This research identifies public relations as an essential element for nations. Under public relations, the study identifies Jordan as a potential region of study. This research identifies various avenues of image management during crises in Jordan. The study of Jordan and its practices of public relations, especially image management involve different stages. First, the study provides an overview of public relations and image management to foster the understanding of the topic. Image management is all about maintaining the reputation of a given entity, organization or nation.
The study then formulates the motivation for the study and the statement of the problem by outlining the aims of the study and the significance of conducting the study both to Jordan and to the entire world. The study draws potential limitations and delimitations of the study. This research draws several research questions that back up the aims and significance of the study. The questions of the study provide a guideline for the study. The research formulates various research hypotheses basing on the research questions.
A literature review of the study gives history of public relations in Jordan. The research provides the emergence of relations in the Arab World, the definitions, functions and challenges of public relations, and public relations and the new media. The research methodology involves approaches including qualitative and quantitative methods. The study then outlines various ethical considerations throughout the study.
Public relations; image management; crisis; reputation; ethics; planning; implementation; public diplomacy; image repair
A nation’s image is important in the conduct of public relations. Managing the national image is essential for nations because it restores the public faith in that given nation. Crises are inevitable for nations. They can hit at any time and cause damaging effects to the nation. Crises occur in various ways including catastrophes, outbreak of diseases, political wrangles and bankruptcy among others. During such instances, it is the responsibility of the nations to ensure effective management of the crises across all fronts. Image management is one of these fronts that nations put emphasis.
For Jordan and other nations, effective and favorable image or reputation play major roles in asserting the influence of the nations to its people. Several nations employ tools of strategic communication such as media diplomacy and public relations to enhance their image during crises. They employ various strategies of image management including defensive strategies or strategies of corrective action (Alsadhan, 2007). The press plays a significant role in the image management during crises. Image management encompasses public relationships, which in turn encompasses communication. The justification of the press censorship comes in communication.
The freedom of the press is essential during national crises. The press is responsible for the image of a nation during crises. However, the freedom the press becomes a casualty due to the legitimate concerns concerning the security for the military personnel or civilians, and the due to the fears of compromising the confidentiality of significant public policies (Alsadhan, 2007). With such instances, nations should have various measures of protecting their reputation.
- Motivation for the study and statement of the problem
International relations have become an important aspect of national and global governance as the world becomes increasingly global. The relations among nations influence many aspects of their relationships with each other including economic, political, and social aspects. Jordan needs advanced public relations than any other nation in the Middle East, and this is due to the differentiation of the country in terms of economy. Being that Jordan does not share the vast petroleum resources shared by majority of the countries in the region makes its dependence on international relations significant.
The reason behind taking Jordan here is the fact that the country itself does not have ‘Crisis’, it is just facing turbulent environment as reverberation of the ‘Arab spring’. However, Jordan continues to provide asylum for a large number of Palestinians, Syrians, Iraqis, Libyans, and other refugees, despite the substantial strain on national systems and infrastructure. This pressure has become even more acute over the past two years, as the global financial crisis has had an impact on Jordan's economic situation and infrastructure for water, electricity, waste management, education and health care.
Since Jordan does not have considerable crises, the acknowledgment that its external environment can cause damaging effects to its political, economic or social aspects makes the country to establish measures of protecting itself. That is; Jordan has to come up with extensive measures to ensure that it retains its reputation when the effects of crises in the adjacent countries extend towards it (Culbertson & Chen 2013). Moreover, by managing the image of the country, Jordan ensures its citizens of utmost faith of security and reputation of the country with relation to that of its neighbors.
Jordan acknowledges that the departments of public relations in the country act as an essential link between the country and its internal and external product. Public relations in Jordan form a fundamental part of the organizational structure of the country. It is linked directly to the country’s higher administration and is entrusted with engaging in communication between the media and the public (Culbertson & Chen 2013). In order to fulfill these obligations, the departments of public relations in Jordan utilize different models and roles, which vary depending on the nature of the occurrences. The significance of these departments in the country is not overlooked and is practiced by the departments as well as their staff.
- Aim of the study
The aim of the study is to research public relations practices through image management in Jordan at the time of crisis. The study also aims to examine the variations in the efficiency and the effectiveness of these practices of image management and how they enhance public relations in Jordan. The study seeks to identify the probable challenges facing the quest for enhancement of image management in Jordan. Additionally, the study aims to study the development of image management in Jordan during crises by focusing on the efficiency, effectiveness and the challenges of image management in the country. The study also aims to evaluate the various ways of enhancing these practices of image management by identifying possible solutions to the challenges.
The study also aims to identify the individuals or the stakeholders of public relations in Jordan. That is; the people in Jordan whose responsibility is to protect the image of the country during crises. Additionally, the study aims to evaluate the procedures that these individuals follow while protecting the image of the country during crises. The study also aims to discuss the definitions of public relations, its functions and the challenges associated with promoting public relations in Jordan. The study aims to evaluate the relationship between the new media and these aspects of public relations. The establishment of the relationship will be elemental in the discussion of the ethical considerations.
- Significance of the study
The study will provide an understanding of the approaches to public relations in Jordan especially in the time of crisis. The findings and discussion of this study will be essential in various ways. First, it will provide insights the existent state of image management and public relations in Jordan and other regions of the world. The knowledge and understanding of the existing measures of image management are essential because it will enable the nation as well as other nations to evaluate their programs of image management during crises. That is; the information acts a benchmark for nations with image management concerns and Jordan itself. Moreover, the study identifies the history of public relations, its definitions, functions, and challenges. This information also acts an evaluator for the nation.
The study identifies the responsibilities in the image management of the nation. The identification of these specific roles can promote accountability among the stakeholders. That is; this research provides information with a primal aim of investigating the practices of image management in Jordan (Culbertson & Chen 2013). As such, the understanding of the stakeholders involved and their roles diversifies the primary aim of the research and increases the understanding and knowledge of image management in Jordan during crises.
