INTRODUCTION:- Today we live in the age of Interdependence as we are reliant upon one another for the satisfaction of our social, economic, political & religious need. We do not come across individuals, groups, corporations, governments and nations who are able to achieve or do any activity without the help of others. Thus, the mutual dependence of individuals, groups, corporations etc. has magnified the importance of human relationship in contemporary life. There is employer-employee relationship society and business relationship, buyer and seller relationship, investor and corporate relationship subordinate and superior relationship and also the dynamics of small group relationship. The opinions of individuals or that of group of the public cannot be ignored for the success of any business. Human relationship and its interrelationship in contemporary life is natural as well as essential. The order of present century and the forthcoming century exits in total interdependence or reliance on each other. This has created the need for a new discipline and philosophy as a function of management which is termed as Public Relations. Public relation as a concept was critical evolved in business and industry and it subsequently spread to other areas of human activity. This profession is immensely applicable in government and public institutions like Corporations, Municipalities, Universities, Hospitals, Professionals and social service organizations. Public relations was in practice in people’s daily life even before the emergence of industry, business and government. Public relations is the result of the action inherent in an individual, an institution or an organization. MEANING OF PUBLIC RELATIONS:- Public: Public is group of similar individuals, an assortment of person having similar interest, problems, goals and circumstances. It generally from such sources that OPINIONS emerge. Public comes in many forms and sizes. They have a multitude of desires and wants. Public has its own likes and dislikes which sometimes can even be strong. Employees are one form of public and employers another form. Other members of the public are dealers, wholesalers, brokers and investors. Each of these groups tries to attract a distinct audience with its varied tools and techniques. Relations: Relations are the outcome of mutual understanding which is derived from the process of sharing of the common interest. The need of establish relation with one another is created because of human wants. The respective wants of two individuals will affect their relationship. To understand any relationship, one must understand wants of those involved. Public Relations: By the integration of the above two human element viz. public and relations we get public relations. It is a profession that is a part and parcel of management function. INTERNAL PUBLIC AND EXTERNAL PUBLIC Public for public relations can be classified into categories: (A) Internal Public. (B) External Public. (A) Internal public : The internal staffs who work within the organization constitute the internal public. An organization is complex consisting of group of individuals. There is interaction between individuals & groups within an organization & relationship is established. It is the responsibility of the public relation manager to provide effective public relations. The employees expect higher pay, company’s stability & opportunity for advancement. The employers expect increase production & employees’ loyalty. As far as internal relations are concerned the PR officer tries to establish good relations with the employees 7 the management. Within the organization the executives constitute a special public category who are also under obligation to share some common interest with the other executives. There are certain requirements for effective internal public relations: a) Good internal relations must be recognized as it is a basic requirement to build a team and to achieve the corporate objectives. b) Internal public must be well informed of the board objectives and policies of the top management and also about their mutual interest in the organization. c) Free flow of upward and downward communication should be emphasized. The department of public relations is responsible to create a climate conductive towards the free flow approach to communicate freely. d) The top management must establish a good internal climate of understanding and relations. e) Professional talent must be developed and Training Programmers must be strategically chalked out to the benefit of the organization. f) It is the responsibility of the management to recognize the importance of freedom of speech of their subordinates. (B) External Public External public is the one who buys the products or the services of the company. This category includes dealers, wholesalers, brokers, supplies, investors, consumers, government, department, financial institutions, creditors, debenture holders, subsidiary companies etc. Every organization is linked with their external parties. Under all the circumstance a smooth two-way communication channel external to the organization must be maintained for running the business effectively. An external relation is considered as life-blood of modern business and hence the management should be aware of the importance of external communication and the use of feedback. The public relations department should adopt a multi-dimensional approach in order to establish relations with the external public of vary groups. It is very important to boil positive attitude, develop good rapport, create confidence, and win goodwill and mutual understanding with the external public by keeping them well informed. Objectives of Public Relations: (1) Promote mutual understanding. (2) Persuade individuals, groups, etc, (3) Help in fund raising. (4) Enhance the patronage from the various sections. (5) Change the behavior and attitude of the public, (6) Influence people. (7) Win friends. (8) Avoid the risk involved in misunderstanding. (9) Prepare and supply the public with information about .the organization like price, quality, export, employment and other special features. (10) Provide information about the activities of the company, to the press and writers. (11) Liaise, counsel and advise, (12) Improve internal staff relations. (13) Help the public to love life and work for better or for worse without conditions. (14) Undertake a public relations education programme.. (15) Promote goodwill. (16) Correct misconceptions and clarify on criticism of its policies and practices. (17) Establish relations with federal and state legislators, agencies. (18) Undertake a campaign of public education about an industry or profession and its contribution to the public. FUNCTIONS OF PUBLICS RELATION DEPARTMENTS: The functions of a public relation department differ from organization to organization depending upon their nature and activities. However, there certain standard functions which are common to most of the organization. They are as follows: (1) Policy: a policy is statement of guidelines to be followed in the company. Public relation policy is required for organization. It has to be develop and recommended corporate public relation policies and has contribute the public relation viewpoint which helps in the formulation of decision. Its function is not only to provide policy to the top management but also to the other section and divisions. (2) Publicity: in ordered to interact with the public it is necessary to have corporate activities to the external communication media. It also has to handle inquiries from the press. It is one of the important functions of department to develop and place promotional publicity about the organization as a whole or any of its units. (3) Relation with government: it is necessary to maintain liaison with appropriate government infrastructures regulates controls and supervises majority of the activities. Hence the relations with the government cannot be