If language is the liberator of human beings, the Communication function is the liberator of an organization. It frees businesses from the constraints of time and space and the incarceration of their own mindsets. Of the various communication tools an organization uses, Public Relations is the one that comes closest to taking on the role of a mind-liberator, almost like a spiritual guide. PR is a versatile communication tool which serves the organization by serving the needs of the community and society. It is the only such tool that was created for the sake of the public, in response to their needs, facilitating “public understanding and acceptance”.
One definition of Public Relations has the following words: “Public Relations helps our complex, pluralistic society to reach decisions and function more effectively by contributing to mutual understanding among groups and institutions. It serves to bring private and public policies into harmony.”
Sounds more like a messiah talking about a faith rather than a profession. But that is exactly what PR achieves. Public Relations not only communicates, but guides on how to communicate, preparing the organization into a lifestyle that would be no less than spiritual. Public Relations thus brings the organization and society into harmony.
It would be incorrect to term Public Relations as a tool of communication, since its role would then be relegated to that of an inanimate ‘device’ acting only under the instruction, effort and direction of the communicators. Public Relations, however, gives direction to organizations and helps forge their larger purpose, becoming the very lifeline of business whose importance cannot be overemphasized. Once this approach is holistic, one which will be efficient, effective and sustainable, with minimal undesirable impact on its environment it gives the best results. Efficient communication implies that the communication should reach out to audiences and have the desired impact, using the least resources, time, effort and energy.
Kaplan and Norton, in their book Strategy Maps, showed that 75% of the market value of any organization was generated from its intangible assets. However, we are used to metering the performance of organizations by measureable parameters like turnover, profits, number of employees, growth rate, and innumerable such factors. We succumb to this fallacy because we live in a culture of measurement, thinking, if you can measure it, it matters. Public Relations remains among the few communication formats that solely focuses on this essential intangible, providing value much beyond the measureable.
An organization that starts its Public Relations journey becomes subject to public scrutiny and is answerable to the expectations of the (unwanted and wanted) public. Using PR necessitates that organizations become more introspective and maintain high moral and governance standards giving them a tactile power of the masses. If used well, not only does the Brand get etched into the public minds, but it also has the ability to turn mere ‘carriers’ into ‘idea transmitters’. Public Relations can convert mere believers into self-powered evangelists.
PR is the only tool of communication that can transmit such deep belief in audiences since it transforms at a subliminal and life-changing level. Public Relations virtually sets a self-fulfilling prophesy in motion – that which you speak, you become. The use of this tool automatically promotes positive traits in any organization, guided by public expectations and media scrutiny.
Public Relations is central to Communication. For any organization, PR is most beneficial when it becomes a way of life of an organization rather than just as another tool of communication.
(Some parts of this article have been extracted from the author’s forthcoming book, Decoding Communication, published by TRA Publishing)