Sam Black has given ten factors of public relations:
- The practice of public relations is an occupation, an art applied to a science. The public interest, not pecuniary inspiration, is the primary consideration in its practice. The profession has its literature and its voluntary associations.
- Public relations concerns itself with the relations of a unit, an organization or an individual with the public on which it depends for its viability. Public relations of a unit, an organization or an individual with the public on which it depends for its viability. Public relations guidance covers adjustment to the public, information to the public and persuasion to the public to accept a service or product.
- The need for the public relations practitioner as a societal technician has been brought about by the revolution in transportation and recommunication, more extensive literacy, the increasingly complex network of communication, and the resultant greater participation by the public in the shaping of all institutions.
- Effective public relations establishes a meeting point to the highest degree of modification between an organization and the public on which it depends.
- Effective public relations is based on reality not on images, whether true or false. Deeds and act that serve the public interest are the source of sound public relations.
- An organization seeks public agreement and support on the basis of the public relation professional accepts a client. He rejects the client who does not serve the public interest.
- The public relations man first evaluates by scientific public opinion research, the concords and discords between his client and his public. He advices his client on the modification of attitudes and actions which are indicated. He advises on information needed by the public to provide a basis for understanding and support. He advises on method of influence necessary to gain public support.
- Professional public relations practice depends on the application of the social sciences (Psychology, sociology, social psychology, public opinion, communication study and semantics) to the problem at hand.
- The public relations proficient plays an imperative role in preparing the various segments of the society for coming developments in order to prevent ‘future shock’.
- The professional public relations man is remunerated on the principle of quantum merit which sets the pattern in other professions.
Principle of Public Relations
As the specialist who cultivates the tree is equally concerned with its individual parts, the root scheme on which its prosperity depends, so with public relations. Its practice spreads, it accommodates itself with its environment, and the environment accepts. But the under lying principles from which it drives substance are of prime importance to the practitioner and to those whom its activities affect. An appraisal of public relations is bound to be determined by the way its practitioners approach their work-their philosophy, attitude, ethical standards and knowledge of technical skills.
Their philosophy is summed up in the concept that public relations is an essential function of the management of any enterprise. This is true whether the organization engages in governmental, social or economic activity. Their attitude is defined by a conviction that service in the public interest is the final criterion by which a man or a policy must be judged. Their ethical standards agree with these regulations, stated and unstated that govern our culture as to equity and morality. Their technical skills are developed through aptitude, training and performance of such competence that the results they work to achieve are reasonably predictable. Public relations accomplishment is based on optimism, a wellspring of ideas and much thoughtful planning. A public relations administrator is judged instantly by the words of his mouth but ultimately by the meditations of his heart. This is a practice in which a person of normal endowments gets along better than a magician.
Public relations practice has spread from industry to education, government and other social and economic institutions. With it has spread increasing awareness. The term ‘corporate image’ gained greater popularity in the 1960s. It was almost universally misused and misunderstood. Its novelty died away, perhaps because of over use. A clever and handy phrase defining the goal of efforts to project a company’s identity; it was harmless as long as it remained advertising and public relations jargon. But the catch phrase soon passed into the common language and became a ‘concept’. It is not surprising that the public came to view the image as a slick process and tagged it with a bad name. It is now too late to eradicate, the ‘corporate image’ from the language, it is too firmly rooted. But public relations people can get back to basics avoiding the use of phrase and emphasizing that corporate reputation must be earned with solid policy and action.
Till very recently, it was believed that the essence of mass persuasion was exposure of an idea, a brand, a name a product of the target audience. The success of communication was measured in terms of the number of people reached and the number of exposures. Today we know that not only do individuals respond differently to the same stimuli, but the response to a communication is also very selective .The PR professionals, therefore, need to evolve a new set of principles to guide their efforts. Their efforts should be involved in modifying or principles to guide their efforts. Their efforts should be involved in modifying or altering the attitude of an individual towards a particular object, idea, person or institution. Secondly, their efforts should also be towards systematic scanning, monitoring and interpretation of the relevant social environment, and how these impinge on the performance of the organization.
- Trust in integrity: The first and foremost principle is that he should be trustworthy. This is the key to his acceptance in the chain of communication. He is required to be what he represents himself to be, an advocate. His integrity must go even further. Everything he writes or says, or causes others to write or say in the interest of his employer should be in the public interest. This is an obligation imposed on few other hired men. An attorney does his full duty in serving his client though he may not believe in his power to help his client win. But the publicity man is in a different fix. If his employer is engaged in indefensible practices affecting the public, which he refuses to change, the publicity worker, weighing his responsibilities to employer and to public may have to make a decision as to which he shall serve. He does not have the protection of ancient customs as does the lawyer. He is obliged to put the public interest first, even of that means to serve his business connection. If this seems to demand a harsh application of self-discipline, the publicity worker should nevertheless be prepared to make it. The occasions will be few in which such a choice is forced upon him. But to make it is to guard his future as a respected member of a profession. Blatanly insincere PR efforts are not ineffective but build up resistance to the acceptance of any future persuasive efforts.
