- Strategic Communication from a PR Viewpoint
- Third Sector
- Strategic Communication in the Third Sector
- Key Concerns and Challenges in the Third Sector
- Meaning of Concerns and Challenges in the Application of Strategic Communication
- PR-related Examples
Strategic Communication from a Public Relations Viewpoint
Strategic communication is essential for an organizations public relations strategy. Therefore, public relations create a relationship between an entity and members of public organization including its clients. Strategic communication assists organizations in shaping meaning, building trust, creating reputation, and managing the relationships between external and internal stakeholders. It fosters growth of the organization and secures its operation freedom (Zerfass & Huck, 2007). It is clear that public relations offer organizations opportunities to interact with their stakeholders in and outside the entity.
The relations are reinforced by strategic communication. Hallahan, Holtzhausen, Ruler, Vercic, & Sriramesh (2007), state that the purpose of public relations revolves around establishment and upkeep of useful relationships with the principal individuals. They include clients, investors, donors, volunteers, employees, government officials, and community leaders. Strategic communication is planned and is aimed at attaining a given purpose. The management has to strategize on the information that should reach these stakeholders, and it should have channels to receive feedback. Therefore, from a public relations perspective, strategic communication is the process that enables an organization to relate well with its stakeholders. It assists them in understanding their role and fostering their willingness to continue playing their role in the organization.
The Third Sector constitutes various not-for-profit and nongovernmental organizations (Lyons, 2001). The Third Sector organizations include diverse voluntary, community, and social entities, which do not fit in the classifications of business or government sectors (Sheehan & Xavier, 2009). It also includes activities of volunteers and charity, which is their sustenance. Although the Third Sector organizations have numerous differences among them, it is vital to note that as a group, they differ from for-profit entities, and also from government organizations. Organizations in the Third Sector form the major component in various industries. The organizations operate in the health services, housing, sport, finance, culture, community services, rural, and education industries among others (Adams & Nigel, 2008).
They vary significantly in their activities, as well as, in size. They include organizations operating in the localities, professional associations, and religious organizations. They also operate locally, nationally, regionally, and internationally (Adams & Nigel, 2008). For example, the National Kidney Foundation Singapore is a national organization in the Third Sector, which operates in Singapore only. On the other hand, the United Nations and its affiliate organizations operate internationally.
The Third Sector has played a vital role in the development, hence earning it recognition in numerous countries. Different industries and sectors use diverse terms to refer to the Third Sector. They are non-government, non-profit, voluntary foundations, friendly society, charitable organizations, and clubs among others. The positive and inclusive nature of the term Third Sector has led to its acceptance internationally. Organizations in the Third Sector are beneficial to their members, as well as, the entire population. They are funded by donors and sponsors so as to attain the given goals in the society. They empower people so as to raise their living standards. Such organizations have been involved in numerous humanitarian activities. For example, after a natural disaster they assist the affected people to restart their lives.
Strategic Communication in the Third Sector
The contemporary world has improved activities due to globalization and technological advancement. As a result, organizations can operate throughout the world with regular directions and guidance from a single head office. It is applicable in all organizations including private sector. For an organization to subsist in the modern competitive environment, the Third Sector organization must employ management strategies similar to for-profit entities. The interested parties, especially sponsors and donors, require seeing that their money is utilized in the intended manner (Wiggill, 2011).
The management has to outline its vision, mission, objectives, and activities clearly for all stakeholders to understand. Therefore, strategic communication has a vital role in the effective management of the Third Sector organizations. The non-profit organizations strive to ensure that they recruit and retain sponsors and donors. As highlighted by Polonsky & Sargeant (2007), most of non-profit organizations lost half of their donors after receiving donations for the first or second time. It was verified that the main cause was lack of communication and relationship building. At the same time, most of these organizations lack proper understanding of the role of strategic communication in the establishment of enduring relationships with stakeholders (Polonsky & Sargeant, 2007).
