The Importance of Public Relations
The Importance of Public Relations: Answers to Questions and Case Study Analysis
In the first part, this paper will be discussing the importance of public relations as viewed in different aspects and situations in a company. It sites its importance as one of the most important aspects in organizational communications. In the second part, this paper will be talking about a specific case study analysis in relation to the concepts and theories of crisis management and communications.
The use of public relations is one of the most important aspects of organizational communications, for it does not only enhance the internal relations and communications of the company or an organization, but it also develops and disseminates the information or knowledge system to all the company’s employees. This will be given emphasis in discussing the importance of internal public relations specifically, through an example from an organization.
Moreover, crisis management and communication is equally important in an organization, and its importance will be discussed using a case study regarding the July 7, 2005 London Bombings.
Body of the Paper
1) The Importance of Internal Public Relations
It has been reported that public relations is a management function, which tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures and interest of an organization followed by executing a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance, or the process of aligning the perceptions of targeted audiences or publics with the current realities and reasonable prospects of another entity (2006). Public Relations can be classified as being external or internal, where external public relations is aimed at gaining the attention of the company’s target market and at achieving publication in the desired media (2006). On the other hand, internal public relations are concerned with the distribution of information to a corporate community, within the organization or company, or to a group of prospects (2006).
Moreover, internal public relations involves more freedom and latitude, for the company is not dependent upon anyone to publish it, and its importance is that it is good for rumor control, motivation of employees, clarity of information, announcements and introduction of new products, and management of message and information (2006). It can also be used to introduce and edit the company’s website and not worrying on the confidentiality of the matter (2006).
Furthermore, (1995) reports that in developing an organization’s internal public relations campaigns, they have utilized a variety of persuasive message channels designed to influence current and future employees, and this traditional forms of internal communication include house organs, employee newsletters, and corporate reports. Its use is also important in relation to the introduction of new products and technology, the announcement of organization policy and procedures, and promotional messages for worker safety and a variety of personnel related topic (1995). In essence, the importance of internal public relations can be applied through the introduction or indoctrination of new employees to an organization or company. With these, its importance and application will be better understood with the use of a specific example.
The socialization process is a process by which a person learns the values, norms and required behaviors, which allow the new employee to participate as a member of the organization, and it represents a crucial time for the newcomer to establish needed role-related and culture-specific knowledge to function successfully as a member of the organization (1995). Through this, the process of internal public relations can be applied, including the work group or coworker interaction and organization and management communication, which are key sources of information in the assimilation stage (1995). In particular, at Midwest Pharmaceutical Company, the process of internal public relations can be seen effectively through new employee indoctrination, where a video presents a 35-minute introduction to the company that is shown to new associates during employee orientation. The narrators of the video consist of the company’s founder and chairman of the board, along with the company’s executive team, including the president, the chief executive officer, the senior executive vice president, chief operating officer, and the executive vice president. The video provides a historical overview of the company, including the development of three dominant themes, such as its growth, product development, and its “spirit”. The growth of the Midwest Pharmaceuticals was discussed by showing the facilities of the company and its most valued resources, such as its buildings, support equipment and its employees who are highlighted to the service of a particular machine. The aspect of the company’s product development presents its variety of pharmaceutical products, which can be regarded as unique products, innovative compounds, and the most sophisticated healthcare products. Moreover, the spirit of Midwest Pharmaceutical was recognized in the video as a unique corporate culture, which presents a fashionable management technique of expressing a desired corporate culture, describing an efficiently operating work group brought together by familial or spiritual bonding, and the commitment to physical growth and respect for technology and for the supremacy of product development (1995).
Using the specific example of Midwest Pharmaceuticals, it can be seen that the concept of internal public relations was applied using the video, to introduce the corporate structure of the company to the new employee. The video was used as a medium to inform the newcomer or the new employee of the corporate structure of Midwest Pharmaceuticals, and make sure that the new employee will be able to meet the top executives of the company. Based on the definition of internal public relations, the use of the video shows the freedom of the company in utilizing forms of media in distributing and dissipating information. As a form of internal public relations, the video saves time on the part of the executives by conducting a meeting to introduce and discuss the company’s mission and vision. Through the video, the new employee will also be able to gather new information and knowledge regarding the company and its products. In addition, through the video, the company’s founder was also able to impart the importance and the features of the roles and jobs in the company, which will soon be taken by the newcomer.
