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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

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Value of public relations in modern business world

Communicating to influence actions can be traced from the earliest civilizations. The giant tanks constructed by our forefathers, massive structures - dagabas and palaces and some of the ancient constructions clearly show the peaceful existence of the people and state authorities. These clearly indicate rudimentary elements of public relations, they maintained and friendly atmosphere.

A farm bulletin in Iraq had farmers of 1800-BC, how to sow their crop, irrigate and how to deal with field mice, how to harvest their crop. Even Greeks and Romans believe in public opinion. Romans used a popular expression “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” which means - “The Voice of the People is the Voice of God.” This clearly express the value of the “Public”. The 17th century word “Propaganda”, was born, when the Catholic Church established its “Congregation de Propaganda Fide” - Congregation for the propagating of the faith”.

When tracing the American history, the beginning of Public Relation's began with a struggle for power between Patrician – Patriots and Commercial Propertied Tories. In the years 1875-1900, America doubled its population and it laid the foundation for mighty Industrial Development. This was the trend all over the world at the time. With industrialization, public relations activities developed rapidly.

Among the early Public Relation personalities included Princeton Graduate Ivy Ledbetter Lee, George F Parker, Rex F Harlow, Henry Ford, Samuel Insull, Therdore N Vail. They were considered as pioneers of public relations discipline in the world. They were responsible in giving a scientific approach to Public Relation Science.

Public Relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutual beneficial relationships between an organization and the public on whom its success or failure depend.

Some of the Great Public Relations and Management experts like Charles Plackard, Herbert M Baus and Robert Heilbroner expressed and defined Public Relations as Human Decency, Combination of Philosophy, Sociology, Economy, Language, Psychology, Journalism, Commerce, other knowledges into a system of human understanding and winning friends and influencing people, respectively.

Like charity, public relations begins at home. The modern public relations includes press relations, propaganda and marketing. There is no good scientific public relations without research. Thats the reason that many top organizations recruit educated, qualified men to handle their Public Relations Departments and they lay special emphasis on research.

To be a successful PR man, one should always maintain the highest courtesy, etiquette and mannerism. One should maintain a pleasant personality and speak to people nicely to attract them. He should be a man of highest honesty and integrity. Public Relations man must be an exemplary person, with a wide all-round knowledge and leadership qualities. He must be able to win the hearts of his clients, customers and public.

Another great quality that Public Relation Personality should possess, Be cool – Never lose your temper. When you are a public figure in an organization, one may face many problems with the public. PR man acts as a “Buffer” between organization and the public.

Once when I was the Public Relations Head at the Bank of Ceylon, about three decades back, a disgusted customer who was not allowed to enter the Bank from the main entrance till the Chairman arrives near the lift, was directed to enter the Bank premises from the back door entrance. He was a customer who maintained an account at York Street for 20 years. He was so annoyed, met me, and took me to task using “Unparliamentary Language”.

I maintained my cool. I knew the golden rule not to fight with a “wounded animal”. I spoke to him politely with the highest respect.

After a few minutes, he apologized. In a situation like this you should handle the problem very diplomatically.

Public Relations exercise should be directed towards improving communication between people and organization.

The good Public Relations Manager is sensitive. He is sensitive to atmosphere, environment, to other people's feelings, to situations appreciating what is happening and what is likely to happen.

This sensitivity might be called the “Sixth Sense”. This is something most PR men acquire as they grow old through experience.

The Public Relation's Personnel must be level headed and intelligent. Then, he will be able to understand, tackle and solve human problems well.

The Public Relations Personality needs honesty, integrity, character, intelligence, imagination, ability to write, to speak to public pleasantly, administrative capacity, wide general knowledge, high ethical standard, sympathy, understanding leadership, sound judgement, ideas and courage.

In modern day business environment, Public Relations involves, keeping the media informed of new products or changes to existing products, providing press releases, stories, facts, photos etc on behalf of the client to the media.

Organizing functions, community relations to raise customer awareness, to create and enhance the image of the respective organization are all the work of a Public Relations Department.

A variety of programmes designed to promote or protect a company's image or its individual products can be totalled as Public Relations.

There are many definitions relating to Public Relations. The Institute of Public Relations defines PR as the deliberate, planned, sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its public.

In short, it is merely human decency which flows from a good heart. Mrs Indira Gandhi the former late Prime Minister of India once defined public relations as the “Lubricant of Democracy.”

An Interpersonal Relationship is an accepted norm by every civilized man and woman. One's relations must be founded on honesty.

This is a cardinal principle in public relations. It is the golden thread that binds a friendly society.

Communicating is the first link in a chain of social system. Democracy relies on consent of the governed.

Public relations, undoubtedly becomes a key ingredient in the democratic process.

Webster's Dictionary defines public relations as the art and science of developing reciprocal understanding and goodwill between the person, firm, organization, institution and the public.

Enjoy the pleasures bestowed on you. Bear the post inflicted on you – wait patiently what time brings as does the farmer with the fruit.

(From Indian Epic Mahabaratha).

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