This study is important because it identifies the challenges of public relations in relation to image management in Jordan. Identifying the challenges is essential because it promotes the study in the patterns of these challenges. It also allows for comparison of these challenges concerning their effectiveness across various regions. Moreover, identification of the challenges allows for the determination of the causative agents of these variations.
The study is also essential because it examines the probable solutions for these challenges. These solutions are important for understanding the reasons behind the factors affecting image management during crises. The information on these challenges expands the knowledge on public relations and image management by enhancing the understanding of the topic across various fronts.
- Limitations of the study
- Secondary research: although much has been done about public relations in terms of studies, and theorizations, little have been done on public relations in Jordan. This means that there will be little academic materials on the topic unless the information on the subject is drawn from the public relations companies in the country (Kuiper, 2009, p. 255).
- Resource limitations in terms of finances will affect the depth of the study and is one of the significant influences for the research approaches proposed
- Manpower: financial limitations means that the researcher will be unable to engage the services of a research assistant, hence all the responsibilities of the research will be done by the researcher (Phelps, 2005, p. 63).
- The research will be conducted on a limited time, hence affecting the scope and depth of the research (Thomas, Nelson and Silverman, 2011, p. 60).
- Investigating The Royal Family Social Media will be from audience point of view.
- Political status in the region is changing very fast, which may affect the results and opinions during time of information collection.
- Delimitations of the study
- The study on the need for image management, the image needed, the bodies responsible for planning and implementing image management, the strategies that have been used in the past and the future plans for image management, the type of media that have been used, targets for such media, and how such media are used will be restricted to the past three years.
- Collection of data regarding the status of tourism and foreign investments, both domestic and domestic foreign investments, perceived image of the country by investors and tourists, successes and failures of planned image media, and political and economic crises will be restricted to the past five years.
- The analysis of the data collected concerning the image management, the methods of promoting image management, the stakeholders involved, the challenges faced, the solutions to these challenges and he measures of public relations involved will be restricted to the inside sources related to Jordan. The findings of this study can be generalizable to the public and private entities, businesses, organizations or institutions within Jordan.
- Assumptions of the study
- Public Relations in Jordan is a newly developing profession. The reason for this assumption is that Jordan does not experience multiple or significant crises that can have alarming effects on the public. Most of the crises that Jordan faces originate from its neighbors, most of who are in incessant crises. Therefore, it is assumable that since the country experiences minimal crises, professions of image management and public relations are not considerable. However, with the realization that the effects of their neighbor’s crises can have damaging effects on the country as well, there is a need for understanding the measures of dealing with the issues. As such, there is a continual increase in the preference for the public relations profession.
- Public Relations in Jordan is facing challenges as a profession. This study assumes that, as a profession in Jordan, public relations are facing challenges for various reasons. First, public relations is still a developing profession in the country. Therefore, it is likely that there is insufficient knowledge concerning the public relations profession. The inadequate information on public relations limits the progress of the profession. Inadequate information means that there is inadequate diversification of the same. As such, it is assumable that insufficient knowledge on the profession is challenging. Second, since the profession is still developing, both private and government funding for the profession can be challenging (Resnik, 2011). Inadequate funding would be challenging because it would affect all the operations of the development of the profession. Inadequate funding would affect such aspects as funding education for the course. It is assumed that the people in Jordan still have less faith and preference for public relations. As such, inadequacy of individuals in the sector would be an assumable challenge for the same.
- Public Relations in Jordan is vital for country image management. The research assumes that public relations are important for the image management of the country. Public relations have an essential impact on maintaining the reputation of the country. The research assumes that public relations during crises involve the media. The media play a central role by instilling confidence of the people in the nation. The media presents information to the people concerning the nation, hence the manner in which the presents that information to the people defines the image of the nation.
- Image management in Jordan is used to overcome crisis. The research assumes that the image management can overcome crises in Jordan. The research assumes this concept because image management restores the reputation of the people within the country and on the international front. The management of image would enable Jordan to convince its citizens of upholding the image of the country. The protection and management of image are assumed to define the strength of the country concerning public relations.
- Research questions
- What is the need for image management in Jordan?
- Which is the needed image in Jordan?
- What are the responsible bodies for planning and implementing image management in Jordan?
- What strategies have been used in planning and implementing image management in Jordan?
- What are the future plans of the public relations practice in Jordan?
- What media have been used, who do they target, and how do they target them in the public relations practice in Jordan?
- Research hypothesis
- The need for image management for Jordan emanates from the isolation of the country, the need to maintain good or cordial international relations, and needs of the economy
- All the information of the study is dependent on and directly related to Jordan. This information involves the background information, the literature review, the background information concerning the public relations of the country and the emergence of public relations in the Arab world.
- All the findings in the research are relative to the sample used in the research. The findings are also relative to the data collected during the study. All findings are generalizable to the region within Jordan and the areas around it.
- All the challenges facing the image management in Jordan also affect the public relations in the country. The information concerning the solutions to these problems is based on the results and situation of the country. The solutions can be employed to all sectors of the country including business organizations and institutions.
- Most of the individuals and citizens of Jordan have less preference on image management in the country. Their preference is mostly dependent on the development of the public relations profession in the country. The neighboring countries to Jordan have a role in the challenges of public relations and image management in crises management throughout Jordan.
- The practice of public relations in Jordan is still in its initiatory stages of its formation and maturity.
- The objectives of the public relations in the country target the internal publics.
- The practices of public relations in Jordan focus on the press agentry and publicity role at the expense of the existent strategic planning, research, and evaluation. Moreover, most of the departments of public relations primarily carry out marketing and advertising tasks.
- Some of the departments of public relations in Jordan lack a strategic vision, plans of action; have no straightforward objectives and goals.
- The activities and functions of public relations in Jordan focus on the publications, brochures, coordination with the media, protocol, receptions and guest relations. Inadequate research is one of the principal drawbacks of the practice of public relations in Jordan.
- Other major concerns of public relations practice in Jordan include feedback and opinion of the internal, and the fact that the top management and organization of the country does not prioritize its external public.
