Thesis: Theory and Practice

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¶ … business becomes increasingly competitive and global across a "flat" world, the role of the public relations (PR) specialist grows in value to the organization. It is important to have someone closely connected to both the customer needs and to the media to communicate that those needs are being met. PR specialists do 'ore than 'tell the organization's story.' They must understand the attitudes and concerns of community, consumer, employee, and public interest groups and establish and maintain cooperative relationships with them and with representatives from print and broadcast journalism" (Bureau of Labor Statistics). In addition, due to the ever-changing audiences, public relations has also had to expand into new communication vehicles including, as with VSAG (Vucurevich Simons Advisory Group), such as the World Wide Web.

This theory and practice paper on the role of public relations consists of an overview of some of the main principles of the public relations field, the VSAG organization and its communication audience, and the practical results of the application of PR theory to VSAG's PR needs. The latter is based on interviews with PR specialists in VSAG's operation.

It is often forgotten that the formal role of public relations stems back nearly a century (although the concept of PR is probably as old as humans, themselves). In the 1920s, Sigmund Freud's nephew Edward Bernays, often called the "father of PR," combined psychology with testimonials, he significantly altered the behaviors and attitudes until present times. On behalf of his client, the bacon industry, Bernays surveyed 5,000 doctors along with a release that promoted the importance of a nutritious breakfast of eggs and bacon. This meal is still endorsed today (Hutton, 1999).

It comes as no surprise that PR has evolved significantly since the early 1900s. The convergence of consumers, journalists, and PR practitioners is transforming the way that people work, live, and spend their money. No longer do customers take facts at face value. (Keating, 2008). PR specialists need to target their messages to specific audiences and journalists must continually ask validate company claims. This approach is very different than just a decade ago when a standalone product review or company profile in a magazine could alter public views.

Public is most often considered the general population of consumers, but especially with new communication vehicles, the "business-to-business" public has grown considerably in the past couple of decades. Public relations, along with business in general, has also become strategic in nature. A successful organization needs to develop an overall business strategy, mission, vision and goals. Marketing and public relations now fit into this strategy, whereas in the past PR was not considered an integral part of the company. According to Botan (1997, p. 188), "Strategic communication is an emerging term often applied to planned communication campaigns. Although models vary, strategic communication for both business and nonbusiness purposes almost invariably uses research to identify a problem or issue, relevant publics, and measurable goals and objectives." This research helps identify goals, for instance, by defining what the public wants, developing a foundation by which to measure outcomes, or by determining trends, and earlier performance. This strategic communication plan next specifically lists strategies for addressing the relevant problem with a target public and utilizes a variety of measurable ways in which to implement them. Botan (1997, p. 188) present-day PR campaigns are strategic in nature and most public relations specialists deem PR as strategic communication and call themselves strategic communicators.

In the 21st century, with the increased importance on the information society and "information as a product," PR is playing an ever-larger role within organizations Beninger, 1986; Dordick, 1987). Public relations plays an important role in this information age becauser much of the strategic campaigns consist of information and information is the primary vehicle of strategic communication PR campaigns, with information production, dissemination, storage, retrieval, and utilization.

Another newer aspects of public relations is what is called the "demassification" (Williams, Rice & Rogers, 1988) of messages. This particularly consists of customizing or tailoring information for increasingly smaller and more "niche" audiences, which is made easier by several new information technologies including computer-driven online information systems. Individuals are now able to select an exact aspect of information or mix of information and eliminate inefficient over-coverage. Increasingly, for example, in the Internet, there are more Web sites and blogs that pertain to a specific audience rather than an overall general one. Due to their ability to be interactive and meet the needs of small groups of individuals, demassification technologies can facilitate dialogue.

Competitive strategy is primarily concerned with how businesses use this demassification to use resources at their disposal to attain and retain positions of benefit in the marketplace (Rajan & Yadav, 2002). As the number of product markets increase, the competitive landscape for information has evolved from a primary physical marketplace, with newspapers, magazines and other print materials, to one encompassing both the physical and the electronic marketplace. Organizations have had to adjust their communication strategy to use a unique set of skills and resources to maintain their relevance in the volving marketplace.

Business-to-business public relations is not significantly different in the techniques used from PR with consumers, but primarily in their application. Targeted publics are usually much smaller and each separate individual approached within that public can sometimes be targeted uniquely. Further, the reasons for the purchasing choices are professional, instead of personal. Buyers are looking for equipment or services to help them do their job more efficiently or easier, or to ease the procedures for others. PR has to reach all members of the company who add to a buying decision, sometimes referred to as a Buying Decision Unit (BDU). People are still consumers, and many of them are not very technically minded, apart from their own field (Theaker, 2004, p. 250).

Technology is also changing for public relations professionals, and that technology is being used especially for business-to-business communication. Technological advances in the last quarter of a century have changed many aspects of PR work. Public relations specialists started using computers for word processing, research, and media database management, but also began relying on them for public relations programming, evaluation and training. New technology brought the Internet, teleconferencing and satellite video feeds.

Because of all the new types of technology, it is necessary to choose which of either the traditional or newer electronic communication vehicles are best for meeting the PR needs of the company. All these choice make choosing a PR tactic more complex and difficult. For instance, a company that wishes to communicate its marketing efforts with and for another business can use print materials, the Web, teleconferences, email or videoconferences. On the Website itself, it can use video, sound, animation and interactive devices. New technologies have made former ways of organizing what PR specialists do outdated.

For this paper, it was necessary to interview the principles and PR specialist of VSAG, which realized that it needed a new way of communicating with its public -- the restaurants and fresh-food markets, hotel and hospitality firms and retail concepts. VSAG

VSAG is a food service consulting firm that provides input from full-service concept development to restaurant management contracts, and menu development to hands-on opening support, and all the details in between. They also help to develop new concepts for investors, or build a management training contracts, hands-on support with the menu development.

VSAG recognized that it needed to update and expand its public relations strategy to better reach and meet the needs of its audience. Since the World Wide Web has evolved into an enormous global connector for millions of corporation around the world. The principles recognized it was essential to create a company's website with attracting appeals, open communication channels, and follows best practices of website designing. They turned to the PR specialist in order to develop VSAG's website as a tool that helps build their image. The website has a "Start-Ups and Concept Development" section that interests restaurant entrepreneurs' dream, for example.

VSAG's website has been created to meet the needs of their targeted audience. They have successfully established and provided great ideas, such as "Green and Organic," for their clients and visitors on the site. Also, the VSAG site offers different progressive ideas for clients with different missions. For example, assisting to develop new menu concepts or transforming the staff is only few ideas VSAG offer on their site. The ideas, information, and articles are written swift, short, and clear throughout the site to answer precisely to the reader's questions. VSAG's website could improve on avoiding "clickable links in graphic designs" in the "Talent Acquisition" section.

Company's website is their global image throughout their successes and failures. It is essential to create a site with effective appeals, easy to navigate, and open, efficient communication channels. VSAG's website utilized key elements of effectiveness, proficiency, and usefulness throughout their site. The site offers several sections to appeal prospective clients, such as developing ideas for a new restaurants or outstanding menus. In addition, it… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Theory and Practice.  (2008, December 8).  Retrieved November 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/theory-practice/323692

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https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/theory-practice/323692.