- Sound moral base: Good public relations implies a sound moral base. However, the practice can long endure only when it is dynamic. Harmless conduct is not enough. Action is required. This may be expressed as striving for three objectives:
(a) To attract attention.
(b) To win belief
(c) To impart understanding
These steps are taken to reach a goal: to convince people that they should adopt a certain attitude or pursue a certain course of action.
To perform this feat, public relation must begin at the heart of the organization it serves. It must find the answer to three questions:
What is the message management wants to impart.
One should not have public relations for fun’s sake. Without knowing what, to whom, how and why a public relations programme has no purpose. To get at the answers may require considerable time and effort. They may raise more questions. They may raise doubt. But once answered they should enable management to:
(a) understand the organization’s nature and purposes thoroughly,
(b) communicate this understanding to others, and
(c) observe and evaluate the effect.
As a consequence of public relations activity on this sound base, management can gain the opportunity, both in detail and in the large, to make such internal changes in organization, product, service or method as will enable it to survive and prosper in a public climate of goodwill.
This is the self-aware, the wide-awake way to go about public relations practice. This is the way that leads to full self-realization by management.
(3) Appropriate dealing: To be effective, public relations should deal differently with different groups depending upon their mental make up and background. As such, it has to take note of the heritage, history, culture, philosophy, psychology, mythology and social conventions of the society it seeks to serve. What is effective in U.K. may not make a dent in Australia. In a vast country like India an approach which may appeal to educated urbanites may go over the heads of many inhabitants of rural regions.
(4) Solving information overload: The mass media message output being phenomenal, the mass audience suffers from what has come to be known as ‘information overload’ i.e. communication being targeted by different interest groups from all sides to the same audience. It is necessary, therefore, for the PR practitioner to be careful in ‘positioning’ his PR message .Instead of directly sending persuasive message, one can adopt a strategy of directly sending persuasive message, therefore, for the PR practitioner to be careful in ‘positioning’ his PR message. Instead of directly sending persuasive message, one can adopt a strategy of injecting ideas and information into that broad stream of communication, for example, a newspaper which flows incessantly to the target public. These may be picked up alongwith all other ideas and information, and subtly help become part of a receiver’s thinking, which moulds his attitude. This requires tact, and comes with experience.
(5) Elasticity and adjustment: We are living in a dynamic age. PR practitioner has to keep in mind the international trends. Whatever science achieved over the past 100 years seems insignificant in relation to the revolution brought by it over the last ten years, and whatever changes it may bring about by the turn of the century may put to shame all the changes introduced so far. In a situation of rapid flux, elasticity and adjustment to change will form an essential part of PR practices.
(6) Choice of tools: The growing visibility of events, through the mass media, has led to higher public reaction levels. Therefore, as a practice, the PR professionals need to know all that could be made to capture the imagination by becoming real forces in people’s minds actions, emotion, stiring speeches, films, events, dramatizations, displays, exbhitions or symbols, have a chance to capture to public attention, and win public support.
(7) Awareness of international changes: The international scenario is noted for at least four important developments, which are of special concern to PR anywhere, particularly in the developing countries. These lie in the fields of communication technology, political awareness, economic interdependence and social equality. Technically, a stage has been reached when whatever happens in any part of the globe can be heard and seen instantaneously. Almost all countries of the world have attained independence and are engaged in improving the living standards of their people.
(8) Knowledge of new technologies: For those in public relations dealing directly with dissemination of information of information, the new technologies are of the utmost importance for several reasons. First, they have to integrate these techniques in the system of their thinking and keep on increasing their fund of information continuously. Secondly, they have to take note of developments these techniques have spawned and accelerated in other areas.
(9) Social upsurge: In the social field, communication technology, political freedom and economic prosperity are being used to improve the lot of the illiterate and the poor. The PR practitioners should help free governments to ameliorate the condition of these people. With radio, television and communication satellites, basic information about available opportunities and modern production methods is reaching far flung areas. As backward people in developing countries acquire new skills, their living standards are bound to rise. When prosperity increase and huge human masses join the national mainstream these people will have to be approached, informed, cultivated and motivated into desired activity.
(10) Ensuring receptivity: For the PR to be effective, the basic principle that always needs to be kept in mind that the target public must be in a; posture of receptivity’. This is of critical importance in PR. It is a recognized fact that the favourable inclination of an individual towards all messages from a given source is the result of his total experience with that source. The character of an organization is exemplified by its actions and the sincerity of its previous attempts and efforts. On this depends the acceptance or rejection with which the organization’s communication is met. Rross, Editor of Saturday Review, explained why PR people usually remain in the background:
“The principle of anonymity evolves from a very simple philosophy of our work: When things go wrong for a corporation in the public relations area it is the management of the corporation that takes the bumps. We believe that when things go right they deserve the credit and it should not be synthetic”.
