Monday, August 23, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The Necessity of PR in Higher Educational Sector
By Ananya M Mehta
Asst. Professor – PR and Events,
Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication, Pune.
M: + 91 9881743357, 020 39116118
Introduction and Growth of Education Sector in
Importance of education cannot be overemphasized in the present day context as it is the single most important means for individuals to improve personal endowments, build capability levels, overcome constraints and, in the process, enlarge their available set of opportunities and choices for a sustained improvement in well-being.
Education is now widely valued not only for its intrinsic value in enriching the lives of individuals but also for its functional value in the development of the human capital of a nation. Educational investments in children have shown to have high private and social returns. The private returns are associated with increased productivity and earnings in adulthood, and with further non-pecuniary gains arising from the greater efficiency with which educated individuals are able to acquire and process information.
There are critical gaps in the availability of infrastructural facilities and qualitative aspects of education including, teachers training, educational curricula, equipments and training materials, particularly, in the publicly funded schooling system of the country. The attainments, as also the failures have not been uniform across all regions. Though the regional differences are indeed striking, there has been a significant reduction in inequalities in educational attainments across gender and population segments by income levels and the rural-urban divide.
Growth of Higher Education System in
Status until end of Ninth Plan (March 2002)
Academic Year 2006-07
State/Central Universities (Nos.) :133, 369
Deemed Universities (Nos.): 27, 109
No. of colleges: 12,340, 18,064
Women’s colleges (Nos.): 1,500, 1,902
No. of students enrolled: 7.5 million, 11.2 million
Allocation (INR in bn): 25, 42 (Tenth Plan)
Source: Mid-term Appraisal Report of Tenth Plan, MHRD Annual Report 2006-07
Defining Trends in the Sector
The Educational sector is a very large sector in
. It includes primary and high schools, under-graduate and post-graduate colleges, B-schools etc. Though a large part of India is still rural, the education institutions at that level include small government and private schools and vocational colleges. India
Today, good public relations are vital to the successful functioning of any educational institutional. Public relations in education institutes at lower levels are almost non-existent. The schools never go in for conferences or promotion. The awareness is not very high. The only PR tool they end up using without realization is promotion through word of mouth. There are NGOs who acquire the PR techniques to raise awareness in villages and small towns regarding such institutes and the importance of education.
In urban areas, however, education has become a crucial factor for survival. In the last three years, higher and specialized education has topped the trend. Higher education has its own challenges. Critics call it too expensive. University faces competition for students and declining resources. Universities usually have three charges to fulfill: Teaching, Service, and Research. Therefore, the role of PR comes in to picture. Institutes use PR techniques to promote themselves and gather brand recognition. This gives them better visibility and attracts crowd. Also, Alumni play a very crucial role as they have their own interest in their
The work of public relations is to create a favorable image of any organization. In such cases, PR benefits the small educational hubs but the customers they attract are at a loss. Maintaining community relations applies for those activities dedicated to upholding the image of the institution or maintaining and promoting understanding and favorable relations with the community or public at large.
It also requires funds although the expenditure is much less than any advertising tool. Research says that the general public would trust a public relation activity more than any advertising which they know has been paid for.
Role of PR in Educational Institutes
Education Institutes use public relations both internally and externally. Internal PR stands for PR within the organisation and its employs. External PR stands for maintaining favourable relations with the public.
Events are held within the organisation for the members to build a good rapport amongst themselves and smoothen communication. Faculty/Staff Handbook, Faculty meetings, Faculty luncheons, News releases e-mailed to F/S & posted online are other tools to facilitate internal PR.
The purpose of internal PR is to clear communication about organizational intentions, activities and performance, improve sense of cohesion among employees, and circulate adequate task-related information, positive information regarding an organization’s ability to provide challenging and meaningful tasks.
The external PR of any organization is when the institute holds several conferences, sends out press releases, manages events and keeps itself much in the public glare for better promotion and more recognition. Institutes these days maintain special ALUMNI Relations Cell through which they keep in constant contact with their students who have passed out and are doing well in the industry. They do it for the purpose of a better brand name and to ensure decent placements to the upcoming batches through their contacts.
And with, internet taking the centre stage for all communication, the role of PR here becomes precise yet demanding. Use of social media sites, blog, pod-cast etc is the tools available on the PR professional at the fingertip giving them a wide scope of reaching out.