overlooked. The liaison covers the locals and the state level as well as the national level. Besides this government relations include the following: (a) Help in preparing and directing corporate appearances before investing bodies of legislative hearings. (b) Direct programmes design to promote the companies point of view in legislative or regulatory matters. (c) Report trends in government affecting the company. (4) Community Relations: community contacts should be well-planned and co- ordinate. Activity such as environmental protection standards, equal employment opportunity and co-operating in urban improvement progrmmes should be undertaking. (5) Shareholder Relations: in order to attract public money it is necessary and important to maintain good relation with corporate shareholders. This can be done in the form communication between the company and shareholders including me investors. The company can be made more acceptable among the investors by broadening the exposure of the companies’ policies and financial results in me investment community. These includes preparation of annual reports, etc. it has also to plan and stage the annual meetings of the shareholders. (6) Product publicity: the public relation department has to develop and excute the promotional product publicity campaign. Corporate publicity is different from product publicity. In product publicity the focus is on the product and how to popularize them it includes announcement of new product through the editorial channels of communication media. (7) Employees Publicity: the public relation department has to publish newspapers, bulletins and employees magazines. In order to communicate the various goals, achievements, performance and future planes of the company. (8) Donations: the public relation departments has to prepare a corporate donations policy for company contributions various aspects involved in this function includes processing request for donation, administrating companies foundation etc. (9) Promotion Programs: PR promotion programme’s broadly covers institutions promotional programs design to build corporate acceptance of key policies, special events, public relation, literature and institutional advertising other functions include: (a) Public relation education programme’s (b) Advisory functions. (c) Co-coordinating activities. (d) Conveying and interpretations. Essential Qualities of A Good Public Relation Manager: (1) Mental ability, foreside, orderliness of mind and judgment, willingness to thing straight and promptness decision. (2) Integrity in the sense of mental honesty. (3) A restrained self confidence coupled with initiated and resourcefulness. (4) Ability to see other person’s point of view and to be as critical of oneself of other. (5) A balance temperature particularly the absence of emotional instability and forcefulness and self centered outlook. (6) Persistence but not the point of obstinacy. Edward L. Bernays listed eleven personal characteristics needed by PR practitioner: (1) Character and integrity. (2) A sense of Jegament and Logic. (3) A broad cultural background. (4) Truthfulness and discretion. (5) Objectivity (6) Institution. (7) A deep interest in the solution of problems. (8) The ability to think creative and imaginative. (9) Effective power of analyzing and synthesis. (10) Intellectual curiosity. (11) Terming in the social science and in the mechanics of public relations. Role Of Public Relation Manager: (1) To help the management in preparing, interpreting adopting and evaluating the public relation policies and programme. (2) To design an effective performance appraisal system. (3) To conduct education and training programmer for the staff of the PR department. (4) To develop a mechanism of personally meeting various public like buyers, institutional investors, communities, consumer organizations, etc. (5) To develop effective internal and external communication system for timely interaction. (6) To prepare different literature matter for different media. (7) To convey and interpret to the management different information on public attitudes and views about the company or industry it serves. (8) To instruct the company’s financial advertising agents an all matters relating to financial and annual reports, advertising, publicity etc. ATTRIBUTES OF PUBLIC RELATION: (1) Imagination. (2) Verbalizing skills for writing, and speaking (3) Extroversion, for contact with people. (4) Sensitivity to people and events. (5) Organizing and planning skills, including leadership and administrative skills. Setting Objectives: Knowing how to set goals and objectives in the planning of your communication activities makes you much more effective. Setting communication goals and objectives creates several benefits. It lets people know what is expected of them, it lets others know what is planned, it helps to quantify the resources that are needed and when, it helps to improve communication between the participants, and it creates measurable results. A widely held myth for many years was that public relations performance could not really be measured and therefore couldn’t be expected to undergo the performance and budget scrutiny that other areas of the organization were obliged to accept. These days you can prove the value of your PR work by setting and achieving measurable objectives for your activities. Goals are the means to express the end points towards which effort is directed. They are broad, relatively abstract and may be difficult to quantify (“Our goal is to increase our share of the marketplace for [our product].”) Objectives are subsets of goals and should be expressed in concrete, measurable terms. (“Our objective is to increase our share of the market in the largest city in this State for [our product] by 15% by the end of the next financial year.”) An objective is something that can be documented; it’s factual and observable. A set of goals is achieved only by achieving a subset of interrelated objectives, even if those objectives are not clearly stated or articulated. Therefore, an objective is a strategic step along the way to achieving a desired goal. There are generally three types of goals in public relations: Reputation management goals, which deal with the identity and perception of the organization. Example: “We aim to improve stakeholder opinions of our organization significantly within the next year.” Relationship management goals, which focus on how the organization connects with its stakeholders. Example: “We aim to improve communication with our shareholders during the coming year. ” Task management goals, which are concerned with achieving tasks. Example: “Our goal is to increase attendance at our staff ‘town hall’ meetings.” Many public relations practitioners are satisfied to express their intentions in the broad terms of goals. This allows them to rationalize the outcomes, to ‘gild the lily’ and take the credit for the results. However, in tough times, they can’t actually prove their worth and therefore senior management may subjectively question their contribution. But if you can show that you have achieved specific, measurable targets, you are able to prove your worth. Setting measurable objectives helps the planning of future campaigns and offers you the political benefit of enabling you to justify more resources for your subsequent activities. Specifying objectives is also the best practical way to make senior managers understand the public relations role. Measuring the overall impact of a PR program or strategy can be difficult unless the individual elements or components of the program are clearly defined and measured, e.g. publicity activities, a particular community relations program, a special event, government affairs, speaker program, investor relations activity, etc. It is often difficult to separate PR programs and activities (such as publicity, distribution of information material, special events, etc) from other activities such as marketing (advertising, point-of-purchase promotional activities, give-away activities, etc). Also, the setting of challenging but realistic objectives can be a difficult exercise requiring arbitrary selection of target figures that depend on a range of underlying assumptions. Life seldom consists of black and white issues; it largely consists of shades of grey. Accordingly, objectives should never be ‘all or nothing’ – they should refer to the extent of accomplishment along a continuum of performance. An ‘all or nothing’ approach to objectives will subvert the value of the process because people will always go for ‘low hurdles’ to maximize the chances of attaining them. If someone achieves 95% of an objective, how can they be considered a failure? To treat anything less than 100% as a failure…will surely lead to game playing, ‘low- balling’ and the massage and manipulation of data. To use objectives…in such a simplistic way invites reactions inconsistent with execution success. ”1 Setting objectives and measuring results It is helpful to think of objectives comprising four parts: an infinitive verb a single outcome stated as a receiver of a verb’s action the magnitude of the action expressed in quantifiable terms a target date or timeframe for achieving the outcome. EMPLOYEE RELATION: A vital role for communicators is to tell all stakeholders, especially staff, about the decisions and the planned outcomes from the strategic planning process. Key messages need to be passed on consistently and effectively throughout the organisation in a tailored way, not as mass-communication, head-office gloss or propaganda. The messages should link the ‘big picture’ with the ‘little picture’ so that staff can see how their individual efforts can make a difference to the end result. Research shows that organisations are more effective when their employees know the direction in which the organisation is heading and their own personal role in helping the organisation achieve its goals and mission. This is also called ‘line of sight.’ The time of most managers is largely spent in dealing with the local, short-term issues. The focus of the managers is on their daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly needs as they deal with employees, customers and other stakeholders. Short-term thinking is fine as long as it directly supports long-term, strategic thinking. This point may seem to be basic, but the translation of strategy into short-term measurable objectives is often incomplete or faulty. Managers usually need assistance in breaking down the key issues, elements and needs of the business strategy into tactical, short-term operating objectives and action plans. This translation process is an integral and vital part of the execution of strategy. Ask the managers what they intend to say to the staff about strategic direction. Ideally, the CEO would have already led the way with a summary presentation of the corporate plan. The aim is to translate how the strategy becomes fulfilled through completion of daily tasks. Making the connection between the daily workplace and corporate strategy is easier said than done, but with a little thought, the tasks of even a personal assistant, coordinator or cost clerk can be linked to goals. By reviewing their job description or getting them to list their activities, their manager can link their tasks to measurable work objectives supporting the various goals at the departmental, divisional and organisational level. One way of checking if managers have communicated the short-term objectives sufficiently is to ask their staff two questions: “What activities and objectives do you routinely work to in your department [unit, branch]?” “What business strategy does these activities and objectives support?” The answers will quickly show the extent to which the respective manager is succeeding in their strategic role. Senior managers tend to use acronyms and management jargon in the strategic planning process as well as in their daily workplace. As they are surrounded by other senior managers, they take for granted that everyone else is familiar with their terminology. This is seldom the case, especially with frontline staff. Therefore it is important to define terms when using them in communication or not use them at all. Even common terms like ‘mission’, ‘values’, ‘culture’ and ‘strategy’ are widely misunderstood by lower-level employees. To be effective, work back from the frontline level. The best way to check about employee understanding of important terms is to ask them about the acronyms and jargon words used in their workplace. Ask a sample of frontline staff individually in each workplace what is meant by terms such as ‘mission,’ ‘goals’ and ‘KPIs.’ etc. Sit in on their team meetings and listen for jargon. Become a jargon detector! Make a note of the acronyms and jargon words used in the discussion about strategic direction and get the manager to explain the terms in subsequent team meetings. Staff would probably be reluctant to admit in front of others that they don’t know, especially if their boss uses the words every day. They wouldn’t want to look dumb in front of their peers. In addition to verbal clarification, if there is widespread misunderstanding about certain terms, the communication team could explain them progressively in the corporate newsletter or even in briefing material. This can be done quite subtly in passing. Operational managers should be responsible for communicating with their own staff rather than PR practitioners trying to communicate on their behalf. Why should PR staff do the communicating when these line managers are responsible for all other matters at the local level? The idea is for PR staff to be catalysts or enablers – to equip local managers and supervisors with the right tools to enable them to communicate effectively with their own staff. Managing the performance of PR staff If you are a PR manager, how can you get better performance from your staff? And if you are a PR officer, what should you expect from your boss? If you know good techniques for performance management, you can get better results. Performance management is a poorly handled role everywhere. For instance, a Watson Wyatt Worldwide national US survey in 2004 of 1200 employees found that 90% of respondents participated in a performance management program, but only 30% said their organization’s program actually led to improved performance. 1 Only 20% said their company helped poorly performing workers improve. And only 39% could see the connection between their day-to-day work and corporate goals. On a more positive note, around 40% said their system established clear performance goals or generated honest feedback. It is difficult for many PR managers to find out the most effective ways of managing the performance of their staff because it is difficult to find satisfactory KPIs to use. KPIs are repeated activities that can be measured from one period to the next. Many PR activities have intangible or complex outcomes or are not repeated actions that can be compared from one period to the next, which is the fundamental requirement for KPIs. This makes it difficult to identify suitable KPIs for PR practitioners. In view of all this, most PR KPIs tend to relate to stakeholder opinions canvassed from one period to the next. Research shows that the best supervisors informally monitor the performance of their staff during their daily duties and give 50% more feedback about their work than poor supervisors do. The worst supervisors tend not to give feedback to the individual until they are obliged to in an uncomfortable formal review. So the moral is there – give frequent feedback! A key issue to understand is that performance reviews and pay reviews should be mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, in most organisations the employee’s performance review and pay review are conducted in the same meeting. This is completely counter-productive because it creates an