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Public relations are one of the integral parts that is considered by the businesses with the purpose of building on efficient terms and relations with the customers while empowering communication on the go. PR supports in developing trustworthy relation between the businesses and its audiences through transparency of communication (Edwards 2018). Therefore, it might be stated that PR is one of the integral parts that is managed by organizations with the purpose of influencing their overall growth and development in the global compet9oiitive markets. In this connection, the discussion would include whether PR can be termed as a profession and the major challenges along with interventions that might be considered by the PR experts in the 21st century. The purpose for the discussion would be to identify the aspects of PR and the manner in which the challenges that are faced can be strategically mitigated.
PR as a profession
PR is not considered as a profession although it has been observed through different current literature and studies that different traits of professionalism is getting induced in PR. According to Ferguson (2018), PR or marketing are full of hardworking and creative people but the insufficiency of the professional attitude among the people has been one of the major factors that limited the scope of PR, demonstrating itself as a profession. The inefficiency of defining PR and the prospects or the type of operations that is expected out of a person has significantly limited the scope of PR in becoming a profession. The continuous changes in the client requirements, the business environments and the like has significantly limited the scope of PR in making its emergence as a profession while addressing the definite sets of doubts among the people.
The activities of the PR experts changes consistently based on the continuous change in the market trends which is again an important aspect that has restricted the enforcement of rigidity in the operations, unlike most other professions. According to Kent and Li (2020), profession is problematic in case of implementing the same in PR as it is more subjective whereas the ideas and aspects of PR are largely based on improving the marketing capabilities, increasing communication and influencing market growth for the businesses. Therefore, it might be stated that PR is not a profession, although some of the professional factors are lately arising out of PR which has been empowering its magnanimity.
Challenges faced by PR in the 21st century
The growth and continuous evolution of different communication platforms and media vehicles has significantly increased the capability of the people in accessing and assessing information. Moreover, the increased involvement of the different media vehicles like the social and digital media channels has been affecting the capability of the PR professionals in improving their focus. Gregory and Halff (2020) stated that the increase in the media channels has resulted to noise which has been creating confusions and controversies in the minds of the PR professionals. Most of the companies, around the world, are feeding in more and more information and claims in different social and other media vehicles which might dominate over the claims that are made by the small and medium businesses. The increase in the noise has been affecting the capability of the PR professionals of an organization in attracting the attention of the appropriate target audience while positioning the offerings that are being made by the business (Sutherland et al. 2020). For an instance, an organization is planning to utilize PR with the purpose of making the target audience aware of their unique type of proposition, but their intension of keeping the people aware of their new products are subdued by the declarations and claims that are made by the other businesses of the same industry.
The increased noise in the different social media and other media channels affects the capability of the PR in empowering the cause of their operations while addressing the strategic needs and requirements of the businesses. Lemon and Palenchar (2018) stated that the development of an organization’s marketing activities are specifically reliant on the PR strategies. In this connection, it has been observed that the increasing amount of noise and claims in the different media platforms and vehicles has created confusions and jargon making the information made by businesses hard to find by the audience or the customers. In most situations, the messages made by PR experts does not reach the intended audience while penetrating through all the existing and new claims or declarations that are made by the other businesses which might result to insufficiency of conversions (Gregory and Halff 2017). Therefore, the increase in the noise is an important aspect that has been affecting and limiting the scope of the PR experts while operating as per the strategic intents of the businesses.
Moreover, it has been observed that the incapability of the PR in measuring the success rates and conversions might be considered as an important concern that might limit the development and growth of a business. It has been observed that the PR experts operate on the live feedbacks that are made by the audience while working on the same in order to build on a relation between the businesses and the customers. According to Jelen-Sanchez (2017), the small and medium scale enterprises encounter severe concerns in measuring the success factors and the conversion rates in the multiple channels and thereby they are required to hire third-party tracking programs, which increases the cost of their operations.
Third party tracking programs such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Adobe Analytics has been empowering the capability of the businesses in improving their measurement of the success factors the multiple channels. However, the increased cost of the services that are provided by the third party programs has been acting as a restrictive factor towards the development of PR activities for the SME businesses. on the other hand, the large MNE businesses has been realizing an increase in their profitability and returns through the analytics which again dominated over the position of the SME firms (Gesualdi 2019).
Lastly, the PR professionals have been encountering an increased concern due to the emergence of two ways PR in the 21st century. Earlier, PR used to be a one way communication process where the organizations used to communicate their new propositions and future listings while making the customers aware of the different unique benefits that are being offered by the same. Cardwell, Williams and Pyle (2017) stated that traditionally the objective of the organizations through PR was to make the target audience aware of their distinguished propositions.
However, with the change in times and the development in the communication platforms, availability of networks, improvement in technologies and the emergence of different media vehicles, PR emerged as a two ways communication. The customers take the initiative of raising their queries, escalating their concerns and providing feedbacks through the PR, back to businesses. It has been observed that the feedbacks and the reviews has been the source of continuous improvement in the businesses.
