The Public Relations specialist should be able to answer the following questions:
- How much can each public category influence the organization’s efforts of achieving its specific aims?
- Which is the public’s interest in the relationship with the organization?
- What common values share the public and the organization?
- Which the leaders of opinion and the factors that influence the public’s decision?
- Which is the social and demographic profile of the public?
- Which is the public’s opinion about the organization?
- Which is the public’s opinion about the specific problems of the organization, which are debated at a certain moment?
From my own experience in this field of activity (which is short, but very concentrated) I noticed some aspects, concerning the relations with the public, that bothered me:
- The citizen who enters an institution of Public Administration is received and questioned first by the guard / police officer / guard officer;
- There are no indicators showing the way to the Department of Public Administration or at least to the Information Office (or even to the Registrar’s Office, if the institution doesn’t have the first two ones);
- Supposing that the citizen “thirsty for adventure” succeeds in finding and entering the office, nobody will pay any attention to him once there (there are cases in which the employees don’t even take their eyes from the papers). He must speak loudly, cough, become anxious and start making gestures;
- After he succeeds in drawing attention towards him, he is given to understand that he bothers with such a behaviour;
- While he is indirectly shown that he is a disturbing element, the citizen is “scanned”, classified and labeled according to clothes, shoes, haircut, manicure, wrinkles, accessories, annexes etc.;
- The citizen manages to tell the reason why he is that institution / office and what he wants in fact; somebody will “explain” to him with an “I’m better than you” attitude that his “problem” cannot find a solution in that office;
- The customer – citizen will have to follow again the steps mentioned above, at least a couple of times, until his “problem” is solved;
- Because of so much time wasted, when he finally gets to the right office, he finds there a big queue – or even worse – he doesn’t find anybody because it is closed!;
- Consequently “the adventurer” comes back the next day directly at the right office, where he finds out that the time table is not respected;
- He waits and asks for details; an employee tells him that there is only “one day of relations with the public”, which is not written in the time table, and it was yesterday!;
- One week later the citizen, calm and resigned, stays at the well-known queue and when he gets to pay his taxes to the state, the computer network blocks…
I have to admit that I exaggerated a little bit, in many Romanian institutions of Public Administration it is better than this – and nobody would be that patient as to stand these “stages”, although he might be that unlucky. But I made this description to draw attention to the dangers we may face in case CHANGE doesn’t come into force. And Public Relations are a good starting point. And what follows…
By Raluca Filip