adversarial environment – with the employee trying to convince the boss that he or she performs miracles and deserves a maximum rise while the boss tries to find arguments, such as finding fault with the employee’s performance, to minimise a pay increase. Performance reviews should be conducted independently of pay reviews. They should be held at quarterly intervals at the start and could extend to every six months if both parties consider this to be appropriate later. Set the next review date during the previous review and never change it. Performance reviews are supremely important to employees. If the boss changes the date – invariably a delay – it sends a dreadful signal to the employee. Employees will agonise in a paranoid state over the many possible reasons for the delay of a review and will usually fear the worst. Don’t let them down! The boss is essentially the person’s performance coach. The broad thrust of the performance review meeting should be along the lines of the boss asking, “How can I help you to do your job more effectively?” as the two parties work through their discussion agenda. The discussion agenda at a performance review should: 1. Update the staff member’s personal details, eg home address and telephone number (15-20% of people change address every year). 2. Review the staff member’s job title, and review their job description, line by line, and jointly identify any changes in the role that need to be shown on an amended job description. 3. Establish the key successes – review the job description line by line, identify where the objectives have been met and clearly establish the extent to which they have added value to the organisation. 4. Review the key performance indicators to: o ensure they are still relevant, o determine that the way of measuring them is still valid o determine how the staff member performed in relation to the KPIs o determine whether any skills training is required or whether more resources could be applied to help that person improve their KPI results. 5. Identify the key challenges – only after completing the previous step should the areas of below-expected performance be addressed. Identify what factors are contributing to those problems and develop a strategy for dealing with them. 6. Complete the performance review record by entering the information from the above steps, using the job description as a reference. 7. Sign off – once the performance review record has been updated and agreed by both parties, the staff member signs the document, which is included in their personnel file The staff member should always be involved in the construction and regular updating of their job description – it gives them a greater sense of ‘ownership’ of their job. The person’s review would also include several short-to-medium-term objectives of activities that are significant but not repeated, eg ‘Complete the promotional plan for the new plant by 10 June’ and ‘Learn how to operate Microsoft Access to a competent level by 30 September’. Professional development activities would be included here, eg ‘Attend PRSA issues management workshop’. Dealing with poor performers One thing that should be understood is that poor performers are not nearly as prevalent as mythology may make out. Actual numbers of poor performers are well below the levels perceived by other employees. When there is a poor performer, they have a greater nuisance and irritant effect on other employees, which tends to magnify perceptions of the extent of the problem. How can performance management be effective? In a consistent and firm way. Where there is a poor performer, managers need to show commitment to due process that all their employees can perceive. Performance management should be more an ongoing dialogue rather than merely a formal review. With such a dialogue, it is likely that the problem will be addressed early rather than being allowed to fester. All employees must be made aware of the processes in place to address poor performance, not just poor performers themselves. The more that employees understand these processes, the more confidence they will have in management to deal with any problems. 2 Staff member KPIs A key performance indicator is an outcome. It describes what would happen if the staff member succeeded in fulfilling that particular role. A KPI is not merely a PR activity. It is an outcome for the business that having you on staff is supposed to deliver. Each person should have up to five KPIs of repeated, measurable activities that support the goals of their workplace. It is virtually impossible to accomplish more than five well-constructed KPIs. If more than five can be found for an individual then they are most likely to be subsets of larger KPIs. An individual’s KPIs could stem from the PR branch’s KPIs as outlined in earlier in this chapter. Key performance indicators can be best reached by asking questions like: “Is the proposed KPI an outcome?” “Are we doing the tasks to produce the outcome?” “Whatever else happens, you must…” “At the end of the day, the things that must happen in your job are…” Individuals’ KPIs are measurable either by report or survey. A measure must indicate how, how often and to what level an activity has been performed, eg Six monthly stakeholder satisfaction survey shows at least 75% positive response. Quarterly evaluation report on extent of positive media coverage. Monthly report on PR stationery stocks showing stock levels at least 50%. Quarterly running review and update of PR strategy plan completed. Monthly report on corporate advertising committed against budget shows no budget over-runs. Monthly employee publication contains agreed proportions of content on organisational strategy, human interest, local production achievements, safety results and staff promotions. Giving Recognition to employees: Appreciation is a fundamental human need. Employees respond to appreciation expressed through recognition of their good work because it confirms their work is valued. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity rises, and they are motivated to maintain or improve their good work. What’s more, employee recognition is free or low cost! Employee recognition is the timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values, and which has clearly been beyond normal expectations. Recognition is also a powerful means of communication; it sends extremely positive signals to the recipient and others who are aware of the recognition act. Employee recognition is therefore a communication technique to be encouraged by public relations practitioners, who can play a key role in influencing management to use recognition as a performance enhancer in the workplace. Despite the unquestioned benefits arising from employee recognition, one of the mysteries of the workplace is that recognition invariably is done badly, if done at all. Few organizations have well-established and accepted formal or informal employee programs in place. Therefore, employee recognition remains an undervalued management technique. What’s the best way to recognize an employee for work well done? The best formula for recognizing an individual for their efforts is: Thank the person by name. Specifically state what was done that is being recognized. Being specific is vital because it identifies and reinforces the desired behavior. Explain how the behavior made you feel (assuming you felt some pride or respect for their accomplishment). Point out the value added to your team or organization by the behavior. Wherever possible, also point out the way in which the behavior supports an organisational goal or objective. This shows a direct connection between their work and your organizational goals and objectives - a strategic reinforcement. Thank the person again by name for their contribution. Encouraging the Employees: Appreciation is a fundamental human need. Employees respond to appreciation expressed through recognition of their good work because it confirms their work is valued. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity rises, and they are motivated to maintain or improve their good work. Employee recognition is the timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values, and which has clearly been beyond normal expectations. Despite the unquestioned benefits arising from employee recognition, one of the mysteries of the workplace is that recognition invariably is done badly, if done at all. Few organizations have well-established and accepted formal or informal employee programs in place. Therefore, employee recognition remains an undervalued management technique. Communication is a vital part of recognition Communication is important in the recognition of good achievements in the workplace by peers, managers and supervisors. As a public relations practitioner, you can encourage the awarding of recognition for work well done throughout the organization when you become aware of suitable situations. Such opportunities tend to arise while gathering information for employee publications and other typical communication tasks. You can communicate about good achievements and their long-term benefits: Offer employee recognition ideas to help to drive formal and informal programs of employee recognition. Supply articles and photographs in employee publications, including the intranet, and occasionally in external media about high-achieving employees. Arrange informal recognition functions, such as during the morning coffee break, in which the supervisor or manager thanks the person for their work. Directly encourage managers and supervisors to spontaneously recognize employees for their efforts (giving employees a ‘pat on the back’). Arrange photographs and certificates of the employees and their awards or similar, in common areas. Mention employee recognition activities in your workplace and elsewhere at your regular team meetings. Model the desired behavior by giving recognition to your staff and also to your peers (especially if you aren’t a manager yourself). In addition, you can communicate about the long-term benefits that come to high achievers in the workplace: Conduct interviews with the staff who manage your organization’s career advancement programs, with the aim of publicizing the opportunities for advancement. Include high-achieving employees in special features in print or online publications that outline ways to get ahead. (You will probably find government departments are reluctant to single out individuals, but persist because this is an important issue.) List employees who have been promoted, proving that career advancement is possible from achieving good results in the workplace. Include a career management section on your organizational intranet, which summarizes all information and resources about career advancement. Ensure that senior managers reinforce positive messages about high achievers and career advancement opportunities when they speak to employee groups. You can play a valuable role by training or arranging training in presentation skills to assist supervisors and managers to improve the way they recognize their staff for work well done. Many managers have never had such training, and because good communication skills are expected as a ‘given’ in a job, some are reluctant to admit they need assistance in this area. The concept of employee recognition is basically simple, but most managers are poor at it. They need reinforcing and coaching. They need a program, principles and procedures to help them apply recognition effectively within their area of responsibility. Crisis Management: Since 9/11, the world has become a more dangerous place. Every day we see in the media the latest terrorism incident that has been thwarted or happened in countries around the world. And, of course, there are all the types of corporate crises that could happen, many related to the Internet and information technology. According to a September 2006 poll conducted by Harris Interactive of senior executives in large corporations, the top crisis situations that worry corporate executives were: 61% compromise of corporate information systems 55% terrorism 40% corporate wrongdoing 32% environmental mishaps 30% negative claims about products, health or safety 29% Internet rumors and misinformation 24% industrial accidents 23% product contamination or tampering 21% product recalls 19% workplace violence Whether you are in-house or a consultant, crises are relevant to you as a communicator because crises are largely about the perceptions of stakeholders. Operational managers can deal with operational emergencies, but crises happen when emergency incidents impact on stakeholders, whose actions can affect the ability of your organization to survive. That’s where you come in – to communicate with key stakeholder groups such as employees, customers, shareholders, government regulators and suppliers. It’s not easy to get senior management to actively support crisis communication plans. Most of them don’t want to know about crises. They know the chance of being caught up in a crisis is tiny and they don’t want to take time away from their daily work priorities to deal with something that just might happen one day, and then again, it might not. And crisis preparation costs money in staff time, in equipment and other resources. What’s more, many executives perceive crises and emergencies only in terms of an operational response (“put the fire out and return to full operations ASAP”). They look at communication only as an afterthought to the real work. This is an extremely frustrating attitude to encounter. Those executives will need to be convinced of the impact on your organization’s operations and therefore profitability before they take full notice of your communication plan. (In a government agency the discussion would need to be about the impact on output and the fallout from politicians to a public shambles.) One fatal assumption many organizations make is to think their own IT and server will be available during a crisis. You need to ensure you can communicate with key stakeholders from your back up system for a significant time during a crisis. Lack of thought in this area could come back to bite you. Save your crisis response material on a separate server and regularly update it so that you can use it during a crisis, even from other premises. A great crisis communication plan is only as good as the extent to which it is implemented. Here are some ideas to get senior management to respect your crisis communication plan and support its implementation: Be an ambassador of communication. Every person in your organization involved in emergency management should know your first name and face. Meet the emergency-procedures planners informally and talk to them about how better communication with key stakeholders would help them achieve their crisis management goals. Inform senior managers of clear objectives for communication in a crisis. When many emergency response planners think of ‘communication’ they tend to think of two-way radios or other forms of telecommunication. It might be better to use terms like ‘stakeholder information’ or ‘public communication’ in a crisis. Tell senior managers how the overall response and recovery operation is more effective by investing in crisis communication activities. In fact, poor crisis communication could destroy the organization. Always ensure you have fully completed your allotted tasks in the preparation of a crisis communication plan that you bring to discuss at committee meetings. Other people can tell if you have rushed your preparation or if you have neglected parts of it, so they will lose respect if you have failed to honor your commitments. Since most executives are busy with their day-to-day activities, they tend to put off the time needing to be spent on emergency and crisis response activities. You can take the initiative and systematically arrange meetings with key managers