Feature Article of Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Columnist: Agyemang, Frank
In this fast-paced and fiercely competitive world, it is amazing to note that some organisations are still regarding Public Relations or Communication Department as an afterthought. They only see the relevance of the PR or Communication Officer when a disaster strikes or their reputation is being called to question.
For some corporate bodies, they even wait till something happens before they consider hiring a PR expert or company to handle that situation.
Corporate organisations that adopt this ad hoc approach to dealing with their reputation or crisis management cannot survive the intense competition in today’s global economy being seen as one in transition to a “knowledge based economy”. The pace with which a company responds to crisis or branding issues determines its responsiveness towards stakeholders’ concern.
Communication officers or PRO’s don’t only play a significant role in your business but are crucial to the business irrespective of the nature of the business so far as it thrives on relationship with people. It implies that, no matter how small a business is, there’s still the need to employ a communication officer to focus on establishing and maintaining goodwill. The more the company does to merit this goodwill, the easier it is to satisfy clients or customers and the better the prospects. This is the more reason it shouldn’t be an ad hoc or a reactive creation but a proactive one involving a deliberate, planned and sustained efforts.
Churches and educational institutions also require proactive communication departments which could provide direction in tailoring messages and adopting initiatives that would excite and sustain targeted publics. It is important to exert constant effort to maintain concrete and long-lasting relationships with your stakeholders.
No wonder major media houses like the Graphic Group Communications Limited, Multimedia Group Limited and TV 3 have dedicated Communication Departments that monitor, plan and strategise on how to sustain and extend their targeted publics regardless of the fact that they have the media platform to reach out to the general public or address any issue relating to their reputation. These media houses know that people act based upon their perception of facts hence by managing, controlling or influencing such perceptions, they would be able to initiate sequence of behaviours that will lead to the attainment of their organisational objectives.
Apart from realizing the need for communication or public relations officer, it is appropriate to appreciate the fact that such a role is a strategic management function and not just a means of reaching the media as and when issues come up. When people think of communication officers or PRO’s, often the first things that come to their minds are publicity and press releases.
What most people don’t know is that it is a management function responsible for evaluating public attitudes, identifying the policies and procedures of the business or organisation with the public interest and helping evaluate trends, anticipate emerging opportunities and utilize change. It is about managing internal and external stakeholder relationships in a strategic way.
It is high time corporate organisations, churches and educational institutions were told that communication department, that’s if they have any, is an integral part of a formidable management system that facilitates the attainment of their objectives. They need professionals to handle such offices. By taking full advantage of communication professionals’ skills as a public advocates, businesses can better understand how decisions affect customers, what customers concerns are and how to maintain mutually beneficial relationships between the organisation and the general public on whom it depends on for success and survival.