utor: Dr. Monique Lewis
Tutorial Time: Tuesday, 4-6 p.m.
Exact word count (excluding reference list): 1446words
Public Relations is to build the bridge of effective communication between the organisation and the public. After eight weeks of the lecture and the tutorial, we learnt the knowledge of Public Relations. Then, we earned some experience about Public Relations from the practice-based-scenarios during recent three weeks. Specifically, our scenarios werebased on a fictional construction company, ACME Industries. As the company’s official PR consultancy,we helped ACME to solve the problems. In this reflective essay, I will describe what I have learnt from the assignment including the theories of stakeholders, effects of reputation and the argument of “keeping quiet”. Meanwhile, I will also give the feedback and the improvement of the practice-based-scenarios.
First of all, Karen and I discussed and mapped 10 key stakeholders for ACME Industries in Week 9. According to Freeman’s opinion (Cited in Rawlins, 2006, p.2), “A stakeholder is ‘any group or individual who is affected by or can affect the achievement of an organization’s objectives.” Thus, the theory of stakeholder is an effective method for pursuing the objectives of Public Relations. Furthermore, in order to identify the relationship between stakeholders and ACME Industries, we should categorise the types of stakeholders. Depending on Rawlins’s (2006, p.3) theory, we mapped top ten stakeholders by two methods. In the first method, we separated external publics and internal publics; In the second method, we categorised the stakeholders into the four types: enabling linkages, functional linkages, normative linkages and diffused linkages. Depending on the background of ACME Industries, we defined that ACME Industries was a construction company in Queensland. And it had the achievement of not onlyin environmental area but also in the lasted technology. Therefore, we identified Green Building Council Australia and Department of Industry, Innovation and Science/ Australian Government as external normative stakeholders. Further, we identified Queensland Building and Construction Commission as external normative stakeholder, and Queensland residents as external functional stakeholders . Secondly, However, I cannot ensure that whether all of the government departments arenormative stakeholders or not. Thus, I asked our lecturer Dr. Monique in the Tutorial. She told me the government can be categorised as both enabling stakeholder and normative stakeholder because sometimes the government can make the policy and affect the organisation. Meanwhile, I searched the definition of enabling and normative stakeholders. “The enabling linkages identify stakeholders who have some control and authority over the organization, such as stockholders, board of directors, governmental legislators and regulators, etc.”(Rawlins, 2006, p.4). After understanding the definition of enabling stakeholders, we identified Queensland Department of Environment， Heritage Protection， Queensland Government – Environment, land and water as external enabling stakeholders. On the other hand, CEO of ACME Industries is an internal stakeholder as well and ACME employees are internal functional stakeholders. In addition, diffused stakeholders are social media and traditional local media. After identifying the top ten stakeholders, I read the email about Task Two and added several sentences about stakeholders into the email, whichmade more coherent connection between Task One and Task Two. However, we did not have enough discussions with each other because we assigned the tasks to each one during this week. Thus, I thought we made some mistakes because of the lack of communication, and we should improve next practice-based-scenario.
In Week 10, our team realised the communication problem last week, we decided to discuss the scenario and finish the work together in the tutorial. Firstly, everyone can contribute to exchange individual opinions in the discussion. Then, all decisions were adopted by consensus. We learnt how to share, shoulder responsibility and compromise with each other. Specifically, everyone gave the opinions of the five top stakeholders. Then, after the discussion, we mapped Refugee Support Network (RSN), Government bodies, Wildlife Groups, the CEO Bob Billdar and Local council as the five top stakeholders. Furthermore, I pointed out the conflict between RSN and Wildlife Groups, and they had to solve ethical issues in this dilemma. To specific, ifwildlife groups want to protect endangered species, they may hold the campaign to stop this important humanitarian project. However, if they protect animals, they have to sacrifice refugees’ housing. It is important to do humanitarian project so wildlife group has to face damage rights of refugee. On the other hand, RSN is the counterpart of Wildlife Groups. If RSN perseveres the project, they will damage the rights of wild animals. In addition, according to the Endangered Species Protection Act (1992), if the company continues to build the apartment on the habitat of endangered wildlife, they could be chargedby the government.
