“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny…”
– Martin Luther King, Jr
Unlike public relations, community relations are limited to the local area within which they operate. Organizations can exist and make profits only as long as the public allows them to exist.
What Are Community Relations?
Community relations can be defined as the various methods companies use to establish and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with the communities in which they operate. The underlying principle of community relations is that when a company accepts its civic responsibility and takes an active interest in the wellbeing of its community, then it gains a number of long-term benefits in terms of community support, loyalty, and goodwill.
As goes by the saying, “Community involvement builds public image and employee morale that is essential in long-term success.”
The Objectives of Community Relations:
- To communicate about company’s policies, operations and problems to the community
- To answer criticism and repel attracts by a local pressure group.
- To promote the well-being of a community.
- To inform workers connected with a company.
- To find out what the community is contemplating and saying about a company and its policies and operations.
A comprehensive, ongoing community relations program can help virtually any business organization attain visibility as a good community citizen. Organizations would be then recognized as good community citizens when they support programs that improve the quality of life in their community, including crime prevention, employment, environmental programs, clean-up and beautification, recycling and restoration. Some other examples of ongoing programs might include scholarship programs, urban restoration projects, performing cultural programs, social and educational programs, children’s activities, community organizations and construction projects. On a more restricted scale, small businesses might achieve community visibility and engender goodwill by sponsoring local sports teams or other events. Support may be financial or take the form of employee participation.
Different Communities and Their Interests
- Site community: Interest lies in the geographical location of a company’s operations, offices or assets.
- Fence-line community: Interests lie in its immediate neighbors.
- Virtual communities: Interests lie in people who are connected to the company online.
- Employee community: Interests lie in people who work near the company.
Now, What Do the Community and Business Want From Each Other?
When it comes to the business participation by community:
- To pay taxes
- To provide jobs and training
- To follow laws
- To support schools
- To support the arts and cultural activities
- To support local health care programs
- To support parks and recreation
- To assist less-advantaged people
- To contribute to public safety
- And to participate in economic development
And, when it’s about the community services desired by businesses:
- Recreational opportunities
- Libraries, museums, theaters, and other cultural services and organizations
- Adequate infrastructure, e.g., sewer, water, and electric services
- Adequate transportation systems, e.g., roads, rail, airport, harbor
- Effective public safety services, e.g., police and fire protection
- Fair and equitable taxation
- Streamlined permitting services
- Quality health care services
- Cooperative problem-solving approach
The Business Case for Community Involvement
Business organizations often aim for civic engagement –the active involvement of a business in changing and improving the community.
And the reasons for community involvement are:
- To win local support for business activity, such as to be granted an informal “license to operate” in the community.
- To obtain help to build “social capital”—the norms and networks that enable collective action.
- To carry out corporate citizenship mission.
The What Do Community Relations Statistics Have to Say About That?Case for Community Involvement
- 81% of companies now include a statement in their annual report on their commitment to community relations.
- 74% of companies have a written policy or mission statement for their community relations program.
- 68% of company’s involvement community factors into their overall strategic plan.
So, what do you think about community relations?