There is indicated in the literature of article that it is hard to give one, fundamental definition of public relations term (still determined as Public Relation), because there are as many researchers as many definitions of problem1. In half of 20th century in USA where Public Relation was born, there were almost 980 definitions,2 a lot of aspects have appeared from that time - which allow for formulating the next ones.3
Nevertheless it is seen that “the essence of Public Relations, which’s using became common, is reduced to shaping of relations of publicly working subject with environment (…), it contains: first of all the organization, with a public character, realizing a mission, second, environment of this organization differentiated in relation to the different roles, which people play towards organization ( for example clients, inhabitants, local authorities), third, relations between them, determined with mutual needs).4
Many researchers have their contribution in formulating of the theory, practice and problem, among them are Dejan Veric and Krishnamurthy Sriramesh which determine Public Relation as “promotion of reputation through establishing and maintain of mutually profitable relations between and groups of public opinion, which its success or defeat depends on.5 Dejan Veric perceives Public Relation as “honest and objective, specialist and competent, full and fast, pleasure for mass media and public opinion, responsible information”6.
However the simplest way of describing Public Relation is “planned and intentional action, and as a long-term cultivating of any organization relations, both economic and not economic, and public institution or office, or individual person with closer or further environment called “public”, “publicity”.7
Today Public Relation enters in every field of life, what is more – we rarely realize the range of this interference. Sometimes the strangest things, at least expected situations or subjects becomes a commodity in the marketing market,8 and because of this an object of Public Relation interesting, and its prepared of the view that having a well-organized Public Relation turns out indispensable, because it is very hard to sell a commodity and function in everyday reality without it. Operating with, in principal still not much known and not much appreciated tool, form of communication, becomes necessary, and it is, with no doubt, being the subject of this essay, public relations.9
However there are no doubts that wide understood politics and politicians, as well as legitimization process of democratic powers and public institutions is a commodity, where is a need to know how “to sell it good”. Public Relation is very needed at this sphere, and if it is realized on reliable way, even necessary one. It is worth to emphasize that “permanent management of any type organization, without understanding and support of environment, would be impossible at least in democratic societies and competitive, free – market economies. 10
As it is indicated in the literature of subject, contemporary “homo politic us is very lazy and needs a lot of strong incentives to show any activity in sphere of politics and duties regarding to community – nation, which it is important part of” Election constituting “celebrity of democracy”, where main role is attributed to elector, not the parties or politicians, should give the feeling of community and participation in managing the country by every citizen.11
However it is not like this and lack of the right promotion of this institution of democratic country is one of the fundamental reasons of this status quo. Because there is lack of information and education to the point of meaning election, its functions, coming out of this benefits for every citizen. The power of Public Relation is perceived exactly in this, which can effectively and attractively change this status quo. Because using the rules and tools it is worth to conduct campaign for the benefit of the citizen attitude, not only one day before selection, but on permanent way even referring to American models of GOTV, that is “get out to vote”.12 Because introducing the politics into the range of politics should be started with building of efficiently working institutions of a democratic country. So Public Relation should serve not only to politicians, but because of them to building of conscious citizen society.13
Before I pass to discussion about forms and the way of using Public Relation by politicians, I need to indicate the important aspect related to Public Relation in politics, namely status of relations between particular public offices and its applicants, well citizens. Both work and the way of approach of public administration to citizen, most often is rated bad, if not very bad. The reason of this is lack of the right management, lack of consciousness of proficient communication and preparing of officials (Cenker, E. 2002: 2002).
