PR challenges in Asia
• Sushil Bahl, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Mafatlal Industries Ltd. Mumbai) observed that PR challenges and opportunities in Asia are concerned largely with sustainable growth;
– First in respect of broader issues of development such as environment, infrastructure, and quality and standard of living,
– Second, in respect of organizations and their products and services, where besides quality and customer satisfaction, today we have to think globally and act locally (Behl 1995).
• Behl (1995) in his paper, “Whither Asian Public Relations?”, observed some distinct trends taking place in six broad PR areas in Asia. These include:
– technology, – agencies,
– financial PR,
– government & PR, and
– corporate social responsibility.
§PR technology: technology left nothing untouched so is PR in Asia. Diverse means of communications available and have been used them to achieve PR objectives
§Media and PR inter-linked.
§Financial PR: Corporate industries are being more and more concerned in its relations with diverse stakeholders, including investors, financial institutions, market analysts etc.
§PR is also being exercised in a form of corporate lobbying.
§Government PR—with the corporations, media, and publics in general, but in some cases, the image of Asian government is not so good because of their coups and counter coups, dictatorial regime and killing of democracies.
§CSR: a better way to re/build image
PR challenges of PR in Asian context
• No one can be sure about definition, prospects or challenges. It may vary in view of one person to another. There may be so many challenges in various PR fields.
• Technological field, environmental field, operational field, research field, public information field or in having reach out to the public etc.
• There might be theoretical challenges as well as practical limitations, such as lack of books and references based on Asian context for academic discourses et cetera
• PR challenges in Nepalese context: i.e. challenges posed by technology, resources, hiring of foreign PR consultants; lack of bridge between academic discourses and corporate PR practices, ethical issues, like plagiarism, fraud and scams, IP intellectual properties theft.
• Many of these challenges are same to other Asian context.
PR challenges of PR in Asian context
• Bahl (1995) observes following PR challenges in Asia. (Discussed largely in Indian context)
– Breakup of family business houses
– Mergers, acquisitions, and tie-ups
– Quality of product and services
– Intellectual Property Rights: NYT’s columnist Thomas L Freedman once said he came to know that hundreds of thousands of copies of his book “The World is Flat” were being published illegally.
– PR in Public Sector
– PR in Industry association level – NGOs and PR
– Frauds and scams: 2G scam.
– Branding of personalities and events and
– PR education
• If a corporation is a construction company, it may have different level of PR challenges such as environmental challenges, compensation issues etc.
Future of Asian PR
• Future lies in what we can do with PR, whether we become able to cope its challenges
• Future of modern PR depends on the way new communication revolution will shape up process of communication globally.
• PR education in Asia should be reviewed in globalization prospective so that PR educators and students may earn better recognition
Internet and Public Relations
• Internet has changed everything in many ways. PR, as a communication discipline, can’t remain aloof from this paradigm shift.
• Internet has added several new dimensions to PR.
– opened up new channels of communications between organizations and publics and between public relations practitioners and the media.
– Has become a major channel of feedback for organizations interested in their public image (Dominick, 2010: 323)
• Dominick (2010: 323-24) sums up Internet’s usage in PR in to three new trends:
– Communicating with the Audience: directly, precisely, timely, simultaneously, instantly, in various ways including blogging etc
– Communicating with the Media: through email, messages, direct etc.
– More easy to communicate through telephone or postal service
– New Channels of Feedback: Internet offers avenues for direct and instant feedback, which help shape in decision making process.
• Internet has become the fastest medium and a very supportive means to PR agencies and practitioners.
– First, launching a website is itself a PR means to tell about company’s purpose and goal to its publics.
– Easy to inform public and interact with them about the company and its works.
