PR: “Publics” and “Relationships”

Understanding the roles people play in organizations means learning the language of the public relations world.  A “stakeholder” is a “public” that has an interest in an organization or an issue potentially involving that organization.  A “public” in the ‘public relations’ context, is defined as any group of people who share a common interest, value, or values in a particular situation that might be willing to act on. Publics include traditional and non-traditional publics, latent, aware, and active.

Traditional publics are groups with which organizations have an ongoing, long-term relationships.  The kinds of roles traditional publics play include employees, news media, governments, investors, customers, multicultural community groups, and constituents.  Non-traditional publics are the groups that are unfamiliar to an organization.  Basically non-traditional publics are sparked by changes in society and can be viewed as unorganized community activists.

The concept behind the resource dependency theory is that organizations form relationships with publics to acquire the resources they need to fulfill their values.  Resource dependency theory is a two-way symmetrical model meaning that both the publics and the organization are communicating  and collaborating to exchange resources to fulfill it’s values-driven goals.  This is a win-win for the organization and it’s stakeholders.

The idea behind “relationship management” is managing relationships the job requires one possess both journalistic objectivity and the gift of persuasion that are in line with the values and interests of the targeted public or publics.  Public relations is teh values-driven management of relationships between an organization and the publics that can affect its success.

The basic elements of the “communication model” are noise, source, message, channel, receiver, and feedback. Each of these elements are as important as the other for there to be successful communication to have taken place.  Like a electrical line if there is a ‘short’ or ‘break’ in the wire “nothing happens”.  (1)

Noise is the utterance, either spoken or unspoken, that muddles the rational thinking process either because we don’t want to hear what is being said or we don’t like the messenger.  Noise can also be refereed to as mental ‘static’ because there are emotions involved and we may not really hear what is being said.

The ‘source’ is where ‘communication’ originates.  Depending on how a source views it’s audience or the audience views its source can be subjective to a variety of factors.  These factors include the reputation and credibility of the source, the context in which the source is communicating and the ability to converse with the public or publics.  Not knowing how to communicate with stakeholders could make or break the communication process.

The ‘message’ is the content of the communication.  The success of the message depends largely on the purpose and knowledge of the messenger and it’s intended receiver.  If the message is garbled or misinterpreted it will likely be ignored.

The ‘channel’is the medium in which is used to convey the message to the intended receiver.  Selecting the correct channel or channels is key to delivering the message and getting favorable results. The idea is to cut through the noise and get the message to the right people to avoid disagreements or deviations.

The ‘receiver’ is the person or persons for whom the message is intended.  The way in which a receiver views the source– and is viewed by sources– can help or hinder the targeted receiver.  The most effective communications are those that specifically target the intended receiver. It does no good to communicate if the intended audience is not listening.

Finally, feedback is the receiver’s reaction– as interpreted by the source– to the message.  Without feedback, true communication does not occur.  Feedback ensures us that the intended receiver understood the intended message.

(1) Public Relations: A Values-Driven Approach David W. Gruth, Charles Marsh


About Ajai Dittmar

There is nothing 'radical' about wanting to save your historical neighborhood! There is nothing 'negative' for wanting an 'outside investigation' done a public service that has had a lot of embarrassing news, especially when they don't do their jobs! There is nothing 'odd' about wanting politicians to uphold the Constitution they swear to uphold when they are sworn into office! Follow @sibzianna View all posts by Ajai Dittmar

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