BEING SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR BETTER P R
By Aurangzeb Soharwardi
Contemporary world is dynamic and multidimensional in its approach towards meeting the challenges,as far as the organizations and their social role is concerned.As the Public Relations industry evolves,it continues to give rise to new approaches and strategies for winning results for clients. PR has never been so important as it has become in today’s high tech environment. PR is a powerful force on its own.When it is part of a marketing mix,a combination of other disciplines and techniques,its impact can be tremendous.But for all its popular identification with hype,PR is serious business,effective and highly cost efficient when compared to other marketing functions.Creating,sustaining or changing a public image,generating and shaping awareness,influencing opinions and decisions is the role of PR today. PR is the most dynamic and rapidly growing business function,but unfortunately misconceived and ill implemented in Pakistan.Many prevailing misconceptions have to be clarified:-
*PR is not the responsibility of PR professionals only,complete organization has to be involved,in image building through a PR culture.
*PR is not only publicity through print and electronic media.
*PR is not interacting with people only.
*PR is based on correct PUBLIC analysis
*PR is about honesty and trust
*PR is never ending process
*PR has lot of dimensions,like relationship building,crises management.
If a tree falls in the middle of a far off forest,and no one is around to hear it,does it make a noise?It does if an article about it is published in a news paper or a magazine.Nothing can disseminate a message,tell a story,rally support,instill confidence and reinforce loyalty like the third –party credibility that comes from a PR campaign.A most common misconception about PR is that it’s just publicity.This is far from truth.Publicity is merely getting the word out.PR is a multifaceted approach to changing the way the public thinks about,feels about and reacts to a certain company,person,product or service. Another misconception is that PR program is a luxury,something very expensive,excessive and difficult to manage.On the contrary,a PR campaign launched within a business is easily supervised and fun to implement.With proper planning,the correct tools at your disposal and a great deal of persistence,any business or the organization can reap the rewards.
“Public Relations (PR) involves a variety of programs designed to promote or protect a company’s image or its individual products.”
PR as a management function is more closely identified with the world of business and industry than with any other area.it is only in recent decades that,owing to the growth of the communication arts,pr and publicity techniques have been applied more vigorously to all the fields,affecting all sorts of organizations.business has social obligations to perform.pr is the order of the day.it has become utmost important for the pr practitioners to understand the relationship between business enterprise and public opinion.today,every organization requires public relations to perform on the policy making level because of and a result of its always implicit problems in the areas of labour relations,government legislation,tax matters,social security,pension plans and other manifold considerations.the purpose of pr as a management function,is not only to affect a change in the attitude of business towards public,but also to interpret his attitude to the public by means of mass media.the operating philosophy of good pr is to convince management to undertake constructive deeds in the public interest and to convince the public that what business accomplishes is in the public interest.pr from a business enterprise view point,means every single act perform by every one associated with the company which impinges on the public and elicits a reaction or opinion from that public.as a management function,pr is expected to help create an atmosphere of consent by setting up certain basic criteria for company behavior.an organization which acts constructively and which implements its pr giving the publicity staff something to talk about through the media communications.many business enterprises engage in indirect and direct pr.business will frequently engage in pr on matters affecting its own general welfare.the automobile industry has a stake in better highways.the producers of commercial films have a stake in finer theaters.
An organization’s reputation, profitability, and even its continued existence can depend on the degree to which its targeted “publics” support its goals and policies. Public relations specialists—also referred to as communications specialists and media specialists, among other titles—serve as advocates for businesses, nonprofit associations, universities, hospitals, and other organizations, and build and maintain positive relationships with the public. As managers recognize the importance of good public relations to the success of their organizations, they increasingly rely on public relations specialists for advice on the strategy and policy of such programs.
TALKING ABOUT CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
The macro environment of businesses generates,social,technological and political issues for organizations.Organizations must learn to look outward to understand key developments and anticipate their impact on the business.Stake holders expectations can,if unmet,trigger action to transform social concerns into pressure on business and government.Strategic management of stake holders relations involves awareness of stakeholders and their interests,proactive planning of relationship development with them,and readiness to respond quickly and effectively to issues and crises.
In contemporary business environment,social obligations have cast a significant impact ,thereby forcing the organizations to be socially responsible.A modern concept of corporate social responsibility has affected the organizational image,directly.It has following dimensions:-
Public Relation campaigns are now focused on social issues and their solution too,thus describing it a modern technique of PR.As these businesses recognized,corporate social responsibility,means that a corporation should be held accountable for any of its actions that affect people,communities and their environment.It implies that harm to people and society should be acknowledged and corrected if at all possible.However,being socially responsible does not mean that a company must abandon other primary tasks.A business has many responsibilities,economic,legal and social.Social responsibility requires companies to balance the benefits to be gained against the costs of achieving those benefits.The social responsibilities of business grow directly out of two features of the modern corporation:
(1)The essential function it performs for a variety of stakeholders
(2)The immense influence it has on the lives of the stake holders
Social responsibility reflects cultural values and traditions and takes different forms in different societies.It has become a global concept reflected in global business practices,particularly in the areas of environmental responsibility and community relations.The image of the organization gets highly affected with the degree of its low or high standards of social responsiveness.Corporate social responsiveness is seen in the processes a firm establishes to address social demands initiated by corporate stake holders or in the social actions taken by the firm that affects its stakeholders.More recently,the term corporate citizenship has been used to refer to businesses acting responsibly towards their stakeholders. Now thriving organizations,focus their efforts on community development,education and health facilities,for particularly the deprived segments of society.Adherence to business ethics is also becoming a compulsion.Now a days a lot of emphasis is being laid on environmental protection.Laws are being framed and regulations formed to ensure environmental protection by the organizations.Due to increased environmental consciousness in the society,there is very little room for any environmentally unfriendly organization. Now a days a lot of emphasis is being laid on environmental friendly policies,which ultimately helps the organizations for building its image.
In response to contemporary pressures,businesses,desirous of effective Public Relations must increase their efforts to manage the corporate social environment.The social environment encompasses business activities influenced by various community and government groups.How a firm addresses its exposure to the corporate social environment heavily depends on the values and beliefs of the company’s top management.Top management sensitive to the impact of social forces and seeking to strategically manage their stake holders will adopt the view that the firm is a social as well as an economic institution.In response to emerging social issues,these managers are more likely to modify their business policies and practices than managers who understand their responsibilities to the firm only in the economic context.this philosophy greatly affects organizational image and the overall Public Relation process.Using a socially responsive philosophy as a foundation,a firm must develop a socially responsive strategy.This strategic orientation tends to emphasize a collaborative and problem solving approach.,as opposed to one that emphasizes only the firm’s interests and is adversarial in nature.Collaborative and problem solving strategies are distinguished by their emphasis on maintaining long term relationship based on trust and open communication with all of the company’s stake holders. Modern PR Professionals,can accrue optimized benefits for building organizational image,if the organization performs well on the social front.This can ,not only,enhance business growth and market shares but also can ensure an embellished image.