As your studies in PR come to a close, what aspect of Public Relations interested you the most? How do you think your career will be informed by your new knowledge of Public Relations?
The aspect that interests me most are the differences and similarities between public relations in business and government.
Business Public Relations
We learned that in business, an organization’s relationship with the public is the most important factor to an organization’s survival, even more so than profit. We learned that if an business does not have the support of the public, it will have the most difficult time operating and doing the necessary work that needs to be done. Businesses invest in public relations to improve their reputation with their publics or to avert a crisis.
In the realm of public relations, we learned of hundreds of unethical organizations that have lied and cheated in an attempt to cover the truth, only to take even greater and unrecoverable hits to their reputation.
Government Public Relations
On the other hand, I learned that government public relations in some ways are similar, but in other ways are completely different than business public relations. Government public relations is similar because in democratic societies, political parties need support of the public in terms of votes to get elected into office. However, once in office, governments have the capacity to enact public policy, even if that policy is against the will of the people.
In response to unpopular government decisions, public outcry may result in letters to government officials, unfavourable newspaper articles, or in some instances, violence. Since government survival depends on votes, it is assumed that a governing party will not get re-elected after a series of unpopular public policy. One can see that clearly when the Liberal Party of Canada lost three elections in a row to the Conservative party in 2006, 2008, and 2011.
Two different worlds of Public Relations
My career will be informed by my new knowledge because I have a better understanding of the differences between the two worlds of public relations. On the one hand, I know that businesses need to think of their publics by thinking about the ways their actions will affect their bottom line. Businesses have to ask themselves if their actions will play well in the realm of public opinion. Business must be ethical and socially responsible, while maintaining profit.
Governments on the other hand have a greater responsibility by protecting the society from those who do harm to others. In many cases, government officials have a greater responsibility than businesses, because those hard decisions will be unpopular.
In what way do you think that governments are like businesses in terms of public relations? Please let me know in the comments below.