Corporations and governments have to pay increasing attention to the successful management of communication with their clients and critics, because consumer pressure groups and organizations such as Green Peace have forced them to take greater responsibility for the consequences of their actions, especially with regard to the physical environment. A variety of major political, medical and environmental crises and disasters (thalidomide victims, the Three Mile Island nuclear power station accident, the Bhopal chemical accident, the Chernobyl nuclear accident and BSE or ‘mad cow’ disease') and routine consumer difficulties with food poisoning, contaminated products or poor workmanship in commodities have forced commercial companies to take the questions of reputation, corporate image and consumer confidence more seriously.
The management of the information environment of the company by means of professional public relations has become a central component of corporate strategy in response to external risk. Communication management is now seen to be as significant as product management or personnel management. The rise of public relations as an academic discipline and as a corporate strategy are both a function of the increasing importance of electronic communication, consumer lobby groups and quality-control systems.Communication management can also be treated as a component of corporate citizenship, which argues that corporations have duties and responsibilities (with respect to the environment and the societies within which they operate) rather like individuals. Critics argue that ‘P R’ is designed not to offer clients correct information but to orchestrate PUBLIC OPINION in the interests of corporate profit.
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