Many countries with a developed democracy control information actions of the country, dialogue and co-operation with society. There have even been formulated proper regulations of the law and ethical codes, which are indications don’t constitute only so called “dead letter”.14 These regulations in Nigeria would be embarrassing even because of the reason, that there are not even specific, uniform regulations concerning the Public Relation, its functioning even on economy or marketing ground, and let alone at public sphere or on the point of politics.15
Where as the need of application of Public Relation solutions in Nigerian public administration simply is necessary. This is because creating a channel is necessary, ipso facto the way of communicating administration with citizen, local business or a strategic investor.” Moreover the aim of Public Relation in office boils down to informing society about issues, which office is competent in, what is more – it makes clear and pure system of working of administration and country for the benefit of society and its subjects”16. Agreement for competing in improving of public sphere through accumulating and taking opinions, suggestions and expectations in respect of actions and co-operating of institutions and citizens into consideration is necessary.17
Realization of above-mentioned aims would allow to receive trust of citizens, clients and various, social representations or opinion leaders, and also to gain-and it is probably most important, taking into consideration process of ceaseless changes, characteristic for the Nigerian politics-understanding for the way of working and taking a decision in administration. What is more, it might indicate the competences, individual work and efforts of persons performing managerial functions on this way. Actions of Public Relation allows for rating of administration functioning, verification of its efficiency by prism of claims and businesses of particular persons, patents and others taking part in life of the given, local society.18 A good image of office allows for both, improving communication and coming to make terms between him and his client. However, Public Relation in administration should be realized both inside and outside.19
However specific people have fundamental meaning for politics sphere and managing the country, well politicians and political parties. A correct Public Relation is necessary precisely to them, needed both from their and electors perspective. This is because elector has an absolute right to be able to meet governing and other politicians, and not only in short time of election, but well before. And because of this, from citizen’s perspective, it’s necessary to reveal the real intentions of politicians and backstage of politics led by them.20 Obviously, a citizen doesn’t have to meet the country secrets, nevertheless easy access to publication of regulations, prescripts etc., or to published in a form of interesting brochure, report, information leaflet to the point of this what, when and where president, prime minister or member of given district is doing or was doing, is necessary.21
However, in point of politician’s view it seems it should be obvious, that it’s hard to treat without Public Relation if somebody cares to stay in power.22 Also from this perspective there obliges the rule, that time of campaign is too short to get trust and votes of citizens, and mainly it is the matter about this. In this matter politician disposes with wide range of manoeuvre. He can afford to employ a specialist of Public Relation. However, because of being a councilor he’s got especially easy access to mass media. It is enough for him to behave in an interesting and a bit unconventional way. In this range ones choose the way of scandal, the others create themselves as statesman, and the others “have no idea for themselves”.
The last one may constitute a source of problems. Fundamentally, a politician should have a determined vision both of himself and his political actions; however Public Relation should be involved in the realization. As it was mentioned, proper and true information, clear and pure picture of politician’s actions, building reliability and making sympathy of electorate is basic. However it often happens, that building of image and trust in relation with politician on the strength of the true, because intentions and actions of politician don’t have a lot in common with honesty23.
In situations like this, “spin doctors” take the initiative. They are specialists perfectly knowing methods of Public Relation, however working on the basis and with the participation of lies or “a beautified” true to the point of given politician24. They do everything to achieve the aim, well to create this character of politician, who will be popular, media and will win the next election. On the some way this is the realization of social need for the determined product, the determined politician who will be sold good (Gazzaniga, M. S. 1992).
Both in Nigeria and United States it’s hard to unmask so called “black Public Relation”, nevertheless it is beyond doubt that it takes a place. It is worth to bear in mind that lies always comes to light.25 So travestying the popular saying, black Public Relation has got the “short legs”. Admittedly there exists range of actions consistent with ethic, which can be taken by politician willing to promote his vision of the country, the reputation or the identity. As an example he may retain a permanent contact with electors on the direct way, so through the meetings with inhabitants of a district, which he was elected in, participation in celebrations and social actions, and on the indirect way, such as reports, brochures, mailing, used in time of election campaign “door to door”, which, for example, volunteers being supporters of candidate are engaged in.
As it was mentioned before, access to mass media is substantial in the case of a Member of Parliament or senator; it is enough to use invitations appropriately for debates or journalistic programs, and afterwards to present itself and its program correctly, according to its vision. In the case of politician, whom lacks good manners or over excitable one, there is indispensable to prepare to public appearance earlier, both in regard to substantial one and diction, manners etc.26
However it can’t be a directed show: it rather matters about some helpful directions of an experienced political or media adviser. It’s worth here to pay attention that need of Public Relation in politics bears the perspectives of development for political scientologists, who can conquer new job market, because it seems that need for this kind advisers increases, though on the other hand, unfortunately it means that the level of political elites decreases.
A politician is also a party, which, as a rule, he is member of, and in this matter there exists the need of actions of Public Relation, too. Aspiration to achieving of the affection at shaping the will and political consciousness of citizens constitutes the basic of the actions, to be able to affect at life of society and, according to its aims, to build the basis of its existence. It means that parties can’t limit actions exclusively to time of campaign, though it should be noticed, that the schedule of these actions is quiet different because of the public, which there are directed to.27
In time of election campaign, activity is concentrated at strong transmission onto media, sponsors and, in the first place, so called “undecided groups of electors” way, whereas besides it, parties mainly turn to its members, followers and the wide public.28That second destination group allows using on consideration of itself other Public Relation methods, such as a party newspaper, party congresses, and regional and in smaller groups meetings, and also announcements, reports and messages. And to the wide public, as a rule, there are directed various, printed, information materials, press conferences and reports passed about the party and its working, through the medium of electronic media.29
Every party can use even other techniques of self- promotion, it can, and it even must use to this their leaders and persons enjoying the popularity. The polish parties already know that Public Relation most often is the key action. Above contemplations over a need of good public relation in politics don’t exhaust the subject, in the first place because of its different aspects and its substantial complexity. No penetration in Public Relation symptoms, neither it’s deep analyze were my aim. My only way was indicating of possibility of using and expression of Public Relation in relations of politics and citizens. I have not exhausted the subject of possibilities of using of specific Public Relation means.
