Cross-Cultural Research Relevance in Public Relations: An Analytical Appraisal
IOSR Journal of Business and Management
This work is an examination of cross-cultural or intercultural research relevance in public relations. It adopts the analytical approach in exploring the fusion between fact-finding on the cultural environments of the publics of an organization and achievement of mutually beneficial relationship that organization and its publics. Therefore to learn more about public relations practice, it is important to explore the assumptions underlying the issue of cross-cultural research. It was recommended
... among others, that since public relations agencies, in most cases operate or engage clients who transcend various cultures, it becomes imperative that cross-cultural research would be, particularly, indispensable in achievement of public relations objectives. I. Introduction Professions, people, institutions and organizations do not exist in a vacuum. They exist in a specific culture or socio-cultural environment. Public relations is a profession that basically deals with the maintenance of a good relationship between an organization and its publics. Public relations agencies operate within specific cultural settings. Be it an international or local agency, its operations factor in the cultural settings of the host community of the agency or that of the target audience. Culture is all-encompassing sphere which permeates every facet of life. Public relations is a profession that deals with various publics often sometimes existing in diverse cultures. For any business activity to survive it must thread cautiously in the cultural terrain in order not to hurt the sensibilities and value convictions of business owners, host community members, and target audience. If culture refers to patterns of behaviours and thinking that people living in a social group learn, create and share (Encata Encyclopedia, 2006), then it is a thread that lines the society and its various components, including the professions, disciplines, one of which is public relations. Ever since Ivy Lee handed out the first fact sheet about public relations to journalists in 1906, public relations has been described as a mediated communication activity used to reach out multiple publics. Prevailing opinion has been that public relations practitioners are in an ideal position to bridge the gap between the media and general public. While it is true that public relations practitioners often perform this boundary-spanning function, the media and the general public are not always the target of public relations activities and communication. In specific terms, the publics of any public relations activity vary according to the organization"s mission/vision. It is, perhaps, for this reason that Taylor and Kent (2009:131) state that the practice of public relations focuses on a variety of key publicsshareholders, employees, suppliers, activists, the media and the consumers. However, it may be added that these publics are not stereotyped. They may vary in their intellectual capabilities, educational background, environmental settings, religious inclinations, political ideologies, etc. For this reason, therefore, public relations scholars have examined the roles, functions and assumptions about public relations practices and have found out that the conception and the execution of public relations campaigns/programmes are affected by the cultural nuances upon which the organization publics operate. Corroborating the above statement, Mclaren, (2003:112) explains thus: ...while the principles of public relations remain the same, it has became apparent that public relations practitioners are aware of how best to carry this out when dealing with their own nations and cultures. However, it has become crucial to recognize that when dealing with a foreign audience it is critical that cross-cultural differences are recognized ... The bottom line is that cross-cultural differences can make or break a public relations campaign. It is, therefore, critical that public relations practitioners, dealing with public relations campaigns that incorporate a cross-cultural element, analyze likely cross-cultural differences. It is against this background that this paper examines the critical role of cross-cultural research in public relations with a view to ascertaining what public relations agencies ought to do to factor this in, while striving to achieving public relations campaign objectives.