectives for which the public sector was created.
PR effort should not be used for non-productive purposes. PR man should be associated with the decision making processes in the enterprise. He should be deeply involved in its affairs. Only then will he be able to provide a bridge of understanding between the enterprise and the public.
He should have direct access to the primary sources of information in the organization. He should be provided with functional facilities such as transport, telephone and entertainment expenses, etc.
He should try to improve his professional competence and establish his usefulness to the organization. PRO should be more alert and alive than other managers. They have to foresee and shape conditions to suit their requirements.
Functioning of the public relations in public sector bristles with difficulties. Neither the objectives of the public sector as a whole nor those of individual enterprises have been clearly laid down. Many public sector organizations do not decide their PROs on the basis of competence; rather non-competent persons are employed on such posts.
Most of the time PR man does not have access to source of information and does not always attend meetings where policies are formulated. After such a meeting, he is often handed a press release and asked to get on with the job. He is often used as a fire-fighting service, summoned by the top brass only at a time of crisis. There is little appreciation that PR is a constant process and relations with the media or with workers are built brick by brick over years.
Public relations is generally treated as the poor relation of the organization and does not enjoy a status conducive to efficient performance. There are few facilities available to train newly recruited PROs or to improve the professional competence of existing PROs . Today, when technological developments are growing and PROs are not up-to-date, they cannot function successfully.
It’s sad that the profession of public relations is not very well recognized. An organization cannot do without accountant, but anybody is considered skilled to handle PR.