Definition of Public Relations 1. ‘Public Relations are the management through communication of perceptions and strategic relations between an organisation and its internal and external stakeholders’. 2. The Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) adopted this definition for ‘public relations are deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its various publics - both internally and externally’ (Skinner & Von Essen 1998:4-6). PUBLIC RELATIONS AND RELATIONSHIPS Most of the latest research in public relations has focused on organisation-public relationships. The relational perspective of Public Relations proposes that the primary purpose of Public Relations professionals in the organisation is to build sustainable and a long term relationships with key stakeholders in the organisation‘s environment. These relationships should be managed so that the public and the organisation‘s interests are balanced and a mutual benefit is gained from this relationship. Relationships also give organisations a competitive advantage. Development of the Relational View of Public Relations 1. Recognition of the central role of relationship in Public Relations. A major shift occurred in the core focus of public relations research. The focus moved away from the organisation, the stakeholder (or public) or the communication as the unit of analysis, to the relationships that exist between and because of these key constructs. 2. The re-conceptualisation of Public Relations as a management function. The notion of managing organisation-public relationships introduced management concepts and processes to the management of this organisation function. 3. The identification of components and types of relationship that link to various aspects of public relations as well as relationship management. These two constructs are linked to public attitudes, perceptions, knowledge and behaviour and relationship measurement strategies. These construct and the relationship between these constructs were tested and used for predicting various aspects related to stakeholders, organisational behaviour and performance. 4. The construction of relationship models. These models conceptualised the formation, maintenance and outcomes of organisation-public relationship. Relationships are distinct phenomena that are separate from the characteristics of the relationship partners and should be measured as such. Characteristics of Effective Relationships Successful relationships are characterised by mutual benefit. It is where organisations employ tactics to increase the awareness of stakeholders and then in decision-making. Relationship termination costs Relationship benefits Shared values Communication Opportunistic behaviour Organizational Communication According to Mersham and Skinner (1999:4) organisational communication refers to all forms of communication that takes place among member organisations, either big or small, and this is also referred to as internal communication. Organisation communication forms are as follows: keeping records, writing notices, participating in group discussions and completing reports, to name a few. Organisations generally implement a hierarchical structure to facilitate effective communication. These levels of communication include intrapersonal communication, interpersonal communication and small group communication. Types of Organisational Structure An organisation that makes use of a functional organisational scheme classifies its activities into functions such as purchasing management, operational management, marketing management and PR management. The emphasis is on the similarity of specialised skills and responsibilities, irrespective of particular goals.