THE SCOPE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
MEANING OF PUBLICS
Public is a social unit consisting of all those affected who recognize a common problem for which they can seek common solution
The group has a common interest
Publics are often latent or passive in communication
Grunig identifies three factors that make latent publics become communicating active publics:
- Problem recognition
The public must recognize that something is wrong and recognize the need for information
- Constraint recognition
The public must see themselves as limited by external factors and that they can do something about it. They will seek information to make plans for action
- Level of involvement
The individual members must see themselves as affected by the situation. They will communicate because they are affected.
TYPES OF PUBLICS
Grunig identifies 4 types of publics:
- All issue publics who are active on all issues
- Apathetic publics who are inattentive and inactive on all issues
- Single-issue publics who are active only on one or limited number of issues
- Hot-issue publics are active after media exposure
The most common publics that various organizations interact with include;
- THE COMMUNITY: these are the neighbors’ near where the organization is located. They are not necessarily the organizations’ customers but they contribute to either success or failure of organization. Possible ways an organization can promote good relations with its community could include for instance; Provision of street light within organization area, construction of safe foot path, participating in community programmes e.g. harambee, schools, roads, hospital construction, involving some of local community members in some of the organization jobs though depending on their qualifications etc
- EMPLOYEES: Refers to workers within the organization. Even for computerized organization they can’t do without human labor
- DISTRIBUTORS: Refer to everyone concerned with bulk breaking, transferring the products near the customers etc . Depending on size of organization and its activities it can either have internal or external distributors or both.
- SUPPLIERS: publics that deliver necessary tools and equipment needed for organizations operation at a cost. Each organization should ensure good relationship with its suppliers in order to avoid unhealthy interruption of organization activities. This is done through paying them on time, communicating to them of any changes that might affect them etc.
- CUSTOMERS: Refers to the end-beneficiary of organization products and services. Organization should relate well with its customers so as to retain them, attract new ones, satisfy their desires and build good corporate identity. This facilitates maintaining them and not switching to the competitors.
- GOVERNMENT: Organizations should ensure healthy relationship with the Government through complying with the legal requirements e.g. offering quality services, paying the tax, paying business permits etc. The Government in Kenya can either be represented by the National or government
- FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS: Are institutions dealing with receiving deposits from their customers and issuing the loans. Organizations should maintain good relationship with the bank by meeting their financial obligations timely
- TRADE UNIONS: are associations/movements formed to fight for the rights of workers. They exert a powerful influence on commercial, industrial and political bodies in order to fight for better services for its workers.
- INVESTORS: Are people who mobilize savings and put money into working capital in relation to organization activities.
IMPORTANCE OF DEFINING THE PUBLICS
- It’s cost effective because the organization does not make unnecessary speeding targeting the wrong audience.
- It helps an organization to concentrate with its publics hence building a healthy relationship with them
- Reduces the risks especially while introducing/launching new products/services. The risks can be in form of loss, resistance, unhealthy competition etc
- Facilitating building of long term relationship with relevant publics
- Helps avoid wastage of resources i.e. time and money.
CONSEQUENCES OF NOT DEFINING THE PUBLICS
- The results do not match with the set objectives because of targeting wrong publics.
- Wastage of resources on wrong audience.
- High resistance from the public especially when launching new products.
- Same message can be repeated to the same group.
- High possibility of losses due to targeting wrong audience.
NB/ the organizations’ CUSTOMERS changes depending on institution activities e.g. in learning institutions they are called STUDENTS, in hospitals-patients, in transport-passengers etc.