The nature of operations of any company breeds different perspectives and views from its vital stakeholders. It is important to note that the company’s future as well rests on how the management techniques employed implicate these key figures, among them being shareholders, consumers, employees, customers, the surrounding community, and employees, among many others. Some of the current happenings in the world have also cemented the belief for this notion among people and the corporate world. According to Cornelissen (p11), the rampant globalization, financial crises, and strains in the corporate world have all contributed to the much-needed revolution in corporate communication and integrated market communication. The influence exerted by the role of communication in the corporate world has only grown exponentially over the years. The messages garner customer attention to the organizations and model the lives of the intended audiences in terms of product provision, services, symbols, and jobs, as well as the opinions from the market and the stakeholders.
According to Cornelissen, corporate communications can be simply defined as a fragment of management that validates effective coordination by executing a set of guidelines and rules with a general aim of incepting and maintaining desirable reputations and rapport with the vital stakeholders. In the words of Thoger et al. (p19), corporate communications identify with the aspects of the organization’s communication approach with the flexibility to incommode the complex number of functions therein and the sub-disciplines entailed.
However, in contrast to the normal aims of marketing communication, corporate communication has its sights set on managing the totality of communications concerning the corporate. Jackson (p2) clarifies the confusion that corporate communication aims to target a larger audience base but align the organization’s communication undertakings as one entity. It is, thus, put as the need to redefine all the communication activities of a firm under a single perspective.
Historically, the approaches made to organizational communication were closely associated with city-state ordering and the nurturing of a certain character to interact with its citizens, national order establishment, and the stress on openness and change. According to Kemp (p17), there is the belief that the ancient Egyptians were carrying out the careful experience of the world through a disciplined style of art and architecture that has outlived generations. The core in this is to garner an understanding of how the world of societies operates. According to James (p24), Plato used communication to attain political harmony by creating an ideal society. The classes of people, according to him, were as good to the society as their relations. He believed that the producers, auxiliaries, and guardians needed to promote social justice through the fulfillment of each one’s societal role and avoid interfering in any other affairs (Partenie, p25).
In addition to this, the Medieval perspective of organizational communication encompasses the concepts and ideas that are stressed upon following the pre-set rules and codes of moral decency. To create specific conditions to tackle a variation of happenings, the utopian world came into play. St Augustine believed that all human beings are expected to pursue the city of heaven to maintain a proper sense of order. This, according to him, paved the way for the idea of perfect order and true peace.
Consequently, the modern period (between the 1850s-1940s) witnessed an exponential rise in understanding the role of communication on the institutional front. This was also the increase in redefining the perception of the role and tenets of institutional life. However, institutional communication as a discipline did not emerge until the mid-1900s. Despite this, major economic texts had been in play for a long while. Among these include Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Webber, and Walter Lippmann.
Adam Smith incepted the “Wealth of Nations” in 1776. His main argument was to create a free market economy that solely operates on the presets of production and exchange. Although the argument emerged during the period between the Mediaeval and the Modern world, it holds significance because his assertion of the uniqueness in production disparities was valid. He further argued that since the production had different products, minimal government intervention was necessary to free the market.
On the other hand, Karl Marx came up with the labor theory of value, labor-power, the machine, and surplus-value. His argument was based on the belief that the system created was capable of producing enough commodities and proceeds to sell them at prices that would enable them to accumulate the maximum capital. The machines, according to him, worked in favor of the owner while offering no value or rather exploiting the workers. His theory has a far-reaching essence to the labor market and the market dynamics of today. His theory was more inclined to historical materialism, and he believed that the labor hours used to produce a product could be utilized to measure its value. This concept holds up to the current corporate world status.
In addition to this, Weber, in 1905, fronted the protestant ethic on the spirit of capitalism. His main aim was to establish the connection between the Protestant Reformation and Capitalism. He argued that the inception of the protestant reformation gave rise to the capitalist ideas and, ultimately, the economic institutions themselves. His theory thrives in the spirit of capitalism as opposed to the idea of capitalism itself.
Through simple empiricism alone, he paved the way for understanding the intricate connection between capitalism and the reformation. According to his work, he believed that the modernization of the society led to the emergence of complex and intricate organizational units, thus the need for more complicated communication to serve the demand ( Zahay et al. p15).
Besides, the enormous advancement in the industrial revolution led to the rise in consequential corporations in the areas affiliated with the rampant industrialization, such as The United States and the United Kingdom. This called for the advancement in communication where it morphed into professional standards. The corporations saw the need for professional communications experts to provide a smooth exchange with the general public. The professional communications experts proved a more organized and systematic channel of handling the publicity and dealing with their promotions. The level and degree of the advancement that necessitated this communication evolution during the industrial revolution clearly showed that the subsequent advancements would require more effective communication. Thus, this bred the need for clear and concise communication through various skills and campaigns stipulated by the communication experts to garner and maintain support.
