Public relations representatives maintain effective third-party relationships on behalf of business or individuals. The "third-party" is the public, media, employee or occasionally the government. Public relations may be practiced by anyone within an organization, although larger companies have a public relations, PR, department or contract the work out to a PR agency. As a liaison between a business's executives and the rest of the world, PR representatives clarify organizational goals, define company policy and mitigate issues and impropriety.
Organizational Functions of Public Relations
Within an organization, PR representatives serve to inform employees as the spokespeople for organizational policy. PR representatives maintain open lines of communication for other organizational stakeholders, such as shareholders, related companies and outsourced individuals. Internal information management becomes particularly important during times of organizational change, for example corporate mergers, takeovers and technological shifts. Internal information management is also important when corporations go through scandals and other media issues. Employees must be kept educated about company controversy so they know how to react if they're approached by anyone from the media.
Implications of Organizational Functions of Public Relations
Ideally, internal PR aids employees from the recruitment process, through hiring, training and throughout the employment experience. Organizational PR shapes the employee experience through informative training materials, mission statements, official codes of conduct and other company documents. Information managers ensure that internal communication happens both ways, with employees open to participate in information exchanges. Internal PR representatives set up a communication policy that facilitates interaction between different types and levels of employees, while maintaining order and structure.
Societal Functions of Public Relations
Although internal PR is important, the bulk of PR work happens between the representatives and the community, notably members of the media. Within society, PR functions to make the organization appear upstanding in the eyes of the public. Positive PR begins with a clearly communicated mission statement that includes dedication to the community. This informs the public of the business's intentions and it sets an altruistic company culture. A company's corporate social responsibility, CSR, plan includes the sponsorship of community events, philanthropy and ethical initiatives. Parts of CSR are forms of the societal functions of PR.
Implications of Societal Functions of Public Relations
PR representatives seek to publicize CSR and other positive societal functions. This keeps the business visibly beneficial. Many consumers prefer to do business with organizations that appear ethical and act favorably toward charities and society. Business with solid societal PR may have a history of honorable interactions. This comes in handy should the business go through a public crisis, PR representatives can identify altruistic past activities when pleading for public leniency.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Public Relations Specialists; May 2010
- "Public Relations: The Profession and the Practice, Second Edition"; Dan Lattimore, et al.; 2007
- "IPR"; Corporate Social Responsibility; Robert L. Heath, et al.; September 2008
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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