Reputation management concept is paramount to all organization. This concept reveals the impression that people and other organizations have on a particular organization. Many scholars have postulated that the chief role of public relations should be reputation management of an organization (Phillips, 2006). This brings about a debate whereby other scholars argue that this should not be the central focus of public relations. Those who antagonize the view that reputation management is the chief role of public relation contend that PR functions should be more of relationships management and not reputation management in an organization. However, reputation management concept cannot be relegated even if an organization is not in the spotlight of the media (Heath & Cousino, 1990, 16).
This paper presents an outlook on the concept of reputation management. It also evaluates the roles of public relations in contemporary organizations in order to assess whether reputation management takes a critical stance in public relations. Moreover, the paper will evaluate whether there is a link between reputation management and other aspects of public relations. The discussions in this paper concerning public relations will also pay attention to their input especially in assisting am organization accomplish its goals such as marketing goals (Kruckenberg, & Starck, 1988).
What reputation management means
Reputation management is generally defined as the process of tracking an organization’s actions as well as the other organization’s opinion about those actions. In short, reputation management is a concept that entails understanding people’s or firm’s reputation and tracking their actions in order to have a positive impact on their repute (Jones, 2002, 50). Resnick argues that reputation has to do with what other people think about other people or something (2004, 36).
Therefore, it is basically centred on external perceptions as well as conventions. Some scholars argue that even though it is seen to be intangible, it has a tangible value which can be assessed. In a nutshell, reputation management scrutinizes how an organization executes its duties in order to support its behaviour with public expectations as well as demands. Every organization should focus on reputation management irrespective of their size. There are three types of reputation management namely; building, maintenance and recovery (Resnick, 2004, 34).
Building reputation management is involved in developing an organization’s repute especially when an entity has just begun its operations. At that juncture, it is paramount that an organization builds a good reputation in order to be on a competitive edge. Maintenance is a reputation management firm that is concerned with keeping a superior image of an organization in the public eye ( Rosa, 2005, 102).
Entities that are already established focus more on the maintenance of their reputation. Recovery is a reputation management category whereby an organization that had tarnished reputations due to certain rationale tries to recover its reputation. Through marketing and self-promotion, organizations try to hide their bad reputation and convince the public that the organization is still the best (Kruckenberg & Starck, 1988, 130).
Coman (2001, 68) demonstrates six dimensions of an organization’s reputation. They include emotional appeal, which deals with evaluating whether the entity has a special place in the hearts of people, product and services that tries to evaluate whether the entity’s products and services are of high quality and high performance, financial performance whereby the organization tries to evaluate whether it has achieved financial success, Social responsibility whereby an organization tries to improve its self-image through participation in community work, work responsibility whereby it evaluates whether employees are considered to be the most influential people to the public and vision and leadership whereby an organization evaluates whether it is charting a course for itself and for the society as well (Heath & Cousino, 1990, 8).
Coman (2001, 23) states that this role is arguably the most important in the field of public relations. There is no organization that would risk ruining its reputation. Scholars argue that reputation cannot be build overnight but failure can. Reputation management becomes an effective role that companies through their public relations maintain crises management and maintenance of good image (Kruckenberg, Dean & Starck, 1988, 67-76). A closer evaluation of other roles reveals some aspect of reputation management. Therefore, it is a role that is embedded in other roles that public relations perform.
A brief overview of the contemporary organization
The world is undergoing adjustments constantly. Therefore, current organizations are prone to various disputes as well as conflict states. This calls for a complex approach as well as techniques that involve image management in order to enhance success for an organization. Such approaches are only sustained by an invariable need for individualization and upholding an excellent self-image (Kent, & Taylor, 2002).
Pricopie, Dragos (2005, 89) contend that public relation has become paramount in the contemporary organization as the modern world undergoes technological and scientific expansion. The society has become very complex and there are various economical, political and social transformations that organizations are facing as they make effort to attain market supremacy, acquire more customers and gain more followers. This has lead to increased recognition of the public relation role in such organizations (Pricopie, 2005, 90).
Roles of public relations in contemporary organizations
Public relation involves a complex method as well as techniques that concerns the management of the image and the success of various activities that the organizations undertake (Verc & others, 2001, 384). It is worth to note that in this dynamic world, contemporary organizations are characterized by diversity, interdependence on various socio-economical points as well as prone to various disputes. As a result, the role of public relation has emerged to be very essential in such organizations (Kennan and Hazleton, 2006, 320). Therefore public relation is very useful in every organization. Among the most important public relations’ roles include;
Pricopie (2005, 78) agreed that public relations facilitate reputation management in an organization. Public relations professionals take proactive roles in coaching as well as helping the management to come up with strategies that would build, maintain or recover the reputation of the company (Iacob & Cismaru, 2003, 134).
In order to understand the role of public relations in management of reputation, this case study will evaluate several strategies that Wal-Mart, Inc undertook in order to improve its image to the public (Pricopie, 2005, 35-38). This entity was involved in a negative press concerning its internal operations as well as its products that negatively affected the public perception. It was accused of offering inferior products and having wrangles in its management. However, the company through its public relations department embarked on an aggressive strategy that involved the use of various media outlet in order to furnish its reputation (Pricopie, 2005).
Building a relationship
Among the very important roles of public relations is building up a relationship. Managing relationship between the organizations and the public is very, which is a duty that is undertaken by the public relations specialists. It involves relationship building, as well as management. Through various corporate social responsibilities as well as participating in various community events such as lobbying, the public relation departments build a good relationship between the public and the organization. This is a form of marketing and it also helps the organization to gain trust from the public (Heath & Associates, 1988, 283).