Furthermore, Walter Lipmann, in his work “Public Opinion,” stressed the importance of publicity and press experts in corporations. This, he argued, would help modern industrial organizations persuade the general public and boost their products. The shape the firms and corporations assumed in the market and the general public is determined by the vigor in marketing through the communication to the public (Lipmann, p34).
The efforts by these scholars saw a resultant rise in the demand for media and communication experts across the United States and The United Kingdom. This surge in demand for publicists, writers, and other advertising experts was due to the realization of their relevance in gaining and retaining customers. This subsequently led to the creation of the public relations and marketing functions in the corporate world, which has experienced growth and advancement to this very day. The corporate world grew the understanding that to gain control over the market and succeed, the issues affecting the customers and the general public had to be prioritized. Through this, public relations morphed into a situation whereby the organizations had to decide concerning public opinions. This was culminated by the 1923 publication of the book “Crystallizing Public Opinion” by Edward Bernays. In this book, he introduced the notion of a two-way street which explained the communication between a firm and the general public. The revelation in this book provided that the corporation’s public relations were liable for explaining to the customers and the other way around. This aimed to improve the image of public relations from their prejudgment of being manipulative.
On top of this, the IMC’s emergence in the ’80s resulted from the market pressures that gave rise to this. According to Schultz (p6), three development shifts gave rise to this communications model. The development of new communication technologies reshaped the whole business corporate world and the renewed emphasis on the essence of branding as a front for competition. This and many reasons gave rise to the IMC in the corporate spectrum.
The IMC has since taken over as the affirmative method in which the companies promote their products. IMC also puts the priority of communicative importance to the corporates at the maximum. IMC is simply the process through which a company achieves efficient coordination of its communication channels, intending to deliver concise, compelling, and effective communications to the clients on their products.
The first school of thought.
According to the International Public Relations Association, public relations can be best defined as the knack, art, and social science that analyzes trends, predict the outcomes of such trends, offer counsel to the leaders of organizations as well as implementing the planned programs of actions all which are aimed at offering the organization support as well as satisfy the public interest.
In the words of Edward Bernays (p16), public relations is can best be summarized as the information offered to the public from the corporates and firms to create a persuasive front to the customers to modify the attitudes and actions of the customers. The norm also includes the provision that the efforts offered by the corporate are in line to integrate the actions and attitudes between the institution and the customers and vice versa.
Persuasion of attitudes is the core function of public relations to build a desirable public opinion concerning the corporate. In addition to this, communication efforts like marketing and product advertising should be meant to offer the intended customers a glimpse of the qualities and the core values, functions, and goals to the customers so that the general public will know what the company stands for.
However, the outcome of public relations relies on the actions which lead to the resulting social behavior by the business alongside other activities. The action-effect of the public relations on the general public and the related institutions work in a two-way relation. In the contention of public relations, Edward suggested that the profession of public relations gives rise to a common meeting ground for the stakeholders. Besides, he suggested that proper execution of the public relations resume forms a common meeting point for the public and private entities. Though the public relations procedure needed to be backed by the deserving and related actions, that incommode action acknowledgeable to the general public support. On top of this, the whole process made it necessary to educate the public on the intents of the specific actions to get used to them.
The setting of the public relations helps in asserting influence on the general public to build an improved image of the organization. Public relations help build and create firm awareness and offer the related firm a chance to influence internally and externally through the sharing of information to the intended parties. When carried out effectively, public relations aid in the resultant promotion of the organization through communication, defend the organizational reputation in instances where a crisis might occur and maintain a strong frame to the general public. Public relations also offer the firms a chance to have a valid media representation through the news and publicity attained from the efforts in the department. On top of distributing the information about the firms, media presence also affronts the organization a chance to monitor the progress in news coverage directed to the organization.
Besides, public relations have long been utilized in crisis communication on matters affecting the firms, emphasizing sensitive matters. Crisis communication as a fragment of public relations has long been used to clear the various firms’ from various threats to reputation. The exonerations made from the public relations in handling such shortcomings play a pivotal role in maintaining the image of the firms, especially in this current age and time where wrong public perspective from wrong, untimely, and poorly managed information layout could result in the stumbling and the collapse of large, influential corporations.
The rhetorical theory of public relations helps in accounting for the symbolic aspects that communications hold as the roadmap to public relations. With its emergence in the 80s’, the rhetoric has proven important in aiding various organizations to achieve their set goals and targets. Rhetoric additionally aids in assimilating the different perspectives of the business spectrum preceded with affluent and effective co-definitions and co-creations. Rhetoric, therefore, holds affluence over the audience or the intended public relation targets, the purpose of the communication, the medium used, and the context of the shared message.
Besides, public relations use different theories to understand the concept well and make clear connections for its relevance in the corporate world. Among these is the systems theory, situational theory, theories of persuasion and social influence, the diffusion theory, and the social exchange theory. The systems theory, for instance, strives to explain the relation of systems as an interdisciplinary unit within a larger organization. The theory argues that the whole system is greater as compared to the sum of its fragments. The theory thus fronts the suggestion that the professionals are liable in constantly and consistently evaluating their environment, their targets, actions as well as the feedback from the general public to aid in making the decisions and necessary changes to the organization to fit in the environment as well as reach a desired balance within it. The focus put on the interactions between the parts of the organization and corporate entities in question helps in understanding the functioning and predicting and maintaining the outcomes resulting from such relations (Knight et al. p13).
