Public influence plays a big role in attaining specific objectives. However, public communication practitioners have been identified to be very influential beings as their expertise in public influencing is normally employed so as to make a particular expected effect. Essentially, public communication practitioners include social media influencers. In real sense, public communication practitioners have a bigger influence in debates mostly in matters affecting the nation because they have the knowledge and experience of moving the public towards a specific conclusion (Arcos, 2016). These public communication professions are usually portrayed by the media as a big threat to the public interest and national development. Actually, the media describe them as shady influence peddler with the intention of obstructing journalists from tracking the truth and also spoil the democratic debate through their involvement in any aspect of public policy that regards the public sphere. Additionally, philosophers also define public communication practitioners as rhetorical mercenaries propelling corporate interest and also government interests especially at the expense of the interest of the public (Arcos, 2016). Albeit, public communication professional’s expert services have contributed a lot in enhancing public discourse to help government, businesses and not-for-profit organizations to have effective communication with one another, with the public including the media in an effective manner concerning critical issues that are of interest to all (Macnamara, 2016). In this paper, I will discuss the way public communication practitioners influence public debates for for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. I will also discuss the roles they play in enhancing or hindering access to public’s representation. Additionally, I will also discuss about pill testing as the contemporary issue to support my arguments.
2. Public communications practitioners’ strategy of influencing public sphere
2.2 Though public welfare promotion and support
While the government as well as for-profit organizations use employs the services of public communication professionals in advertising and influencing the public, it has been substantially criticized in the manner the public communication practitioners are dealing with matters regarding the public significance. Public communication practitioners have a tendency of influencing the public discourse through hiding their chief intentions in the role they are playing in the promotion of the public welfare (Macnamara, 2016). Since they have hid their true intentions, they pretend to work towards representing the public’s interest benefits just to impress the public and in return ending up influencing them to support them and end up forming a public opinion concerning issues of public importance. Because the public sphere is a very essential aspect within the society in terms of generation of public opinion accrued from coherent-crucial debate, many strategies applied by public communication practitioners aimed at influencing the public is crucial (Macnamara, 2016). Drawing to this, the public sphere has substantially been colonized by for-profit businesses, while public communication professionals are working on behalf of organizations that have intent of managing public opinion compatible to their extensive business, strategic as well as economic interests in a way that the subjects of their influence eventually emerge to be something that appears to be in the interest of the public instead of private interest. This occurs in a manner that goes beyond advertising as the goal for the public communication professionals which is to incite quasi-political credit, a kind of respect shown by someone to the public authority.
2.2 Active participation in public debate
Although most community services offered by not-for-profit organizations are in-house initiatives modern not-for-profit organizations have increased the use of public communication professionals to streamline their messages to attract the attention of media and as well create an influence on the policy and public debate (Zerfass, Verčič, & Wiesenberg, 2016). For instance, in the United States, there has been a heated public debate about climate change which has been intensely problematic, therefore, environmental advocates ended up using the expertise of public communication professions to promote public relations which influences the public to side with a public opinion that focuses on mitigating climate change.
2.3 Via marketing strategies
With the increasing competition in business, for-profit organizations have significantly adopted the use of public communication professional as a marketing strategy to advertise and influence the public to purchase their products. In this contemporary business, public communication practitioners tend to use social media to create public relations as well as to advertise products for for-profit businesses (Zerfass et al., 2016). They use social networking platforms to target their consumers and influence them to make purchases or even turn them into loyal customers. Essentially, public communication professionals have the capacity of reaching out to new audiences with through social influencer’s platforms such as websites, blogs as well as the various social media platforms. Their main aim is to influence and transform the way people view a product of a certain business. Therefore, these public communication professionals set trends in social media platforms through posting adverts and initiating topics of discussion relating to the product they are promoting to be debated on. Moreover, they invite their followers to support them and also mostly prefer using most admired people such as musician to collaboratively work with them to influence the public to change their perspective towards a product and purchase it.
2.4 Through the use of protest songs
It would be a fallacy that only the conservative-minded governments and for-profit businesses exploit the services public communication professionals in influencing policy agenda, the media, and the public (Cox, 2013). Not-for-profit organizations also use public communication professionals to create some influence in society aligned to their operations and objectives. With an effort to seem more politically viable, not-for-profit organizations such as environmental NGOs as well as activist coalitions progressively use public relations strategies and depend heavily on public communication professionals to help them reach the hearts and minds of core public as well as policymakers (Zerfass et al., 2016). Public communication professionals normally use protest songs to influence the public to get on board with their public opinion. Another method used by public communication practitioners is the usage of medial mind bombs to spearhead the movements of not-for-profit organizations in an extensive manner using media technology. For instance, one of the most outstanding environmental image event after Earth day during 1970, public communication professionals influenced the public by leading protests while wearing gas masks while marching in order to show the impact of the poor air quality.