- LITERATURE REVIEW
- History of public relations
According to Chomo (2002, p. 2), Jordan is a developing economy that has a relatively small population. This translates to a small domestic market, hence the need for the country to develop relations with other countries in order to secure foreign markets. By being surrounded by developing countries, and the fact that the country is different from its neighbors in terms of the fact that it lacks petroleum resources, makes Jordan different because its economy is not dependent on oil (Resnik, 2011). Jordan, therefore, has had to balance the relationships with its neighbors and other nations that provide markets, products and services to the country. By operating in the local and international arena, Jordan has had to adopt public relations that present its preconceived image both nationally and internationally (Frietag and Stokes, 2009, p. 171).
In the recent past, there has been an increasing interest in public relations’ history. The growth of academic research across the world and the International History of Public Relations Conference spurred this increasing interest. Knowledge of the history of public relations in the world and Jordan is essential because it allows for the appreciation of past events and embracing of the existent ones (Culbertson & Chen 2013). Moreover, it allows for the evaluation of the transformation and evolution of public relations in the country.
The history of public relations also encompasses the roles of the practitioners of public relations as presented by its advocates. The historical research on these roles has been elemental to the knowledge of public relations. Understanding what the practitioners perform has enabled countries across the world such as Jordan to explain the power of the function of public relations in their organizations and the manner in which public relations activities produce the required programs, influence the strategic planning and affect the long-term and short-term goals of their organizations (Bell, 2005).
Roles referred to the recurring actions of individuals, interrelated appropriately with repetitive activities of other individuals to yield predictable outcomes (Al-Shohaib, Al-Kandari, & Abdulrahim 2009). Some of the key advocates that played a role in the definition of these roles are Smith and Broom. These individuals investigated different roles played by the public relations practitioners that affected the perceptions of the clients. The literature in the initiatory study by Broom and Smith provided five conceptual models of the roles that were operationalized in the context of public relations.
These models include the acceptant legitimizer, the expert prescriber, the facilitator of the problem-solving process, the facilitator of the communication process and the technical services provider. Consequently, they proposed four significant roles of public relations including the expert prescriber, the communication technician, the facilitator of the process of problem solving and the communication facilitator (Culbertson & Chen 2013). The management of these activities of public relations is often content with the expert. Individuals become passive dependent on the advice of this practitioner avoiding the integration of the mentality of public relations in the management decisions.
The communication facilitator serves as a liaison, mediator and interpreter between the given organization or region and its publics. The role places the practitioner in collaborative relationships with both the management and the organization or region’s publics. The facilitator of the problem-solving process works in partnership with the management throughout the given process of defining and solving issues (Resnik, 2011). The practitioner helped the organizations employ rational processes of problem-solving that involve significant organizational embers in the planning and programming of public relations.
The primal concern of the communication technician was to produce the communication materials for the effort of public relations. They viewed themselves in the limited and non-management roles. The management relied on these practitioners to implement the programs of public relations. The roles of these practitioners extended to other countries and transformed the public relations profession in areas such as Jordan.
The expert prescriber is the practitioner that operates as an authority on both the problems of public relations and the solutions. The practitioner conducts research and defines the existent problem, develops programs and takes key responsibilities for their implementation.
The interest in public relations’ history has arisen because many academics and practitioners are becoming more inquisitive of the relations and practice of corporate communications and public relations. As such, they seek to identify the origin of public relations. Probable answers to this aspect are first, activities deemed to be public relations related began in ancient Sumerians and Babylonians, present day Iraq (Al-Shohaib, Al-Kandari, & Abdulrahim 2009). This aspect is often evidenced by the messages scrawled on identified mud-brick walls in those regions.
Second, it is probable that public relations began in the United States. Many individuals have claimed of its first use with variations in which organization or person invoked the term. The first instance applies to Jordan. As various regions in the Arab world began developing their public relations to maintain their image and reputation, Jordan was sluggish because of nearly no crises being experienced in the country.
The development of public relations in Jordan has been dependent on the development and history of public relations in the world. As the European nations together with the rest of the world developed and progressed in public relations, Jordan was slightly slow in this development considering that the country did not experience instances of crises. Many countries acknowledged the power of public opinion in moving individuals to action through communication.
As such, most of these countries started building their public relations by focusing n the factors that motivated the evolution of public relations through various traditions. Many of these countries, especially the European countries were experiencing crises. On the other hand, Jordan did not have such experience, hence did not pay much attention to these traditions, which include the press agent and the rhetorician tradition, the publicity and journalistic tradition, the tradition of persuasive communication campaign and the two-way and the relationship-building communication tradition (Al-Shohaib, Al-Kandari, & Abdulrahim 2009).
The prevalent historical trends overlapped with the traditions and Jordan did not have a maximum interest in the same. Jordan became slow in enabling the traditions to be products of the larger social, economic, political, and cultural forces existent during that time. Moreover, it invested low in the development and growth of the mass media and specialized channels of communication (Al-Shohaib, Al-Kandari, & Abdulrahim 2009). As such, Jordan did not perceive them to be historical continuums of the strategic use of communication in public relations of the country by social movements, community groups, the government agencies, business organizations and non-profit groups.
Public relations in Jordan developed with the emergence of public relations activities in the European regions. The increased emphasis on developing public relations in Europe, especially with the formation of many national associations played a key role in the development of public relations in Jordan. Most of the Europe fostered the concept of public relations especially on the international front.
They fostered this concept because of the war crises that the region had faced during the world wars to seek a platform for promotion of democracy and international understanding through practices and strategies of public relations. Formation of associations such as IPRA was essential because it influenced the spread of public relations across Europe and its environs, such as the Arab world including Jordan.
The promotion of the internationalization of the public relations by Europe extended into the Middle East where countries such as Jordan began adopting these concepts of public relations but on a lower scale. They started by establishing networks of various local consultancies and acquiring them. Jordan began these practices and adopted the concept of public relations gradually by incorporating it as an emergent profession.
