ITL #107 Corporate public relations in Latin America: building committed and fruitful stakeholder alliances8 years ago
Due to the professionalisation and maturity achieved by PR in the Latin American region, the discipline has become a communicational paradigm ever closer to the leadership of the corporations, with a strong influence on core business goals. By Amybel Sánch
Contemporary events like economic globalism, multiculturalism and the diversification of markets have impacted deeply on the nature of public relations. Audiences are more demanding and selective than they were in the past.
Faced by often highly competitive and complex scenarios, PR practitioners are committed to designing and establishing the bases to differentiate an organisation’s culture and a reputation from those of its competitors. In so doing, the intention is often to position the organisation favourably and to positively influence consumer preferences. Although in our digital world with its limitless access to information, we might better refer to the increasingly knowledgeable and proactive people we communicate with as ‘prosumers’.
As a communications tool, public relations has a role to play in measuring and analysing quantitatively the perceptions of stakeholders. By improving the feedback channels between companies and citizens – for example in sensitive commercial sectors such as mining – public relations can avert or diminish social crises.
Robust strategic planning makes it possible to establish the communications goals that enable public relations to deal with a number of social issues with great success. By taking a conciliatory approach to the different agents and actors who participate in debates (communities, local authorities, NGOs, opinion leaders, etc.) it is possible to arrive at a common understanding and reach further agreements for the benefit of the parties concerned.
Therefore, the monitoring and detailed study of social groups is a crucial task for PR practitioners. The results obtained serve to design communicational actions aimed at providing credibility to the messages of the corporations. Reputations can be nourished through the provision of genuine and meaningful facts.
There are numerous reliable perspectives and opinions concerning public relations. Most of the specialist literature corresponds to the important management role of PR inside companies and is focused on analysis, advisory and the execution of communication programmes. In addition, there are other functions that emphasize the consensus and the integration of an organisational philosophy related to the welfare of the stakeholders.
Inside the post-industrial scenario, public relations is not only responsible for spreading a positive image of the company. At present, it seeks to promote an organisational identity (participating in society, producing specific and profitable changes to it) through the practice of an outstanding corporate citizenship. It is possible to preserve motivation, integration and good relationships among the members of a corporation through the consolidation and spread of an organisational culture (based on the study of and feedback from different groups).
Considering the aforesaid, the essential target of PR is to link and preserve a favourable public environment to the organisational activities. Alliances with communities are not only exclusively sustained by social responsibility programmes but also by credibility and corporate reputation developed over time, and the visible accomplishments perceived by citizens.
The dangers of distance
In this dynamic and participative context, public relations is stated as an essential component of corporate leadership. The integration of PR practitioners to the main corporate decisions enables the development of common-vision strategies of communication, as well as a more realistic approach between the management and the stakeholders, which may be expressed in more committed and fruitful alliances with diverse communities.
Currently, those PR practitioners who remain distant from the executive line of their companies may struggle to meet the demands of their jobs in an efficient and successful way.
The Latin American business world understands that public relations is not a dispensable and ‘decorative’ area of a company. Even though in the beginning, knowledge and implementation of PR was considered to be of secondary importance, now it assumes a key position. The responsibility to undertake quantitative research into target publics and to assess the impact of previously executed programmes is increasingly entrenched. Projects are developed according to the requirements of the environment, or to be in line with certain circumstances.
The future of public relations points to the strengthening of a business philosophy devoted to the complete understanding by a company of its publics and the constructive social development of corporations. Its mediating role with communities contributes to raising trust in the business world.
By demonstrating trust and commitment to citizens in general, public relations can nourish the feeling of integrity and goodwill towards the investments made by both local and foreign companies in developing countries. Such investments help increase employment, maintain macroeconomic stability and ensure progress.
Dr. Amybel Sánchez is IPRA President for 2015. An IPRA member for eight years, she has been the representative member of the Latin American Chapter since 2010.
Currently, Dr. Sánchez serves as the Director of the Research Institute of the Professional School of Communication Sciences at Universidad de San Martín de Porres in Lima, Peru. She holds a PhD and MA in Communication and Public Relations. Her publications focus on the evolution of Public Relations in Peru within both an academic and professional context. As part of her contribution to the development of PR and communications, she serves as a jury member for several local and foreign associations.
Dr. Sánchez believes that an ever closer relationship between the business world and the academic community is essential in sharing knowledge and improving society.
Dr. Amybel Sánchez is IPRA President for 2015. An IPRA member for eight years, she has been the representative member of the Latin American Chapter since 2010.mail the author
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