Today the public is already online, and the internet allows anyone to be a publisher. Public relations practitioners must learn how to use the internet efficiently to address these issues for their clients.
The future of PR in education sector says that the clients will expect more. They would want exclusive access to information as media is transforming. There would be information flow in every dimension. People would ask for transparency in information. Public relations specialists are struggling to recognise the impact that the internet, and its associated communication tools (such as, virtual communities), will have on how communication occurs. Reaction is slow to the changes being made in business and culture.
The five major trends in the next three years that impact public relations are as follows:
• More individual publishing (blogging)
• More noise (that is, the amount of information people are bombarded with each day including advertisements and so forth)
• More media outlets
• Greater direct communication and
• Public relations becoming more accountable
PR is a vital element of the institutions’ relationship with the outside world. It is considered that PR has seven major roles to perform for any educational institution:
• Expanding the number of applicants to the institution
• Helping the institution to become better known
• Helping the institution to gain an enhanced reputation
• Influencing decision makers to smile upon one’s institution
• Improving internal relations
• Maintaining good relations with the community
• Maintaining positive relations with the alumni
These aims are used in any kind of educational institutions be it schools, colleges or senior colleges offering professional courses. They seem to apply in large measures to such institutions, although their relative importance may be different.
The use of the term public relations has so far been deliberate, however it may be a little misleading for use in educational institutions because of its historical link with the commercial world and its negative public connotation of trying to mislead, deceive and create false impressions. Although the times in this regard have changed but the thoughts still remain the same.
“Create an image for your company or your competitors will do it for you.” In the higher education sector this statement by Keever is equally true; as competition for students increases and funding decreases, making it necessary for universities to create and maintain a distinctive image in the market place.
Higher education institutions are becoming increasingly aggressive in their marketing activities to convey an image that is favourable and in all aspects beneficial to their public, be they prospective students, employers, funders etc.
The educational institutes try their best to create and maintain a very positive image amongst the minds of the people. They do so through measures like press conferences regarding any new development in the institute, press releases concerning the activities, branding of the institutes, maintain contacts with the people who can benefit the organisation in any way. It includes the who’s who of the society, the media people and also their alumni.
They organise large scale events and hold public meetings. The institutions nowadays believe in the trend of branding, which is done through specially designed logos that convey the mission and vision of the institute. The logo becomes the identity of the organisation. Just like any other organisation, the educational institutes also have their ups and downs which they try to cover up through crises management. This is a time when the PR department is on its toes and works its best.
Robert L Heath, “Handbook of Public Relations”, London: Sage Publications Ltd., 2000, pg-535.
Managing External Relations in Schools: A Practical Guide By Nicholas Foskett
Educational-information Web Resource on Public Relations.mht
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Public Relations Education
A pre-requisite for Professional Excellence
by Dr. CV Narasimha Reddi
“Education: That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding”. ---Ambrose Bierce
“The Editors are appalled to see the sloppy copy that comes in the shape of press notes from qualified public relations officers. There is no professional touch in many of such press releases; every copy needs a rewrite man”, commented the Chief Editor of a mainline newspaper. This speaks volumes about non-professionalism in public relations practice.
An occupation becomes a profession when a majority of its practitioners qualify as professionals. Public relations is described as a profession on the grounds that: ‘Public Relations has a body of knowledge, a professional society, a code of ethics, a system for accreditation of practitioners and a foundation for furthering public relations research and education, specified curricula at University level” (wright 1979).
If the status study conducted by Prof.V.Durgabhavani says that only 40 per cent public relations personnel posses professional educational qualifications, the survey of Dr.Uma Bhushan indicates that a large percentage of the Indian PR practitioners are not involved in strategic management function. Most of them are primarily performing in the technician’s role involving mainly mediated communication especially media relations or producing house journals and brochures. According to the recent survey of Public Relations Voice about 50 percent PR persons in India are professionals. The professional rating of Indian public relations is, therefore, at 5 in the scale of 1-10.