Moreover it’s worth to emphasize, that the right understanding of Public Relation in actions of group exercising power boils down to shaping of relations in two areas: inside and outside. The inside area includes the right composition of relation inside of organization exercising the power, being a political background of president. In this area, there are also situated another institutions, which’s work is subordinate to this, the aim of this relation is increasing of level of identification of persons being located in this area with president, his way of management and represented values. Whereas the outside area indicates, that there is needed a general social acceptation for person exercising power. Outside influences are relations on the both ways, president at inhabitants and also inhabitants at president. Receiving a social support for own actions reinforces a person exercising power, simultaneously weakening the competition.
“In practice, it may be based on recognized and historically accepted, universal values being the basic of Pubic Relation,30 responsibility, reliability, honesty, trust, loyalty and manifesting the truth. However elector can’t be cheated, and in a longer perspective success achieved basing at actions socially defined as reprehensible or morally doubtful may be turn into an irreversible in results defeat.
Summarizing it should be claimed, that the called arguments demonstrate right to need, necessity of using and permanent existence of Public Relations in politics, in our Nigerian reality, with using our methods and ideas. This is an indispensable phenomenon for all: governing, governed, also for these, who still have no idea about it. Public Relation will not only help to some politicians to win election, but it will allow building a citizen society.
This influence unusually effectively causes the gained election results guaranteeing exercising power, because persons employed in institutions dependent on president (all together with the family circle and kith), constitute very large group. In effect, it may determine the election result for the benefit of president exercising power. This electorate is characterized with particular discipline and a tangible motivation in supporting of president holding office. Influence may cause strong and permanent relationship, especially with president expertly managing with self-government. Worked positive relation unusually strongly inter relates employees with their boss, creating relationships generated with motivation systems, right communication, participating in management, as similarly as in every managing or economic organization.
Outside influence in the period of exercising power,31 directed to electorate, directly and through the medium of factors influencing at this should be based on catalogue of values accepted by a political group, values coherent with program of the group and its created image.
Augustyn, A. (2003). Public relations jako instrument komunikacji marketingowej, [w:] „Optimum”, nr 1/2003.
Cenker, E. (2002). Public relations, Poznań 2002.
Dereń, A.M. (1999) Prawne uwarunkowania public relations w Polsce, Bydgoszcz 1999.
Dobek-Ostrowska, B. (1999). Studia z teorii komunikowania masowego, Wrocław 1999.
Goban-Klas, T.(1997). Public Relations, czyli promocja reputacji, Warszawa 1997.
Jabłoński, W., Sobkowiak, L. (2002). Marketing polityczny w teorii i praktyce, Wrocław 2002.
Olędzki, J. (2002). Public relations – sztuka budowania zaufania, [w:] „Studia Medioznawcze”, nr 3/2002.
Portal Mediów i PR, [w:] http://www.pressence.com.pl, [01.04.2007].
Portal PR, [w:] http://www.piar.pl, [01.04.2007].
Riklin, A..(2000). Niccolo Machiavellego nauka o rządzeniu, Poznań 2000.
Wilkos, S., Ferenc, W. (2001). Kampania wyborcza. Strategia-taktyka-komunikacja, Warszawa 2001
Wojcik, K., Public Relations od A do Z, Warszawa 2001.
1 Sobkowiak, B. (1999). Public relations jako forma komunikowania masowego, [w:] B. Dobek-Ostrowska (red.), Studia z teorii komunikowania masowego, Wrocław 1999; A. Augustyn, Public relations jako instrument komunikacji marketingowej, [w:] „Optimum”, nr 1/2003, pp. 105-118.
5 Vercic, Dejan. (2005); Reflective communication management, future ways of public research. In: Kalbfleisch, P. J., (Ed.) Communication Yearbook 29. Pp. 239-273 and also see Goban-Klas, T. (1997). Public Relations, czyli promocja reputacji, Warszawa 1997, p. 12