- Shailendra Kumar
As science gives us greater control over matter, machines and methods, we must learn to deal with people with increasing effectiveness. Public Relations as a means of influencing attitudes can greatly expedite the social adaptations required for our material advancement by influencing public opinion. The revolution in communication that we referred to earlier is more than an accelerator of change. It has created a whole new pattern of human dynamics. Changes are being felt in various spheres of the society, particularly in the life styles and attitudes, for the current changes in society are basically because of shifts in public attitudes whether they are in, business, education, science or technology. It is because of this that Public Relations are rapidly gaining attention worldwide.
The new leadership in all organizations, government or private, has become aware of the importance of public attitudes. Some are either aware of Public Relations or are receptive when it comes to their attention. As they gradually replace the old guard, the significance and the dynamics of the concept of Public Relations is likely to increase in scope and effect: The changes will create a climate in which all organisations must exist. Understanding and coping with the human climate is as vital for an organisation as dealing with the weather is for a farmer.
Public Relation is synonymous with a management job, and encompasses activities like monitoring, evaluating and maintaining mutual relations and creating an understanding between an organization and the public that it corresponds to. Now, in such cases, ‘Public’ does not mean the masses, rather it includes shareholders, consumers, media and even the employees of the organization. Its objective is to improve channels of communication and establish methods of setting up a road for flow of information and understanding. The media plays a key role in PR processes when it comes to popular organizations. After all, the media always has the ‘power’ to make or break. It, therefore, becomes mandatory to build and maintain a good relationship with the media.
Maintaining a public image is one of the stepping stones to success. How the public perceives you or your organization is an important factor for one’s market standing and this precisely is the job of a Public Relations Officer. PROs play a crucial role in creating and maintaining relationships within as well as outside the organization. Within the organization they organize management-employee meets, inform employees about organizational policies etc. They also have to maintain a liaison with government departments, trade unions, the press etc. whose cooperation is imperative for the smooth functioning of the organization.
A crisis situation is the ultimate test for a PRO. Handling affairs in an appropriate way scores the PRO good points. As a PR person you may face a situation when you have to put your foot down and save the face of the organization. How well you do this, will reflect on your credentials. A new aspect of this career involves brining about the passage of laws favourable to the special interest group a PRO represents. It is a strategy used to raise public consciousness and influence policy makers with regards to environmental, human rights as well as educational concerns.
Another important field of work is creating public identity of your clientele which may include public figures like political parties/leaders, models and film stars. This includes advising your clients on various aspects like dressing right, behaving in a certain manner and addressing the public and the media.
In terms of career opportunities PR involves product publicity, corporate publicity, improvement of relations with government, publishing corporate publications like newsletters, bulletins, magazines for employees etc. PROs are employed in the corporate sector, public sector, government agencies, tourist agencies, hotels, banks and other financial institutions and private consultancy firms. They are also employed with individuals like political figures, models and film stars who want their pictures, profiles and interviews published in magazines and need agents who can create and maintain a desired image. They cultivate and maintain contacts with journalists, set up speaking engagements, write executive speeches and annual reports, respond to inquiries and speak directly to the press on behalf of their client. They must keep lines of communication open between the many groups affected by a company’s product and policies: consumers, shareholders, employees and the managing body. Public Relations people also write press releases and may be involved in producing sales or marketing material. With growing competition in every field, the demand for PR executives is bound to increase.
For a successful career in PR, you must possess certain qualities like excellent communication skills which greatly help in clearly expressing one’s thoughts. A good personality and the ability to get along with people, both in and outside an organization is also important. Being polite and calm even while working under pressure is an additional qualification. Confidence, far-sightedness, event-management and the ability to handle crises are other key traits of a successful PRO. Analytical skills are required to interpret research information and plan activities. An alert mind, resilience, good sense of humour and diplomacy are assets for PR professionals.
Education and Training
Many institutes offer post graduate diploma and certificate courses in Public Relations. The cost of pursuing such a course may approximately be between Rs.20, 000/- and Rs.25, 000/- An individual who is a graduate in any discipline is eligible to apply for a PR course. Most training programmes in advertising also include the subject of Public Relations for study.
- University of Lucknow
- Banaras Hindu University
- Jammia Millia University
- Indian Institute of Mass Communication
- Mudra Institute of Communication
- Symbiosis Institute of journalism and communication
- Indira Gaandhi National Open University
- Osmania University
- Aligarh Muslim University
- Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies
(The list is indicative only)
(Shailendra Kumar is a freelance Journalist. Email ID: - email@example.com, Shailendr.firstname.lastname@example.org.)