However, it has been observed that the businesses and the PR experts has been finding it difficult to review and address every query or escalation of the target audience. The purpose of utilizing PR by an organization is to improve the degree of relation between the business and the customers. However, in certain specific situations it has been observed that the business owners and the PR experts of the businesses significantly fail to address all the queries and the escalations of the intended audience which might take a toll on the reputation and the brand image of the businesses.
The incapability of the businesses and the PR experts in connecting and establishing efficient relation with the audience has been an increasing concern that limited the scope of the PR activities. Avidar (2017) stated that the objective or aim of a PR activity is to establish effective links between a customer and the businesses. However, the changing business scenario and the complexities in using multiple channels or media vehicles has been acting as an important aspect towards curbing the capability of the businesses in facilitating two ways PR communication.
Strategic interventions for overcoming the challenges
Strategic interventions play an important part in reducing the negative impacts while improving the growth prospects. The major strategic interventions that might be implemented by the PR experts in order to overcome the challenges are being identified in this section of research.
Developing appealing contents:
Contents play an important role in the PR and strategic marketing activities of an organization. It has been observed that creative contents support a PR expert in attracting the attention of the target audience towards the range of propositions despite the noise in the media channels. Gregory and Fawkes (2019) opined that mostly people are attracted towards the content while trusting on testimonials rather than claims. In this connection, the creation of contents on the basis of the type of audience ‘while maintaining the appealing factor might be considered as an important strategic intervention that might be considered by the PR experts. modern day businesses are setting up high performance teams with the purpose of developing engaging contents which would support the businesses in attracting the interests of the target audience in spite of the jargon and noise in the different media channels. It has been observed that the content writers create contents in accordance with the preferences and interests of the intended target audience. In this connection, it has been observed that the nature of change in the organizational operations is backed by the development and growth of effective contents which would attract and retain the attention of their target audience.
Improving relations with the intended audience:
Building on a trustworthy relation with the target audience is again an important aspect that might be considered by the PR experts through transparency of communication. Yang and Saffer (2019) opined that transparency of communication allows a PR professional in improving the scope of inter- trustful relation between the customers and the business owners. Transparency of communication through immediate responses to the review messages and acknowledgement of the feedbacks and the escalations would allow the business owners and the PR practitioners in developing efficient relation with the intended target audience. It has been observed that in most cases, the businesses fail to develop strategic communications while responding to the customer queries or acknowledging their escalations which might lead to dissatisfaction among the intended audience. In this connection, the PR experts and the business owners must take the initiative of developing proactive response sessions with utmost responsibility towards maintaining transparency of communication with the purpose of improving relations with the customers.
Getting noticed by the target audience:
Businesses and PR experts must make use of wider range of media vehicles and channels with the purpose of widening their scope of availability to the intended audience. The utilization of a varied range of platforms supports a PR expert in maintaining availability while increasing the awareness of the target audience through repeated telecast of the brand offerings and the other propositions that are made by the businesses. Johnston and Sheehan (2020) stated that repeated telecast of the propositions creates a deep impact in the minds of the target audience while influencing their trust and commitment towards the propositions that are offered by the businesses. On the other hand, the utilization of wider range of vehicles also support the business owners and the PR experts in widening their scope of reaching out to their target audience in different parts of the world.
Therefore, from the above assessment it might be stated that PR cannot be termed as a profession due to the lack of subjective characteristics. The discussion identified different challenges that might be encountered by the PR experts while suggesting different recommended activities through which the challenges might be resolved. The overall research identified the challenges and strategic interventions that might be considered by PR experts in the 21st century with emerging technologies and developments in the communication channels.
Avidar, R., 2017. Public relations and social businesses: The importance of enhancing engagement. Public Relations Review, 43(5), pp.955-962.
Cardwell, L.A., Williams, S. and Pyle, A., 2017. Corporate public relations dynamics: Internal vs. external stakeholders and the role of the practitioner. Public Relations Review, 43(1), pp.152-162.
Edwards, L., 2018. Understanding public relations: Theory, culture and society. Sage.
Ferguson, M.A., 2018. Building theory in public relations: Interorganizational relationships as a public relations paradigm. Journal of Public Relations Research, 30(4), pp.164-178.
Gesualdi, M., 2019. Revisiting the relationship between public relations and marketing: Encroachment and social media. Public Relations Review, 45(2), pp.372-382.
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Gregory, A. and Halff, G., 2017. Understanding public relations in the ‘sharing economy’. Public Relations Review, 43(1), pp.4-13.
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Sutherland, K., Freberg, K., Driver, C. and Khattab, U., 2020. Public relations and customer service: Employer perspectives of social media proficiency. Public Relations Review, 46(4), p.101954.
Yang, A. and Saffer, A.J., 2019. Embracing a network perspective in the network society: The dawn of a new paradigm in strategic public relations. Public Relations Review, 45(4), p.101843.
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