Q3. B. How does the PR communication of a company during s crisis determine whether the company’s reputation will be irreparably damaged during the crisis or the company will bounce back stronger than before? Give examples and non-examples (examples which are not good crisis communication) to explain your point.
Public relations, as we know, is the “art of creating mutual understanding between an organization and its various ‘publics”. “Publics” in Public Relations parlance mean those group or groups of people whose opinion has a direct bearing on the functioning of an organisation. A typical organisation will have employees, shareholders, dealers, stockists, government, media, and the public at large, as its “Publics”. In fact, publics for different organisations will vary according to the nature of the organisation. To reach these “Publics”, the Public Relations practitioner must decide the media and the channels which will be most suitable. If an organisation must disseminate information to a rural audience, where the literacy rate is negligible, what should be the best media which is cost effective’? Newspapers obviously, will not be suitable, because the concerned target audience are unlettered. Then what options does the Public Relations practitioner have’? Depending on the availability of the budget, it can be radio, TV, interpersonal communication, or traditional media. In order to make communication effective, you must keep in view the message, the media, and the audience
Media used for publicity are necessarily the mass-media. Mass media as the name suggests are media which reach the mass spread over avast area simultaneously. The Press, TV, Radio, Films and documentaries among others, comprise the publicity media. Mass media constitute a nation’s public information system-a system in which the Public Relations practitioner play an important role by disseminating information. Let us examine the media options available to a public relations practitioner and how best he/she can use it-for achieving the communication goals. Choice of publicity media will, however, depend on the needs of the organisation and aims of publicity, kind of audience to be reached and the aims of publicity, kind of audience to be reached and the available budget.
The Press : The role of the Indian Press in the country’s struggle for freedom being well known to you, should serve as a sufficient indicator about the power of the press as a fundamental institution, which reflects and mould’s public opinion. In India, despite the factors of illiteracy and the advent of TV, newspapers continue to be the dominant medium which set the public agenda, disseminate information, and shape public opinion. The press in India has grown, circulation and specialization at all levels-national, regional, and local. Besides the business / financial dailies the national and local dailies tool has regular columns on industry, trade, development etc.
Thus, publicity through the press is Public Relations: Tools a popular and effective tool with maximum impact. The government, public and private sec- and Methods tors, and non-profit organisations use columns of newspapers to disseminate information to their publics. There is a growing crop of specialised magazines catering to professional groups, business, and industry. The explosion of magazines is seen even in regional languages for new audience with new interests. Besides the general circulation magazines and news magazines, there are periodicals catering to lucrative market of consumers, shareholders, tourism, textiles, women, computers, automobiles, etc. Magazines have become livelier, glossier, and interpretative in content. Magazines are attractive, have excellent reproduction quality and can be kept for reference. They are read at leisure and have a longer life span. This makes magazine publicity a must for organisations who can reach selected audience through chosen periodicals.
Publicity through Press: The Public relations person, as the spokesperson of the organisation decides how and when the activities, policies or programmes of the organisation are to be projected to the public through the press. Information may be given to the press in a variety of ways like press release; features, article backgrounders, etc. It is important for you to remember as a PRO, that information of your organisation has to compete with similar information emanating from various other organisations; so you must be careful about the newsworthiness and timing of your news releases to ensure its publication.
News releases: News from organisations, also known as press releases is the most common type of publicity. Organisations serve as source material for media and hence they should provide such news and facts which will be of interest to the readers, whether the content has to do with planned activity llke a major order bagged, or with spontaneous event like an accident.
Television: Television has great force and scope as a publicity medium-a medium which allows the use of the printed words, spoken word, pictures in motion, colour, music, animation and sound effects, all blended into one. With satellite communication having become a reality, the impact of TV is persuasive, worldwide and powerful. TV has come to be a dramatic and the most intimate mass medium. It has prestige value too, besides having an important role to play in our socio-economic development. Hence TV is an effective medium for developmental news also.
Both, the Public Relations practitioners and the mass media depend on each other for news. Depending on the occasion the Public Relations practitioner can approach TV with a news release about his organisation and similar& a TV station representative can approach him for news. Public Relations practitioners can make use of the medium by providing filmed news release to the TV stations. The news release will not be accepted, if it is too sales oriented or resembles a paid commercial advertisement. The best approach will be to take a low-profile approach in which the company presents facts of or information or educational nature. Non-profit organisations have better chances of publicising their activities over Door darshan as they are non-commercial. With the arrival of cable television and growing competition among television companies, the publicist in India has unprecedent opportunities to cash in on. Industrial news, business programmes, development features, interviews, talks, discussions, analytical programmes can all be used with great advantage besides the use of short telefilms, or sponsoring of popular programmes.