Good practice certainly must be based on principles that are understood. Yet in public relations the discovery and recognition of workable principles have been empirical. Only since the early 1950s has the academic world taken public relations the discovery and recognition of workable principles have been empirical. Only authority, Prof. John E. Marson of Michigan State University, has prepared a set of principles of communication as applied in public relations. He points out that a completely exhaustive list of such principles of effective communication has not yet been made and is not likely soon to be made, for social scientists are continually discovering and refining them. His list comprises the following principle:
Humanization, suiting the message and the means of communication to the audience, speaking the receiver’s language, timeliness, dramatization, two-way communication, reaching your own people first, facing the facts, performing a needed service, stressing positive benefits, repetition, overcoming refusal to pay attention, using leaders of opinion, preconditioning the audience, and keeping all communications in harmony.
These principles are always in flux, and if they are to live and prosper they must continuously change and grow. The ambition of public relations practitioners is not so much to be credited and recognized as to deserve general acceptance. Their work is largely anonymous. They help to set the stage, to coach management, to interpret the audience to management and sometimes to write the script. Other persons are more visible and vocal. Public relations does not create or project a more corporate image. It presents, and reveals reality, the warm and human personalities of the intuitions it serves.
Methods of Public Relations(Tools)
Once the facts are collected plan prepared, information has to be communicated to the people to achieve the desired objectives. A PRO is therefore, called upon to communicate to a heterogeneous population who has a vast variety of tools at his disposal. There are two aspects of communication. One, the physical transmission of a message and two to bring about a change in the prevailing attitudes of people. In dealing with various public, a PRO must, therefore, first understand the mental pictures of a particular group and employ appropriate tools to modify these pictures. The success of an individual, an industry, an organization or a government depends upon the ability about appropriate attitudinal changes to communicate effectively, lay down objectives choose the proper tools and utilize them individually or in combination to achieve effective communication at the desired end. Tools do not make a man but man makes tools work. Only those who know the strength and weakness of each of the following tools can effectively use them.
- Written Word
(a) Newspapers and periodicals
(i) Press releases
(ii) Press conferences
(b) House journals
- Other Media
(b) Folk media
- Oral communication: Oral communication is personal communication. It is persuasive communication. A person can word his message differently for different people. He can have a free and frank discussion and work around the listener’s biases. The talk between two persons is based on trust and mutual goodwill. Either they arrive at an agreement or they agree to differ and continue the discussion later. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were no great orators but they spoke from their heart and their words, like bullets hit the bull’s eye. They practiced what they preached and were the heroes of the Indian people.
How to be Effective
A PRO must be master in oral communication. He deos not push out press releases all the time but talks most of the time to his colleagues within the organization or with representatives of the press. Occasionally he is also called upon to deliver formal speeches or organize group discussions and seminars. The preparation of speeches or organize group discussion and seminars. The preparation of speeches or organize group discussions and seminars. The preparation of speeches is often the task of the public relations department. Orators are born not made but it is possible for most people to achieve a good standard of public speaking if they are prepared to take some trouble. A short speech, delivered with feeling, will always carry more weight than a long address read carefully from a prepared script. One has to weigh his words before speaking and cultivate the art of conducting conversation. Here is a list of few points for oral communication given by Baldeo Sahai in his book, Public Relations-A Scientific Approach.
- Sincerity of purpose is the secret of being a good conversationalist and a successful public relations officer. While collecting information from a senior executive the objective is to publicise the activities of his department and build up a better image of the organization.
- In his dealings, with press representatives, public men or office colleagues it is necessary to retain their confidence. Whatever has been told to him in confidence should never be divulged. Official secrets should never be disclosed. A secret is a secret. It is not to be told even to the friendliest correspondent.
- Between management and workers, a PRO should try to carve out a place so as to enjoy the confidence of both. In talking to workers he should find out what is nagging them most and convey their genuine grievances to the right quarters. He may put across management’s point of view before the workers in a friendly manner. In this way he can bring about better management-labour relations.
- Like a journalist, a PRO is supposed to know everything of something and something of everything. A PRO who has wide-ranging interests and can talk intelligently on many topics will be more successful in his profession.
- One salutary principle of a good conversationalist is never to talk ill of anybody. Always talk about the good point of a person and be liberal in your praise. Don’t discuss a person’s defects. Worldly wisdom dictates that it is not helpful to talk ill of people.
- To be a good talker, it is necessary to be a good listener. A verse in Urdu says that one should speak once after listening twice because God has given us only one tongue and two ears. If one talks less and listener more he will kill two birds in one shot.
- PRO may also be called upon to organize group discussions, seminars or symposia. He should maintain a list of authoritative speakers on various topics. At times it may be necessary to have a mass meeting to put across certain ideas or policies where necessary. The press may be invited to cover such functions and adequate arrangements made for proper seats and supply of background material.
Guidelines for PRO
- A PRO should first decide what he wants to say and put down his ideas lucidly and briefly.
- It is better to get in touch with the Deputy Director General at the Centre or the Station Director of the region for arranging talk, discussion or an interview, etc. Given him all the relevant information, including if possible the names of authorities who can speak on the subject with intimate knowledge.
- The objective should be to keep village people informed generally on all important developments in a country. The tool is to be pressed into service to transform their ‘inner picture’ and change their outlook from the bullock cart to the jet age stage. It is, therefore, necessary in the national interest, to include news about all types of development activities in rural programmes.