On the other hand, the situational theory of public relations initially fronted by Grunig aids in explaining the activeness and passiveness of the public in different situations following public relations. The theory as fronted can help differentiate and pick out the public who are likely to carry out active or passive communication and why organizational decisions may or may not affect them. In the long run, the theory breaks down the different types of public as the ones who do not face problems from the organizational decisions as non-publics. The public section faces complications from the decisions but lacks the recognition as the latent public and those who face and recognize I as the aware public. In conclusion, the totality of the public who act upon identifying the problem is known as the active public. According to these criteria, the level of involvement is determined by the extent to which the people personally exert themselves in the situation. It, however, lies in the court of the firm to ensure that for the exertion to happen, they must have created the connection to the general public through effective public relations. The theory is important because the active public will help the corporations and firms to identify their problems from public perceptions and rectify them.
The rhetorical theory can also be utilized in accounting for the aspects of communication. This can be regarded as the core activity since public relations only work to relay the necessary information between the public, the business, and vice versa. According to Robert (1980), rhetoric holds the uttermost importance in defining the relationship between the business and its resulting environment. His theoretical approach helped to build upon and support this argument.
Second school of thought.
According to the principles of communication studies, organizational communication is described as the field concerned with the exchange and flow of information in the organization set in a host of roles. Putman (p14) acknowledges that the flow of information could either be formal or informal. As a discipline, organizational communication experienced tremendous evolution at the close of the twentieth century. Although the growth was experienced during this period, the persistent shortcoming to the advancement of the concept in the field has been the complexity in incepting a clear identity of the field. Also, the ongoing changes experienced in large unit organizations in the world have been a stumbling block in the aim of trying to outline the focus and the aim of this communication. In terms of composition and structure, organizational communication is packed as a unit concerned with the desirable interactions between the organizational stakeholders to have a better, healthy, and successful day-to-day execution of the organization’s undertakings. In summary, however, organizational communication is the exchange of similar-goal-attached information to achieve the set goals for a certain organization through the use of approved media and formats as a set and spelled by the organization in question.
Organizational communication takes place through different mediums and methods, and this varies from one organization to another. The traditional communication approach spells that communication is pivotal in the organizational running as it dominates the entirety of businesses and corporates of today’s world. The one way of thinking on the matters affecting the structural organization of a corporate is the system and pathways through which the necessary communication and information flow within a firm. The channel’s perspective, therefore, forms the traditional communications approach of communication. However, formal communication involves the exchange of information over formally and officially recognized mediums designed to aid in information flow within and around the organization. The aspects of formal information are downward communication, upward communication, and horizontal communication, all of which form the presets and incept the essence of communication n a firm. Within a firm, downward communication is the transmission of information from the higher ranks to the lower ranks of an organization. Upward information communication is the reverse of this. Together with horizontal communication, which is the transmission of information within almost the same level functional units of the firm, they all sum up to effective communication and coordination of the activities carried out. Done effectively, they induce better performance and thus the success of any firm or corporate.
The theories that help explain the position, the efficacy, and the efficiency of communications in a firm include the human relations theory and the organizational culture theory. In the organizational culture theory, the beliefs, values, and assumptions of how individuals will behave in a particular system are elaborated. The theory states that the culture of a particular organization is a summation and determinant of the values tagged on a specific set of characteristics such as orientation to risk and detail attention. This is all tagged to the fact that organizations and firms use communication to develop and create unique sets of behaviors, norms, and rituals with the aim of predicting the influence of communication and maintenance of the organizational culture. The theory gives rise to a set of possible cultures that firms can adapt and create. These are the clan culture, adhocracy culture, market culture, and hierarchy culture. The cultures enable the company to gain a personality, which amounts to employee satisfaction. Besides, a strong and detailed company culture tends to attract the right candidates for the job and maintain a positive engagement among the employees. The efforts and time took in building the correct company culture stem from aligning the values to the objective mission ( Holmes et al. p9).
The human relations theory is a school of organizational thought primarily based on the worker’s satisfaction, informal workplace organizations, and in totality, the whole act of influencing the productivity of the employees. The theory is set on the belief that the workers are not interchangeable parts. The theory stresses the fact that people are more likely to opt to be part of a productive team that has its foundation set on supportiveness to attain development and growth. The core components of the theory include the focus on the individuals and workers and the informal workplace organizations. By stating that the workers cannot be treated as interchangeable parts, the theory simply puts it that the workers are not machines. Thus their productivity level will spike with variations in the work environment. This theory by Mayo is basically a summation of motivation in the workplace. The argument was to rule out the stereotype that the workers were simply motivated by pay and not on any factor arising from the relations within the environment in which they found themselves.
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