The formation of transnational companies was an important influence on the growth and development of public relations in countries like Jordan. These companies led to setting up of corporate departments of communication and the rise of consumer or market-led public relations with tactical publicity style. As such, Jordan gradually started developing training in public relations. At that point, public relations did not qualify as a graduate entry industry because Jordan was not experiencing challenges or crises that would require it to manage its image and restore its reputation.
Typically, most of the journalists joined into communication and information roles as public relations gradually developed. Journalists were important because public relations focused mainly on the media relations. The media played the central role of presenting information to the public and enlightening individuals of the public opinion in Jordan (Culbertson & Chen 2013). The media relations were also a reflection of the background of the journalists concerning entrants into the government or companies of Jordan.
Since there was the emergence of university education concerning public relations, Jordan began introducing the subject gradually into the education system, but on a small scale considering the preferences of the people. That is; many people had no interest in the subject because of the fewer crises that Jordan was experiencing. Public relations began increasing and becoming more extensive in Jordan during the period of post-communism.
The introduction of new democratic governments and a continuation of activities from former socialist countries fueled the increasing interest of Jordan in public relations. Jordan saw the crises that Europeans, as well as its neighbors in the Arab world, were going through and how public relations were helping these countries maintain their reputation. Former propaganda and governmental communications people became entrepreneurs of public relations using their contacts and techniques. These individuals penetrated across many regions including Jordan. Jordan dwelt on these people to promote public relations in the country.
The formation of the International Communications Consultants Associations was another event that influenced public relations in Jordan. This association brought together global bodies of public relations as a move to interpret the concept of quality assurance in public relations. The formation of various national public relations professional and trade bodies supported the gradual growth of public relations in Jordan (Culbertson & Chen 2013).
Many countries were experiencing a rapid expansion of public relations in corporations, government and consultancies. Some of these countries such as the United States had alliances with Jordan. As such, there was an improvement in the public relations sector in Jordan following this expansion (Klenke, 2008). The privatization of governmental entities in the United States fueled the internationalization of operations of corporate communication and consultancies that the country had with Jordan. That is; some of the US companies moved into the Jordan markets through acquisition and extended their public relations programs and operations into the country.
The growth of technology in the world and Jordan brought emergent communication and expertise methods that were essential in public relations. The ‘wirehead’ technology enabled the public relations practitioners to use nascent internet and emails as their promotional and communication tools. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, practices of public relations have become considerably major in Jordan (Culbertson & Chen 2013). Public relations agency businesses in Jordan have resulted in considerable employment opportunities with a slight extensive us in the academic field.
- Public relations in Arab World
Tourism sector is one of the majority revenue earners for the country, and public relations have taken the forefront in marketing the country as a favorable destination. As the country sought to become more outside looking, it increasingly embraced the aspects of the global economy including joining the World Trade Organization (Schenker, 2003, p. 81; Walker, 2009, pp. 20-21).
In terms of insecurity in Middle East and what this means to the rest of the world, Hamas has significantly influenced the foreign policy and public relations of Jordan for years. The policies the country has adopted over the years, and the outlook it has had regarding public relations have affected the image of the country both locally and internationally in both positive and negative ways (Terrill, 2010, pp. 66-71; Culbertson and Chen, 2013, p. 248)
The body of knowledge and understanding of public relations in the Arab world is still growing. The emergence of public relations in the Arab world was highly influenced by the Arab-American Oil Company. In the early 1930s, the company started looking for oil in some of the countries in the Arab world such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The American workers and managers failed to accommodate some of the cultural issues in these countries. As such, there was a quick emergence of communication problems.
The cultural issues were a quest by these Arab countries to protect their image and maintain their reputation in the entire Arab world. On the other hand, the Americans also wanted to maintain their reputation, which led to the establishment of a public relations function by the oil company with two principal tasks. The first task was to train the Arabs to work with the Americans (Klenke, 2008). The second task was to teach the Americans to respect, adapt and understand the culture of the Arabian countries.
The launching of the Middle East Public Relations Association in 2000 was also another event that fueled the emergence and development of public relations in the Arab world. The goals of the association were to increase awareness, raise the professionalism levels, provide a voice for public relations industry in the Arab world and assure that members adhere to professional codes of conduct (Stacks, 2011). Additionally, the association sought to create numerous educational forums throughout the Arab world for the young practitioners considering public relations as their careers opportunity. Public relations in the Arab world emerged through such initiatives.
The activities of the association extended throughout the Arab world and influenced the countries including Jordan to adopt and increase their seriousness regarding public relations. According to the association, most of the regional and local consultancies enjoy high levels of professionalism. The public and private sectors in the Middle East portray a distinct variance in the professionalism level. Moreover, most of the agencies of public relations maintain high standards of professional.
The emergence of public relations in the Arab world encompassed various aspects including challenges. Despite the professionalism of public relations in the Arab world developing rapidly, various aspects slow down the emergence and development of the public relations (Klenke, 2008). First, some countries such as Jordan are still low in the development of public because of its fewer crises. Limited budgets and support from the top management also delay the progress.
As public relations emerged in the Arab world, research in public relations in countries such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia focused on a single crisis. The predominant view of public relations in these countries was propaganda function rather than a contributor to the process of decision-making. Various aspects characterized the emergence of public relations in the Arab world (Stacks, 2011). There was misunderstanding of the function, concept and role of public relations. Second, there was inadequate training and expertise, attributed to the limited financial resources. During the emergence, there was also a rapid growth in the programs of higher education in public relations.
There has been a huge expansion of public relations after the emergence for the past two decades in various areas such as cultural, social, politics and economics. However, public relations as a profession still suffers from the absence of vision, poor performance and insufficient strategies (Stacks, 2011). However, the emergence came along with the use of the internet, whose adoption enables the professionals of public relations to handle tasks more easily and quickly to enhance the efficiency.
