Public Relations is the discipline that optimises relationships between managed entities and citizens. It encompasses a range of primary disciplines of cultural, social, behavioural, communication and ethical interactions.
From roles as diverse as the better governance of nations to social events management, the scope of practice is huge.
It has, as its foundation, intellectual and practical capabilities taken to professional perfection that may range from the managed use of social media to the perfectly timed, delicately honed and inspiring speech of the statesman but always executed to develop excellence in its primary disciplines.
"Culture or civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society."
We are well aware of the ideas of culture in politics, religion, economics and much more and Smircich suggests that that 'culture is something an organization has', rather than 'something an organization is'. I argue that it is the nature of the organisation's relationships that offer its cultural credentials, a Public Relations responsibility.
Here we also have a sense of a person or citizen as being essential to the idea of culture and organisational culture.
In Public Relations we seek the elements of a public or citizen collectively and, with the advent of Big Data management, ever more evolving towards the individual having relationships with organisations.
Organisations are slippery things. Is a group of people spontaneously dancing or rioting in a street 'an organisation'? At what point do they coalesce into an organisation? There is, never-the-less an element of organisation which we all recognise. Organisations are all 'managed' to a greater or lesser degree. Public Relations acts for organisations in a management role and, as in the case of the street paryy or riot, as a very early stage in its nascent development. Organisations need PR before most other disciplines.
In 2006, I defined the nature of relationships and a definition of organisations as the nexus of relationships. It concerned the significance of shared values being the nature of relationships. Values are held and, significantly, are expressed in semiotics (artefact) and language.
Much is made of the fundamental rules that govern the act of agentry. The office, duties or activities of an agent is to be authorised to enact or exert power to produce an effect. Like many other roles, agentry is important in public relations but is different to many other areas of management. In, for example, marketing, there is an impulsion to maximise effect. In banking it may be to maximise profit. In Public Relations there is a different role. It is to optimise effect. In maximisation there is a compulsion to achieve at any cost and for many roles such impulsion is critical. For survival and to create environments in which roles can focus on maximisation, there is a need to optimise effect. To make optimal and get the most out of any situation also gives hope and succour for the future. Thus, public relations is empowered to create an environment in which a marketer might maximise sales, and employee might enhance productivity or a finance director might increase shareholder value or yield.
Optimisation is, of its nature more complex that maximisation. For example, to find the way to drive the car so as to minimize its fuel consumption, given that it must complete a given course in a time not exceeding some amount (optimise fuel consumption), is much more complicated that driving as fast as possible to reach a destination. Public Relations is complicated.
Is the practitioner the moral agent and driving force for ethical behaviour? Does Public Relations set out to make people happy? If so whom? Is it possible to be so wise as to bring virtue and thereby happines to all citizens as Aristotle might wish? Is an approach to ethics that which determines goodness or rightness from examining acts, or intentions in adherence to rules? Is keeping to the rules ethical as Kant would have it? Is the moral worth of an action determined only by its resulting outcome or by its delivery of the greatest good for the largest number as Jeremy Benthham proposed? Ethics is not easy but is something which is at the core of Public Relations.
"Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally isAristotle would be amazed to know that mankind keeps confirming his view.
either beneath our notice or more than human.”
Neuroscientists have identiﬁed brain structures, called mirror neurons, that seem to have no other goal
than improving our awareness of others, whether this means to share their feelings or to learn through
Biologists and physiologists have shown that our ears are tuned to human voices more than to any other sound, that the only facial muscles present in every human being (the others can be absent) are those we use to communicate the six basic emotions and, more generally, that evolution has shaped our body and senses around social contacts. Furthermore, human sciences (psychology, anthropology, sociology, etc.) have shown how social interactions dominate our perception of the world and shape our daily behaviour by attaching social meaning to acts as simple and spontaneous as
gestures, facial expressions, intonations, etc.
Interaction is a critical part of optimising relationships. Corporate interaction is a manifestation of Public Relations.
Hodder, I. 1986 Reading the past: current approaches to interpretation in archaeology Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Phillips, D. 2006 Towards relationship management: Public relations at the core of organisational development Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 10 Iss: 2, pp.211 - 226
Smircich, L. 1983. 'Concepts of culture and organizational analysis' Administrative Science Quarterly 28 (3): 339-58.
Tylor, E.B. 1874. Primitive culture: researches into the development of mythology, philosophy, religion, art, and custom. Available from Gordon Press (1974) ISBN-10: 0879680911
G. Rizzolatti and L. Craighero, “The mirror-neuron system,”Annual Reviews of Neuroscience, vol. 27, pp. 169–192, 2004.
M. Iacoboni, Mirroring People: The Science of Empathy and How We Connect with Others. Picador, 2009.
C. Frith and U. Frith, “Social cognition in humans,” Current Biology, vol. 17, no. 16, pp. 724–732, 2007Tablet with Beer allocations http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/TnAQ0B8bQkSJzKZFWo6F-g