Inherent in any relationship is the opportunity for conflict to develop. Conflict most often develops when a miscommunication occurs between one party and another. Public relations can help mitigate conflict in a variety of ways. One of the most effective ways public relations managers work toward building effective relationships is via building strong communication networks. The role of a public relations team is to help foster effective, efficient and well intentioned communication between two or more parties (Bruning, 2000). A public relations representative or team may not necessarily ensure that one's communication message is accepted by all, however it is their job to ensure that a message is presented clearly and in a manner that is non-threatening to all the recipients of the intended message (Wilson, 1994).
The effects of public relations on the public are many. When public relations serves the public in an efficient and productive environment, positive relationships are formed and created. Positive and effective public relations are evident in communities and within organizations where open communication is supported and where a 'team' oriented approach to learning or growth and even competition is adopted.
Public relations can turn a 'rowdy' crowd into a complacent and happy one. A good public relations team recognizes opportunities for improvement and acts on a given situation to ensure that everyone's needs are met. They are also capable of doing so in a manner that is non-threatening and embracing. Public relations has the effect of placating people, of encouraging people, of ensuring commitment and communication (when utilized effectively).
Of course, public relations can also have a negative effect on the public when it is not handled appropriately. If public relations representatives are not able to 'read' the public or a crowd, or are not able to send the message that relationship building is welcome and beneficial, chaos and conflict result. Thus it is vital that public relations serve as effective relationship managers, working to open the lines of communication and foster a team oriented environment. Public relations when used correctly can have positive effects including increased productively, sense of accomplishment and achievement on the part of individuals or the organization as a whole.
As an individual I feel that public relations is a vital component essential to the success of not only businesses but also of individuals. I do agree that public relations is in essence, a form of relationship management. Far too often in organizations the term 'conflict management' is used to address issues that evolve between teammates working on a project or between internal and external customers. Most organizations and individuals would benefit from a relationship management rather than a conflict management approach.
If the principles of sound public relations are adopted at the outset and employees and top management officials are trained in the basics of public management and facilitations of open communications, there is likely to be more productivity and achievement realized at every level of the organization.
Public relations should be handled by individuals that are sensitive, open and diverse, and knowledgeable about the various tasks that might be carried out by different personnel within the organization. Public relations managers should be viewed less as manipulators than artists, whose job it is to craft intimate and productive relationships between people in an effort to help them realize their goals. I also feel it is vital that public relations representatives have a strong foundation in conflict management, so they know how to handle a potentially volatile situation before it becomes an issue, and learn how tom implement strategies that ensure the success and efficient operations of the organization at large. Public relations is overall, a positive art that has great implications for the world at large, including communities, organizations and individuals.
Bruning, S.D. (2000). "Public relations as relationship management: A relational approach to the study and practice of public relations." Mawhah, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Broom G.M. (1986, August). Public relations roles and systems theory: Functional and historicist causal models. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Chicago, IL; in Bruning, 2000.
Wilson L.J. (1994). "The return to Gemeinschaft: A theory of public relations and corporate community relations as relationship-building." In a.F. Alkhafaji (Ed.), Business research yearbook: Global business perspectives (Vol. 1, pp. 135-141). Lanham, MD: International Academy…