3. Roles played by the public communication professionals
3.1 To plan for publicity approaches
Among the duties of public communication practitioners is to plan for the publicity strategies and appropriate plans to use. It is the duty of a public communication professional to prepare an effective and lucrative plan that will efficiently influence public opinion in the public sphere (Ramsey, 2015). They also focus on design a campaign that is centered on influencing public opinion. Moreover, public communication professionals’ role is to represent those who seek their services. They speak on behalf of those they represent during interviews, presentations and also during press conferences. A public communication professional is an expert with a broad knowledge of public relations, therefore has the capacity of handling the interview, press conferences in a tactical manner that is probably to influence the listeners or the viewers and catch win their hearts and minds (Ramsey, 2015). Additionally, it is also their role to write and produce presentations and also make press releases. They exploit their knowledge on public relations to effectively make an influence on the public for the benefit of the individuals they represent.
3.2 Influencing the public sphere
Public communication practitioners play a role of impeding the access to representing people by diverting the attention of the public in a tactical approach. The public communication practitioners tend to influential in debates by hiding their main intentions in the role of promoting the public welfare (Ramsey, 2015). Having hidden their true intentions, the public communication professionals work to present the sense of interest of the public’s benefit just to impress the public thus influencing the public to form a public opinion along with them for matters of public importance. Through this, they manage to influence the public by diverting their attention unconsciously for their own benefits or for the benefit of those they represent.
4. Duty to respond to the press and public
Public communication professionals also have a duty to deal with all inquiries from the press, public, or any other relevant organization. This is because; they are in charge of developing advertising plans and advertisements, therefore, it is their roles to respond to deal with all inquiries and provide any support or advice needed by the public or the authority (Ramsey, 2015). Furthermore, they have a duty to organize and attend promotional events like press conferences and exhibitions. Due to their ability to influence the public, public communication practitioners is in charge of organizing and attending such promotional events so as to interact with the public, talk with them and consequentially influence them to support their public opinion or purchase their product (Ramsey, 2015).
5. Contemporary media issues
The contemporary media issue chosen to support my argument is the pill testing issue at music festival. There has been a heated debate about the increasing cases of deaths which results from ecstasy drug overdose in the cause of music festivals. This issue has caused a lot of worries attracting the attention of the government and the legislature to intervene in this issue. However, the government has made some efforts intended to reduce the cased of deaths caused by the ecstasy drug overdose by introducing a pill testing strategy that had to be conducted in every music festivals (Burgess, 2019). Essentially, this strategy that involves mandatory testing of every individual at the music festivals would enable the drug users or those intending to use the ecstasy pill to test the pill for specific aspects like its toxicity levels or its correct dosage. This would help the drug users to be knowledgeable of the toxic level of the drug and be aware of the right dosage they should take (Burgess, 2019). As much as the festival goers have shown more support by taking these tests, the suggested that the government should actually fund this pill testing event. Additionally, some request that this testing should not be conducted in a form that it scares the festival goers as it might make them consume all the pills at the gate. The presence of the police at the scene tends to scare many people leading to overdose due to fear of being arrested (Henriques-Gomes, 2019). But this strategy has become a controversial topic on whether this strategy would be effective in addressing the current problem.
The sources in the story involved in the pill testing exercise include; the Pill Testing Australia, Gino Vumbaca and Dr. David Caldicott members of the Pill Testing Australia, consortium, ACT Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris, ACT government, Australian National University, The Canberra Times, and the police. It is certain that these sources represent organizations; Gino Vumbaca and Dr. David Caldicott are members of the Pill Testing Australia as well as Pill Testing Australia represent a not-for-profit organization, ACT government and ACT Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris represent the government, and the police also represent the government. Australian National University represents a not-for-profit organization and The Canberra Times represent for-profit-organization (Burgess, 2019).
The public relation that has significantly contributed to this story is social media especially twitter by pushing the hash tag #pilltesting to trend on twitter. Important persons in this event such as Dr. David Caldicott took part in pushing the trend on twitter encouraging the festivalgoers to go for pill testing (Brython14, 2019). Another form of public relations that was utilized to enhance the pill testing is the campaign created to amass the public especially the festival goers to seek for drug testing. These public relations were intended to encourage the festivalgoers to go for pill testing in order to know more about the ecstasy pill, its harm and the appropriate dosage that they should take (Henriques-Gomes, 2019). Additionally, the media such as newspapers like The Canberra Times and The Guardian played a big role in spreading the information about the Pill Testing and also facilitated the campaigns established.
Essentially, public communication practitioners make significant contribution to the public discourse and it is vivid that public influence is a very essential trait in all sectors including the government, for-profit organizations and not-for-profit organizations. It is clear that in order for organizations to achieve their objectives, public influence is crucial an has to be applied by incorporating public communication professionals into national or even international debates so as to gain support and following that will contribute to the success of the project or the business.