The emergence of public relations in the Arab world encompassed different roles. Environmental factors are some of these roles. These factors affect the public relations practices and dictate various methods and ways and sometimes goals. Societal conditions also played a significant role in the emergence. Public relations in most of the Arab world were highly tied to the government institutions during the emergence. People in most Arab countries such as Jordan viewed public relations as a tool of protocol, manipulation, and publicity. Emergence of public relations in the Arab world acknowledged the place of people in the societies, the various strategies of communicating with them, their freedom in the society, and to what extent their opinions are important in the society.
The dominant theory of the press in society influenced the practices, tools, goals and philosophies of public relation during the emergence of public relations in the Arab world. In most parts of the Arab world, the power of the press is in effect. In most cases, the communication in the governmental institutions in the Arab world was one-way with an unbalanced purpose and the mass media as tools. The mass media were essential during the emergence because it published and transmitted information from the government public relations.
The environmental factors played an important role the functions and roles of public relations in the Arab world. The traditional customs, politics and
religion are the environmental factors that influenced the public relations emergence and development in the Arab world. The emergence of public relations in the Arab world has influenced the current state of public relations in that region. Job descriptions in for the practitioners of public relations in the Arab world today in both the private and the public organizations reflect the initiatory press entry model of public relations.
Public relations in the Arab world was mainly employed in the management hierarchies. Public relation across the Arab world in countries such as Jordan is employed for communicating with the public for various reasons. The first goal is to educate the public concerning the subjects related to the field of work of the client and increase its knowledge as well as influence the persuasion of the public relations. The second goal is to publicize the achievements of the clients and the society as a whole, and ensure the satisfaction of the public.
As public relations emerged in the Arab world, they grew and developed more extensively in some of the countries in the region than others due to the differences in social, economic and political environments of those countries. Three main factors played an elemental role in the nature of public relations as it emerged in the Arab world. These factors include the nature of the political systems, the nature of the freedoms and individual rights and the nature of the political systems.
Although public relations rapidly grew in the Arab world following the emergence, it still suffered and suffered from certain problems, misconceptions and issues of malpractice. With regard to organization and management, public relations in the Arab world suffered from the attitude of the top management towards the profession, the confusion of the dues and tasks of the practitioners of public relations, the lack of qualified practitioners and insufficient resources.
- Public relations: definitions, functions and challenges
In the world today where diversity within and among populations is prominent, public relations face the problem of diverse cultures and nationalities. Global movement of people and the increased interactions as people adopt new technologies have multifaceted effects in influencing the public relations of the country. The role played by technological advances in the world today is important in the sense that it has an effect on many fields besides public relations.
Technology enables fast and convenient movement of people around the world such that they can switch between national borders with ease. An individual on business trips can shift within four different countries in the Middle East and carry out business transactions without feeling that they have gone through much traveling burden. In addition to making movement easy, technology has also affected the mannerisms of communications in the world.
Today, face-to-face communication is not as popular as it was two or three decades ago. Technological devices have made video conferencing and video calls a reality, and it is not a surprise that many organizations are shifting to towards the use of the devices. Organizations cannot take blame for the shift considering that the corporate and human resources call for speed and efficiency. Technology offers the two attributes in plenty, an element that also helps in the reduction of the costs of operations.
Many companies within and outside Jordan seek to maximize the costs they incur in the process of production and application of technology comes in handy to make this a reality. An important term at this stage in public relations is business literacy. Business literacy refers to the need for practitioners of public relations to enlighten themselves on the attributes of business management so that they can offer effective internal communication and advocacy (Resnik, 2011). The delivery of the two business centers on both employers and clients of the organization. Given that they deal with various clientele daily, it is important to acquire required skill for efficient delivery.
Technology makes the world a global village implying that there is no point beyond national borders that people cannot reach. In this context, the effects of globalization on the functions of public relations comes into the light. First, globalization implies that there is movement of both people and organizations into various parts of the world. Since public relations are an inherent part of the two entities, the implication is that globalization has an effect on the nature and functions of public relations. In fact, it has led to the emergence of other definitions that did not exist before the onset of globalization.
The development is because there is a need to cover and accommodate a universal perspective and definition of issues in public relations. The establishment of business enterprises on a global platform implies that the local conditions just undergo some adjustment to accommodate the presence of foreigners in the environment. Globalization refers to the process of integration of different nations due to the exchange of worldviews, ideas, products, and other cultural aspects. Since there is an exchange beyond the borders of particular countries, it is also prudent to examine another definition;
Foreign Direct Investment and how it relates to the practice of public relations. Foreign direct investment refers to the onset of business organizations and service providers in markets beyond those of their home countries. As competition increases within particular markets in the world, investors seek new opportunities in other countries to maintain their level of profitability. The function of public relations in foreign direct investment emanates from the need to interact with the local population (Botan & Hazelton 2006). Given that foreign investors are pumping resources into an unfamiliar market, locals come in handy because they have experience with the market. The foreign firm will have to hire the services of the local population, which implies that the interaction between the two groups of people is inevitable. As such, the public relations of the company and the society will have to change because they must interact successfully to guarantee the success of the organizations within the market.
However, it is important to note that the human being are social. Therefore, the interactions at the workplace will go beyond the institutional frameworks of business and infiltrate into other areas of the lives of the people. In the end, the improvements in the public relations of the people lead inevitable exchange of cultures as people tend to appreciate the cultures they are not familiar with in the past. Globalization and publics seem to have a bilateral relationship in that they affect each other concurrently.
An increase in the exchange of cultures and the eventual acceptance of the cultural differences hastens the process of globalization. It does this by diminishing the prevalence of factors such as tribalism because many people accept the importance of a metropolitan perspective.
The effect of public relations, technology, culture, and globalization on human culture is vast and evident. Examples from Jordan can help examine the relationship between the variables when it comes to public relations. First, public relations combines with globalization to advance technology. Exchange of cultures enables sharing technical expertise and skill (Botan & Hazelton 2006). Taking the case of Mecca in Jordan, the city is technological to the extent, which helps in the empowerment of various cultures.
