Positive PR Theory: PR Actions in an Age of Uncertainty

  At present, all countries in the world are facing an internal and external environment full of uncertainty, and all organizations and individuals without exception are turbulent in a complex environment intertwined with various non-traditional risks and challenges. In August 2020, Xi Jinping pointed out in a symposium of experts in the economic and social fields that the world today is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. The international economic, technological, cultural, security, political and other patterns are undergoing profound adjustments, and the world has entered a period of turbulent change. At present, China’s public relations industry has rapidly matured in the long-term theoretical and practical exploration, and has accumulated a large number of useful cases and systematic solutions for various organizations to successfully achieve public relations goals, shape a positive organizational image, and achieve organizational development goals. Continue to provide value and intellectual support. However, the many tests brought about by complex external changes have forced us to try again to eliminate the influence and interference of various complicated and uncertain events and return to a profound reflection on the theory of public relations, in order to choose a kind based on Chinese culture. The traditional and contextual public relations theory with a high degree of internal and external adaptability serves as the theoretical foundation to guide all kinds of organizations in China to develop steadily in a complex and uncertain environment.
  Positive public relations theories that can
  be dealt with Chinese scholars represented by Professor Chen Xianhong have deeply summarized the advanced experience of foreign public relations theories and the connotations of Chinese culture, based on the community consciousness of the unity of nature and man in traditional Chinese culture and the world as a whole. At the same time, positive psychology is introduced to put forward the theory of positive public relations suitable for Chinese local enterprises. This theory emphasizes that organizations should pay close attention to the harmonious symbiosis of the three-dimensional ecological system of public-organization-environment when dealing with public relations, and fully consider the characteristics, changes and interaction of the three elements. Activities should make full use of the positive power, quality and spiritual wealth of people, and should go beyond the goal of helping the organization get out of the crisis and predicament, and create greater external benefits from a longer-term and wider perspective. In the current era of uncertainty, a full understanding of this theory provides a valuable spiritual source and strong theoretical support for guiding organizations to carry out public relations practice activities and promoting organizations to seek steady development amid changes. The theory points out that in order to achieve public relations goals and create a public-organization-environment harmonious public relations atmosphere, it is necessary to go through a process from “consensus” to “empathy” and then to “symbiosis”.
  Seeking Consensus in the Age of Uncertainty The core of
  public relations is to achieve in-depth and effective communication between the organization and the public. Effective information dissemination is not only the starting point of all public relations activities, but also a necessary guarantee for the successful realization of public relations goals. The background of the era of high uncertainty has destroyed the relatively stable information dissemination channels and relatively authoritative information flow in the past. Specifically, the continuous deterioration of Sino-US relations, the resurgence of the new crown epidemic, and the developing and changing Russian-Ukrainian conflict are full of Uncertain global events make the information of all parties confusing and intertwined, and in the Internet era, various new media platforms emerge and iterate constantly, making it difficult for organizations and the public to distinguish and grasp the authenticity and make decisions. Rational decision. In addition, organizations in a highly uncertain environment are easily confronted with the subjective emotions of resistance or even questioning from the public when disseminating information. Mutual understanding between the organization and the public is blocked, and it is difficult to talk about empty words and find consensus.
  Faced with this problem, active PR advocates building a consensus communication context. Specifically, first of all, the organization should open a platform channel for the public to communicate, interact, and communicate in public relations activities with an attitude of frankness, openness, equality and respect. This is the basis for seeking consensus. The exchanged information itself may be forgotten, and there may also be a fierce confrontation of different viewpoints, but what deserves attention and affirmation in this process is the attitude of the organization to carry out dialogue with the public. Equal dialogue is not only a behavioral process, It is also a positive emotional and cognitive experience, a willingness to achieve continuous communication, which plays an important role in building public trust in the organization and reaching consensus. Second, the organization also needs to strive to find a highly aligned interest goal with the public. It is human nature to seek advantages and avoid disadvantages, and it is also the internal driving force for reaching consensus and achieving cooperation. From the perspective of active public relations, organizations should seek a balance of interests with the public in this specific environment in the process of carrying out public relations activities. The characteristics of a deterministic environment should unify the core interests of the organization and the public as much as possible, and then in-depth communication and understanding around common interests can achieve the goal of maximizing the interests of the organization and the public, and striving for a win-win situation.
