Monday, 23 September 2013

Public Relations as a proactive profession

In my last article on this series of Public Relations a Profession, I discussed: The Mexican Statement and Trends in Nigeria. Today, I shall be discussing Public Relations as a Proactive Profession. Any organization that engages in active practice of public relations either in-house department or out-sourced public relations firm, will undoubtedly have a convivial relationship with its publics. The reason is not far-fetched because public relations is a proactive profession. What does it mean to be proactive?
The Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary defines the world “Proactive” “as of person or policy, etc creating or controlling a situation by causing things to happen rather than reacting to events, etc”. Since public relations is all about creating and maintaining mutual understanding that is beneficial to all persons involved in a relationship, its practitioners do not wait until ugly events occurred and react to such events rather they work assiduously to prevent such inimical events from happening in the first place.
Thus, one major strength of public relations is its proactivenes and quick response to issues that might cause untoward happenings. Public relations does not wait for ugly situations to happen and react to them rather public relations has a mechanism that ensure that bad events do not occur at all. Let us look at the definition of public relations given by the World Assembly Public Relations Association in Mexico City in August 1978, which is also known as the Mexican Statement. This body says: “public relations is the act and social science of analyzing trends, predicting its consequences, counseling organizations, leaders and implementing planned programmes of action which will serve both the organizations’ and the public interests”.
So, the proactiveness of public relations is that, it studies the trends as they unfold in the organization or the community in which the organization operates. For instance, if the employees of an organization are complaining indirectly about poor salary through graffiti in toilets, notice boards and suggestion boxes, a functional public relations department would advise the management to hold a meeting with the workers’ union so as to prevent the situation from snowballing into a full-blown strike! This is the counseling aspect of public relations. On the other hand, if the members of a host community are showing the signs of hostility towards an organization, it behooves the public relations department or its consulting public relations firm, to conduct an investigation in order to ascertain the cause of the perceived imminent hostility. This will give the public relations department apple opportunity to get first hand information from the community so as to know how to advise the organization on the steps to take so as to checkmate the possible outbreak of hostility against the organization. Any public relations practice that allows issues degenerate to a crisis situation and react to them is not a good public relations practice!
 For instance, if the grievance of the host community against the organization is because the organization’s trucks are responsible for the damage of the only access road to the community, the sole duty of the public relations department is to counsel the organization to rehabilitate the road. Once the road is amended, there will be peace between the people of the host community and the organization. The public relations department will not wait until the complaints degenerate into a crisis situation before it advises the organization on what to do to remedy the perceived ugly situation. Public relations practitioners do open the eyes and ears of the management to the trends in an organization or community that can cause problems to an organization. This is why public relations is the eyes and ears of an organization!

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Dear VME readers, what other factors make public relations a proactive profession to you? Please leave your comments in the comment section. Thank you.

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