Empowerment implies that self-representation and sharing of information in the city a convenient possibility. Technology enables the depiction and portrayal of particular images and identities in a manner that the world can enjoy and appreciate. In the end, Mecca portrays Jordan as an attractive destination that welcomes various cultures and attributes (Botan & Hazelton 2006). The globalization of the media within the nation allows cultures to have an assertive voice that the world can acquire knowledge from and understand the identities and stories that interest them.
Such a perception of the country creates a positive image hence the rest of the world can join and help in the management of national and regional crisis in cases where Jordan has problems. Global appreciation is important in the management of crisis. In fact, the importance of the image of the country to the rest of the world is important before the occurrence of the crisis in the country and within its organizations.
Further positive effects of globalization on the practice of public relations are the dissemination of knowledge and expertise to the community. Given that people have varying origins, the aspects that origin exposes them to vary because of the large geographical spread of the world. Therefore, the nature of knowledge enriched to people by the world is different and the fact that they can interact leads to the exchange of knowledge as they teach each other things that they do not know. In the end, they also exchange technical expertise because different people in the world use different technology to complete their tasks.
For instance, the mechanisms of production used in Jordan may be similar to the ones within the Middle East region but different from the ones used in Europe. Here, an important terminology emerges in the field of public relations, a knowledge community. It defines the driving force behind international and national political, economic, and social development. Public relations contribute to the development of the three sectors by enabling effective communication and appreciation among people. The emergence of new cultural groups has led to further inputs into the knowledge community although it is important to note that the cultures dominant within a particular new cultural groups will eventually dominate. For instance, a visitor to Jordan may be assimilated into the culture of the people with ease rather than him or her influencing the whole community to adopt his or her culture.
A knowledge community is important in the management of the image during a crisis because the whole community has improved enlightenment on the methods of handling a crisis. The exchange of information implies that the country or organizations alike have better equipment and multiple approaches in the resolution of the crisis (Bell, 2005). Whenever there is a problem, the promptness of resolving its problems and resuming the normal operations paints a good image to the rest of the world.
On the same note of a knowledge community, it is important to examine the adjustment in the field of education because of the need for a global approach in public relations. Today, many schools and training facilities attempt to train people and equip them with skill on a global level in public relations. Someone must be in a position to move from one country to another on business and professional assignments.
He or she must be able to complete them successfully, which is only possible if the skills acquired in educational institutions have a universal application. It explains why there are some fundamental principles that govern the professional and social world all over the world without any discrimination. For instance, the development of International Financial Reporting Standards in the field of accounting implies that financial analysts in Jordan and can work and agree on fundamental accounting practices with their counterparts from Europe, Africa, and other parts of the world. Many governments across the world are striving towards the provision of educational facilitates even to cultures in very remote locations. They want all people to move together with the rest of the world and avoid lagging behind in development and other related sectors.
The importance of educating remote cultures in Jordan and the rest of the world are to avoid a crisis of alienation and discrimination when people meet visitors from other parts of the world. If education spreads to all parts of the world, people will learn about social vices such as racism, which help in the integration of the world for the mutual benefit of all the cultures (Thomas, Nelson & Silverman 2011). The emergence of global citizens emanates from a well-educated workforce that can deal with the current globalized system.
In fact, global citizens have led to a shift in the priorities of education. Many curriculums seek to enrich the person in terms of becoming an all-round individual who can survive in any part of the world. The focus on the enhancement of indigenous culture changes because of the constant need for globalization in the nature of public relations.
Public relations has encountered certain challenges in the management of national and organizational images whenever there is a crisis. First, it is not easy for Jordan to reach out to the rest of the world in spite of the advancement in technology and media. In short, other powerful nations in the world often take the center stage when it comes to global media. For instance, if there is a crisis in the United States or Russia at the same time Jordan is experiencing a problem, much of the debate will center on the two powerful nations while little attention goes to Jordan (Thomas, Nelson & Silverman 2011).
The situation may result from the fact that Jordan has not portrayed itself as a powerful economy in the world like the United States or Russia. Therefore, the challenge may be delayed support from other countries they will seek to secure the favor of the US or Russia at the expense of helping an organization in Jordan or the country. As such, the problem may escalate to an uncontrollable level because of a little attention from the potential nations and organizations that may offer help.
Secondly, the public relations sector in Jordan faces legal challenges when it comes to the extent of globalization. At times, the acquisition of foreign help from foreign experts may be the only solution because of the slow development of some sectors within the country. However, acquiring the help is not an easy task given that many nations are conscious about the effect of globalization on the domestic market (Thomas, Nelson & Silverman 2011). There is the adoption of protectionist policies to stop the advent of globalization in many markets in a bid to protect the local industries and the local workforce.
If the country permits the infiltration of foreigners into the job market at a high rate, the local people will have to compete for the limited jobs with foreigners. Therefore, many countries, with Jordan included, develop protectionist barriers through the law to avail jobs to the local population (Culbertson & Chen 2013). The impact of this move on the management of crisis in the nation and its organizations is the slowed response to the crisis because the required expertise from the foreigners is lacking.
In addition, the protectionist legal barriers create an impression to the rest of the world suggesting that Jordan is not ready to accommodate a high number of foreigners within its job market. Public relations suffers the effects because the institutional framework does not allow a global approach to all the problems within the country and its organizations. On the same note, many people in the rest of the world will not regard Jordan as an open and thus limit the relations they have with the country. It results into little investment from foreigners, which often plays an important role in social and economic development.
Lastly, another challenge riddling the public relations sector in crisis management is the repatriation of profits. Since the practice of public relations has taken a global perspective, the objectives of the foreigners within the local market are the subject of keen consideration. In spite of the benefits derived from foreign expertise, some relationships often end up benefitting the foreigners rather than the local country (Culbertson & Chen 2013). Earlier, there was an evaluation foreign direct investment and the advantages it has on the local markets.
Jordan has not remained behind in terms of the investment it enjoys from other countries. However, there is a possibility of loss in terms of the local personnel within the country. Brain drain is a common scenario in Jordan as the foreign companies train the locals and send them to work within their home countries. It is difficult for the locals to turn down the offers the foreign countries often have numerous resources such that they offer better incentives to the locals in the country.
