In my first blog (Theory plus a catwalk controversy) I discussed the importance of theory and how it is essential in practice to aid in making decisions and choices. The systems theory is one of the key guides of Public Relations theory and practice, which is active within managing organisations.
As an example we can apply the systems approach to an ecological system, such as the Great Barrier Reef. By doing this we are able to see that as a whole, the reef is made up of various parts which interact and rely on one another for function. Marine life and coral are intertwined with river systems, farming trends, ocean temperature, tourists and divers and radical changes in these types of systematic interactions can potentially damage the beauty of the reef. The existence of the reef is heavily reliant on the surrounding environment (Mehta & Xavier in Chia & Synnott, 2009). Similarly PR literature identifies a system as ‘a set of interacting units that endures through time within an established boundary by responding and adjusting to change pressures from the environment to achieve and maintain goal states’ (Cutlip, Center & Broom, 2006 as cited in Chia & Synnott, 2009). By being aware of events and occurrences in the environment, we are then able to see how changes may affect organisational goals and can adapt to effectively suit the needs of stakeholders.
In 2006 Star City’s employee opinion survey found that only 59 per cent of staff viewed the company’s communications as satisfactory and almost half saw it as inadequate. In aim to overcome this issue, Star City’s Public Relations team implemented, given the task of discovering innovative new ways to improve communications – and deliver key messages to staff. The main challenge was to get employees involved in communications which would ultimately make them feel more a part of the business.
The Public Relations Department at Star City liaised with the key business units to develop a strategy which addressed the communication problems among staff. This was achieved by:
- ‘Giving every employee access to the Managing Director to demonstrate that their views and questions are not only welcome but encouraged
- Devising interactive communication sessions where staff would actually enjoy learning about key issues
- Introducing a new reward program to recognise excellence – both inside and outside the workplace – to encourage superior customer service
This approach was most effective because it would engage employees from the outset – and from the highest level in the company – and involve them in every step.
The campaign proved that, by meeting the needs of employees for better communications, we were able to boost staff knowledge and improve customer service to record levels’ (Golden Target Awards, 2006).
Golden Target Awards. (2006). ‘Star City: Interactive Internal Communications’. Retrieved September 12, 2010, from http://www.lib.uts.edu.au/gta/?page=show&id=615
Mehta, A., Xavier, R. (2009). Strategies to Proactively Manage Activity. In J. Chia & G. Synnott, An Introduction to Public Relations: From Theory to Practice (pp. 248-270). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.
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