Secondly, our suggestion of the email response for the CEO is to be truthful for building the long-term reputation. According to Jaques’s research (2014), “Survey of global business influencers attributed 63% of a company’s worth to its reputation”. Meanwhile, bad reputation will bring directly revenue loss tothecompany. “Reputational losses from a crisis canamount to eight to fifteen per cent of the market values of affected companies” (Fombrun & Van Riel, 2004, p. 38). Therefore, we have to advise that ACME’s CEO Bob Billdar should not encourage the investors who buy ACME’s stock, and should not conceal the truth of illegal issues. According to the point of view from Regester and Larkin, “As society becomes less tolerant of companies that do not conform to social and environmental standard, the risks to reputation are much greater” (2008, p.79). As an advanced environmental company, ACME should use truthful tactics to deal with the problem of wildlife in order to keep long-term market values and company’s reputation. To open communication with all of the stakeholders will be a milestone of sustainable development for dealing with the case of endangered wildlife. Furthermore, using bribery techniques on the local council will dramatically damage the origination’s reputation if people diffuse the information. Hence, in order to uphold the ACME’s reputation as an intangible asset, we strongly believed that keeping upthe reputation could bring long-term trust and supportinstead of short-term benefits. In addition, from my personal perspective, we may just make some mistakes on mapping the top five stakeholders. Further, we can re-consider to map the stakeholders through the way of categorising stakeholders.
In addition, we had to discuss and make decision immediately because we only had two hours for the response of the crisis situation in Week 11. We were pushed for time in the beginning, but we conquered itwith fairly good organising and planning. Thus, we decided to discuss and work together as same as the way that we did last week. The scenario was to deal with that the CEO Mr. Billdar has been embezzling funds. In this situation, usually we should have two methods to cope with it. Firstly, we can keep quiet and attempt to close down diffused information. Secondly, we will take an open and transparent response to the stakeholders. Depending on Regester and Larkin’s perspective, it usually suggests Public Relations consultancies telling all to publics, telling fast to publics and telling truthfully to publics. But lawyers will often advocate to keep quiet, which is not the long-term consequence for an organisation’s reputation (2008, p.199). Hence, we post the information fast and truthfully in order to protect the company’s reputation. Furthermore, “the media cannot ever be ignored in crisis situations. Ignoring the media when dealing with issues and crises will always prove to be a catastrophic error of judgement” (Regester & Larkin, 2008, p.182). Therefore, we had to pay attention onmedia response of upholding the reputation in this crisis circumstance. Further, we wrote the media release which posted the information surrounding the rule of opening communication. Meanwhile, we would take all responsibility, as well as apologise to customers and employees. Thus, in order to ensure the long-term benefits, we thought dealing with this scandal brought positive effects for our external and internal stakeholders. In my opinion, I did believe that we did really well teamwork during these two weeks, and made the right decisions to solve the problems.However, we can do better during the enough time onour email response and media release. Specifically, the task can be improved by other specific materials including the posting statement on Facebook and Twitter.
In conclusion, after doing the practice-based-scenarios during these three weeks, we acquired more PR knowledge and used the PR skills to do the fictional scenarios. Depending on Theories of stakeholders, effects of reputation and the argument of “keeping quiet”, we brought good work to deal with different situation. I believe that this experience will help to carry out the professional PR work in thefuture. In the meantime, our members enhanced our teamwork step-by-step from Week 9 to Week 11.
List Tasks of team’s response and management of the crisis scenario:
-To map and categorise stakeholders
-To write some coherent sentences about stakeholders in the email response.
-To discuss about mapping the five top stakeholders
-To provide ideas of ethical problems of local council, wildlife groups and Refugee Support Network
-To exchange ideas about the email response.
-To provide the ideas against keeping quiet
-To discuss and create the email response and media release.
Fombrun, C.J. and Van Riel, C.B.M. (2004), Fame and Fortune: How Successful Companies Build Winning Reputations, FT/Prentice Hall.
Jaques, T. (2014). Issue and crisis management: Exploring issues, crises, risk and reputation. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Rawlins, B.L., (2006), Prioritizing Stakeholders for Public Relations, Institute for Public Relations, Department of Communications Brigham Young University.
Regester, M., Larkin, J., (2008), Risk issues and crisis management in public relations: a casebook of best practice, 4th ed, Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Kogan Page, London;Philadelphia.