A management function which tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures and interests of an organization----Edward Louis Bernays.
The aim is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees and other stakeholders regarding organization’s leadership and its decisions or policies. PR serves as a source of liaison between the organization and the general public. It involves activities that develop sound and productive relations and make arrangements for organized publicity.
Role of Public Relations in Modern Times:
The importance of PR in today’s world cannot be ignored as it has a huge impact. Some of the fields in which PR finds its scope are as follows;
Analyzing Public Opinion:
Public Relations help in studying the mind of public in various fields of human activity. It is a scientific method to ascertain and evaluate the existing public opinion, their mode of thinking, attitude of mind and their likes and dislikes. Its use can be clearly seen during election manifestos of political parties which they make according to the wishes and problems of the people.
Formulation of Future Policies:
As through PR, the leaders are well-aware of the problems at the grass-root level, therefore it helps them in formulating future policies according to the priorities of the people. In case of Pakistan, the biggest problem for this government is energy crisis and deteriorating law and order situation which is the root cause of many problems. Therefore, the federal government and provincial governments has put them on their top priority.
PR is a counseling oriented discipline which gives valuable suggestions to its top management for maintaining good relations with all its stake holders on the basis of various studies and surveys. This leads to inter-departmental and inter organizational support and cooperation.
Influence Public Opinion:
PR plays a very important role in influencing public opinion and building good image of the organization, its policies and its services. It is a planned program that is designed in such a way which increases public understanding and public confidence on the various steps taken by a particular organization. E.g. the payment of Circular debt of more than 500 billion rupees in energy sector by the sitting government brought huge applaud from all the segments and was appreciated in the media and by opposition parties as well. Although it did not end the crises but it brought good image and increased public confidence in the sitting government.
Satisfaction and Fairness:
PR intends to produce satisfaction among all segments of people by seeking balance in various factors which affects the public in one way or the other. In this process, fairness is given due importance while deciding various policies or appointees.
Priority to Public Interests:
PR’s ultimate objective is to protect the interests of the public prior to taking any decision. It places public interest at top priority. It was only through Engro foods’ PR team research which forced them to launch “Tarang Milkpack”-a low priced, good quality milkpack in market. That is why it occupied most of the market in rural especially and some of the urban areas as well.
PR and Social Media:
In older times, PR personals largely focused on building good relations with journalists as they had to publish their press releases and everything else through their newspapers. But nowadays PR has moved its focus to internet (official websites and social media pages). Political Parties’, Politicians’, Company’s etc pages are made on Facebook, Twitter etc which keeps public abreast of the various policies, vacancies (in organization/company)and activities of their favorite political parties, politicians and companies etc.
PR and Job Industry:
PR industry has also created a lot of jobs. Be it the information ministry or small school or company, in almost every organization one will see a PR officer. Talking about the world, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that public relations specialists held about 275,200 jobs in 2008 in the US. It predicted that public relations employment in the US would grow by 24 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than average growth of other occupations. In 2005, over 47000 people were employed in PR industry of UK. In 2009, around 7500 people were employed by top 150 companies.
PR and Communication:
PR industry also looks for establishing good relations with marketing firms, advertising firms and other media firms that are associated with the field of communication in one way or the other to improve their service and expand their domain.