A Public Relations Department has the role of communicating information to anyone that may have an interest in or opinion about a company. Some definitions state that it is a process that builds a relationship with the public. Often people think of Press Releases when they think of a Public Relations department. In a way the Public Relations Department helped to confirm the concept of a Corporate held Emotional Intelligence (ChEI). Emotional Intelligence is Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Relationship Awareness and Relationship Management.
If a firm has a Relationship Management function (Public Relations Department) then one has to assume that it is Relationship Aware. This comprises half the components of ChEI. The other half is confirmed by the fact that companies have systems, procedures and policies all of which are designed to help Self-Manage. Again, if a firm is wanting to Self-Manage then it must be Self-Aware.
If ever there is a need for ChEI then it is in the area of Public Relations. The idea of creating noise through a Press Releases has to be carefully thought out. It must come with a high degree of relationship awareness which includes empathy. When you release something to the press so that you get coverage what is your aim? Do you have something genuine to offer, to say, that will build trust and a connection with your public? Or is it manipulation along the lines of all press is good press.
The need for Public Relations is greater than ever. The sales and marketing environment is in a low trust state. Businesses must be more personal, they must build connections. A Public Relations Department is no longer just managing the relationship it now needs to humanise the firm to the public, again not in a manipulative manner. In humanising a firm, we recognise that a firm can have flaws. I have friends that have flaws, and most would have less flaws than me but are they less of a friend because of these flaws? Did Cricket Australia have empathy with the public when they announced their reaction to the ball tampering? Did they work on that friendship they have with me when the Director of the Board refused at first to stand down? There was trust that was broken, there was a connection that was tested and a relationship that was damaged. If as a friend, Cricket Australia readily admitted they screwed up then as a “Public” I would have said right, no worries. Now I am more sceptical, and it will take longer because I have more of a relationship with Big Bash than I do with the Australian Team because I don’t pay to have access to the One Day International matches.
Consider viewing your Public Relations department as a Relationship Management department and actively consider and anticipate your relationship status. The difference between Public Relations and Relationship Management is subtle. It should not be a department that speaks at the public rather it will have to create a two-way relationship between the firm and stakeholders. It has to make the firm real, more human. It will require a degree of Corporate held Emotional Intelligence. It will have to have empathy and create a trust connection if it is going to be effective.