Upswing in 1990s
However, India witnessed a spurt in public relations activities during - 1990s – thanks to the economic liberalization, privatization and globalization. With the introduction of New Industrial Policy 1991, Indian industry became internationally competitive, which has resulted in trade wars. In fact we are witnessing wars in the shape of cars war, cell phones war, insurance business war, banks war, cola wars and media war. There is a war in every field of economic activity. As a result we confront today globalization of economy on the one side and globalization of media on the other – a challenge for public relations profession. In the process, the importance of public relations communication has increased manifold to meet the competitive market environment and international standards. The number of in-house public relations departments, the entry of multi-national PR agencies, and emergence of new PR agencies with foreign tie-up and opening of public relations wings in advertising agencies have increased in our country in the 1990s. What is the consequence of this change? Public relations in India has entered the “ Age of Upswing” and “Global Public Relations”.
World’s Largest Communication Network::
The Rs.10,000 crore Indian public relations industry representing government, public sector, private industry and not for profit organizations with about 20 lakh public communicators including over one lakh public relations professionals constitute the biggest communication network in the world. In other words, being the world’s biggest democracy, India has the largest public communication network in the world.
A million dollar question arises as to what is the State-of-the-Art-Public Relations?. Public relations in India is now a ‘ Mixed Bag’ containing highly qualified public relations professionals, second to none in the world on the one side and many non-professionals without any grounding and professional education on the other. The distinguishing trait of Indian public relations is the “Quantity of Personnel”, rather than the “Quality of the Profession”.
Asian P R Tiger
If I a m asked to sum up the State of Indian contemporary public relations, I must say that the Indian corporate world is changing very fast to become world’s biggest economy, but Indian public relations is not adequately responding to the changing socio-economic and changing public mind environment. One expert observer in the field described this as “Public Relations Crisis’. What is needed today is professional excellence as to make Indian public relations as an Asian Public Relations Tiger. How do we meet this crisis?
Demand & Supply
Today the need for qualified PR experts is growing. But the supply of competent public relations professionals is far below the actual demand. What is required is quantity nothing but quality. How to make public relations personnel as experts in their profession like engineers, lawyers, doctors or journalists? The panacea lies in evolving’ a new educational strategy’ for public relations practice. The Indian University must become port of entry,
Late Prof. Afzal Mohammad, a distinguished educationist and former Vice-Chancellor, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University once said that public relations is an independent academic discipline. Journalism and public relations are the two distinct professions; they should be made inter-disciplinary fields. He concluded that Universities have to offer public relations as an independent course with subsidiaries.
Prof. PL Vishweshwer Rao, Dean of Arts, Osmania University commented “Public Relations and Advertising that are part of the journalism courses have developed into vast and specialized professions that are certainly not synonymous with journalism. A more appropriate course of study would be to make them an independent stream of study. They need not be tied up to the apron strings of mass communication and journalism (Vidura July-Sept, 2010)
Investment in Education
A few academicians and chief executives also have suggested that the future of public relations depends both on increased investments in public relations education, research and training. It is in this context the professional bodies such as Public Relations Society of America and Chartered Institute of Public Relations, London, place greater emphasis on education and professional development training to improving the caliber of practitioners and also the reputation of the profession.
PR Education in the West
A question arises whether or not public relations exists as a separate subject for academic study. Experience in the United Kingdom and the United States of America justify the view that public relations is a specialist practice of which the entrant should have a specialized body of knowledge. Such knowledge is imparted by academic programmes of study which are inter-disciplinary in nature. In the UK and the USA, there are courses in public relations leading to B.A(Hons), B.Sc., (PR) M.S. M.A (Public Relations) and PhD Degrees and that public relations is pursued as a separate subject of academic study. The University of Sterling in the UK offers M.Sc. (Public Relations) both in regular and distance education mode. The Institute of Public Relations, London started a post graduate diploma in PR in 1998. In the USA, public relations is also offered as a major at under-graduate four year courses.
Professional Development Products
As part of continuing professional development scheme, training programmes are undertaken by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, (CIPR) London in Europe. PRSA has a separate Professional Resource Centre to offer extensive resources to meet the professional needs of practitioners. It also helps them to plan campaigns and purchase books and monographs. Among others, PRSA Professional Development Products and events include: International Conference, Books, Videos and Monographs, Silver and Bronze Anvil Awards, Campaign Profiles, Calendar of Events, Professional Development Opportunities, Professional Interest Specialized Sections, PRSA Store, PRSA’s Knowledge Repository, On-site Seminars, on-site section conference, tele-seminars, internet broadcast, workshops, PRSA e-learning etc.