to discuss the importance and the broad content of their communication role in a crisis There are many high-profile examples you can cite of good and bad examples of crisis communication to back your case. Document each example concisely and circulate the documents in a regularly spaced series, ie a month or two apart, to management to drive your message home to them. Any concerns about management not understanding the importance of crisis communication must be addressed in the pre-crisis planning phase. You need to be proactive and meet with the emergency response planners now. Show them your competence and expertise. Be energetic. Set your own time aside for thinking through and documenting for your reference any action points. Act promptly on those action points Communicating during a crisis Organizations can withstand crises better if they have established sound, long-term relationships with stakeholders, the people and organizations who are at risk from the decisions and actions of the organization. No organization has enough resources to engage in the ideal two-way symmetric dialogue with every stakeholder, so management needs to allocate resources in priority order. Stakeholder relationship management should be a priority task of management. Stakeholders can be assessed and prioritized according to their impact on the organization. One important fact to remember is that public companies – those listed on the Stock Exchange – are obliged to follow the rules of their home exchange in releasing information into the public arena. All information that relates to the financial performance of the company has to be announced simultaneously to shareholders through the exchange, analysts, the media and other stakeholders. By definition, a crisis will have a bearing on the future financial performance of a company, so crisis communication plans should make full allowance for releasing information to interested parties simultaneously. SPONSORSHIP: Attract better sponsorship proposals Corporate sponsorship has a commercial purpose. It requires a measurable return on investment in marketing or relationship terms. (Sponsorship isn’t a donation to a worthy cause. By definition, donations are given with no expectation of anything in return and therefore have no commercial purpose.) Organizations have to justify their sponsorship decisions according to the benefits they will receive in dollars or in better outcomes from their relationships with key stakeholders. Therefore, sponsorship proposals need to address the specific needs of the sponsor in order to maximize effectiveness. The best way to improve the quality of proposals and reduce the number of unwelcome approaches is to communicate – tell people what you want! Spell out to potential applicants what you are looking for in their proposals. Your corporate website is the best avenue to outline your sponsorship policy and guidelines. More advice on this in a forthcoming e-book on giving corporate sponsorship. Sponsorship guidelines Prepare a concise paper that outlines your sponsorship policy and guidelines, and make it widely available. Consider where sponsorship seekers contact your organization about sponsorship. Typical approaches are made to your: Head office Regional offices Website Sponsorship department Public relations department Marketing department Community relations department Advertising agency Chairman or CEO’s office Managers in discussion with others on operational issues Other staff who may be personally known to the sponsorship seeker Ensure your sponsorship document is circulated widely to every department within your organization – to managers and especially to frontline staff who receive contacts from the public – staff such as receptionists, personal assistants, telephonists, secretaries and call centre staff. Enquirers can simply be referred to the sponsorship area of your corporate website or they can be emailed or posted a copy of the guidelines. The job of your frontline staff is made easier by having this material at hand. Also, your employees will better understand your sponsorship strategy if you circulate the document internally to them. They will be able to provide useful advice to people who may raise the possibility of sponsoring groups they are associated with. Sometimes employees themselves suggest sponsorship activities to you and therefore the guidelines can assist them to understand what is required. If you receive proposals from people who have obviously not read your sponsorship guidelines, return their application with a copy of your guidelines and a form letter requesting them to revise their application to fit your selection criteria. They may not be pleased about being obliged to do more work, but they will start to realize that tailored approaches are essential if they have any chance of getting to first base. Negotiation with potential major sponsors tends to be a one-sided process. The sponsor invariably holds the upper hand because they know there are dozens of other sponsorship opportunities being offered in the marketplace at any given time. Therefore some sponsor negotiators ruthlessly use their bargaining power to force a stronger position. You can follow these guidelines to help overcome a weak negotiating position: 1. Don’t reveal the full extent of your weak position. It is a common, costly mistake to let slip the fact that you are desperate to complete the deal. Don’t give them the impression you are desperate because you have called them three times to check if they have received the proposal! Try not to let the potential sponsor know the full truth of your situation. A weak position is not so dire if the other party doesn’t know your real position. Don’t let them know you are under pressure to sign the deal or that the deal is vital to you. Don’t get drawn into any discussion that allows the potential sponsor to infer that you are desperate. Instead, continue highlighting your strengths, even if they are few, or turning the focus to the advantages they will gain from a deal with you. 2. Don’t let them intimidate you by trying to beat you down on price or conditions. If you have done your homework and know your proposal offers good value for money that stands up with other deals in the marketplace, point to the other similar deals and stand firm. If they want a lower price, tell them you can oblige, but only for a correspondingly lower combination of sponsor benefits. 3. Increase the other side’s dependence on you. When in a weak position, too many negotiators focus exclusively on themselves and fail to consider the other party’s position. Most negotiators have something valuable to offer the other side. The important thing is to identify the unique value you bring to the negotiating table. Try to understand all the potential sponsor’s needs, interests and priorities by communicating with them at multiple stages and through multiple people during the lead-in process. If your negotiations are proceeding to a crucial point, you are well advised to meet with or at least to telephone people from different business units within the sponsor company to get access to their point of view. Their comments may help you gain crucial insights that you didn’t have before and allow you to offer new benefits rather than being caught on the back foot and feeling obliged to lower your asking fee due to the other party’s tough line. This is especially helpful if you are seeking to renew an existing sponsorship deal. However, be politically savvy about this. Some sponsors may feel you have gone behind their back, so be careful about how you discuss the sources of such information. 4. Don’t promise a major sponsor everything up front. Keep some benefits in reserve to ‘sweeten the pot’ if the potential sponsor is pressing for a better deal. This is far better than reducing the amount of money you are asking. You could keep these extra benefits in hand as an unexpected bonus for the sponsor after the deal is signed. Also, some reserve benefits could be spread to other sponsors if the benefits haven’t been used in the deal with the major sponsor. 