Public Relations Agency
The twelfth agency in a community (building no. 12) is the Public Relations Agency. The agency is part of the Public Administration Department, whose primary objective is to disseminate information to participants and the outside world, while facilitating implementation of and adherence to community bylaws.
The Public Relations Agency’s objective is the promotion and maintenance of the community’s public image. The agency does this after first developing the community as a recognizable brand, capable of attracting potential participants to its gates.
The Public Relations Agency articulates the community’s mission and vision to the public beyond the community, including other communities within the NewVistas system. The agency, through its automated system, constantly scans the external environment for issues that could be hurtful or beneficial to the community’s interests. The agency understands the dangers and benefits which come with the ever-increasing speeds with which information is transmitted. Negative publicity, especially in the initial stages of the community’s existence, is an existential threat, especially given the power that information has to attract scrutiny and shape public opinion. The agency endeavors to proactively disseminate the right information and neutralize any negative information.
The Public Relations Agency operates a sophisticated automated system, through which it performs most of its functions. The system uses algorithms to personalize its communication to participants and the outside world. The agency may also hire public relations and branding experts to push its agenda, using the budget the departmental board proposes to the board of trustees.
Together with the other two agencies in the Public Administration Department—the Communications Agency and the Bylaws Agency—the Public Relations Agency helps administer the community’s external-facing website. The Public Relations Agency president seat adjusts the system to reflect specific agency and community needs. For instance, the community may need to attract particular members of a particular profession, which calls for some changes in its public relations message.
The agency’s duties are divided into core and coordinated responsibilities. Core responsibilities involve minimal coordination with other agencies, while coordinated responsibilities involve coordination with other agencies within the community.
The core responsibilities of the Public Relations Agency center around its need to cultivate a favorable image with the outside world, while also playing a key role in the recruitment process. The agency communicates to the public outside the community on what the community system is all about. This message emphasizes the equal opportunity offered to participants. Regardless of their religion or race, all participants are equal. There is no hierarchy. The community offers excellent economic opportunities. While it is an open economy, community agencies constantly seek to control the marketplace so that it is always in equilibrium. Situations in which a business grows to the level of monopolizing a particular industry or commodity are discouraged. Some of the Public Relations Agency’s core responsibilities are:
- Acts as the community’s spokesperson to external society and to other NewVistas communities
- Manages any community advertisements and interactions with parties beyond the community
- Anticipates, analyzes, and responds to public opinion and attitudes
- Advises other community agencies and participants on public relations and engagement
The Public Relations Agency acts as the official spokesperson of the community. It communicates on behalf of the community to the world. The agency performs these roles through different media, including press conferences and releases, social media, and the community’s external-facing website. In-person communication (press conferences etc.) is performed by the agency presidents, assisted by village presidents where applicable. Other communication may be automated and personalized through algorithms. Apart from specific instances, all information that community agencies wish to communicate to the public passes through the Public Relations Agency. On the external-facing community website, other agencies can post as well, but their posts are managed by the Public Relations Agency, to ensure alignment with overall community interests.
Manage advertisements and notices from the community to the public
The Public Relations Agency manages any ads that community agencies wish to place beyond the community. Such ads and notices are in many cases likely to be associated with recruitment efforts. The Public Relations Agency’s system is able to vet and issue recommendations, and advises the agency which wants to run the ad on the best way of doing so. After the ad has been sent out, the Public Relations Agency’s system monitors its performance. It gathers data, which it then uses to advise agencies on future public engagements, including press conferences, ads, and others. A majority of advertisements will be done online through the community website and social media platforms. In some instances, however, the agency may opt for alternative media. At all times, the agency works to enhance the community’s public image. It engages the external media about accomplishments that the community has achieved, including human-interest stories; economic milestones; technological, social, and economic innovations; and other positive news going on inside the community.
Anticipate, analyse, and respond to public opinion and attitudes
Public relations communication is almost entirely for external consumption. The Public Relations Agency is specifically mandated to anticipate the public opinion about the community and devise the best ways of handling it. The agency has the necessary tools to anticipate this, by scanning the media, online and otherwise, for information about the community. The agency thereafter comes up with ways of responding to negative or positive publicity and implements such strategies.
Advice and consultancy
As indicated before, community agencies normally post their information on the external-facing community website. The Public Relations Agency consults with them so that their communication is proper from the community’s perspective. The agency also consults with participants when they need to engage in public relations as a part of their business, beyond what the Marketing Agency offers. The agency’s objective is to enable agencies and participants to achieve “enlightened self-interest,” where they can be able to handle public relations with little or no help from the agency.
The Public Relations Agency coordinates with various agencies as part of its mandate. The coordination can be divided into three parts: horizontally with agencies within the Public Administration Department; vertically with agencies in the General Community Support Vertical; and diagonally with other agencies beyond these two classifications.