Moreover, through this example, internal public relations were clearly demonstrated, for with the use of the video, Midwest Pharmaceuticals will not be concerned anymore with the publication of the information in the video, and media interference. Its use has even emphasized the clarity of information being distributed by the founder of the company, which can be used by the new employee in his or her utilization of knowledge. In addition, the information gathered can also be used as a basis for decision-making, and for upholding the mission and vision of the company in relation to the actions she or he will taking. In future endeavors, the use of this form of internal public relations medium will be effective as being cost-effective and a time-saver. From this, the importance of internal public relations and its use will be emphasized all throughout the undertakings of the company, in accordance to its corporate structure, mission, and vision.
2) Crisis Management in a Soft Drinks Organization
Any business organization or company encounters a variety of problems and crises throughout their operation. However, different organizations have different responses to various crises that they encounter, and the response to these crises is referred to crisis management. Crisis management deals with giving the right crisis response (2006), and involves crisis management approaches, which may be defined as one that recognizes the social and technical characteristics of business interruptions, emphasizes the contribution that managers may make to the resolution of interruptions, and acknowledges the impact, potential or realized, of interruptions upon a wide range of stakeholders ( and Swartz 2002). In addition, the view of crisis management in business continuity recognizes that the organization is part of an environment characterized by uncertainty and change, leading to new challenges, and within this environment, regulation, legislation and stakeholders help to shape the business continuity process through accumulated knowledge within an organization (2002). In relation to crisis management is crisis communication, which involves the behavior and response towards a specific crisis (1998), and the response and behavior of an organization to a crisis must be appropriately assessed to effectively and efficiently provide solutions to the problem.
In relation to the crisis involving a soft drink organization regarding product contamination, it would be best if the company or organization has a crisis management and crisis communication plan. Similarly, this is also the solution of larger and more prestigious companies, such as Mercedes Benz. It has been reported that more than a billion Deutschmarks had been invested in the development and manufacture of the Baby Benz or the Mercedes Benz A-Class, which captured mass-market sales revenues (2002). However, problem occurred when five Swedish motoring journalists managed to topple the vehicle at only 60 kilometers per hour during an object avoidance maneuver, known as the ‘elk’ test, and this widely reported handling shortcoming represented a major crisis for the company, which is famous for its quality and safety. Instead of providing an immediate response to the incident, the company put the blame on Goodyear’s tires, which were insufficiently stiff for the vehicle’s requirements (2002). This incident has led to the initial failure of the vehicle in Sweden, and the diminishing of stock prices of Daimler-Benz, the parent company of Mercedes Benz and one of Germany’s largest industrial conglomerates ( 2002). With this situation, it is evident that the Mercedes Benz Company was not able to respond effectively to the crisis at hand, which led to the decrease in their sales. This means that the company was not able to come up with an effective and efficient crisis management and crisis communications plan.
With the crisis of the soft drinks organization on product contamination, the company must have an organized and efficient crisis management plan to be able to provide solutions to the problem.
Event Planning Team - It has been reported that in the initial planning phase, the company should organize and staff an event planning team, which include risk management and information technology professionals, along with emergency management and subject matter experts, who will understand the plans (2005). Moreover, threat identification, risk assessment, and planning prioritization are needed in crisis management, and these processes are related to making the contingency plans for crisis management. With these professionals, the plan will be successfully implemented and assessed, to make sure that the solution will be effective for the crisis.
Contingency Plans - In addition, contingency plans is needed, which include a review of all hazards and threats quantifying the potential for impact, triage to identify processes, systems, functions, and partners that are most critical and at risk, developing contingency and disaster-recovery plans for each process, identification of mitigation steps, a review of the functionality, practicality, and cost-benefit of various contingency and recovery options, and crisis communication and notification plans for employees and stakeholders ( 2005). Contingency plans are needed to evaluate the practicality and effectiveness of the proposed solution to the problem.
Review and Development of Plans – In this phase, the team will be reviewing the existing plans of the company, and be able to develop new ones, which also includes the determination of the events that will generate a plan’s implementation. Testing, experimenting and training are included in this phase, and must employ individual preparedness and community-wide readiness as aspects ( 2005). The soft drinks organization must be able to review their plans in order to know their protocol concerning product contamination and assess if this will be applicable in the present situation. In this phase, the team must be able to know the extent of the contamination, make necessary experimentation and product sampling, and compare the result to the standard product. In this way, the soft drink company will be able to develop new plans and regulations to prevent the same event from happening again.
Managing Plan Execution – During the execution of the new plan, command centers should be open to ensure that oversight and rapid decision-making can occur, alongside training and rehearsing the management team in emergency operations concepts and drilling the team, for it is essential that these teams will be able to manage the information related to the crisis and to the new plan ( 2005).
Technology Concerns – Information management issues will be a key concern for event management, for it is easier to automate message tracking (2005). With the use of an efficient and effective information system, the command centers or teams will be able to coordinate effectively and be able to process the needed information efficiently. With this, the soft drinks organization will be able to double-check the quality of their product and in turn, prevent contamination, thus, preserving the integrity and brand image of their product.
