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The Concept of Publics in Public Relations.

The Concept of Publics in Public Relations.
The Concept of Publics in Public Relations.

When we talk about publics in public relations, we are looking at any group that has an actual or potential interest or impact on an organization’s ability to achieve its objective.

Although the term publics is often used, there are in fact many publics or specific audiences within the general public. These publics respond in different ways so they must be considered separately and often communicated to differently. We have internal and external publics, Traditional and future publics, proponents and opponents.

To begin, the general public is likened to citizens of a country. The word “General” defines itself constituting persons from every nook and cranny of a country. They are the reason for an organizations establishment because they have a need for which the organization seeks to satisfy by providing goods and services. Some organizations extend their services to other parts of the country by setting up branches. Mostly these organisations are state owned like Ghana Commercial Bank, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Electricity Company of Ghana and Ghana Water Company limited.

Internal and external publics – Your internal publics are those who work with you in your organisation (employees) or are inside the organisation contributing to its productivity. The external is those outside the organisation; they could be one’s customers, suppliers, the media, neighbouring organizations or entities who one way or the other contributes to the organizations growth. It is important to note that not all external publics may necessarily be important to an organization.

Traditional and future publics – Traditional publics are those publics who are currently with an organisation or are presently available like one’s employees, customers and neighbouring organisations. Future public’s concern itself with those publics an organisation will come across in years to come. It is also known as anticipatory publics. An example is that of armed robbers who currently might not attack an organisation but is anticipated by the organisation of their potential presence therefore plans are taken towards them. In another, it could be that some community members resent an organisations building; a new office near the local school. This is a creation of a public that has identified an issue, understand its relevance to them, talk about it and take a decision to do something about it. An alert PR practitioner communicates with these group very early in the process, perhaps even before they become organized.

Proponents and Opponents - Your proponents are those publics who support you on a particular course or are for you. In other words, in favour of your course or are for you. For example, sympathizers of the New Patriotic Party are publics in favour of the party’s course or are for the party. Your opponents are those publics who are against you and your course. In other words, they are not for you or are not in favour of you. Sympathizers of the National Democratic Congress are not in favour or for the course of the New Patriotic Party (The two largest political parties in Ghana). Your opponents could also be your competitors from other organizations who do not share in your vision. For example, MTN, Vodafone, Glo and AirtelTigo are four different competing telecommunications networks in Ghana. 

In dealing with one’s publics, there are some key things to note and they are as follows:

  • Identify key publics
  • Establish and maintain relationships with them
  • Develop communication appropriate to each public
  • Be sensitive to feedback from your publics
  • Use appropriate media to disseminate information to your publics
  • Develop strategies to deal with each identified public

Your comments and views are welcome in the comments section below. And for further consultation or questions, please email to hrforumonline@gmail.com.

Also Read: The Curse of the Spin in Public Relations.

Source: HR Forum Media 

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