Public Relations

The organisation needs to update the investors / stakeholders about its development. The definition of stakeholders is very wide and includes manpower working in the organisation, vendors, customers, Govt., etc. since lives of each and every person including his / her family members is dependent on the growth and success of the organisation.

Even a small contractual clerk needs to know whether he / she will get tomorrow’s wage / salary; otherwise how he / she will feed his / her family tomorrow?

If organisation fails, then everybody fails.

Public Relations (including Corporate Communications and Investor Relations) Department manages day-to-day communication with the stakeholders. The department can be called as organisation’s spoke-person.

Criticality of the Department

    • Need of information
        • Investors / lenders want to know whether their investments / lending are safe;
        • Govt. & statutory authorities want to know about corporate governance practices and compliances of various statutes → they also want assurance about their revenue;
        • Disclosure requirements by investors and various statutory authorities (e.g. listing requirements of SEBI, stock exchanges for disclosure of information);
    • Department’s role
        • The information needs to be provided
            • Regularly as committed;
            • Professionally in an understandable manner;
        • Unless information provided
            • Fall in organisation’s valuation;
            • Downside in organisation’s future resource generation capability.
        • Department’s role very critical sometimes
            • While there are high rumours about the organisation’s loan / investment repayment capacity → reputation at stake;
            • Unpredictable incidents (like flood, fire, earthquake, etc.) → crisis situation for organisation;
            • Department to dispel doubts by providing timely information.

Functions of the Department

    • Collection of organisation’s achievements in various fields like
        • Winning awards at International / National / State / any other level;
        • Improved processes impacting the lives of manpower, profitability, community;
        • Social contribution like community participation / village adoption / greenery initiatives, etc.;
        • Employees’ family members making achievements through organisation’s efforts;
        • Any work which demonstrates organisation’s efforts in building better organisation and society.
    • Sharing the achievements with various stakeholders through
        • Newsletter;
        • Email;
        • Website;
        • Newspaper / magazines.
    • Sharing special moments of the organisation
        • Obituary of founder or ‘key member in organisation’s growth’;
        • Celebrating foundation day;
        • Centenary celebration.
    • Sharing the committed information as desired by various statutes
        • Publishing Annual Accounts;
        • Disclosure of summary financial results;
        • Sharing financial analysis reports with investors as committed.
    • Resolving investors’ complaints by tracking the status of pendencies;
    • Co-ordinating business promotion activities like
        • Product launches;
        • Creating awareness campaign;
        • Organising corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities / camps;
        • Advertisement campaigns.
    • Building openness and transparency by sharing information about itself voluntarily → Organisation becoming darling of the stakeholders.

CEO’s role in Department’s activities

    • CEO’s role critical in sharing the information;
    • Unless mandated by CEO or Law → reluctance in sharing the information;
    • Organisation’s Vision policy needs to include transparency and sharing of information.

Deliverables (i.e. expectations from the Department)

    • Building the reputation / brand value of the organisation;
    • Managing crisis effectively through corporate communications.

Important developments in the Public Relations function

    • Evolution of social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) for building organisation brand-value;
    • Mandate of corporate social responsibility (CSR) by law (Companies Act) → showcasing organisation’s commitment for creating better world around → better brand-value;
    • Internet becoming strong medium of sharing information;
    • No need to send printed annual accounts to the investors → compliance through updation on website is sufficient.

Traditional / Normal ways of working in Public Relations function

    • Sharing information through newspaper, magazine and other print-media;
    • Sharing through Television & Radio.

Conflicts (Inter-departmental) / Challenges with Public Relations function

    • Difficulty in getting support of top management to conduct such activities;
    • Department seen as money-drainer → direct result of department’s working not visible;
    • Need for co-ordination between marketing department and public relations department.

Some of the Process Implementation for better Public Relations function

    • Activity calendar of the department for information to be shared in a year;
    • Checklist detailing activity-list to be carried out for handling Crisis situation:
        • Each department’s role;
        • Information medium to be used in the ranking order;
        • Time-line for various activities to be carried out and in what sequence (e.g. post- flood situation requires first job to restart to communication channel in priority and so on) ;
        • Process flows.
    • Activity-wise preparedness
        • Due date of activity;
        • Actions planned alongwith person responsible;
        • Progress till date.
    • Status of activity completed
        • Information medium used;
        • Expenditure on the same under various heads;
        • Necessity for carrying out activity (if other than covered under budget).
    • Budget of the department for the year activity-wise.

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