The world has experienced dramatic changes in the way business is conducted and also in the way information on a particular event, occurrence or product is disseminated. The world has also experienced great technological advancements that have given people easy accessibility to information on almost everything that a person may be interested in (Waters, Tindall and Morton 2010).
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This, together with the dynamic force of change that constantly face business world, has led to the need for a new approach in the way a business entity carries out its activities in order to have a successful sales campaign for its products.
One way that businesses have responded to the changes in the business world is through the increase in public relation activities which aim at promoting the products to the target markets by engaging in what is valued by the target customers.
In public relations, a business aims to achieve the objective of creating a positive relationship between its customers, the product and the organisation itself through various means of communication (Strömbäck, Mitrook and Kiousis 2010). It is also aimed at creating a good image for the organisation, managing any crisis that may face a company or its product and also creating goodwill in the eye of the general public.
A business can also create an exchange system between business partners and itself with the aim of achieving mutual benefit for both sides of the bargain. This is referred to as the relationship marketing and is aimed at achieving the objective of creating customer loyalty for products offered by the company, interaction between the company and the market it serves, and the retention of the market share commanded by the company (Botan and Taylor 2004).
This objective is achievable through the provision of relevant information to the customers on the products offered by the company and support information about the right usage of such products. This has the ability to create a pool of repeat customers, who are willing to see the success of the company through the provision of relevant information on market needs and referrals.
PR as a corporate activity has been impacted heavily by the advancement of technology. With computer terminals having the ability to receive information, edit such information and also to send information, a new approach to PR activities is inevitable. Matters have been complicated by the fact that information on various activities, products, and the industry in general is now available in the data banks over the internet (Grunig 2006).
The advancement of technology especially in the communication sector has also affected the way of life of societies besides creating a new pool of opportunities for business organisations. One of the opportunities presented to PR activities is the ability to produce personalized information that target a specific market niche. Feedback from the market is now possible and the assessment of the effectiveness of the public relations activities is now possible.
Various theories have been proposed to explain public relations. One of such theories is the symmetrical approach which employs the concept of four models. According to this approach, the main objective of the public relations is to champion the interest of the organisation that sponsors public relation activities. This is in contrast with the asymmetrical model proposed early which view public relations as a concept aimed at promoting the interests of both the organisation and the general public.
The views of the symmetric approach are considered not only unrealistic, but also idealistic since by hiring public relation experts, a company aims at the promotion of its interests rather than trying to promote the impression of a perfect organisation in order to win the interest of the stakeholders outside the organisation, who may have different views other than those held by the organisation.
Public relations are considered to be based on ethics (Health 2006). However, the question of justification of ethics in term of monetary returns to the organisation arises.
Another school of thought that has been advanced to conceptualise public relations is the rhetoric theory. The theory gives rhetoric dialogue as the process through which influence and conclusions can be found. According to Hung (2009), this can be achieved in two ways; one of the ways involves engagement of groups in exchange of statements and counter statements on the products offered, public policies and the services with a view of assessing the way each group view values and realities.
In this dialogue, the PR professionals and the clients engage in persuasive discourse (Roper, 2005). Rhetoric theory on public relations and the symmetric theory agree on the fact that ethics should be practiced on a level ground. It also supports the views of the asymmetric theory on the assertion of the idea that public policies and ideas should stand in the market place on their own based on merit.
However, this view by the proponents’ rhetoric approach is criticized by public relation critics who argue that the rationale proposed by the rhetoric theory fails to make public relations more ethical, unless there is equal distribution of resources to the involved public.
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The relational approach to public relations also tries to explain the roles of the public relations to the organisation (Li and Bernoff 2008). This approach takes an organisation and the society at large into perspective and successfully gives the true meaning to public relations.
This theory takes into account the relationship that exists between organisations that fund the public relations activities, and the public through which an organisation intends to promote its products, in which openness, efficiency, cooperation, commitment and credibility are enhanced (Sweetser and Metzgar 2007).
This approach fails to compare with the other two in as much as the main aspect on the nature of the relationship is concerned. In this case, the relationship in most cases may not be symmetrical. The management of relationship is considered instrumental rather than an approach towards public relations activity. It is considered to be the advancement of goodwill in public relations.
