The oil industry is developing on a quotidian basis and is becoming a vital driver of the worldwide economy. The public and community relations constantly face herculean challenges- both internal and external- that need to be dealt very carefully and strategically. Today, the oil industry operated differently, with the management of these companies not being solely reported to stockholders but to wider range including stockholders but also employees and the community where it operates. Consequently, the role of public relations has increased within this industry and this great shift in paradigm on the understanding of how the oil companies operate makes it quite vulnerable and open to crisis. The role of the public relations personnel as the spokespeople of the oil companies is of paramount importance and they have a crucial duty to perform in order to be constantly alert, responsive, turning crisis into opportunities, maintain corporate governance and ensure robust community relations. Public relations are a profession that is emergent- developed from the 19th century- rapidly expanding during the 20th century. Harlow (1976), gathered 472 definitions of the word Public Relations to summarize it in one single paragraph which is as follows:
‘’ Public relations is a distinctive management function which helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communication and understanding, acceptance and cooperation between an organisation and its publics; involves the management of problems or issues; helps management to keep informed on and responsive to public opinion; defines and emphasises the responsibility of management to serve the public interest; helps management keep abreast of and effectively utilise change, serving as an early warning system to help anticipate trends; and uses research and ethical communication techniques as its principal tools. ‘’ (Wilcox et al, 2003:7)
Since then, many attempts have been made to define PR, some involving the words ‘’ art’’ and ‘’ social science ‘’ but the definition obtained by the IPR in 1987 is quite useful, stating :
‘’ Public relations is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and understanding between an organisation and its publics ’’
According to Mcelreath (1996), two roles are commonly found in PR: technician and problem-solver. It is however not very easy to draw limits between these two roles. Indeed, for instance, a good media release- a form of PR- should incorporate current media practices and channels but a public affairs adviser would also need a range of technical skills, including writing. According to senior practitioners the main activities can be divided into four. Firstly, building immaterial assets (organisation culture, brands, reputation.), secondly facilitating business processes (generating public attention, influencing customer’s preference..), thirdly adjusting organisational strategies ( integrating public concerns, identifying opportunities) and finally securing room for manoeuvre ( managing crises and relationships). The table below outlines more the tasks and activities involved in PR.
Marketing is the entire system of developing products or services and communicating their benefits to customers to entice them to make purchases. Public relations is a component of a company's marketing plan which emphasizes the promotion of goodwill with the public and support of the company image (IPRb, 2012). In order to win the clients’ trust and earn credibility, oil companies to depend greatly on marketing strategists but they also rely heavily on PR specialists as in today’s world there is fierce competition and PR is the positive medium between potential clients and organisations. PR is very importance for the success of a business. Firstly, PR is much more than just promotion. Indeed, while marketing is primarily focussed on promotion of a specific product/service, PR is...
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