Fundamental public relation theories centred on various assumptions as well as practical experiences have established that PR plays a very important role in coordinating the present time. Public relations try to influence, win the trust of the target, convey information as well as receive a positive response from the targets even when an organization has limited resources (Heath & Cousino, 1990, 16).
Communication within any organization, either between the employees and the managers or vice versa constitutes an essential part of PR research. Through effective communication, a better understanding prevails as well as execution of the job demands, that is, there exist an effective way in which the staff’s demands are settled (Rogojinaru, 2005, 88).
It is important to note that public relations contribute immensely to the good of both the organization and the general public. This means that the organization’s interest must also support the desires of the public. Kennan, William and Hazleton (2006, 67) claim that trust in what an organization offers and the quality of its employees eventually changes the support as well as the sympathy of the public towards the actions of an organization. Other times, an organization may be faced with crises. In such circumstances, public relations set in to coordinate crisis resolution (Pricopie, 2005)
It is commonly recognized that public relations can be used to adjust an organization for better especially in the contemporary world. Resnick, Jeffrey ( 2004,34) argue that PR helps in making changes for both the public interest as well as the interest of the entity especially on those behaviour aspects which have special social significance. Public relations usually contact the public directly or through the use of other means such as emails and media communication (Rogojinaru, 2005).
Public relations professionals are actively involved in community activities, events such as fundraising events as well as lobbying. All these actions win the organization public trust which makes them loyal to the products and services it provides. In coordinating various activities, public relation also gets feedback from the community (Pricopie, 2005, 35-38). This significantly enables the organization to measure its efficiency. Therefore, public relation can be said to be very effective in creating a link between an organization and societies at different levels. This makes it clear that contemporary organization may not function effectively without the public relations specialists who manage public image (Coman, 2001).
Communication and management role
Public relations specialists assist the managers to gain awareness concerning the attitudes as well as behaviours so that they can make the right decisions. In addition to that, public relations professionals inform the public about specific characters of the organization, avails information concerning the quality of the employees in the organization, informs people concerning the services an entity offers as well as availing information about the objectives to the stakeholder (Nelson, 2002, 228).
For the PR to perform the two-way communication it must be centred on the public perception insurance of the entire organization, development and safeguarding of particular principles that include; brands and logos, earnestness as well as eagerness to contract partners as we well as serving the customers, quality of the issued documents, a continuation of the business communication process especially between executives and other managing units and lobbying activities among others(Heath & Associates, 1988). Basically, most of the public relations specialists are concerned with maintaining the image of the organization, a role that seems to tally with reputation management (Pricopie, 2005).
Public relation also undertakes the management role as well. In the verge of undertaking this role, public relation usually analyzes the response of the public and develops communication approaches that would enable the organization to gain trust from the society (Pricopie, 2005, 66). In addition to this, public relation specialists also have the role of ensuring that the profits of the organizations increase and they emphasize on the positive effects of an organization, especially on its long-term preoccupation. Since every organization endeavours to increase its profit, there is the need to have effective communication to all the groups of people in order to have control over its future. Public relations are usually used in diverse areas in order to assist in capacity development in order to resist situations that are unwarranted (Salincik, Gerald, & Meindl, 1984, 340).
Marketing the organization
Given the situation of an ever-increasing competition which requires detailed knowledge of the market, knowledge about the customers who are potential and gaining trust, it is clearer than the public relations have a stake in the organizations (McKie & Toledano, 2008, 316). Organizations, therefore, require advertising in order to promote goods as well as services. An ever-growing dilemma of Sustaining as well as developing products and commercial activities requires a high level of approaches for an organization to emerge the top, which requires public relations assistance (Heath & Cousino, 1990, 16).
Heath, Robert, & Cousino (1990, 54) argues that public relations specialists have the duty to manage, avoid, control and conflicts that may arise as the organization is seeking expansion. Expansion, especially in an organization that participates in the foreign markets may present several conflicts due to the difference in public opinion (Clark, 2000, 372).
The public relation of an organization, therefore, tries to establish the image of the entity for the common good of the public as well as the organization. When the organizations start to producing products that involve the utilization of new technologies, there is a need to make sure that the customers are in customers are informed about the availability and quality of the product. Through PR, organizations are able to aggressively promote and distribute their products to customers. This is a great contribution that PR makes to the marketing of the company (Pricopie, 2005).
Reputation management seems to be the central role of the public relationship whether the organization is involved in the media or not. All organizations endeavour to earn trust and influence from the public. Therefore, organizations through the public relations departments are actively involved in formulating strategies that would earn a positive public image. Reputation management needs to be an ongoing process in any organization in order to ensure that a good image is maintained. It is often said that perception is truth and therefore, PR must be involved at all cost to ensure that the public holds a positive perception of an organization. Reputation management has emerged the most vital or all roles that the PR performs. More importantly, it seems to be a role that is embedded in others.
Reputation management role tally with relationship building role since it is building good relationships that an organization is able to improve its public image.
Strategic communication is a very key feature of any organization since it seeks to evaluate customers’ perceptions as well as the values in the verge of determining the most appropriate ways that the organizations may use in order to influence those customers. Public relations specialists play a major role in strategic communication in interacting with the public in order to understand and change the beliefs and the perceptions of people held by the public in favour of the entity’s image.
It is worth noting that through the execution of these roles, organizations are able to market themselves through public relations.
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