The economic conditions are tough in the whole world, an element that makes it hard for anyone to refuse an offer that guarantees them to get better pay. With the movement of skilled personnel outside the market in Jordan, it leads to the perception that the working conditions in the nation are not suitable (Thomas, Nelson & Silverman 2011). It may discourage any other personnel from entering the market due to the lack of better incentives.
As such, most of the efforts in public relations accrue towards training and equipping other personnel with the necessary skill to manage the affairs of the nation and its important institutions. In the end, there may be a lack of skill and resources to manage the crisis within the market because most of the experienced people are not within the market anymore.
- Public relations and the new media
Public relations have emerged as a significant tool for navigating both the internal and external relations by countries. Globalization has led to increased international relations as nations navigate the emerging dimensions of international relations. National cultures, on the other hand, make each nation unique in terms of the image they present to the world and the way they go about presenting such images (Connaway & Powel 2010). The use of instant communication and social media has been increasing gradually but steadily in the region.
Interactive PR allows companies and organizations to disseminate information without relying solely on mainstream publications and communicate directly with the public, customers and prospects. New media are especially important in communication today, and it has gone beyond the confinements of use by individuals to cover organizational contexts (Connaway & Powel 2010). In addition, it is important in the sense that it allows for communication in all areas of the world.
The internet is important in the creation of a virtual world that allows interaction among different people without having to meet in person. Kits are fast and reliable, an element that helps in the delivery by avoiding limitations such as traffic jams and logistical inconveniences. At the same time, new media have played an important role in the reduction of costs for many organizations across the world by helping to mitigate the costs of transport.
It also increases organizational product in Jordan and other parts of the world by reducing the amount of time needed to publish the paperwork and engage in physical meetings. New media used in communication has increased the level of organizational productivity and the economic output as a whole. Resources previously used in physical meetings and paperwork are usable in other sectors of the organization.
Jordan has not remained behind in the progress within the communications sector. The emergence of social sites such as Facebook and Twitter has changed the public relations in the country. For instance, many marketers have to increase the nature and scope of their marketing activities to reach consumers in physical and online markets (Thomas, Nelson & Silverman 2011). Therefore, it is prudent to possess skills in both interpersonal and virtual world marketing.
Advertisements posted on the internet by marketers in Jordan are visible in nearly all parts of the world, and they can help create an image about the level of progress in the country’s corporate world. Reliable news and business advertisements are important in communicating to the rest of the world, and they can play a critical role in the attraction of foreign investment and the tourism sector (Wilcox & Cameron 2009). The global accessibility of the internet implies that people in Jordan must learn to address other people in other regions of the world.
Poor communication between them may make Jordanians lose opportunities from parties with an interest in several sectors of the country. Ion the same note, new media affect the culture of the people in Jordan, as they may have to learn other languages and translate what they see and read to foster the good relations. They have to translate the marketing tools into efficient public relations materials that the people from other regions of the world can understand and appreciate. For instance, developing business within the country can translate their websites into several languages to attract the attention of people from all over the world.
New media especially the internet does not have limitations in terms of the contents that people can access. It has been instrumental in the creation of open relationships because do not feel any limitation in terms of the content they can share and that they can access. On that note, all the content that comes through the internet in social sites, websites, and blogs is reliable. There is a need to govern or regulate new media in the world to help protect particularly images of nations and important institutions within those nations.
In Jordan, the media are relatively diverse in terms of the content it covers although there are malpractices among the professionals in the media industry. Ideally, they have often failed to uphold the professional standards required of them and indulged in censoring of important information because of the type of image they want to portray to the world. Sometimes, information tends to leak, and the rest of the world gets to know the truth regarding the true state of issues in the country or its fundamental organizations (Connaway & Powel 2010).
It affects the nature of public relations between Jordanians and the rest of the world. Foreign investors may perceive the move as a measure of hiding certain fundamental information regarding the Jordanian market (Wilcox & Cameron 2009). Therefore, they may avoid pumping resources into the market in Jordan because of the feeling that there is risks they are not aware of, which have been hidden by the government. In addition, people will perceive Jordan as a country without the freedom of expression and their opinion in global issues may not have any serious considerations.
Many nations will believe that the Jordanians are not sincere in the opinions they air because their government has a direct effect on the issues they air and how they air. Global perception on the freedom of expression and freedom of the media is a fundamental instrument in determining the relationship between Jordan and the rest of the world.
People will be more open and willing to help if the media in the country is reliable and professional in terms of the delivery of news (Alhammad, 2007). In addition, the government should encourage the citizens to rely on news from credible sources in spite of the media used to convey the news. It is a better move than denying citizens the access to certain websites.
- Research methodology and data analysis
The approach to research will be a mixed communication research methodology that will involve the use of both primary and secondary data. Secondary data will include the reviewing of the scholarly materials available with information about the topic. The use of scholarly materials will increase the reliability and validity of the research. The secondary sources will be gotten from libraries and the internet (Wilcox & Cameron 2009).
Primary data refers to data derived directly from the field of study and it involves actual research where people have to answer questions to the best of their knowledge. In addition, primary research is only valid in cases where the respondents portray honesty and neutrality such that they do not doctor their results to portray a certain picture, they should not give information that they think the researcher wants to hear in a particular way (Alsadhan, 2007). In this manner, acquisition of primary data varies from that of secondary data in the sense that one may have to educate the respondents and make them aware of the manner in which they are supposed to respond to the questions posed to them.
On the other hand, collecting data from secondary sources involves the evaluation of data already collected by previous researchers. In order to come with accurate and convincing data in the end, one may have to compare the data collected by various researchers to validate and come up with consistent and reliable information. It is also important to note that secondary data is also subject to bias. Since an individual or small group of individuals collects the data, it is possible that they are also subject to bias. However, consistent responses and statistics within
Apart from the library, in-depth interviews will be taking place with PR agencies CEO’s, and concerned personals from the Government and Tourism sector. These interviews will seek to understand how the respondents perceive the image of the country in terms of public relations. Questionnaire surveys will be used to perform an internet survey about public relations and image management in Jordan.