• Internet offers many advantages in comparison with other forms of mass media. These include,
– Almost immediate delivery – Interactivity
– Customization – Personalization
– Can improve productivity and efficiency
– Provides an ideal platform for group communication – Timelessness/timeliness
– No longer respect of time zone
– Possibility of direct interaction with all, irrespective of time zones
• May result in clashes in terms of culture and understanding of value systems in case PR practitioners are unaware of the world publics’ sense of time and ways of thinking in solving public problems (Rai, 2010: 28)
• The real challenges today is not to convey the news and move on, but to go beyond this process and to cull (pick) different but appropriate information from massive unending flow from all sources including the net, and package it in a way that makes it relevant and useful to different publics (Rai: 2010, Preface).
• Issues of credibility, accountability, responsibility are quite high in PR practices in the age of Internet. In another words, it is honesty of relationship, information and identity.
• To sum up, PR has become hi-tech, with more prospects as well as new challenges.
• Future of PR depends on the way Internet will shape up the process of communication globally.
• Nevertheless, the importance of mass media is essential and will remain so for PR practitioners to communicate their messages to their larger publics.
Corporate Social Responsibility
• Concept of corporate citizen and it, like a citizen, has certain responsibility to the community where it operates.
• Every corporate has to be socially responsible to social phenomenon
• Corporate must give back to the community something in return for all that they make from it.
• Unlike charity, CSR has long term commitment. Charity is giving away voluntarily and without any legal obligations. It may reoccur or not. But CSR should be a consistent policy of helping somebody, expending assistance for some social, environmental and even some political causes.
• Charity supports for things, events, and occasions, rather than certain cause or policy or principle etc, which is a business of philanthropy or CSR.
• Philanthropy is also doing support for cause. It’s also relatively long term commitment, but does not seem so obligatory like CSR.
CSR as sound business sense
• Sushil Bahl (1996) notes, CSR is not a matter of charity and philanthropy alone, but a matter of sound business sense.
– Tata Group- rural development to environmental protection. – Concept of corporate citizen
• CRS: voluntary vs Regulations? In many parts of the world, voluntary.
• In India, the Companies Act 2013 says that companies with a net worth over IRs 500 crores are required to set up CSR committee at board level. These companies indeed to spend at least 2 percent of their average net profit on CSR.
• In another sense, it’s like an ODA—overseas development assistance from developed countries to non-developed countries. (But, overhead costs etc).
• CSR in Nepal seems an issue that many businesses have deliberately chosen not to address or all the wrong reasons (Sunil Sainju The Himalayan Times 26 September 2016).
• “Like in most countries of the world, CSR is not legally binding in Nepal. Today, there are countries with developed laws which require organizations to work in a socially responsible and calculated manner. Such practices have actually helped not only to sustain the environment but grow the business as well.”
• Rockefeller Foundation, B&M Gates Foundations, Ford Foundations, Charter Centre, Clinton Foundations etc.
• These are basically philanthropic institutions run by certain individuals or families. These institutions do support for certain cause and have kept views of promoting goodwill and image of those who have initiated them. But, unlike CSR, these Foundations don’t run these institutions to generate profits in their other businesses, though definitely, it puts certain prestige value.
• If family property inherence tax is imposed, such initiatives might be taken and gained currency in Nepal as well.
Notes By Lekhnath Pandey
• Rai, Lal Deosa, 2010. An Introduction of Public Relations. Bhrikuti Academic Publications, Kathmandu.
• Rana , Sagar SJB 2017. Singha Durbar: Rise and Fall of the Rana Regime of Nepal. Rupa Publications, New Delhi.
• Sainju, Sunil, 2016. Corporate Social Responsibility: Issues for businesses. The Himalayan Times, September 26, 2016, page 8. Kathmandu.
• Sardana C.K. 2013. The Challenge of Public Relations. HAR-ANAND Publications, New Delhi.
• Sengupta, Sailesh 2008. Management of Public Relations and Communications. Vikash Publishing House. New Delhi.
• Theaker, Alison, 2001. The Handbook of Public Relations. Routledge, London.