Public Relations education both in the U.K and the U.S.A. present three striking trends. Firstly, the Universities offer under-graduate, post-graduate and PhD degrees in public relations. Secondly, the professional organizations like PRSA, New York and the CIPR, London as part of their continuing education programme organize a massive professional development training programmes with several products and events for those who are already in service. The third most striking feature is about running public relations courses under distance education mode. M.Sc.(Public Relations) of University of Sterling in the UK is a shining example.
P.R. Education: Indian Scenario
You may ask, what is the Indian scenario? We have just made a beginning in respect of public relations as an academic discipline in the Indian universities. Nevertheless, India presents four good features:
1. P.G. Diploma by Non-University Educational Institutes: Educational Institutions not affiliated to Universities like the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi conduct pos-graduate diploma courses in public relations.
2. P.R. as Part of Journalism Courses: The Communication and Journalism Departments of various conventional Universities offer public relations as one of the subjects at under-graduate level Bachelor of Communication & Journalism and post-graduate level Master of Communication & Journalism.
3. P.R. in Distance Mode: Exclusive public relations courses such as Diploma in PR, Bachelor of PR, M.A., (Advt. & PR), M.S.P.R. are offered by the Directorates of Distance Education of conventional universities and open universities.
4. Training: The last but the most important trend is about the conduct of professional development training programmes by the Public Relations professional bodies such as PRSI, ABCI, PRCI, GFPR and their affiliated regional chapters and the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi.
Madras University was perhaps the first university in the country to start an exclusive PR course at the under-graduate level in 1977-78. But this was discontinued later with the first batch. The conglomeration of four courses journalism, public relations, advertising and electronic media –now combined in the major course of Communication and Journalism of various Indian Universities – needs a thorough assessment for restructuring. As these four are obviously distinct disciplines, the present combined course can hardly do justice to the development of professional expertise in any of the fields. It can neither produce a good journalist, an effective broadcaster, a successful Ad Executive nor a professional public relations manager. Therefore, this trend should be checked forthwith, making room for specialized courses in print, broadcast and public relations disciplines.
Renovation of PR Education
At the initiative of Public Relations Voice, the Andhra Pradesh State Council of Higher Education has constituted an Expert Committee to revamp communication, journalism and public relations education. Based on the recommendations of the committee in 2009, the State Council has issued guidelines with model curriculum to all Universities in the State for launching three new specialized public relations courses from the academic year 2009-2010. The nomenclature of these courses is:
1. B.A. Mass Communication and Public Relations
2. Master of Communication and Journalism(Public Relations)
3. Master of Science in Public Relations
These courses could be a model to all Indian Universities.
If conventional universities are silent on PR education, distance education institutions – keeping in view the growing demand for PR professionals – came forward to launch PR courses in India. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad started P.G. Diploma course in public relations in the year 1986 which was upgraded into a degree course, Bachelor of Public Relations in 1992. The Directorate of Distance Education, Madurai Kamarj University launched the post-graduate course in M.A Advertising and Public Relations If Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, launched M.Sc. Public Relations under distance mode, the Osmania University Distance Education Centre has started M.A Public Relations. A drawback of public relations education is the lack of PR teachers with professional experience in the practice.
Expert Committee on PR Studies.
The UGC constituted an Expert Committee on public relations studies in 1987, 1992 and 1998 with Prof. AK Benerji, Dean Faculty of Arts, Banaras Hindu University as Chairman and this author as member for introduction of information and public relations courses in Indian Universities. Based on the recommendations of these groups, the UGC issued guidelines for launching exclusive public relations courses including M.A Public Relations. Another major landmark in public relations education was the appointment of Dr.CV Narasimha Reddi as UGC National Professor in Public Relations for two years term ending March 1991 as to teach the subject of public relations in the Indian universities.
The first UGC National Seminar on Public Relations Education and Training was held at Osmania University on October 9-10, 1993. The author who was seminar Director produced a 150 page book on PR Education and Training in India which is looked upon as a seminal work on the subject – the basis for initiating future action on PR education. These efforts generated greater awareness about public relations as an academic discipline. Unfortunately, the response from Indian conventional universities in introducing PR courses is not encouraging.