After the questionnaire is designed and posted on the internet, the first 300 responses will be printed, checked for consistency and complete filling, and randomly sampled to produce 100 questionnaires that will be used as the sample (Alhammad, 2007). Since the research is concentrated on three years in the past to the present, the research will also involve the content analysis of the media especially that from the timeframe.
A quick overview will take place regarding used media to manage Jordan image. However, social media will be the focus of this study. According to the resources available for the collection of data in the research, the respondents may receive the questionnaires and fill them in person and then they are collected later (Alhammad, 2007). On the contrary, if there are adequate resources in terms of money and time, the questionnaires can be administered in person to the respondents to guarantee issues of credibility and transparency. Moreover, one-on-one interactions with the people within Jordan is important as it may give an insight into more details than those covered by the questionnaires regarding social media.
Data collected will be analyzed objectively through the comparison of the different responses. Content analysis will be used where valid inferences will be made from the text. This approach will be based on the premise that many words from the media content analysis, questionnaire surveys, interviews, and secondary research can be organized into or reduced to categories in which word units or words have a central connotation or meaning.
Hierarchy of relationships will be established to infer relationships, and from these, conclusions will be drawn (Connaway and Powel, 2010, p. 225). In the hierarchy of needs or hierarchy of relationships, Abraham Maslow managed to argue about the theory that centers in the motivation of human beings and how they regard themselves around others. It has elements such as self-actualization, esteem, love, belonging, and safety.
All these factors depend on the nature of relationships that people have with others. Given that there is a mention of interaction, public relations comes into the light because it plays an important role in the way people relate and perceive each other. On that note, the responses derived from the questionnaires in the research can be helpful in answering the questions regarding the effects of social media on the hierarchy of relationships.
- Reliability and validity of the research
Reliability refers to the extent to which the research will produce similar results as long as the conditions are constant. Validity, on the other hand, talks about the extent to which the results of the research are representative of what the researcher sought to measure. In the research, reliability and validity will be observed through being objective, reducing and eliminating researcher bias, and ensuring that ethical considerations guide the research (Klenke, 2008, p. 67: Bell, 2005, pp. 117-18).
Research reliability and validity is an important component of the whole process because it is meaningless to convince people to believe results riddled with evident fabrications. In the context of reliability, the response derived from the questionnaires will only be reliable if the researcher observes the element of randomness (Al-Enad, 1990). Selecting the respondents on a random basis implies that the responses derived from them are consistent with the condition or implications in the real world.
If a similar test is conducted in the same locality using the same number of subjects, reliability holds that the variations should be slight if not negligible. It should prove that the initial research was not following particular patterns unless the objectives of the research necessitated that the research follows such a pattern.
On the other hand, validity is also elementary in the research data presented for the evaluation and analysis of other groups of people. Validity centers on the materials used in the acquisition of data and responses both primary and secondary research. In the case of primary data, validity emanates from the efforts made to record the data and responses in the original form given by the respondent.
The research should not later any information given by the respondents because it will lead into misleading results. At the same time, altering the responses given by the respondents reduces the validity in the sense that the research will be a falsification subject to be proven wrong by further studies into the same field (Al-Enad, 1990). On the other hand, it is important to acknowledge the work accomplished by previous researchers. Correct citations and references must follow any information derived from such work because it already exists, and people have access to it.
There are legal consequences for failing to give acknowledgment in the right manner because of the infringement of copyright rights. In addition, a reproduction of previous work done by past researchers compromises validity considering that changes occur on a regular basis in several sectors and fields (Al-Enad, 1990). For instance, areas of concern for the sector of public relations today touches on issues such as social media and the internet, which was the same case three or four decades ago. However, reference is made to evaluate the progress made from the past years.
- Ethical considerations
- Honesty: all communications regarding this research will strive for honesty, and to this end, the researcher will honestly report data, methods and procedures, data, and publication status of the material used in the completion of the research (Alanazi, 1996). Honesty is important in the prevention of future legal obligations because people can sue the researchers for compiling misleading information and using secondary sources without appropriate acknowledgment.
- Researcher bias: objectivity will be observed throughout the study. It is unethical for the researcher to let opinion and preferences obstruct the real results of the research. The two elements can make the researcher doctor the results to portray a certain image and inhibit the public from deriving accurate knowledge from the research (Alanazi, 1996). Research bias will not help in the management of the image of the nation in cases where there is a crisis because the information about public relations in the country is misleading.
- Intellectual property: plagiarism will be avoided through giving credit to the owners and authors of the secondary materials that will be used. It is important to acknowledge all the sources used in the research, which are not the original work of the researcher (Resnik, 2011).
- Confidentiality: names and information about the respondents will be kept confidential, and the information will only be used for the research purposes
- Equal distribution of the benefits and burdens of research (Resnik, 2011).
- Informed consent- the respondents must be aware of their freedom to decline giving information to the researcher and he or she is not in a position to derive the information through other means, therefore, bribery and coercion is inappropriate when seeking information usable in research (Alanazi, 1996).
Conclusion and Recommendations
The results of the research, in the form of the analyzed data, will be used to give an insight to the issue of public relations in Jordan and offer recommendations on the future of public relations, and image management in the country. Therefore, it is important for the researcher to adhere to the fundamentals of good research starting from the process of data collection in the field and secondary resources.
Data collected should be reliable and valid and subjected to a thorough analysis to ensure that the solution proposed from the research are valid and practical. Most importantly, the research should adopt an appropriate mechanism of data collection based on the nature of the data collected and the respondents in question (Alanazi, 1996). For instance, the research can combine the use of both secondary sources of data and primary data to acquire information and make the appropriate comparison. If the research is successful, the information derived regarding media, and the portrayal of images in Jordan can play a crucial role in the management of crisis. For instance, willing parties can read about the results of the research and understand the state of affairs in Jordan. They may be willing to help where they can.
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