Informal Attitudes towards Change

The participants in an informal situation are not entirely aware of what happens. That is why, if you don’t pay attention, you may have serious problems.

In Latin America, the institution of family developed so much, in size, stability and influence, that it seems incredible for the North Americans, for example. Their government, on the other hand, does not have such an important place in the scheme of things as in the case of North Americans. The law in Latin America is technically reinforced, “quite as it should be”, but it is mediated by the family relations.

So the Latin Americans interpret law in a strict way and it is only in front of the Court where they try to influence the system – North Americans take the liberty to interpret law in a certain way but they become tough and technical once the law machine starts.

What circle do Romanians join? No one and all, which it means they DON’T join any of them. What I want to say in fact is that every institution of Public Administration in Romania has a different attitude towards change (as people who work there and the ones who lead it have), and it depends on it how Public Relations are regarded and their role in organizational culture and implicitly in improving the relationship with the other countries.

It is obvious that in time all the organizations tend to become self-oriented, concentrated to work more for themselves than for the public and their customers. In the private field, to a certain extent, competition or the threat of new competitors entering the market can stop this tendency. But in the public field usually there is few competition or there isn’t at all. The election mechanism is an out of order instrument and very often useless for keeping public organizations at the top and careful of the citizens’ wishes. The majority of the local authorities need to test themselves constantly. There are outer evaluations – from the center and audit – but they are based on formulae and general things.

A responsible local organization is the one that listens and learns by itself. An active policy for communication must be a part of the programme of Public Relations. Listening to the public one may hear complaints and critics as well as positive suggestions about allocating resources and ways of improving the services. An open and wide communication with the public is also a discipline: the institution must speak the same language as the public and express worries in such ways as to remove discrepancies between the organization and citizens.

 But this should be done once with the removal of communication in excessively formal terms. Local authorities are “political” bodies that swim in a sea of attitudes and ideologies. The way people think about political personalities and parties and the way their position about important problems that have to do with the distribution of resources is reflected on long term are all influenced by signs and signals coming from the institutions of Local Public Administration. Communication is a part of the democratic body that is local government.

Communication is not spontaneous, though. It is not a part of a natural order. On the contrary, left alone, the staff and elected members might “sink” in silence or use the well- known narrow channels of conversation – the political party and the professional network. Constant effort is necessary to communicate with the society. That is why this process must be energetically led, on the basis of the maximum understanding – between the parties – of the lines and melody that make the song.

 There are seven major sins related to Public Relations (Joseph F. Awad, 1985):

  1. Functional myopia – the failure in appreciating the whole aim of the important contribution that Public Relations can bring to a good management;
  2. The tap’s philosophy – we will head towards Public Relations whenever we need it…;
  3. Placing the vehicle before the horse – who needs research?;
  4. Local anesthesia – let’s deal with this at a local level!;
  5. The good news neurasthenia – we believe in the entire and complete public information as long as it is positive and it is favourably reflected on us…;
  6. The tic of sudden communication – why do you accuse us of lack of communication? – the information was mentioned in our last annual report!;

The illusion of the shadow – the philosophy of not being remarked. This absurdity is based on the belief that the organization may become invisible whenever it wants.

By Raluca Filip