Archives October 2013

Using Public Relations agencies

Advantages in using Public Relations agencies

  1. The partners from the agency are independent and are thus able to give neutral advice. There is also a strong but wrongly guided tendency to respect the advice that comes from the outside, preferring it to the one that is as good or even better from the inside.
  2. The employed staff worked or is still working for other customers as well and has a greater experience for different situations;
  3. The cost of the service is known before and has a direct relation with the agreed programme. The budget can be slowly varied from time to time and there is no question about social protection or supplementary reward;
  4. If the results do not reach the expected level, the contract can be easily cancelled or amended.


  1. An outside firm might not have detailed knowledge about the activities of the institution and needs careful information. The regular consultancy is essential and the failure in this regard is the most common cause of insatisfaction and finally of cancelling the contract;
  2. The questions of the press are not concrete or easy to answer, they must be given to the organization and this slows down the speed of answer, so important in the relations with the media;
  3. There could come up a lack of continuity because the staff of the agency may leave or change the functions.

 By Raluca Filip Iasi

The own Public Relations department

Advantages of the own department of Public Relations

  1. The chief of Public Relations should have regular and direct access to the top management and this is obviously easier when everybody is in the same building;
  2. The staff is better trained to answer quickly to the press and to look for supplementary information in other departments, if necessary;
  3. The members of the staff have the chance to anticipate problems. These contacts are of great help particularly in planning and implementing the programmes of internal relations;
  4. The staff identifies themselves with the aims and objectives of the organization and has a personal interest in their success;
  5. If the size of the organization guarantees, the economy and efficiency may be increased by dividing it in separate subsections to be in charge with the relations with the media, with the public, exhibitions, publications etc.


  1. There is this tendency of underestimating the survey of those we are used to;
  2. The members of the staff may become the slaves of the same way of thinking and approaching to problems;
  3. The opportunity of assuring a better promotion and remuneration may be stopped by the manager’s wish to keep equality with other senior employees;
  4. There is this tendency to give strange responsibilities to the department of Public Relations.

  By Raluca Filip

The hatching hen

Have you met a “hatching hen”? You surely did. You had to deal with this character. Let me describe you my hatching hen:

           1.The hatching hen can be a woman or a man, of any age.

– s/he has a neutral expression on her/his face (poker face), no matter what s/he talks or listens

– s/he has sloooow moves, you think you’re in an American parody which excessively uses slo-mo effect

– s/he speaks slowly but especially with fainted voice, almost whispering. If you are not quiet, you lose the chance to receive an important piece of information. Some hatching hens use this trick as part of a control strategy to impose on others, some hatching hens are usually drained of strength.

– s/he gives off ZEN politeness that you want to shove it up her/his throat. In fact s/he really wants to annoy you and than to imply that YOU’re the difficult interlocutor/client

         2.One can meet the hatching hen in all sorts of organizations, apparently more often in the public system

– the hatching hen is found in execution positions but also in management positions, in private businesses and in public institutions

– s/he hatches everything: words, documents, messages, answers, the help you ask her/him as a colleague (the goal being not your personal interest but your department’s and thus the organization’s). You’re sick and tired of it and you want to give up and you really would but you are organic-departmental linked to your hatching hen

  1. The hatching hen bristles up and pinches if you disturb her/him

– if you’re not her/his direct superior you have to be very careful when you express your colleague demands to the hatching hen. Clear, rarely and many times. But polite, scholastic and obliged.

– even if you are her/his boss, don’t rely on her/him to finish an assignment, for you to cross it out of the to-do-list. Don’t cross it out, verify first.

– s/he does important things (don’t know exactly what, very demanding though), s/he “sacrifices” for greater good and thus we have to tip toe and whisper.

– s/he springs at you if you bother her/him. That is why s/he is a hatching hen and not a hen.