Therefore, strategic communication is important in a number of ways. First, it assists an organization to deliver its mission and vision. It enables stakeholders to understand the goals and events, in which the association is involved. Second, it is a long term strategy, hence it is easily incorporated in the overall organizational strategy. Third, it makes it easy for the management to conduct its activities as all the necessary stakeholders are involved and considered. The non-profit organizations communicate through charity, advocacy, public education, and community services (Dimitrov, 2008). Strategic communication is well-articulated. Therefore, the organization understands the resources are needed to ensure successful communication. It involves in-depth planning and analysis.
Through the strategy, the organization is able to incorporate new technology in communication. For instance, technological advancement has led to the invention of social media, which is being used by numerous people and organizations. The social media has changed the manner, in which the Third Sector organizations engage with their stakeholders. It offers opportunities to communicate without incurring huge costs (Deschamps & McNutt, 2014). Therefore, strategic communication is vital in the operations of organizations in the Third Sector.
Key Concerns and Challenges in the Third Sector
Numerous factors impact on the Third Sector. For instance, due to the nature of its activities, it depends on volunteers and donors for human resource and funding, respectively (Johnston, Zawawi, & Demetrious, 2009). Volunteers need to be motivated to ensure their involvement. In addition, values play a vital role in the decisions of volunteers. They need to comprehend goals and activities of a non-profit organization. Through strategic communication the organization creates a good brand, hence, attracting volunteers (Johnston, Zawawi, & Demetrious, 2009). In addition, it assists in keeping strong relationships with volunteers and motivates them as they understand that they are appreciated. Similarly, strategic communication assists in ensuring that donors understand the manner, in which their funds are used.
Regular and strategic communication retains such donors and supporters. Accountability is of utmost importance in the Third Sector. Strategic communication is one of the channels, through which organizations express their accountability to the relevant stakeholders (Johnston, Zawawi, & Demetrious, 2009).
These organizations face numerous challenges. For instance, they face bad publicity, which is attributed to the malpractices in some organizations (Beaudoin, 2004). It has been highlighted that they are used in the funding of terror activities (FATF, 2013). There have been increased government restrictions in the Third Sector. Recession also leads to the decreased volunteers and donations. Organizations also have a challenge attracting high-qualified members of staff and resources. In addition, the management tends to be tactical as opposed to strategic. Strategic communication assists in branding and creating a good reputation. When public understands good activities conducted by the organization, there will be an increase in donations and volunteers.
Meaning of Concerns and Challenges in the Application of Strategic Communication
Strategic communication is vital in dealing with the highlighted challenges and concerns. The nature of activities conducted by non-profit organizations requires external funding and volunteering. The organizations focus on publicity and tactics as opposed to strategy. Therefore, they react as events occur, rather than strategizing. Strategic communication ensures that all the stakeholders work towards the same objectives. It offers an overarching blueprint for the approach applied by the organization to realize its goals. When the organization makes all its activities clear and well-known, it will have a good brand, which will attract sponsors and volunteers. In addition, strategic communication enables proper articulation of the organizations activities.
Proper articulation of activities enables individuals and authorities to understand the organizations activities. Therefore, the organization does not suffer from bad publicity. In addition, being articulated and open ensures that it does not face some issues, such as those incriminating some not-for-profit organizations with terrorism. Therefore, when an organization in the Third Sector applies strategic communication it can tackle some of the issues and challenges it faces.
The National Kidney Foundation Singapore is a non-profit institution that offers services relating to kidney ailments at an affordable price. The institution relies heavily on the donors of funds, kidneys and human resource. The organization has a public relations division that ensures clear flow of communication between the institution and public and other stakeholders. Consequently, even after facing a few defamatory cases, it has prevailed and continued receiving donations and offering services (Tan, 2010). In another example, there is Project Hope, which has launched an online documentary film highlighting the lifesaving activities of volunteers. Through connection with celebrities and social media, it has directed traffic towards the video, which enhances its support and engagement worldwide (Garcia, 2012).
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