Monday, June 6, 2011

Do we know our publics?

Public Relations practitioners are constantly looking for different media to publish their press releases, articles, interviews, features, analysis etc.It is done so that as much as coverage is obtained.It is also done hoping that as many people to whom the news is related to are reading or watching it.

But what are these different types of publics to whom our news concerns? Does it matter to all in a similar manner or are there 'situational' publics?

James Grunig proposed the 'Situational Theory' (Grunig & Hunt, 1984). He explained that publics can be identified and classified according to how much they are aware of a problem and to what extent they could do something about it. The theory studies the formation of publics and how organisations should keep a watch and segment them accordingly so that communication is done to that specificity.The theory identifies the following four categories: 

  • Non-publicNo problem is identified or exists
  • Latent publicProblem exists, but public does not see it
  • Aware publicGroup identifies that a problem exists
  • Active publicGroup is aware of the problem and co-ordinates to take an action    
If we notice the different kinds of campaigns that have happened in our country, whether it was the Jessica lal case, fight for the Bhopal gas victims, the latest anti-corruption campaigns etc, you will see that there will always be some who will sit up and notice and act upon it.It all depends on how much it affects them and what they feel they can do about it.The rest of us will only discuss it casually over tea or on social media sites etc.

Knowledge of our publics is necessary so that behavioral change can be expected, to change people from being latent to aware to active publics as explained above. So what motivates us to react uniformly on an issue? Is some other motivation needed? Or can we act uniformly on an issue?

Do let me know your views.


  1. Interesting. So who exactly is Baba Ramdev's 'publics' and also that of Anna Hazare? To which publics is their message reaching? To the media or to the people of the country? What I saw was people on stage playing to the gallery. Who is really leading this fight against corruption? Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev or the media? How do we look at these recent happenings from the perspective of the above theories?

  2. Dear Mangesh Karandikar
    Definitely there is a public to whom the message is being sent to but surely it doesn't seem to be us.

  3. On the contrary, could it be just possible that we ARE the publics that we are being manipulated? CWG to 2G to Lokpal to Black Money in Swiss Banks? What next?

    Do you think that there is a pattern where the publics are latent, then become aware and further become active? Is this pattern being manipulated to make the active ones passive and latent over an issue?

  4. Well we will have to check that as that does not fall into the preview of this topic.This topic mainly says that organisations will have to find out who are their publics, and the fact that all publics may not react in an uniform manner as it appears.

  5. The number of Aware Public is getting lesser and they are becoming latent. The entertainment offered through digital technologies are making our society dumb.

  6. Absolutely Right - , Knowledge is essential to be spread first to all segments of people and then to be classified based on the Reaction .

    I feel it mainly depends on whats the best you can do to contribute beyond our regular responsibilities . THe Tool could be any thing .. Even a Discussion across the Tea about the isssue is the only thing one can do . But he is infact using that as an oppurtunity to spread the awareness of the issue to some one direct or to the indirect listeners in that place .

    Huge Topic cant finish in these few lines

  7. @Jayaprakash Sir , Like to add few more points on that ... I Second what you said ... yes the entertainment industry is making soceity dump . We dont get anything out of the Comedy and Song Programs .
    I hear from one of my friend abt a common sight in Villages nowadays - People laying in bed and watching TV lazily . Wherein they were the same set of people brisk and energetic working in agriculture years back ..Coutesy the FREE TELEVISION .

    But its the same Digital Media that helps as a Backbone for all these Protests on injustice as on todays Date . The only way is to hope a normal viewer of Television will Role to programs on News or Hot debates Some day :-)

  8. Thank you for your views C.R.Jayaprakash and Sahayaraj.

  9. Dear Ms. Meenakshi Upadhyay,
    really interesting!

    I compleletly agree with you. Knowledge/ understanding about the'Public'is IMP. it is crucial. yup definetlt diff with various media forms thus it asks for varied level to study each of them. for eg take facebook itself -

  10. Yes true, identification of audience helps decides so many issues.