  1. S/he always comes back to the nest

– my hatching hens are hatching hens forever. The real hatching hen, after she hatches and after the chicken come out and they grow up, she becomes hen again. My hatching hen remains so, hatching being the perpetual and natural state of being.

– do you have an urgent need NOW? S/he invites you to recap together the first symptoms, s/he gives you the rocket theory, s/he gives precious advices, always “from experience” and than asserts that you don’t really need what you ask. And s/he doesn’t have what you’re asking for, anyways.

– even if s/he is forced for a period of time to act “unnatural”, in the spirit of efficiency that is, time solves everything. S/he will always come back to hatching, with the satisfaction of the real hatching hen that removes the waiting peril for the eggs. With the winner’s satisfaction.

So if you hear me say a hatching hen annoyed me or that the X Business’ strategy man is a hatching hen, you’ll know what I mean and you won’t think I tried to fight the mother-hen.

 By Raluca Filip

Public Relations Pro`s key role

There is a major strategic role of Public Relations in an organization. Public Relations professionals may play a key role by gathering and interpreting information from inside and outside the organization and by presenting them as a strategy. On its basis the organization may adapt, change or initiate a dialogue so that it assures the continuity of maintaining the key stakeholders.

It was also demonstrated that the role of the experts in Public Relations varies according to the credit they are given within an organization. If they get a restriction to the role of tacticians, they will never come with the benefits that an organization may get from Public Relations – that is a deep knowledge of the key stakeholders’ attitude and behaviour, the management of problems and a proactive attitude towards a change environment. The variety of communication channels was very little discussed and the activity of Public Relations was considered in the context of the type of organization where it is placed.

It is generally accepted the opinion that good policies and external relations should have a solid basis on a good internal communication and those well-informed employees are more motivated. This reinforces the license of that organization that allows it to operate within the community – where a substantial number of employees are supposed to be living.

Working in the public sector is a challenge for Public Relations. As all the considerations that have to do with legality, ethics and technique, Public Relations in the public sector imply more stakeholders than in the private sector. They probably have some common features. A local council is often the greater employer in the community so the residents may be employed, may pay taxes and may be the addressees of a great variety of services starting with educating the children and ending with collecting the garbage. With public services such as the fire brigade, ambulance or police, the emotional level of their work is even more complicated because of the problems related to financing, national governing policies on which they have a limited control.

The supplementary complications in local administration also include the fact that the policy is established by the elected representatives, who operate on a basis set up by the political parties, while the clerks who carry out these policies cannot get involved, by law, in any political activity. Consultants, who may have been felt once that they were elected to act according to their conscience, are now required by the central administration to be more responsible with their stakeholders. Local administration had to move from the mentality of delivering services – telling the services’ addressees that what is offered is the only alternative – to an orientation towards the public customer, looking for the opinions of the users of services on what needed services and in which way.

Public institutions also changed the manner of delivering services and they re-organized, some of them deciding to deliver them locally, in order to improve the access, rather than force the users to come to a central office. The changes of provisions also needed changes in the staff’s abilities, from specialists to generalists – who should work in an office, facing more problems.

The objectives of Public Relations in Local Public Administration could be:

  • To establish, maintain and project the character and identity of the authority / institution / organization;
  • To create the understanding of an authority’s policies, procedures and activities, by keeping the customers as informed as possible;
  • To answer, when necessary, to the critics;
  • To establish and maintain effective channels of public communication and develop adequate techniques;
  • To create and maintain within the authority the acknowledgement of the need of communication with various groups of customers and assure a sustained level of answering to the citizens-customers’ needs and opinions.
  • To generally manage the authority’s function of Public Relations and to give advice on the implications of the authority’s policies and activities in Public Relations and on the formulation of Public Relations policies.

More and more local authorities use research to get the understanding of their customers.  Research is a clear basis for the duties and the projects of future policies, as well as for measuring the level of satisfaction towards the already existent services.