- Women constitute almost half of the population. As with the rural population, the information level of women has to be raised. Here it is not an event but a process which has to be projected. For that, a special feature story or a skit about the activities of the organization can work wonders if presented in an interesting form. If necessary, the PRO may commission professional literatures to help him.
- Recast your material to suit the mental level of your listeners. An eye must be kept on the possibility of utilizing other special audience programmes like those for industrial workers and youth.
- Try to sponsor a radio feature on special occasions like completing a decade, a silver or golden jubilee, launching a new venture, achieving a breakthrough in research and development, exports or import substitution.
- In case of organizations which provide farm inputs like seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, it would be far more effective if the programmes based on interviews with producers and users are produced. The management representative will explain the merits of his product and the right way of its use. The actual user will then give his name and place and relate his own experience and explain the difficulties if any which will be answered by the producer. A composite programme like this based on recorded interviews will go down much better on regional radio stations than straight talks, or even discussions. A PRO may first discuss programme pattern with the station director and take a recording team with him. Sometimes he may himself record the items as suggested by the station director and pass on the recordings to the radio station .Similar programmes can be prepared for urban people also. After all the objectives of the PRO, and that of the AIR producers are identical to produce effective programmes which will motivate the people in the national development effort.
- When organizing a programme on radio, try to avoid a straight talk,even though it may be from the chief executive. The PRO is concerned with the success of the programme. It should make an impact, stimulate thinking, invite comments, people should talk about it. Better have a group discussion, or at least an interesting interview.
The usual way of issuing information to the press is by writing a press release. A press release is official, authorized statement about the policies and activities of an organization. As the company or the government has to stand by it, the press release must be factual, correct and project the policy clearly and without ambiguity. It should leave no scope for misreporting. This is then sent by post or by hand to various newspapers and periodicals and to radio and television news offices. It should leave no scope for misreporting. This is then sent by post or by hand to various newspapers and periodicals and television news offices. It should also be communicated to the news agencies, who have direct contact with the main newspaper offices in the country. The news agencies edit the release and do not send it out in its entirely, so it is always worthwhile sending out the full release as widely as possible. The PRO should give adequate information on all points of public interest. If he examines the material critically from the view point of a press reporter and the public, he will immediately discover certain areas where further light or classification is necessary.
The press release should be written in journalistic. It should follow the principles of news reporting. The introduction or lead should be in a summary format. It should answer the five W’s and one H as it is in a news story. The second and the subsequent paragraphs should elucidate and elaborate the points. It should provide facts or information of interest to the readers and should attempt to cover all aspects of a specific subject. The release should not be generally lengthy. It should be concise and to the point. The release should not be generally lengthy. It should be concise and to the point. The release is a piece of clear writing without any ambiguity, without any effort towards colour or ornamentation. As far as possible each story should be complete in itself. Public memory is short and people are not likely to remember what had been said on the subject a couple of months ago, or even the previous fortnight. Moreover, repetitive publicity is the essence of selling an idea.
It should have a consistent format. Generally, the name of the agency from where the release emanates is given on the top. The date and place are indicated on the top right side. The release should have a title or subtitle also, if necessary. In the case of releases from non-official organizations, it is desirable also to mention the designation of the person issuing the release and his telephone number.
Types of press release covering Government news:
- Press Communiques
- Press notes
- Unofficial stories or unofficial handouts
Press communiqués are issued when some important governments, conclusion of the foreign dignitaries visits, etc. The press communiqué is formal character. It carries the name of ministry or department and the place and date at the bottom left hand corner of the release. Generally, the press is expected to reproduce the press communiqué without any substantial change. No heading or sub-heading or sub-heading is given on press communiqués.
Press notes are less formal in character. They are issued on important matters. They also carry the name of the ministry/department and the place at the bottom left hand corners. Headings or sub-headings are given in press notes.
Handouts are issued on a variety of subjects and on day-to-day activities of the ministry/department, VIP speeches, questions and answers in Parliaments, etc. The handout is a less formal type of release and not issued under the government’s formal authority. It bears the name of the PIB or other releasing agency on the top without any mention of the ministry/department to which the release pertains. The place and date are indicated on top at the right hand side. One of the most important common categories of handouts relate to the speeches of ministers or other high officials. The handouts are released only when the speech is connected with governmental activity. No official handouts are issued if the minister has spoken in his personal capacity as a member of a political organization. The speech when released to the press in the form of handout is summarized and properly edited. Formal, introductory and concluding remarks are omitted and redundant and repetitive material taken out. A proper title and sub title are given. The important aspects which are to be stressed are included in the beginning paragraph or in the lead. The full text of the speech is not released unless the subject is of very great importance.
Unofficial handouts are issued on the subject where the government would not like to assume official responsibility in the matter but feels that there may be positive advantages in making information public unofficially.These handouts are supplements to oral briefings. The unofficial handouts do not have the imprint of the PIB or of other releasing agencies. The date and place are indicated at bottom left hand corner.