If PR education has made a beginning in non-University educational institutions, the institutional continuing professional development training is yet to make headway. In fact, the continuing education in PR, I must say, is at one level. The training programmes, seminars, and workshops conducted by the professional bodies are not on par with the Western style. They are ad-hoc in nature. The Government of India set up the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) New Delhi exclusively for the purpose of imparting training in mass communication to the officials working both in government and public sector undertakings. But the IIMC is now overburdened with conducting diplomas in journalism, advertising and public relations; less importance is given for training and research inputs. I would venture to suggest that the IIMC may be divested of conducting diploma courses by entrusting this work to the conventional universities. It must concentrate only on training both induction, in-service and research. The general anticipation is that the IMC should serve as a nucleus for training and research in mass communication including public relations.
Five Point Action Plan
When we are in the new millennium, it is highly essential to design a new model of PR education for professional excellence. Here is a suggestive five point action plan:
1. Expert Committee
The UG as an apex body of higher education must be the prime mover in PR Education and constitute an Expert Committee on PR studies with academicians, PR practitioners, information administrators and media experts to make an objective assessment of the present status of professional education and training and chalk out a new model for education. This must be in tune with professional needs of information and PR personnel and the industry.
2. Continuing Professional Development Training
Public Relations professional bodies such as PRSI, ABCI, PRCI and GFPR and the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi must assume full responsibility for organizing continuing professional development training programmes to tone up the current skills of PR professionals with appropriate training modules and professional development toolkits , in collaboration with the foreign professional bodies like the PRSA(USA), the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, London, Asia Media Information and Communication Centre, Singapore etc.
3. Model Curriculum
As of today, most of our universities and educational institutions have their own PR syllabus. There is no expert body at national level to approve and regulate the syllabi. Therefore, there is an imperative need to evolve a model PR curriculum with the approval of the UGC and PR professional body for adoption by all institutions offering the courses.
4. Textbooks and PR Journals
Public relations textbooks of international standards are the need of the day. We still look to the west for such books – a most regrettable feature. UGC, Universities, PR Professionals bodies with the help of academics and practitioners must produce standard textbooks with Indian case studies. Publication of professional journals are a testimony to the growth of the profession. Public Relations Voice is the only journal for Indian PR professionals. More journals must be brought out to enrich and update the knowledge of professionals.
5. Research and Evaluation
Research is a major missing link in public relations practice. Research and evaluation are closely linked to the recognition of PR performance. The IIMC should be developed as a nucleus for PR research programmes and mass communication. Similarly, the Media Units of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, the State Information and Public Relations Departments, the major public sector undertakings and major industrial houses in the country must establish their own public relations research/evaluation cells to undertake evaluation of their programmes both by internal resources and external agencies. The required budget for this purpose should form part of their regular budget.
A bright future beckons public relations career in India. Being a democratic and developing country, and with the Right to Information Act in vogue, India offers golden opportunities to public relations professionals not only to interpret a world of change and challenge, but also act as a catalyst not only in transforming India as a leader of public relations in Asia, but also India as the number one World’s economy. All this is possible only when we invest more in public relations education that could produce effective PR professionals. Public relations professional is not born but made with education and training.
1.Dr.C.V.Narsimha Reddi , Public Relations Education & Training in India, 1994
2. Public Relations Voice, Volume No.2., Jan-March, 1999
3. Model Syllabus for Journalism, Mass Communication & Public Relations, A.P. State Council of Higher Education 2009
4. Jacquine L. Etang and Magada Pieezka, Public Relations Education, Thomson Business Press, London
National President Emeritus (PRSI) &
Editor, Public Relations Voice
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Saturday, August 07, 2010
7th Aug 2010This blog has been awarded the 'best blog' for its 'contribution to the development of PR literature' and presented with a Certificate of appreciation by Public Relations Society of India, Hyderabad Chapter on 6th Aug 2010 on the occasion of Public Relations Education Day. The jury comprising experts from the fields of Journalism & Public Relations, while finalizing the nominations in competition commented "this blog is found useful for the students of business communication courses and hence adjudged as the 'best blog' ".
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