Part B – Case Study Analysis
1) The performance of the management of TfL’s crisis communications can be viewed as successful because the organization was able to immediately respond to the problem presented to them caused by the bombings. It can be deduced that they were able to perform well in response to the crisis because given the fact that TfL was able to switch from managing a celebratory national story to managing an unprecedented crisis ( 2006). The major shift would somehow cause panic and confusion on the part of the organization’s members, but because they were trained for these kinds of situations, they were able to manage the crisis, and respond effectively. Primarily, the organization was able to organize the transportation of the stranded passengers in the tunnel, and make sure of their safety. Secondly, TfL was able to utilize their resources on dissipating the right information to the media regarding the matter. The organization was also successful in coordinating with the emergency services and with the government, and successfully facilitate rescue. The organization was also efficient in impact of the incident, and in reinforcing the message regarding the safety of the citizens (2006).
In essence, the organization was able to exhibit professionalism and expertise in managing the crisis, for they were they were able to accomplish tasks and responsibilities in accordance to their mission, although busy taking care of other matters that are completely opposite from the crisis at hand. With this, the organization deserves to be given proper recognition and award for the huge responsibilities its members were able to handle efficiently and effectively.
2) It has been reported that the initial messages sent out by TfL placed the emphasis on operational information and practical advice for travelers, where the fast pace of events involved the evacuation of the entire tube network followed by the withdrawal of the London bus fleet and the suspension of the congestion charge (2006). From these actions of the organization, rescuers were able to take out the stranded citizens from the tunnel and other rescue organizations were able to resume regular transportation in the area.
Restoring passenger confidence through the introduction of buses is a good way of mass rescuing the citizen stranded inside the tunnel. It was also a good strategy, for these buses can take its passengers to their offices. However to restore passenger confidence more quickly, rescue organizations should not have only took the passengers out of the tunnel and made sure they were safe, but they should have made sure that they were perfectly fine by sending them to a hospital and had them checked. This is to make sure that the passengers will be able to be relieved from the shock caused by the incident.
Another strategy or activity is the government and the organizations’ provision of checkpoints around and in different areas in the tunnel, to prevent the incident from happening again. The government must have deployed police or army checkpoints at the entrance, in the tunnel and at the exit of the tunnel to make sure that no terrorists would be able to put bombs in the tunnel. This action would help regain the confidence and trust of the passengers towards the government and other organizations.
3) Based on the crisis management and strategies of Transportation for London, one of the lessons that can be taken note of is their professionalism in handling two different and opposing situations at the same time. Prior to the bomb attacks, the press team of TfL had been heavily involved in Live8 and 2012 Olympic bid, which London won the day before the bombings (2006). From this, the press team was able to successful shift from the festive emotion and event to a devastating event, and the organization was able to successfully handle the situation.
Moreover, another lesson would be learning from TfL of their successful and effective coordination with other rescue organizations. This just means that the members of TfL exhibits camaraderie and teamwork among each other, which becomes an easy task in relating with other individuals from other teams. In addition, another lesson to take note of is their ability to gather their resources and dissipate the right information regarding the incident. This helped a lot, especially in informing the relatives of the passengers, for the media were able to confirm the victims of the bombing incident. This just goes to show that TfL exhibits an effective and efficient teamwork, which is evident from their ability to manage and handle the crisis at hand. Furthermore, this also shows that the organization was able to utilize the use of internal and external public relations, both inside the organization and towards the whole London.
4) I would respond to this question confidently, informing both the journalist and the Union leader that it is now safe to travel on London’s buses and tubes, for the government was able to successfully deploy checkpoints around the tunnel and bus terminals all throughout London to prevent the same incident from happening again. Moreover, more surveillance cameras have been deployed at different areas in the tunnel to make sure that each and every activity in the tunnel would be tracked. With this, I will inform them that with the successful and efficient coordination of the different rescue organizations and the British government, the tunnel and buses of the London would be more secured than ever. This should somehow give the passengers and the citizens of London confidence and trust in the government, that using the skills and resources of the members of the different organizations in London, everybody will be responsible enough to fulfill their tasks and responsibilities, and make sure that every citizen in London will be safe.
Conclusion and Recommendation
The concept of public relations is such an important application in every business organization and company, such that its application encompasses a variety of functions and responsibilities in relation to the distribution and dissipation of information and knowledge. This is why it is essential to assess its importance and make sure that this will be used effectively in response to crisis management. As a recommendation, in relation to it would be crucial to assign a crisis management team that will be effective in resolving problems and crisis being experienced and will be experiencing by the company.