What is Public Relations? Explain the Need and Importance of Public Relations

What is Public Relations? Also explain the need and importance of public Relations.

Definition and importance of Public Relations:

Public relations has assumed immense importance over the years. The importance of this vital and all embracing discipline can be gauged from the fact that the present information age is also called as the public relations age. As the very name suggests, public relations is a relationship, a liaison or a bridge between an organisation and its publics. International Encyclopaedia of Communication has defined the term public relations as the information activities and policies by which corporations and other organisations seek not only to create attitudes favourable to themselves and their work but also to counter adverse attitudes. According to New Webster’s Encyclopaedic Dictionary of the English Language, public relations is the art and techniques used to promote favourable public opinion. We are reproducing below definitions by some scholars and renowned experts with a view to clearing the concepts of the students about this versatile and multidimensional discipline of the present age.

  1. In 1948, the Council of the British Institute of Public Relations defined Public relations as “the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.
  2. Public relations is the attempt by information, persuasion and adjustment to engineer public support for an activity, cause, movement or institution (Edward L. Bernays).
  3. According to John W. Hill public relations is the management function whiCh gives the same organised and careful attention to the asset of goodwill as is given to any other major asset of business.
  4. Public relations is a combination of philosophy, sociology, economics, communication and other knowledges into a system of human understanding. (Herbert M. Baus)
  5. Public relations is everything involved in achieving a favourable opinion: (Georgo F. Meredith).
  6.  The International Public Relations Association, The Hague, May 1960, defined public relation as a management function, of a continuing and planned character, through which public and private organisations and institutions seek to win and retian the understanding, sympathy and support of those with whom they are or may be concerned by evaluating public opinion about themselves, in order to correlate, as far as possible, their own policies and procedures, to achieve by planned and widespread information more productive cooperation and more efficient fulfilment of their common interest.
  7. The World assembly Of Public Relations maintains that public relations practice is the an and social science of analysing trends, predicting their consequences, counselling organisation leaders, and implementing planned programmes of action that will serve the interests of organisation and the public.
  8. According to Scot M. Cutlip and Allen H. Centre (authors of the book Effective Public Relations), PR is the “communication and interpretation and the communications and ideas from an institution to its publics and the communication of information, ideas and opinions from those publics to the institution is a sincere effort to establish a mutuality of interest and this achie ves the harmonious adjustment of an institution to its community .

    The above definitions highlight the importahce and significance of this all embracing discipline. But, it would be quite unjust to assume that a few lines can bring out and explain the usefulness of this social art and science. A few words, howsoever, articulately worded cannot embody the countless good that public relations delivers to the society. Indeed, it is Public Relation which has turned the man from a wild animal into a social being.

Need and Importance of Public Relations

The importance of public relations is increasing day-by-day and as a matter of fact it is more important for organisations, institutions and individuals today than it was yesterday and surely its significance would multiply manifold in the days to come. Public relations has, in fact become one of the most important tools needed today not only for the growth and development but also for the very existence and survival of an organisation. Public relation is not self-centred, rather it is equally useful for the publics as well. It provides a channel through which the publics can make their concerns and needs known to the management.

If an organisation does not care for the public sentiments.and needs or the market demand or what is actually required by the publics, and rather regards prOduction of goods or provision of services to be its sole concern; it will never be able to compete with the dynamic competitors in the field. Similarly, if a political organisation does not take into account the issues and problems facing the people and or the country at large and is oblivious to finding a just and fair solution to them, would it be a popular organisation among the publics, and will it survive? Definitely not.

The second question is what sort of image an organisation would enjoy if it does not engage itself in public relations activities. Obviously, the answer would be not very good. Because in this competitive era every industrial/commercial concern, political or social organisation should not only he simply efficient; but it should also be seen as to be efficient by the public  internal and external.

An organisation or firm may have good quality products or it may be excelling others in providing services but if people are unaware about it the image of the organisation would be a bad one. Good public relations builds up the image of organisations while bad public relation or no public relation at all destroys the images. Further, the public likes to be associated with only those organisations that are familiar to them. If more’than one organisation is producing a produi zt or providing similar services, people tend to deal with the organisation which enjoys a soun d image amongst the publics. That explains why today all organisations, tend to have a public relation programme for their concerns and in majority of the cases get it executed in particular those manned by competent hands, their own PR set-ups. Let us first define the term ‘image’ in the context of public relations. Image is the idea or conception, good or bad, public have i n their mind about an organisation. There are several kinds of images the mirror image, the current image, the wish image, the corporate image, the multiple image, etc./Generally, the image of an organisation or personality depends upon the information that the public have about the firrnor person concerned. The basic objective of a public relations arm of an organisation is to develop .a good image for the organisation that it is working for. All its activities revolve around achieving this sole objective. It sponsors sports activities, carries on relief work by providing grants in calamities, takes part in welfare projects, arranges exhibitions and shows, offers scholarships to talented students, provides utility services at subsidised rates, undertakes press agentry and so on with the avowed objective of earning a good name and a soft corner in the public mind. These activities have a great bearing on the overall reputation and goodwill of the organisation.

However, public relations does not mean to befool or cheat the people. It does not mean to cover up the misdoings of the management and deficiencies in its products. If a concern or company uses public relations for covering up its ills and deficiencies then it would not be public relations but a criminal offense. Sound public relations as discussed earlier, means deleberate, planned and sustained efforts aimed at creating mutual understanding, based on honesty, integrity and ethics, between an organisation and its publics.

Another clement which makes PR essential is research. Research which involves probing the opinions, attitudes and reactions of various publics towards the organisation, alongwith learning as much as possible about the organisation’s problems and its potential for growth is the first tier of a four-stage model of public relations process offered by Cutlip, Centre and Broom and, perhaps, a fundamental element to win over the publics. If a firm knows about what the people really want, what are their needs and what The market offers, it can adapt itself to the situation and can offer better services and r„oods In turn, it will enable it to beat its competitors.

In short, in this age of competition and democracy public relations has acquired a very vital position and indeed no organisation – public orprivate -can do without it, similarly good image is also indispensable for having aplace in the market and in the publics. Summing up the above discussion we can say that public relations is not only a deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics but also to earn and build up a good image for the organisation by using different arts and skills.

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