The Public Relations Agency liaises with Agency 11 – the Bylaws Agency so that public relations exercises are aligned with community bylaws. The Bylaws Agency also works to consider public opinion when formulating public policy, without compromising community interests. The Public Relations Agency works with Agency 10 – the Communication Agency to align information communicated to participants and disseminated to the public outside the community.
The Public Relations Agency works with Agency 21 – the Marketing Agency so that the Marketing Agency can give participants effective training in marketing communications. The agency makes available manuals and other online training material through the intranet. This is also done in coordination with the Communication Agency, which administers the intranet.
The Public Relations Agency communicates with Agency 1 – the Human Relations Agency message regarding recruitment to the outside world. The two agencies liaise on the content and timing of such communication. The Public Relations Agency also works with Agency 2 – the Stewardships Agency to train participants on effective communication as part of their business management skills. The agency also works with Agency 13 – Legal Services so that its public relations initiatives are in line with legal provisions in force outside the community.
The Public Relations Agency’s audience is mainly outside the community. In its roles as the community’s spokesperson, it advises agencies and participants on communicating to the world in a way that promotes the community’s image. The agency’s primary role is, therefore, to constantly improve the public’s perception of the community as a place where people enjoy a better lifestyle and have a higher chance of success than outside it. The agency also promotes the theme of an equal society, where participants are guaranteed a dignified life but without the trappings of power that breed inequality in an ordinary capitalistic world.
 Public relations is described as efforts to promote and maintain a favorable public image of an organization. It involves delivering information to the audience, packaging that information so that it is persuasive enough to alter attitudes and opinions and work towards aligning the attitudes of the organization with those of the audience. In the community, the public relations exercise takes no more dimensions than described in contemporary PR discourse. It is also a recruitment tool. The Public Relations Agency’s mandate is not only to its community but also to the whole system (Bernays, E. Public Relations. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1952).
 In the contemporary business environment, branding is important as it improves a business’s recognition, in the process generation new customers. Branding also creates trust within the market, while also enhancing the pride and self-esteem of those associated with it. The Public Relations Agency will aim to have brand that can effectively attract external potential participants. A strong brand will also build trust as the community tries to engage external parties, including governments (Smithson, E. What Is Branding And Why Is It Important For Your Business? 14 10 2015. 11 07 2019).
Technology has for some time been advancing faster than social relations have. This has created a situation in which social relationships and organizations are usually caught flat-footed by fast-moving information, which concerns them, but which they have no power of manipulating or correcting to suit the truth or their interests. This calls for the presence of an aggressive public relations outfit to protect an entity (Breakenridge, D. Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education Inc, 2012. Electronic).
 Public relations can be the difference between life and death of an organization. This is especially so when the competition is angling to benefit from a rival’s woes. While a community does not have competition per se, it will initially exist in a hostile environment, where any missteps will be amplified and dwelt on for longer (Bowen, S. An Overview of the Public Relations Function. New York: Business Epxert Press, 2010. Electronic).
 Automated communication has been extensively applied in commerce and politics. It has the obvious advantage of a wide reach, uniform message, and low cost – both time and money. The Public Relations Agency will be wary not to suffer some of the pitfalls of automated communication – especially as seen in politics, where surreptitious communication techniques have been deployed to manipulate public opinion and deliberately misinform the public (Howard, P., S. Woolley and R. Calo. “Algorithms, bots, and political communication in the US 2016 election: The challenge of automated political communication for election law and administration.” Journal of Information Technology & Politics 15.2 (2018): 81-93)
 By channeling most official communication through one agency, the community achieves a unified position in its dealings with the public. The community spokesperson, like a government spokesperson, affords different agencies the platform to harmonize their communication, and respond to issues as one (Kumar, M. Managing the President’s Message: The White House Communications Operation. Baltimore: John Hopkins University, 2007. Electronic).
 Modern public relations practice involves the public relations expert as much more than a mere messenger for the organization. The office is expected to provide input before messages can be communicated so that their resonance with the target audience can be enhanced. This will be even more so in the community, where the agency is in many cases the only one with experience in handling external communications and engagements (Thurlow, A., A. Sevigny and M. Dottori. “Global Capabilities in Public Relations.” Public Relations Journal 11.3 (2018)).
 Public relations exercises have traditionally been regarded as cosmetic measures by organizations to shield themselves from scrutiny. Today, however, they take aggressive measures to shape public opinion through the information they give out. The Public Relations Agency does not have to be responding to specific messages, but it targets its communication for maximum effect at aligning influencing public attitudes and opinions towards the whole community system (Bernays, E. Public Relations. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1952).
 Enlightened self-interest in public relations may refer to the ability of communicators to be aware of the consequences of their message and therefore take the necessary steps to ensure the message reaches the intended recipient and in its intended form (Bernays, E. Public Relations. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1952).