Saturday, January 7, 2012

Building customer relations through public relations on airlines websites: A study of airlines companies based in India

This paper was presented by me at the International Conference on Diversity & Plurality in Media - Reflections of Society, 27th and 28th December 2011 Organized by Makhanlal  Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication, Bhopal.

Title of the paper: Building customer relations through public relations on airlines websites:  A study of airlines companies based in India.


It has been observed that the Internet has become an important tool of communication, which facilitates business-to-consumer and business-to-business electronic commerce.  It is essential to create loyal customers to increase your business. James Grunig has emphasized that the two-way symmetrical model of organizational public relations depends on an honest and open two-way communication. It comprises of a give-and-take is usually reciprocal, rather than a one-way persuasion. This he adds, should be the driving force, for all public relations practices. The Internet brings Grunig’s two-way symmetrical model and Habermas’ (1962) ideas of open, transparent and responsive ideal speech into its domain. Esrock and Leichty (1999) stressed that corporate websites allow companies to engage in multi-stakeholder dialogue. Cooley and others emphasise the strength of the Internet’s interactive capabilities to transform public relations practice by enabling symmetric relations with publics. Kent and Taylor have also highlighted the importance of this concept in their five criteria for a dialogic web site. Thus websites of organisations can play an integral role in building relationships with their audiences.

The researcher studied: -

  • What are the various information and interactive feature on the airline websites?
  • What are the various types of services offered to enhance dialogic processes?

This study examined the interactive and information and service features on the homepages of airlines companies in India thus checking for presence of public relations elements on their sites. The research method used was quantitative content analysis. It gave an idea of the various techniques that airlines companies adopted to attract audiences to their websites, and if helped in building relationships with audiences. This study is expected to be useful to teachers, researchers, the current and future public relations practitioners.

Keywords: public relations, airlines, gatekeeping, internet, website, promotion

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