From an organization’s perspective, public relations is the public face portrayed by an organization as it tries its best to conform to the norms of the respective society. A spokesperson is the individual tasked with ‘personifying’ the organization and there are certain traits expected of him or her. Focusing on our daily lives, public relations occurs at a much more frequent rate than we are aware of. There is a constant flow of information and ideas within our society and the businesses we operate in.
Thus, an opportunity has been given to every individual to choose the right message or image they may want to portray. The wrong words or image can create a wide range of problems which range from ethical to financial. Understanding Public Relations Despite its privileged position, most people still view public relations as an unnecessary service which distracts them from more demanding issues. “The science and art of public relations is about influencing public perceptions” (Bandura, 2001, p 265).
Perceptions are built around us based on the inputs we receive (Bandura, 2001, p 265). Some of the daily occurrences which subconsciously shape our perception of society or the organizations we work in include: the mass media, our day to day experiences, and interactions with our colleagues and friends. As previously mentioned, public relations is mostly about shaping people’s perception. However, this definition has its shortcomings as public relations also entails understanding how people interpret information and make sense of it.
“It’s more about being engaged in the flow of information through an intensely networked world than it is about formal communication” (Grunig, 1995, p 263). The growth of the telecommunication media exemplifies how today’s societies are making efforts to be on the cutting edge of receiving and interpreting messages. In the last 10 years or so, only a few people grasped the importance of having an email account or a mobile phone.
Comparing that scenario to the current environment on the World Wide Web, social sites like Facebook and Twitter are continuously being relied upon by individuals (or organizations) to provide their personal perspectives. It’s clear that in today’s information super-highway, every person is trying to build their own perception of the world they live in while at the same time they are concerned about how the rest of society perceives them. Underneath the changing shifts of information technologies, there are certain fundamental facets which have continued to define the art or science of public relations.