|Does Public Relations contribute to democracy in South Africa?|
- by Rene Benecke CPRP
Dominant paradigms determine public relations practice and to many the Excellence Theory of Grunig still seems to be the dominant paradigm (Gower, 2006). Other scholars are asking questions about the social and multi-paradigmatic influence of public relations in democracies.
In South Africa with our diverse society, strained relationships, struggling economy, competitive public relations industry, and quest for professionalisation some may ask “what is the current status of the industry and its role in promoting social change?
|‘Green’ Public Relations – Rising above the green noise|
|Angela Barter CPRP|
South Africa’s growing population continues to place ever-more pressure on our country’s scarce resources, demanding that government, companies and individuals become more environmentally-conscious.
This is evident in a raft of new ‘green’ legislation from government, as well as existing and new companies joining the ‘green’ economy to provide environmentally-friendlier products and services to a rapidly growing number of ‘green’ consumers who are, according to businessdictionary.com, “mindful of environment-related issues and obligations, and is supportive of environmental causes to the extent of switching allegiance from one product or supplier to another even if it entails higher cost”.
As a result, increasing numbers of companies want to promote the environmental attributes and ‘green’ claims of their products and services to capture the attention and loyalty of this new consumer market. This, unfortunately, has given rise to the unethical and immoral practice of ‘greenwashing’, which according to environmental marketing firm Terrachoice is “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service” through, for example, incorrect claims, factual errors, misrepresentation or omission of information in their marketing and public relations communication. Two pertinent examples include advertising and public relations focussing on a single ‘green’ aspect of a product misdirecting attention from its true total environmental impact and publishing green claims that are so vague, they cannot be substantiated or disproved.
|Our youth – the industry and academia collaborates|
|Rene Benecke CPRP|
At the beginning of the year academic matters seem to be in the spotlight especially after the matric results were released and issues about the youth and their futures are making the headlines. In the newly released White paper on Post-School Education and Training (of 9 January 2014 available on www.gpw.co.za) one of the key objectives is a stronger relationship and collaboration between institutions and the workplace. The question is how do we do this? How do we ensure that industry and academia collaborate and build stronger relationships to benefit young and future practitioners?
One suggestion is to involve ourselves in the world of the other. Forming closer partnerships should be easy if current platforms of engagement are better utilised and new ones are established. Consultancies such as Waggener Edstrom and Ogilvy are involved with the Department of Strategic Communication at the University of Johannesburg with the aim to provide students with an opportunity to experience the exciting world of consultancy, develop strategy and be involved with activations. Students are also offered internships and future career opportunities in addition to the valuable experience of the so called “real world”.