 Patrick Jackson identified six types of Public Relations campaign, being able to adapt (very well) to Public Administration:

  •  Public awareness;
  • Public information and awareness;
  • Public education;
  • Reinforcement of attitudes and behaviour;
  • Change of attitudes;
  • Change of behaviour.

A Public Relations department that is well managed will gain respect in the internal environment and allies who will help it attain its objects. A department that is well seen from the outside will be consulted and treated with confidence, and it will be a gain for the organization.

Local authorities have the tendency of being passive and reactive in what Public Relations are concerned and this is the reason why they are often confronted with negative reports. Researches show that if the public knows more about local authorities and their activities, its opinion tends to be in their favour.

In the country people don’t know details about how Local Public Administration is organized – there is a cognitive deficit, thus. Institutions of Local Public Administration should suppose the public knows little about their structure and activity and they shouldn’t avoid giving basic information. The first priority in Local Public Administration communication should be keeping simplicity.

The basic public attitude towards many local authorities is a negative one. Local authorities can and should change public attitudes. Citizens, even the most sophisticated ones, define themselves as customers and consumers. This raises the pressure on the Public Relations departments, as they have to look and answer like commercial organizations.

For some local authorities information is still seen as a prize or a privilege to be guarded and kept at any cost instead of being spread and shared for everybody’s benefit. The strategic approach to communication requires the elected members and clerks a new attitude towards information.

By Raluca Filip

The spokesman


The majority of thepeople in leading positions (more or less important, politicians or clerks) in Public Administration in Romania think they are good at everything, including at Public Relations. They don’t know how to build teams (to surround themselves) of skilled people (in different fields) to work with.

 Many institutions don’t even have a spokesman (or if there is one, he is not a specialist in Public Relations, but has a different training – sometimes really surprising!). That is why the messages of these institutions are contradictory, totalitarian and confusing.

There are six criteria for establishing good relationships with the media and the public – they apply both to the Spokesman and the president / manager of the organization who sometimes must take over this role and must understand the key factors of the organization’s representation. So this person must:

  •  Assure the support and the approval of top management for a positive policy of communication;
  • Know the facts and their implications, the organization’s policy and the way of thinking of its boss and to have the liberty of contributing to the creation of the policy, taking the necessary initiatives;
  • Have a positive, active approach to communication rather than a reactive one; Public Relations are supposed to be willing to build bridges and not defensive barriers.
  • Be able to communicate complex materials in simple, relevant, “every day” terms, and to have the authority to translate slang;
  • Be always available both in good and bad times; to hide under ground when the “gang” from the press is after you doesn’t help the victim and doesn’t stop the hunt either;
  • Never lie or show the wrong way because the bridges to the media and to the public fall under the weigh of cheat.

The spokesman needs these personal features in order to represent the organization in an adequate manner, but information is also necessary to send the message the institution plans and aims and the message will become confusing if it is not communicated in simple terms.

Sometimes, different advisers speak as if the organization activity in the void and it has control over all the decisions it makes. The truth is that when you make an announce, you get some points from the media, employees, partners and all those interested in the success of the organization.

The results of presenting a message may show up in a couple of seconds or years later. Be sure of the facts you present and never improvise or speculate. If it is better to let know the good news earlier and honestly, it is even more important with the bad ones.

The legal advisers could ask you not to say anything about a certain incident. Any excuse, they say, could be interpreted as recognition of the fault and this could be used in a possible action against the organization. Although the incident happened because of the organization’s mistake or carelessness, or a person’s lack of attention, the whole responsibility belongs to the organization. If they prove the organization is guilty, it is obvious that it wants to reward voluntarily, fast and consistently and not to base upon the eventual pressures of the judicial system – never mind all the negative associations that will be made if the organization neglects its responsibilities; it must be forced to have a decent attitude.

You will need that the jurists look over the declaration, but never allow them to stop you from making any commentary. Don’t make suppositions –at least test them – you must also know the other’s point of view and this because you don’t learn anything when you speak, but when you listen.