  Building empathy in times of uncertainty
  The so-called empathy refers to the psychological experience of empathizing with others through the introduction of emotions, and finally realizing the psychological experience of understanding other people’s emotions. On the basis of establishing a consensus communication context, positive PR needs to further build empathy. From the perspective of both the organization and the public, the higher the degree of empathy, the more inclined the organization is to use various positive attempts to maximize the interests of the public, thereby gaining a higher degree of public recognition. Conversely, the more recognition an organization gets, the more conducive it is for the organization to grow and develop. The establishment of this kind of empathy not only requires smooth and equal dialogue and communication, but also requires real emotional investment. Only by seeking the “resonance point” of multiple value demands between the organization and the public can the effect of empathy be achieved.
  The German sociologist Ulrich Beck put forward the concept of “risk society”. He pointed out that with the acceleration of industrialization and the arrival of social transformation, human beings are more and more frequently attacked by various risks. , the risk covers almost all areas of human activities. No organization or individual is immune to the complex and constantly changing risk environment and needs to be vigilant at all times. Judging from the current reality, organizations and individuals in the development process of uncertainty are facing the same risks and pressures to a large extent, and have formed better empathy with each other amid the uncertainty Fundamentals of Communication and Empathy. In traditional public relations activities, organizations usually resolve the adverse impact of crisis events on the organization’s image through self-clarification, and this clarification just leads to the rupture and stripping of the empathy bond between the organization and the individual. Behind every organization is a combination of individuals, so each individual also has the essential attributes of the public. For example, during the epidemic, the operation and development of many organizations have been seriously affected, and they cannot provide high-quality service products to the public. The public’s negative emotions and negative evaluations should always maintain the principle of sincere communication and communication, expressing that the epidemic has also had a huge impact on the organization itself, and the organization is also faced with the dilemma of being highly consistent with the public, such as being unable to obtain front-end service products. This kind of communication is not just at the psychological level of “sympathy” that triggers others’ pity and compassion, but more emphasis on empathy in emotional experience, closely linking the feelings of the organization and the public, so as to achieve a shared Love spread. This kind of empathy, as a highly socialized emotion, evokes emotional power in public relations activities can also effectively bridge the public’s misunderstanding of the organization, promote the formation of good public relations, and then form the fundamental driving force for realizing the benign interaction between the organization and the public . Therefore, in the public relations strategy, the organization should think, experience and express from the public’s position, so as to achieve more lasting and effective empathy communication.
  Seeking symbiosis in times of uncertainty
  In the context of highly uncertain times, all organizations and individuals are striving to find a way to survive and develop. In the face of changes, public relations activities usually make strategic and phased adjustments to this change. While resolving the crisis, we seek opportunities that may take advantage of the situation to develop. At present, we must realize that the changes in many fields such as politics, economy, society, and culture brought about by the era of uncertainty may be normalized. Against the background of normalization of personal development, coping strategies are only short-term, and what really plays a long-term significance is the concept of harmonious coexistence with the elements of the highly uncertain external environment.
  In order to seek symbiosis in the context of uncertainty, it is first necessary to thoroughly implement the community consciousness and realize the harmonious coexistence of the organization, the public and the external environment. In the ecological network system constructed by the public-organization-environment, the elements influence each other, depend on each other, and interact closely. Positive PR emphasizes the establishment of a relationship-based ecological view that not only includes active dialogue and communication between the organization and the public on environmental analysis, and the pursuit of common value goals and social interests in this specific environment, but also includes the public and the organization’s joint commitment to the environment. The external environment achieves deep understanding and cognition, so as to achieve the coordination of the three elements. In the past, when carrying out public relations activities, organizations usually took environmental analysis as one of the steps to make strategic responses, but with a sense of community, the understanding of the environment should be regarded as a prerequisite as important as organizational analysis and public analysis. Realizing the dynamic balance among the public, the organization and the environment is the core value pursuit.
  Secondly, the public relations industry should change the public relations thinking to the usual thinking. The risk society has arrived, and the uncertainties of various changes and various international events and risks have become a determinable premise for a long period of time in the future, which requires us to introduce the concept of public relations crisis into the internal organization. In each decision-making process, the possible impact and consequences of any public relations activity should be measured and examined from a broader dimension. As the saying goes, pre-planning is established, and no pre-planning can be abandoned. If the public relations activities cannot be thoroughly analyzed in advance from multiple public relations dimensions such as organization, public, and environment, it is likely to fall into a passive situation in the later crisis response process, resulting in even more unfavorable situations. Impact. At the same time, in the process of each public relations activity, we strive to realize the concept change from the traditional public relations concept emphasizing “information flow” to the positive public relations concept emphasizing “emotion flow”, so as to obtain the support and understanding from the heart of the public.