Public relations can be defined as the way companies and organizations respond to the needs of the society through enhancing their reputation. Public relation is usually done in the mass media. In this case, an organization communicates its goals and objectives as a means to create goodwill with the people or the community at large.
Public relation is geared towards creating a good image for the organization where the community views its operations as a corporate social responsibility concern. Public relation is all about informing the masses of the current undertaking of a certain idea that an organization has (Seitel, 2011).
Over the years, many organizations have incorporated the act of public relation that will help portray a clear good image to the public for peaceful coexistence with the community around. Many organizations have gone to a point of establishing a public relations department known to many people as PR.
These departments act as customer oriented stores that assist customers in case of any problem that may arise during delivery of service. The PR departments are geared towards creating a good image for the organization. The public relation message involves how an institution can pass clear information about its products and services.
This is with regards to the products and services that it wishes to pass to the community under in which it operates. Through public relation, an organization can manage the information it wishes to pass to the different individuals exposed to its services (Seitel, 2011).
Public relation is used to shed some truth and show compassion of the organization to the community and the environment at large. Employees of the organization should act ethically to safeguard themselves from harming themselves or causing substantial losses to the organization.
Organization management should ensure their employees have protective gear when at work, or are not over exploited by their supervisors (Bivins, 2011).
Public Relations issues at Wal-Mart
Public relation has proved to be an extremely beneficial tool for creating a positive image for the organization. It also shows how an organization will be ready to respond to environmental needs. Over the last few years, the retail giant Wal-Mart has hit the headlines with some issues touching on its public relations.
The organization has been accused of mistreating its employees. In essence, Wal-Mart has been accused of denying the employees their rights and benefits resulting into numerous legal tussles. For instance, in 2011, over 180,000 Wal-Mart employees in Pennsylvania sued the company over unpaid work.
The company has been in the news over employee maltreatment. Wal-Mart has been accused of poor wages and other employee related issues. The employees won the case, and the company was required to pay them for rest breaks and off-the-clock work.
The jury also ruled that the company was liable for the payment of the lawyers who represented the employees. Wal-Mart was found guilty of breach of contract. The company was also guilty of unjustified enrichment. It was also noted that the company had acted in violation of the Pennsylvanian labor laws (The HR Specialist, 2011).
This incident painted the company in a bad light regarding its PR. The company should have avoided this incidence by observing the labor laws in the state.
This could have saved the company the shame associated with taking advantage of the employees at their expense. The company should be honest with the employees and avoid exploiting tendencies (Seitel, 2011).
Apart from the case of unpaid work, Wal-Mart has been in the news for yet another bad reason. The retail store took an initiative that denied some of its employee health insurance coverage.
This can be regarded as a form of discrimination. In 2011, the company opted to reduce the health care expense account for the workers by half. The employees who smoke tobacco were designated to pay more for the health care program than non-smokers.
The company’s spokesperson noted “The current health care system is unsustainable for everyone and like other businesses we’ve had to make choices we wish we did not have to make,” (Wohl, 2011, para 5). The company sought to abolish health care insurance for part-timers who worked for less than twenty-four hours in a week (Wohl, 2011).
This move will dent the image of the company considering that there are discriminatory elements in the policy adopted by the company. Health care insurance is very essential for employees and companies should not abolish or interfere with this necessity.
Therefore, Wal-Mart is likely to face discriminatory charges from a section of the employees who will feel that their fundamental rights are being violated by the intended health care insurance policy (Bivins, 2011). This is especially in the case of the tobacco smokers and the part-time workers.
The company could have avoided this by sticking to the initial policy where every employee was entitled to health care coverage (Wohl, 2011).
To solve the crisis, Wal-Mart had to hire Edelman in 20005. He was to act as consultants to help solve the crisis. The company also posted in the newspaper the steps it was taking to avoid the allegations of oppressing the employees.
The company also hired Nelson to act as a consultant, to advise the company on the best strategies to be applied to improve the image of the company. The human resources manager has sent messages to indicate that the employees are happy with the new strategies being applied to solve the crisis.
In addition, Leslie Dach “said that the media, local governments, and lawmakers in the capital “see us in a better way than they did a year ago”” (Gogoi, 2006, p. 1).
The messages and practices sent to indicate an improvement in human resources management are legal because the law requires companies to have appropriate strategies to manage employees.
The strategy was not ethical because the company sent messages which were contrary to the real situations that were experienced in the company. Employees continue to be oppressed despite the messages sent to the media about the improvement in the welfare of employees (Gogoi, 2006).
The company should send a message to indicate the actual strategies applied to improve the welfare of the employees. The company should ensure that the welfare of employees is improved.
The public relations strategies applied should comply with the ethical standards such that the messages sent to the public are real and true (Seitel, 2011).
Public relation is a tool that many organizations and institution use to create and portray a good image of the corporate world. The organizations are required to answer to the needs of the society by being socially responsible for their operations.
The public relation tool is used to safeguard the operations of the institution and focus more on the good coexistence with the surrounding environment. This may include the employees, customers, management and the natural environment.
The operations of an institution should be morally upright. This is meant to avoid legal actions being taken against them like what happened to Wal-Mart.
Bivins, T. H. (2011). Public relations writing: the essentials of style and format (7th Ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Gogoi, P. (2006). Wal-Mart: A ‘Reputation Crisis’. Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Web.
Seitel, F. P. (2011). The practice of public relations (11th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
The HR Specialist. (2011). Appeals court: Walmart owes $188 million for unpaid work. Web.
Wohl, J. (2011). Wal-Mart trims some U.S. health coverage. Web.