 By Raluca Filip

The Relations with Mass Media

In the relations with Mass Media (as well as with the public) the institutions of Public Administration haven’t got rid yet of the “estate secret” syndrome. We have a law of public information – well written in my opinion – there are specialized departments of Public Relations, which were set up exactly due to this law, but Public Relations do not effectively function.

 I will not discuss about here the professionalism (which includes, of course, objectivity, ethics and responsibility towards society) of Mass Media in Romania – maybe in another paper – but about the fact that the relations between public (directly and by mass media) and Public Administration are not how they should be mainly because of the attitudes from Public Administration.

Journalists are perceived as “enemies”, they are dreaded, people stay away from them (maybe they are right sometimes, but it’s still irrelevant) – but nobody thinks of seeing the circumstances of being in the newspaper as an opportunity with many sides.

Official statements to the press – an important part of the relations with mass media – are made tepid, edited and distributed “by ear” and at each institution in a different way – not an earthly about creativity or an open-minded language. Joseph Pulitzer gives a simple receipt for an efficient communication. The message to the public should be:

  • short – so that the public reads it;
  • clear – so that the public appreciates it;
  • picturesque – to remind it but more than anything
  • precise – so that the public is guided by its light.

Having to do with the media is a torture for some people, especially for those inexperienced and those who have a lot to lose; what should be perceived as an opportunity is seen as a harmful try. Showing up on a national / local channel of the radio or TV could seem a threat for your personality, your job, your things and your own feeling of controlling.

I don’t think there should be intimidation towards technology. Journalism and media continue to depend crucially on what they always depended on: not machines but human beings who are ready to speak, normal people – especially if they are capable of speaking with the media, with ability and in their favour.

Any journalist, who contacts you, no matter how, wants a story, an article and he is determined to get one. You can’t control this. But you have a kind of control or you can influence him with your way of telling the story.

From my point of view there are two kinds of news: the ones you want to see published and the ones you would prefer not to see published. But journalism doesn’t make this kind of distinction; it is only interested in the VALUE of the news.

As individuals, journalists are different, as the other people are: some are non-moral, others – scrupulous, stupid or very intelligent, rude or sensitive, careless or careful, narrow-minded or open-minded, with a rigorous perception of reality or with a foggy one.

One of the most irritating things that may happen to a journalist is when the contact person doesn’t bother to give him all the information and then complain that the reportage is not exact or is not adequate. It is always better to offer something than not to offer anything. Better you will understand the professional needs of the journalist, his personal identity and the constraints he must work with, better the results will be.

The easiest manner of interacting with the media is by treating journalists the same way you would like to be treated. In order to do this, you should imagine you are journalists. If you think journalism is an interesting and professional job, which is worth doing, then you will have no problem.

Obviously the target is building a good reputation in front of the public, but the starting point should be building a good reputation in front of the media. There should be gained the respect for the speed and efficiency of the approach, the integrity of information, the honesty in answering to questions, the access you allow to facilities and the personal and, more than anything, for the equal “vigor” with which you announce good and bad news.

Journalists are people. They are moved and motivated by the same things as we are. They answer in a positive manner if they are treated the same; they like to be treated with consideration and they don’t expect less.

Many organizations find themselves in trouble for trying to concentrate on those things they consider important and interesting. Do they forget about – or they don’t even take into consideration – what could be interesting for a journalist? What is he interested in? What is the public for which he writes interested in?

Trying to create good news when the organization wants it is a poor attempt. A wiser attitude would be making Public Relations a continuous, permanent strategic part of management. In other words, the organization should make real efforts to build relationships with the key audiences (including with the agents like the media and the analysts) that encourage them to speak what they know about the organization’s actions and to see it as an authority and a source of useful information. Thus not only that respect is gained but any bad news will seem better when you will obviously try harder to help than to hide.

 By Raluca Filip