Timing of release is very important. All releases should so far as possible reach the desk by 6 or 7 p.m. The PRO should finalise history at least one hour in advance of the official delivery time.
Non News Releases
These are such releases which do not cover news but give information in an indirect way and help in building the image of the government. More widely known releases of this type are back grounders, biographical sketches, contradictions, articles and features, newsletters, releases on reports, broadcast talks, etc. The releasing agency’s name is given at the top. The place and date are indicated on the top right hand side. Title and sub-title are also given.
The holding of the press conferences has become an accepted means of issuing information to the press. A press conferences should never be called merely to handout a development or information which could be covered merely to handout a development or information which could be covered equally well by a press release. The main justification for holding a press conference is that the subject is an important one likely to elicit plenty of questions from the journalists present.
A press conference should never be held as a routine affair. It should be held to announce all major policy decisions and important announcements. Press conferences can also be arranged for other officers on specific subjects if they are authorized to communicate with the press.
The invitees to the government press conference are normally all accredited cameramen and representatives from radio and T.V.,ETC. In the case of private organization all correspondents who normally cover the organization are invited to the press conference. Official invitees to the press conference should be reduced to the minimum. The information officer or public relation officer or public relations officer should brief the speaker in advance about the correspondents and the nature of questions likely to be asked. Where business houses have public relations officer, they should fully brief the subject-matter so that the executive can speak with informality and ease. Before the press conference begins they should also gave a proper but brief introduction of the speaker and the subject. Invitations to the press conference should be sent well in advance indicating the date, day, time, subject and venue of the conference his designation or status should be mentioned.
It is advisable to hold the press conference in the forenoon or early afternoon so as to catch the dak editions also of newspapers.
In case of important press conference it is necessary to tape-record the proceedings. Discussion on individual and personal cases should be avoided. Generally not more than half a dozen questions are to be allowed on any one aspect of the subject.
It is necessary to prepare a comprehensive note on the subject of the press conference. This note should be distributed a little before the press conference is scheduled to start. This will help in many ways, particularly in checking facts and statistics.
Tea, coffee or light refreshment can be served at the press conference. The press conference arrangements should be well thought out. Transport can be provided both ways if the press conference is held at some distance or out of the way place. Give equal treatment to all newspaper representatives. Under no circumstances should any press representatives be excluded from the press conference on this account.
PR in the Public Sector
In the case of the public sector in India, the PR man will not be able to conduct a purposeful campaign unless he 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 framework; and
– the inherent 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; and
– 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 reduces the regional and economic imbalance while reflecting the site of industries.
- The public sector takes over ‘sick industries’.
Since public sector employs a very large force, a positive PR approach is therefore needed to deal with a large number of people. The PR man is required 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 effort has to be directed to remove 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 complementary 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 techniques 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 anticipate and shape situations 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 choose 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 continuous 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 fast increasing and PROs are not up-to-date, they cannot function efficiently.
Sadly, the profession of public relations is not very well recognized. An organization cannot do without accountant, but anybody is considered competent to handle PR.
Public Relations in Private Sector
Public relations plays a very important role in the private sector. It has two main objectives to fulfill:
(a) to establish contact with three important sections of the public-its customers, its stockholders and its employees. Securing the mutual understanding and co-operation of these groups is essential to success.
(b) To promote the company’s services and product in a highly competitive market.
To understand the nature of the public opinion it is appropriate to divide the term into two components and examine, separately the nature of ‘public’ the character of ‘opinion and then the combined functioning in the public opinion process. Public is a group of people with similar interests who have a common opinion on a particular subject. The group may be small, a large or it may be a majority group. The concept of a public was introduced by John Dewey in his book The Public and its Problems and has defined a public as a group of individuals who together are affected by a particular action or idea. Thus, each issue or problem creates its own public. A group of students conformed to the controversial question of whether to strike is a public with a similar interest to hold elections involved in the process of forming public opinion. On the other hand, the same group of students standing at summerhill chowk and unanimously agreeing on the perfect weather is not involved in public opinion formation since no controversial question confronts the group.
Every person is identified with several policies, each of which may be involved in the process of opinion formation on one or more controversial subjects. A public involved in the opinion forming process may be numerically limited, consisting of three or four persons employed in a small office; or it may number in the millions in the case of ethnic, religious, or political groups. Public involved in opinion formation may be concentrated in one place or distributed widely in many countries throughout the world.
Public have common interests that unify the individual members, creating a similarity of view points and leading to unanimity of opinion on controversial subjects. According to Carroll Clark, former chairman of the Department of Sociology, University of Kansas, and unanimity in group opinion can be achieved by the following factors:
(a) underlying common interests strong enough to override sharply opposed interests and sentiments;
(b) a common discourse in terms of which an exchange of views may be affected;
(c) access through communication media to information an an issue;
(d) tolerance of opposing views and willingness to discuss the issue; and
(e) utilizing informal social mechanisms or formal political machinery for reaching a collective decision and taking collective action.
