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Critically analyse and evaluate the role of public relations in the practice of corporate communications.

1.0 Introduction

The following essay will apply theories and models to evaluate the role that public relations plays in a corporate environment, relevant examples will also be used to demonstrate how public relations has a vital role in increasing brand and company awareness, protecting and enhancing a company's reputation, educating an audience and crisis communications management. The critique of whether existing public relations models and theories are of use today will also be documented towards the close of the essay.

Communication is a key component in the strategic corporate plan and has earned a prominent status amongst many corporations worldwide. Public relations is a tool that supports corporate communication by utilizing the most ideal activities for the corporation to communicate their desired message, at the right time, according to Fall (2004). Corporate communications plays an increasingly important role in the functioning of an organisation, and often public relations is a very large part of this, according to Dolphin and Fan (2000). Corporate communication has developed into a discipline that, as commented by Dolphin and Fan (2000), has a strategic role within the growth and the maintenance of an organization. Sharing this view is Winner (1993) who proposes that public relations, as a facet of corporate communications, have a vital role in the development of the total business system. As public relations forms a strategic part of corporate communications activities it carries several roles, depending on the aims and overall goals of each specific company (Guth 1995). These roles will be explored throughout this essay; each role will be discussed in relation to its relationship with forming key issues in communication strategies.

Public relations theory has therefore been developed, by theorists such as Heath (2001), who have taken the initiative to develop a rhetorical theory of public relations, which demonstrates two-way communication between an organization and its publics. Heath (2001) describes the rhetorical theory of public relations as showing how a corporation and its publics both test, values, choices and policies that are importance to both themselves and the person they are communicating to. This notion of public relations relates to the ever-increasing democracy and empowerment of the consumer and also relates to the strong and importance relevance that the Internet plays in communication between a corporation and its publics, nowadays, in the 21st century.

7.0 Conclusion

To conclude, public relations plays a vital role within corporate communications, in that it can increase a brand awareness, educate, protects and maintain a reputation and be a useful tool to conduct crisis management communication. Many corporations have successfully used and combined public relations with other promotional and communication activities as a way to achieve these aims, additionally, a large amount of the theory researched on this matter found that public relations was greatly concerned with image management, and as the image of the corporation forms the essence to what it needs to communicate, it can also be argued that public relations plays a vital role in the corporate communications of any organisation. As many authors have documented within this report have demonstrated how public relations is often also known as corporate communications, thus suggesting how the two functions of a corporation are so closely linked because they are vital to the successful communications between a corporation and its public. In addition, it was found that traditional public relations theories and models, that are concerned with the symmetrical theory of public relations are becoming made redundant by the development of post-modern public relations theories which not only recognise two way communication, but also that the Internet has affected the validity of traditional public relations through its alignment with the development of a plural and democratic society.

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