5. Collaborate with other sponsors to put a proposal together to a potential major sponsor. If you already have smaller, happy sponsors in place, you could increase your negotiating power by teaming up with them to offer a greater number of joint benefits to the main sponsor. The new benefits could, for instance, provide access to a bigger target audience in a wider area or in a juicy niche market that otherwise would be difficult to access. 6. Use psychology. You can use two psychological principles to help your cause. Firstly, get the sponsor to like you. Two things reliably increase liking – similarity and praise. People are more willing to buy from those who are similar to them in various ways such as age, sport, politics and who have other areas of personal common ground such as interest in a hobby, sport or television program. Create the bond early because it paves the way for goodwill and trust in every later encounter. Secondly, we mostly prefer to say yes to the requests of someone we know and like. Praise charms and disarms. Positive remarks about another person’s attitude or achievements reliably increase liking in return, as well as greater compliance with your wishes. This works even when flattery is used. Strangers such as sales people get us to comply with their requests as well by applying this rule – they first get us to like them. Apply these simple applications of psychology in your discussions with sponsors – without being too obvious about it. 7. Obtain testimonials from past or present genuinely satisfied sponsors to support your case. Make the testimonials specific – get the person to talk about what they thought of you before and after the sponsorship relationship with them. And get them to quantify if possible, any benefits – expected and unexpected – they received from the relationship. Put all this in your sponsorship proposal. Ensure you include the photo and contact details of the person giving the testimonial – either phone or email. This gives a quantum leap to your credibility, and most of the time the potential sponsor won’t interrupt the other party by contacting them. Social Responsibility: Every PR manager working in a corporate entity has certain social obligations towards it. It means it involves observing certain norms of behavior which have social acceptance. Looking from this angle the PR manager who have code of conduct also do have an obligation in terms of social objectives and upholding the values of the society. Corporate public relation officers are also part of a society, so their functioning is governed and influenced by the obligations towards the society. The role of PR in assuming social responsibility of business is not a new concept. Majority of the domestic as well as multinational corporation have reaffirmed their belief in this concept. It largely affects their professional personality and also their functioning. A PR manager is a professional with a code of conduct and the ethical obligation and hence directly responsible to the society. Social Responsibility: a. PR’s responsibilities towards shareholders: Shareholders are the owners of the company but the management of the company lies in the elected representatives known as the Board of Directors. It is the responsibility of the PR managers to maintain good relations with the shareholders. Regular and accurate financial information about the company should be given to them. By creating a better understanding between the company and the shareholders, the PR managers raise the goodwill and prestige of the organization. b. PR’s responsibilities towards customers: It is not possible for corporate form of business organization to succeed, unless it creates a customer and maintains a good relation with him. A business is considered to be successful if it can maintain a large group of loyal customers. By promoting good services and building corporate image in a big way is the ultimate job of PR. Further PR managers responsibilities include intimating existing as well as potential customers as to the quality, variety, utility and continuous supply of product. Some of the other areas of obligations towards the customer are: 1. Adulteration of products. 2. Profiteering. 3. Poor quality 4. Lack of services and courtesy to customer, and 5. Misleading advertisements. c. PR’s responsibilities towards the government: The government has enacted a number of legislations which govern the business. It is the duty of PR managers to manage its affairs according to the laws affecting it. The PR policies should be formulated taking into consideration the provisions made in the various legislations and the policy guidelines issued by the government from time to time. The public relation manager has to be well versed with the various legislations and acts governing the business. d. PR’s responsibilities towards the employees: Employees are the internal public and they should be treated as human beings and not as commodity and their co operation is necessary in order to achieve the corporate objectives. It is the responsibility of the PR manager to keep them satisfied and content. The progress of the business is mainly dependent upon the positive attitude and cordial relations of the employee. Therefore, it is imperative that PR must sincerely promote their interest. The interest of the employee are fair wages, good working conditions, adequate service benefits, job security opportunities for career development and so on. In addition to this every employee spends a major part of his time, in the organization. Hence, the PR should endeavor to build good employer- employee relations, high morale and above all generate mutual understanding at all levels. d. PR’s responsibilities towards community: A community is a group of people living in a compact environment share the same government resources, manpower and have a common culture and heritage. People of the community supply human resources, capital and social support. It is for this reason that PR department must accept its responsibility towards community in it operates. They have to take an active part in the community life social and cultural activities, encourage education promote health and provide facilities for recreation and entertainment. In order to get the support of the community and secure their acceptance there is a need for a community relation programme policy. e. PR’s responsibilities towards the suppliers: Every company has to depend on suppliers for a wide variety of materials to produce goods. The duty of promoting supplier relations is assigned to the public relation manager. The manager has to formulate a sound supplier policy and practices for good public relations. Fair and impartial considerations and proper settlements are the important areas of the PR. f. PR’s responsibilities towards distribution and dealers: A company markets its products or services through a distribution network consisting of dealers, wholesalers and retailers. The importance of distributor- dealer relationship has been greatly emphasized. No business can succeed without the network of distributors. It is the responsibility of PR department to promote understanding, co-operation and harmonious relationship among the dealers and distributors and dealers. It has to prepare dealer-distributors relation policies and revise them from time to time in order to strengthen their relations. Social Responsibility in India: 1. Neglected area of business management: Due to the domination of traditional management thought the concept of social responsibility was rather a neglected area of business in India. However the concept of social responsibility has now been well understood. 2. Profit main motive: the sole objective of traditional management was profit maximization. The responsibilities towards different social groups were rather neglected. 