An opinion is simply the expression of an attitude on a controversial issue. Opinion implies controversy and dispute, whereas fact implies general acceptance. According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, ‘Opinion is a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter’. An opinion is stronger than an impression and weaker than positive knowledge. It “implies a conclusion thought out yet open to dispute. A more or less settle opinion is a “sentiment” and if held firmly, a “conviction”. A “view is” an opinion more or less coloured by bias”.
Public opinion is the aggregate result of individual opinions on public matters. Public matters are those of people affected by the same affairs. Publics cannot have and do not have opinion, because a public is not an entity in itself. Public opinion is the sum of accumulated individual opinions on an issue in public debate and affecting a group of people. In other words, it is an appearance of a belief held in common by members of a group or public on a controversial issue of general importance. Public opinion is usually expressed after controversy, dispute, and debate over some controversial query that concerns the welfare doctrines and value system of a group. For public opinion to be aroused there must exist a contemporary issue or question of some concern about which members of the groups are likely to be in disagreement.
Public opinion is not simply the opinion of the majority of a group. Each issue the interested public will divide itself into two or more differing points of view, which will not necessarily be contradictory or mutually exclusive. The opinion must be representative of the group as a whole. Hennessy (1981) says in his complete and concise definition. “Public opinion is the complex of beliefs expressed by a significant number of persons on an issue of general importance”.
Attitude in Opinion Formation
The basic objective of public relations is to measure, analyze and influence public opinion, which develops from the attitudes of individuals comprising the public. Therefore, it is important to understand the meaning of attitudes. An attitude in the feeling or mood of an individual for or against some person, organization, issue or object. It represents the predisposition of an individual to evaluate controversial questions in a favourable manner. Simply started, an attitude is a way of looking at situations. An expressed attitude is an opinion.
Attitudes that express feelings of like or dislike are a product of numerous physical and mental influences. Body processes affect attitudes. Good health contributes to favourable attitudes, while illness fosters negative ones. Cultural, racial and religious backgrounds often determine a person’s attitudes. Customs and habits influence attitudes. A person who is in the habit of going temple regularly has a favourable attitude towards religion.
Kinds of Attitudes
There can be of three types-positive, passive and negative.
Positive: A positive attitude induces a person to react favourably toward another person, an issue, a policy or an organization.
Passive: An individual will have a passive attitude toward an issue a person, or an organization when he does not give any opinion on issues affecting the group. A worker who has a passive attitude towards labour unions will have no opinions on controversial questions involving union policy or activities.
Negative: Attitudes also may be negative, giving the individual an unfavourable opinion of a person, issue or organization. A negative attitude is usually accompanied by feelings of unpleasantness or dissatisfaction.
The intensity of an attitude is the strength of the belief or feeling of a person towards a person, object or group. An attitude may be specific or general, simple or complex. A complex attitude may have numerous beliefs and considerable knowledge supporting it. A simple attitude, based on a single belief is much easier to change.
The objective of public relations is to determine and analyse attitudes of people in order to understand and perhaps, to anticipate public opinion on controversial problems. In influencing public opinion, public relations has the two-fold problem. One is lessening antagonistic attitudes and the two is persuading people with favourable attitudes to adopt a more positive attitude and to express task of public relations in influencing public opinion is to arouse the passive attitude of the majority of the group on controversial questions.
To arouse an attitude in an individual who is passive towards a controversial question depends upon the stimulation of a need created by an event or communication. The public relations practitioner may have no control over the need for change or the conditions conductive to change but nevertheless can magnify or minimize the importance of the need many people continue to have attitudes acquired in the past, and good communication can arouse these old attitudes. A felt need or dissatisfaction with prevailing conditions is essential to arousing existing attitudes to create a positive attitude, the public relations practitioner appeals to a need that may not be recognized, or points and that an indifferent or neutral attitude does not provide the satisfaction that the individual desires, and so creates dissatisfaction with prevailing conditions change in existing attitudes changes in attitude occur when an existing attitude no longer provides a person with satisfaction or when the aspirations of the person are raised. Changes in attitude are also brought about when an individual experiences problems, frustrations or self-image economic status, value system and other circumstances. Appeals to the physical, social and economic needs for people are most effective in changing their attitudes. Attitude change is directly related to the immediacy of the issue to the individual. An issue directly affecting the satisfaction or personal welfare of a person is likely to cause a change from a passive attitude to either a positive or a negative opinion.
Events Change Attitudes
Events play an important part in changing attitudes and opinions. Particularly, happenings or occurrences of direct significance to a member of a group are a major determinant of attitude and opinions. Events provide information that often induces a change of attitude. Events may transform passive attitudes into positive opinions. A gas leakage in the industrial plant arouses the latent attitudes of people about the danger of hazardous manufacturing in a residential neighbourhood. This event may arouse public opinion against the owner of the plant and bring about safety legislation to protect the community against a recurrence of the disaster, events make a stronger impact on attitudes and public opinion than do simple communications. Because events speak louder than words, public relations practitioners recognize the importance of events in transforming passive attitudes into positive opinions on controversial issues. It should be recognized, however, that communication events may, themselves, be highly significant.