Radio: Radio, like TV, can be effectively used in Public Relations. In India the radio covers more than 90% of the population. It is a mobile medium with a flexibility no other medium can Public Relations: Tools find Methods Public Relations Strategies match. Even though radio is a mass medium, it possesses the qualities of a direct personal medium as it uses the spoken word and human voice for the most part to convey its message.
Films: The shift in our dependence from words to picture, has made for the most profound changes in the way we think, learn and see the world. FilmJ documentaries make a powerful impact on the audience because of their audio-visual qualities. Films can be made on different formats like 35 mm, 16 mm and
Video: As a Public Relations professional we need not necessarily be expert film makers, but we do need a working knowledge about the various aspects of film making. This will facilitate decision-making, appreciating the inputs and providing guidelines to the producer. Films as a Public Relations medium can be utilised in the following ways. They can be used for the internal or external public. It could even be a documentary on the organisation. One could even sponsor a film for the Films Division under the Information & Broadcasting Ministry. When a producer is hired, the public relations person is expected to provide guidelines on the aim of the film, content, length, presentation, background material and information about the target audience. Films could be used for training employees, educating consumers, development efforts for community relations or to build motivation among employees, or safety precautions, or company’s achievements or even for coverage of special occasions.
Video In the last ten years or so, most of the films, except those for theatrical viewing, are being produced on the video format. The video tape has revolutionised communication in the field of entertainment, information, and education. Video equipment has the advantage of playing back the image and the sound immediately. It does not need processing as in the case of film. It is possible to reshoot on the same film, if, the results are not satisfactory. Synchronized sound is possible with every video recorder and if necessary different sound tracks can be superimposed on a sound track, using a different language or dialect. -demo tapes can be updated; in other words, a few shots can be replaced for updating the programme without disturbing the rest of the programme. %deo also has the choice of computer backed special effects. When we compare the cost and time frame, video works out economical
New Technologies Public Relations: Tools and Methods Besides the use of popular media, organisations may have to resort to other approaches to communication. While a local organisation may derive adequate satisfaction from using local media and the very simple and traditional media like bulletin boards, posters or even rural fairdfestivals, the more aggressive and’large corporations like multinationals, have to use the more sophrsticated technologies like E Mail, Facsimile, teleconferencing etc. for exchange of information. Computing, data communication facilities and use of network linked through hgh-capacity multipurpose satellites in international system, affords worldwide access to specialised information. Technological innovations have opened up a vast range of possibilities, each of which has immense potentials, depending on the situational needs.
Media relations from the most basic activity of public relations. Media relations, in fact, take a good part of the practitioner’s working day and are exacting and demanding. Some of the tools for maintaining effective media relations include organising of press conferences, holding press briefings and arranging press visits or facility tours for the media men. Let us discuss these one by one.
Press Conferences as a Public Relations practitioner, it is our sole responsibility to organise the press conferences. A press conference is generally used as the occasion for the release of news simultaneously to all media, provided the subject is newsworthy. This leads to an immediate question: when should we organise a press conference? The answer is-‘as seldom as possible’. We should not fall to the temptation of calling a press conference, if the subject does not demand discussion between our organisation’s spokesperson and the media. In such cases, a press release will sufficiently do the job. If, however, our organisation must announce a major policy change or speak about a labour-management rift, or launch a product which requires demonstration, the occasion demands a face-to-face dialogue and not a one-sided statement. This calls for a press conference.
Let us consider the following carefully before holding a press conference:
- Decision about the spokesperson who will address the press conference. Remember, as public relations persons we need not address a press conference. Ideally, it should be done by the head of the organisation or a department.
- Prepare a press kit which must contain a press backgrounder, news release, pictures, literature about the organisation, a writing pad and a pen or a pencil.
- Make a list of invitees from the media carefully. Strategies Decide a venue which is accessible to the media persons.
- Decide for the transportation of media persons from a convenient place to the venue and return journey.
- Decide the timing. It should neither be too early or too late in the day. The conference should end at such a time, that the. Media persons are able to get back to their place and work for filing the story on time.
- Arrange hospitality.
In fact, as a public relations officer, we should be in control of the press conference from start to finish. After the chief spokesperson and the media persons have taken their seats, we must give self-introduction and introduce the spokesperson who will be addressing them. After a brief address by the spokesperson on the subject matter, the floor is opened to the media persons to ask questions. Set a time as to how long we would like the conference to continue. Depending on the occasion the ideal duration should be between 45 minutes to one hour. Normally, after setting the conference in motion, we should take a seat and not interfere. At times, we may have to intercept to rescue the spokesperson who may have been cornered by a reporter’s question. For good media relations, it is important to establish a personal rapport with the media persons. It can’t be achieved in a day but concerted efforts must be made in this regard. Press conferences should not be the only occasions when we meet the press. It serves our cause better if we have a friendly press.