3. Widespread exploitation: India is well known for widespread exploitation of consumers prior to independence mahatma Gandhi suggested the concept of trusteeship. According to gandhiji the businessmen should recognize that he is the trustee for all the wealth which he has collected. He has to bring balance between profit and social good. 4. Gradual acceptance: after 1960, the concept of social responsibility has gained widespread acceptance at the business level. In general the Indian businessmen have now accepted certain social responsibilities towards certain social groups and have started to make contribution in this regard. 5. Factors responsible for change in attitude: the growth of trade unions, consumerism, and awareness, among the masses regarding ecological imbalance, pollution, consumer protection legislations and business malpractices has brought in a change in the attitude of businessmen. In the modern times the CGST & CFBP are playing a constructive rle in making Indian business community conscious regarding social obligations and social responsibilities. Leading Indian businessmen like J.R.D.Tata, G.D.Birla and Jamnalal Bajaj have accepted the concept of social responsibility since long. 6. Recognition of social responsibility: Today a number of leading companies in India have been showing recognition of the concept of social responsibility. Business opinion is moving towards a gradual acceptance of social responsibility in India. Role of PR in Technology: Disruptive technologies are positively impacting the world in which we live, creating new wealth and reshaping economic and social policy. Having clear messages and public relations programs in place that enable technologists, scientists and other experts to distinctly articulate their vision can not only help them become industry leaders and advance their technologies, but provides organizations with a voice in the marketplace of ideas, facts, and viewpoints to aid informed public debate. Public relations - it is the art and science of building relationships between an organization and its key publics. Its practices have the ability to take technology from obscurity to prominence - creating important visibility and generating deal flow. Most all of today's technologies rely on public awareness and support. If people misunderstand the value of technologies, entities will struggle for support. Jobs will be eliminated, budgets cut, and support will be directed elsewhere. Public relations campaigns have the potential to turn possibilities into favorable actions. And executives are well advised to put their words in someone else's mouth. When a prominent scientist wants to pronounce her technological breakthrough, she may do so openly and in her own name. But it is far more effective to have a group of citizens or experts, a coalition, or the media which can publicly promote the outcomes desired by the scientist while claiming to represent the public interest. When such relationships do not exist, one can be created by a well-networked public relations firm. Advocacy frequently involves building constituencies - groups of people and / or organizations who support a particular viewpoint. Since advocacy usually occurs in the public domain, executives must be prepared to consider the views of many people, and understand how decisions are made within a particular context. The more known about the advocacy issue, the community, and how political institutions function, the more effective the advocate. The use of front groups can enable scientists, technologists and corporations to take part in public debates and government hearings behind a cover of community concern. These front groups often times lobby governments to legislate in the corporate interest, to oppose environmental regulations, or to introduce policies that enhance corporate profitability. There may be times when a position being advocated, no matter how well framed and supported, will not be accepted by the public simply because of the messenger. Any institution with a vested commercial interest in the outcome of an issue has a natural credibility barrier to overcome with the public, and often times with the media. Media advocacy is the process of working with the media to influence healthy public policies through shaping debate about a specific topic. Successful media advocacy ensures that issues include a public perspective, emphasize the social, cultural, economic and political dimensions of an issue, and stress the importance of participation and empowerment in promotion of the issue. Media advocacy provides the all important third party credibility, and has means for more quickly and furthering a crucial messages. The old saying, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity" has never been so accurate as with media advocacy. It encompasses the right combination of preparation and opportunism in the strategic use of mass media to advance an initiative. Having systems and planning in place before campaign commencement is at least as important as the media work itself. It is essential to: Know the territory. Good media advocacy requires some surveying of the terrain and a system for tracking coverage and media outlets. Maintain an updated media list with names and track coverage regularly. Define the issue. The issue is the overarching concern that drives the initiative. Whether it's a problem or vision statement, the issue defines the boundaries from which the initiative is shaped. Issues should reflect the mission, core values and concerns of the organization or coalition -- and should incorporate an institutional angle. Issues should be presented by turning facts, scientific knowledge, and analysis into symbols, pictures, sounds, and labels. As an example, as a public health advocate, it's understood that cigarette smoking is linked to asthma in children who live around second-hand smoke. Instead of writing a story that gives only the statistics - e.g. how many new cases of childhood asthma are reported - one might present the media with the idea (or picture) of an adult trying to hand a baby a lit cigarette to illustrate the dangers of secondhand smoke. Public opinions on technology issues are also greatly influenced by strong symbols and labels that capture a widely held, and supposedly correct, attitude. News sources often use positive images and labels to highlight viewpoints they support and negative images and labels to derogate view points they oppose. At the center of any public debate or media outreach is a mass of information, statistics, and / or numbers. Making that information easy to understand entails making the content real and vivid. Media advocates often use "creative epidemiology" to make scientific, technological or academic information more understandable for the media and general public. Three types of creative epidemiology: 1. Localization Localization is presenting overwhelming statistics and numbers in such a way that the media and public in a particular community can easily relate to them. Localization illustrates a story's numbers in terms of how many people in a certain neighborhood or community are affected by a problem; it makes statistics human and local. 2. Relativity Relativity compares the effects of one problem with those of another, usually more dramatic, problem. 3. Public policy effects Public policy effects illustrate the potential effects of public policies in debate. Whatever technique is used, the goal is to make statistics and numbers more understandable and meaningful so the audience comprehends the message and supports the initiatives. Regardless of the technology or the issue, success in working with the media is most likely to occur when it is a strategically planned effort. It's the game plan for developing the influence and public awareness that will help achieve the organization's strategic goals, and furthering its technology.
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