Term Paper: Public Relations and Public Affairs

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Public Relations and Public Affairs

The Kelsey Unified School District (KUSD) has undergone a major public relations disaster. This would cause the district and the Board of Trustees, to see a loss of confidence. As the public and the media, would highlight the obvious differences resulting: the sudden termination of the Superintendant for ethical issues. At which point, the dispute between the Board of Trustees and the Superintendant became a public spectacle. This would result in a med-arb award of $70,000.00, with the board allowing the Superintendent to resign rather than firing him. However, during the process, the view that the public would have of the school district and the board would deteriorate. As they saw, the situation turning into, accusations and counter accusations from both sides. This would only make the situation worse, as these different accusations were examined in the media. After the crisis, KUSD increased training of the faculty and staff in dealing with the media on crisis related issues. Where, they would be able to handle the situation without having the miscommunications that occurred, between staffers and various news outlets. Now, the board has the challenge of rebuilding its image in the community and with the general public. To achieve this objective requires: examining the roles of public relations (PR) / public affairs (PA), evaluating writing strategies for positive outcomes, addressing the legal implications of PR / PA campaigns, examining the public's right to know vs. privacy, critiquing the relations between public communication / organizational truth and analyzing the most effective way to use various public relations tools. Together, these different elements will provide the greatest insights, as to how the KUSD can be able to restore it image with the general public.

Identify the roles of public relations (PR) and public affairs (PA) for this scenario.

In this situation, both PR and PA are essential in rebuilding the reputation of the school district. Where, they have an important responsibility in helping to repair the damage from the loss of accreditation and the highly divisive departure of the Superintendant. This will require PR / PA, to play a unique role in achieving these objectives. As a result, there are a number of responsibilities that they would have to include: improving the reputation of the school district / Board of Trustees, rebuilding relationships and mitigating the risks as much as possible. When you look at the first responsibility, improving the reputation of the school district / Board of Trustees, it obvious that the recent crisis has severely damaged the reputation that school had, when it lost its accreditation. This is a serious blow to KUSD, showing a lack of professionalism and care about the quality of education. To rectify this situation, PR / PA consultants should advise the school district, to embrace a policy of showing how they are working to rebuild accreditation. This can be accomplished by examining the factors that could have contributed to the situation (such as low achievement test scores) and the role that the staff played. At which point, KUSD would need to create new standards for achievement, beyond the state requirements. At the same time, they would need to recruit high quality teachers, while eliminating those that have contributed to the problem. This will take time, as the various achievement scores could help to identify poor teachers. As a result, this would help to recruit educators that can improve the quality of education, which will cause achievement scores to increase. (Regester, 2008, pg. 43)

The second responsibility is when the board must reach out to those who were alienated during the conflict. This can take place, by having private one on one meetings between key decision makers and allies, who are troubled by what has occurred. This is when both sides will have a chance to share their frustrations and help to find a solution to fix the problem. As a result, this will repair relationships that were damaged, by addressing the views of who were left out and bringing them into the process. (Regester, 2008, pg. 43)

Engaging in the two different areas mentioned above will help to mitigate risks dramatically. The reason why, is this strategy is addressing the concerns of those who were most negatively affected by the situation. When you can bring the disputing parties back into the process; the risks of possible litigation or negative publicity decrease. This is because they do not want to hurt the organization further. Once this occurs, is when you will see a dramatic shift in amount of leaks to the press and infighting. At which point, KUSD can begin slowly repairing its reputation. (Regester, 2008, pg. 43)

Evaluate writing strategies for positive communication outcomes.

Two communications strategies must be utilized to create positive outcomes include: strategic communications and integrated communications. Strategic communications is when you are working with the organization itself, to identify various problems. Where, you will use various memos and emails, to discuss the importance of determining the root of the problem. This will help to identify key issues and to find possible solutions. Integrated communications is when you are using various tools, to highlight how an organization has changed such as: direct advertising, various media events highlighting this change and engage in consistent practices to instill this image. During this part of the strategy, you would want the written communication to reflect, an attitude of regret, with a desire to move forward for the benefit of the community. At which point, you would continually instill the idea that KUSD will never betray the trust of the public in such a matter again. In the case of KUSD, these strategies are useful in helping to identify the problem and create tools to address these issues. These two elements are important, because they help to identify how written communication can be improved. (Mogel, 1998, pg. 203)

Address legal implications of PR and PA campaigns.

The legal implications for the KUSD would be: the increased risk of litigation and the possible increased scrutiny from regulators. Given the fact that the school district lost its accreditation and there was a public termination dispute, means that the odds have increased for a wave of lawsuits. This could involve everything ranging from misrepresenting the school district to possible civil rights accusations. At the same time, KUSD will more than likely see increased scrutiny from regulators because of what occurred. These two issues are problematic, because they can prevent the PR / PA campaigns from being as effective as possible. With these two issues constantly reminding the public of what occurred. The key is to eliminate these legal implications, so that a change in perceptions can occur. (Sriramesh, 2003, pg. 538)

Summarize the public's right to know vs. personal privacy.

In America, there is a balance between the public's right to know and personal privacy. Where, private citizens are allowed to have a certain amount of privacy in their lives. If someone makes statements / claims that are not true, they can be sued for liable. This is when someone is printing or damaging the reputation of an individual, through what they write or claim. The right to know is when the issue will involve a public figure or someone who holds their lives out before the public (such as: elected officials or celebrities). Under the law, these people are not protected under liable provisions. The reason why is: there is a balance in maintaining the right of the public to know what is happening, while preventing private citizens from having their lives exposed to the public. In the case of KUSD, they violated the public's right to know, by not disclosing the issues with the Superintendant once they found out. In this aspect, all of the board members and the Superintendant would be… [END OF PREVIEW]

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