Transferring Attitudes to Opinions
Opinions are the public expression in response to motivation arising from the needs, preferences, and interests of individuals composing the public.The principle motivates inducing persons to express their attitudes in the form of opinions are their desire for comfort and convenience, safety and protection, gain satisfaction of pride, or satisfaction of affection.
The opinions of individuals are activated by their attitudes which are motivated by mental and physical forces that induce them to express opinions. People usually are not aware of the motives impelling them to express attitudes in the form of opinions. The intensity of one’s motives varies from time to time as the urgency of a need increases or diminishes with circumstances. Public relations practitioners should understand the motives that cause people to express their opinions so that public relations communications can appeal to the needs and motives of the public.
Process of Opinion Formation
Public opinion is an opinion resulting from the interaction of the individual opinions of members of a group. It has been defined as the expression of all members of a group who are giving attention in any way to a given issue. Fine process stands with an interaction of individual attitudes, mind sets, and beliefs concerning an issue. It is essentially the product of a collective mental life, which, in a democracy, includes the expression of the majority, if there be a majority, and the minority at any given time. Public opinion involves a transformation of individual opinion into group opinion, brought about by the influence exerted by members of a group on the individual’s opinion. The process of opinion formation goes something like this:
(1) A number of people recognize a situation as being problematic and decide that something ought to be done about it. They explore possible solutions and do some fact finding.
(2) Alternative proposals for solving the problem emerge, and these are discussed back and forth.
(3) A policy or a situation is agreed upon as best meeting the situation recognized as problematic.Agreement and a decision to promote its acceptance lead to group consciousness.
(4) A programme of action is undertaken, and this is pressed until the requisite action is obtained.
The word propaganda was born in the seventeenth century, when the catholic church set up its College of Propaganda to propagate the faith. But during World War 11 Gobbels used propaganda as an instrument of politics, a power for social control. The purpose of propaganda is not essentially to change; rather its purpose is to draw followers and to keep them in line.
The task of propaganda, given suitable avenues, is to blanket every area of human activity so that the environment of the individual is changed to absorb the (Nazi) movement’s world views. According to him, in propaganda one was forced to distort facts or even to falsify them to achieve one’s purpose. This view has stuck on and propaganda has come to mean any publicity which is not necessarily related to realities.
According to the Institute for Propaganda Analysis, propaganda is an expression of opinion, by individuals and groups, which is deliberately designed to influence opinion or action by other individuals or groups with reference to predetermined ends. Propaganda influences public opinion. In its broadest sense, propaganda is truthful and up-front communication intended to advance a cause through enlightenment, persuasion, or a dedicated sense of mission. It is currently employed by religious, charitable, political and social service institutions to influence the thoughts and actions of others for their best interest. In this sense, propaganda is legitimate permission.
However, propaganda as practiced by some governments and organizations, has come to be accepted widely as a subversive activity that appeals to bigotry and intolerance, hate and fear, by suppressing facts and publishing false and misleading information in a vicious and reprehensible manipulation of public opinion.
Frederick E. Lumley wrote “Propaganda of every kind awakens passion by confusing the issues; it makes the insignificant seem weighty; it makes the important seem trifling; it makes the channels of communication full of exciting stuff; it keeps people battling in a fog”.
In nutshell propaganda is an organized effort to propagate a doctrine, an idea or a cause. Propaganda may have an ethical content. It is persuasion based on self-interest.
Propaganda has come to be known as a force through its wide spread use in creating hate and fear in time of war by means of atrocity stories, brainwashing, brutality, and barbarism. Today propaganda is a major instrument of international conflict; it is employed in television and radio broadcasts, magazines, and newspapers to influence public opinion throughout the world.
Propaganda vis-à-vis Advertising and Public Relations
The notice of the advertiser is clearly to persuade a customer to buy some product or service. There is no concealment or hidden purpose in the appeal of the honest advertiser that the public accept his advertising claims as aboveboard and as an honest attempt of urging.
Public relations is sometimes referred to as propaganda. Since they are deliberately designed to influence public opinion. Public relations programmes may be considered as propaganda in the best sense of the word. Most public relations programmes are honest and straight forward efforts to influence public opinion. However, as the word “propaganda” is commonly understood today, public relations is not propaganda, it is not a subversive activity that suppresses relevant facts, publishes false and misleading information, distorts the truth, and attempts to manipulate public opinion. Critics of public relations often refer to it as propaganda with the implication that it is an evil force that seeks to subvert public opinion.
Techniques of Propaganda
Subversive propaganda employs various techniques to influence public opinion.
Evasion of truth: This is the worst characteristic of propaganda. Deliberate falsehoods are fabricated with intent to deceive the public. Propagandists use variations of the “big lie”, they employ words with double meanings, omit significant facts and resort to gross exaggerations to persuade the public that it should accept the propagandists views.
Name-calling: This is a common strategy to include the public to condemn or reject a group or idea without considering the facts. A propagandist often employs scapegoasts, who are blamed for the evils suffered by the public: communists are accused of creating racial strife and civic corruption; capitalists are referred to as “reactionary pigs”. All forms of name calling are intended to simplify issues and demand to the prejudices of the public.
