Functions of Public Relations
Public relations accomplishes many objectives:
Facilitates Company’s Overall Operations
Public relations can help in promotion of products. Awareness and interest in products and companies can be generated. Desire to buy a product is helped by unobtrusive things that people read and see in the press. People increasingly understand that media has its own interests to serve but still they are more likely to believe the story on a product appearing in the media than the claims made by the company in its ad.
Helps in Tackling Social and Environmental Issues
Public relations helps in handling social and environmental issues and ensures that they are settled to the mutual benefit of all parties involved. If the company has a good record of fulfilling its societal obligations and safeguarding the environment, its occasional breach will be looked at with benevolence and the organization will be allowed to mend its ways amicably by government bodies and pressure groups.
The company will be spared the damages that would have befallen on it if the pressure groups had been stridently opposed to it. The company gets the benefit of doubt in tricky and messy situations and survives to live another day because of its impeccable public conduct in the past.
Ensures that Customers Are Treated Well
The company realizes that customers are habitual storytellers. If a customer is not treated well by a company he will spread the story far and wide. And if he perceives that the company has gone out of its way to be of help to him, he will be equally profuse in its praise. The need to maintain good public relations ensures that customers are presented with useful information, are treated well and have their complaints dealt with fairly and speedily.
Helps in Attracting and Retaining Talented Employees
Public relations creates and maintains respectability in the eyes of public so that best people are attracted to work for the company. It promotes the sense of identification and satisfaction of employees with their company. Talented employees will stay in an organization only if they are proud of belonging to the organization.
An employee will not feel proud of his organization if stories of the organization’s sordid deeds and its shoddy behavior are out in the open. But when the public respects his organization he feels good to be a part of it. Activities such as internal newsletters, recreation activities and awards for service and achievement can be used.
Stakeholders Give It Benefit of Doubt
Public relations helps in managing misconceptions about a company so that unfounded opinions do not damage its operations. If the company has a good reputation, the public gives the benefit of doubt to the company till the facts are verified, and the truth is out. This period when the public suspends its judgement about the company till the truth is out has become important these days as the media is likely to keep the company embroiled in some controversy or the other.
It is debatable if the companies’ misdeeds have increased but they are definitely being reported more now, due to the proliferation of media and its constant search for controversies to keep the public interested. In such times, a company’s credibility among its stakeholders con be a strong deterrent to media fetish for stirring controversies.
Develops Reputation as a Good Supplier and Customer
Public relations helps in building a reputation as a good customer for its suppliers and a reliable supplier for its distributors and customers. Customers and suppliers are likely to believe that a company with good reputation with other stakeholders will also keep its commitments to them. With increasing globalization of business, getting favorable international media coverage has become imperative for attracting customers and suppliers from across the world.
When distances between a company and its suppliers and customers increases what appears in the media about the company becomes a very important criteria in the decision of the suppliers and customers to consider doing business with the company. Detailed evaluations obviously follow but a company with a bad media coverage gets blocked out right in the beginning of the customers’ and suppliers’ evaluation process.
Politicians and Public Officials are Favorably Inclined
Public relations influences the opinions of public officials and politicians so that they feel that a company operates in public interest. With companies looking at establishing designing, manufacturing, and marketing facilities globally, perception of the host government about the company has become a very important factor in its success as a global player. A government is likely to expedite the entry of a company in its country if it has a good reputation of becoming a good local citizen rather than if it is known for rabid profiteering.
Responds Effectively to Negative Publicity
A company that understands the need to maintain good public relationship with its stakeholders will respond quickly, accurately and effectively to negative publicity. It understands that negative publicity can overwhelm a business sooner than bad products and services and will put all its resources in setting the record straight. It will not wait for the negative publicity to die down on its own.
It knows that stories in the media will cease to appear after some time but people will have formed negative opinions and their interaction with the company will reflect the opinion formed. A sawy company will counter negative publicity vigorously and will not rest till public confidence in the company is restored.