Wimbledon Championship draws great interest in the sporting world. The event which was staged in 2011 was considered to be of great importance given the fact that it was the culmination of the improvement of the Wimbledon tennis lawn which had started back in 1993. This international sporting event has a rich history that dates back in 1977.
The first event featured the England tennis croquet club which was started in Wimbledon as a private organisation back in 1865. Initially, the event featured participants from England, but later became an international event attracting participants from as far as the United States of America.
The interest to participate in this event in 1954 was boosted by the advancement of air travel technology which made it easier for the international players to participate in the event easily. However the participation remained closed to most countries until 1968 when it was opened for different categories of international players. The reason why the lawn tennis club was closed down for major improvement was to improve future participation and to reach the standards recommended by the international sports organisations.
The 2011 event also involved commemoration of 125 years since the inception of the event. The Wimbledon championship had various stakeholders that included the tennis club members, volunteers, management, press and the tennis club staffs. On the other hand, the event attracted external stakeholders that included international players, federations, general public and spectators from all over the world.
The analysis of the strategies employed by the internal stakeholders reveals a number of important factors. First, there was the formulation of objectives which aimed at keeping these stakeholders focused on the work. This enabled the staffs to concentrate on the goals that had been set for them.
There was the establishment of three types of professional programs for the purpose of development by the organisation management for staff members, management and other participants in the preparation of the event (Hallahan 2009). The aim of this development was to create enthusiasm among all internal stakeholders on what they were doing. Some programs introduced were web site based, while others were offered offline and also through seminars and conferences on development.
Another key management tool employed by the Wimbledon championship management committee involved the rounding of employees in all departments involved in the preparation of the Wimbledon event (Kim, 2011). There were interactions between managers and employees, as well as participants and volunteers in the course of execution of work or through informal meetings where small groups of employees would be invited to attend.
The aim of this was to improve the relationship that existed between management, employees and volunteers. It also helped to improve the process through which information flowed and ideas exchanged among all internal stakeholders.
There was also employment of appreciation and recognition strategy which involved implementation of feasible ideas suggested by the stakeholders. These stakeholders would be recognized and then appreciated in ways that encouraged further participation by all members (Lawson, 2006).
The recognitions would mainly be done in meetings or on a one-on-one basis. There was also the creation of a balance between personal life and the work life which allowed members to take part in events such as charity work, physical exercises and voluntary activities in the community.
The organizers of the Wimbledon championship relied on the web site to disseminate information on the progress of the event to the interested parties outside the organisation (Kirby and Marsden, 2005). This web site gave schedules of events that made up the tournament, posted results of completed events and also provided any other information considered important for the success of the event. There was also the establishment of the media room manned by the public relations officers in the organisation.
The purpose of this media room was to keep the general public updated on the events that took place in the championship. The messages relayed by the public relations department to the media were always in consistence with the information that was displayed by the organisation on its website.
The public was invited to comment on various issues by leaving their comments on the organisation’s website. The organisers of the event also employed press releases to communicate to external stakeholders in order to supplement the online media (Harrison, 2000). Due to the nature of participation which involved international players, the organizers allowed major broadcasters across the globe to air this event.
This served as a public relations activity that was aimed at creating a positive image for the event before the eyes of the public. There was also development of documentaries that highlighted important issues about the championship which included the history of the tournament.
The Wimbledon event organizers also tried to create positive public relations in the society by engaging in community services and other support activities. Various donations were made to the society by the event organizers with the aim of improving community welfare.
A portion of returns from this event was also ploughed back to the society in the form of contribution towards a good course such the sponsorship of junior tennis tournament. The organizers also contributed towards the establishment of the education museum to be used for leisure purposes by students.
The event was successful through the employment of both the public relations and the relationship marketing. Through their public relations activities, they were able to win a positive image and generate a high income (Halligan and Shah, 2010). Here, the relationship between the organisation and the public had beneficial outcomes. The event was able to collect high returns and the society was able to benefit from various development projects initiated by the organisation.
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