A call to humility: This is the characteristic of some propaganda. The propagandist identifies his leaders or party with persons of humble origin in order to gain the support of people of similar circumstances. For example, Shri Vivekanand Swami is the symbol of humble beginning with appeal to the masses.
Use of testimonials: These are often used by propagandists to further their causes. Quotations from the statements of well-known politicians, actors, athletes are used in support of various causes. Such persons may be misquoted, their remarks taken out of context or distorted in order to influence public opinion.
Provocation: It is a technique of propaganda in which the propagandist provokes violence in hopes that the opposition will be blamed for it. Violence may be provoked by an employer during a labour strike in order to create unfavorable public opinion of the strikers. To divert public attention from a foremost issue a minor situation may be created to cast discredit an opponent.
Delaying strategy: An international delaying strategy is sometimes employed by propagandists to defeat opposition on an issue. Although professing to favour certain legislation, a propagandist may achieve his real purpose of defeating it by deliberate delaying tactics, such as offering amendments, asking for further investigation; on pleading that the time is not ripe for its adoption. The objective of this strategy is to weaken public interest and support for an issue and will eventually be forgotten or defeated.
The favourable argument strategy: It involves presenting only those arguments that support the viewpoint of the propagandist and ignoring all conflicting facts. The public, getting information on only one side of the question, accordingly has a biased and unclear viewpoint. These propaganda techniques are designed to confuse the issue, evade the truth, make the irrelevant seem important, and distort the facts by appealing to passion and prejudice.
Good public relations start with good performance as viewed by the public. The function of publicity is to reflect the performance and get public acknowledgement and appreciation for it. Publicity that does not reflect good performance is likely merely to demolish credibility. It is a tool which is concerned with dissemination of information about an organization to attract attention or to gain recognition, to build image, and to win the approval of the target public. Cutlip and Center in their book, ‘Effective Public Relations’ define publicity as, the dissemination of information making matters public from the point of view of one who wishes to inform others also systematic distribution of information about an institution or an individual
No matter if you work for the largest manufacturing company, the poorest politician, or the tiniest non-profit organization, chances are if you are engaged in Public relations work, attracting positive publicity will be among your primary responsibilities.
Securing publicity is perhaps the most well-known aspect of public relations work. Clearly it is the function most associated with public relations. In most people’s minds publicity is public relations.
Publicity through news releases and other methods is designed to broaden knowledge and to generate positive recognition about an organization, its personnel and its activities. Publicity through news releases and other methods is designed to broaden knowledge and to generate positive recognition about an organization, its personnel and its activities. Publicity is most often gained by dealing directly with the media, either in reacting to enquiries or in initiating the communication.
Selecting Publicity Media
Proper choice of the mass media is essential in preparing and placing news releases. The common practice of indiscriminate mailing of releases and articles to media without knowledge of their editorial content, audiences, and editorial policy is wasteful. A flood of worthless releases is inundating the desk of editors and overflowing their wastebaskets. Since the standard cost of preparing a news releases, including time spent in gathering data, writing, editing, processing and photography is very high, the preparation and distribution of publicity departments.
To ensure that news releases receive favourable consideration publicity media should be subjected to the same scrutiny by public relations practitioners. A record should be continuously maintained for individual newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations, indicating whether they use new product news, financial news, or general news-with or without pictures.
Newspapers and magazines should be read and broadcasts audited to determine the publicity they use. Editors may be asked for sample copies of their publications for review, and for information about awaiting special issues. Records should be maintained of all periodicals sent.
Newspapers, magazines, radio and television are the media used for publicity.
Newspapers are the major medium of publicity. They are read by a number of people who influence public opinion. Newspapers appeal to the special interests of women, sports enthusiasts, business executives career seekers and others through special sections providing opportunities for product publicity on these subjects. The large number of newspapers provides a chance for corporations and associations to secure precious publicity.
Magazines are an important medium for product news, feature stories and pictorial publicity. They tend to be read thoroughly and leisurely. The typical issue will be read by several persons and will likely be preserved for future reference. Magazines, which afford space to till a complete story, are particularly suitable for service or educational publicity articles. The attractive appearance, good paper, and fine colour reproduction of magazines make them perfect for picture publicity.
Radio and Television
Radio and television publicity has developed rapidly in the country. Radio covers 95 percent of the geographical area while the TV covers nearly 80 percent of the geographical area. There are about twenty-five crore radio sets and TV sets in the country. Television is becoming the most effectual medium for publicity because of its audio visual characteristics
Types of Publicity
The important types of publicity are news releases, business feature articles, service feature articles, financial publicity, product publicity, pictorial publicity and emergency publicity.
The most frequent type of publicity is news of local, regional or national interest. There are two types of news publicity-spontaneous news and planned new
- Spontaneous News
This type of publicity originates from an unplanned event, such as a strike, major accident, fire, explosion, flood or drought, etc. News media are notified, and they may send reporters, photographers and camera crew to the news source.
- Planned News
Planned news publicity originates in the day-to-day developments and occurrences within organization which may be of news value and public interest. News releases are prepared and distributed by public relations staff at the
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