APPLICATION OF COMMUNITY RELATIONS STRATEGIES IN ADDRESSING HOST COMMUNITY HOSTILITY
The Old Fashioned View of Community Relations
Traditionally, employers have tended to regard their relationships with home communities as being extensions of their employee relations. The idea was that employees who were treated decently would go into the home communities singing the praises of their employer. In this traditional viewpoint, employers felt that their dollar payroll, their local tax payments and their occasional loan of a facility for a meeting discharged their community obligations, (Centre, Jackson, Smith and Stansberry, 2008).
They explained that their attitude seemed to say, “Look what we are giving: jobs, taxes, meeting facilities and charitable donations.” Employers who held this view tended to assume that with little more than a snap of their fingers they would be provided the practical necessities for efficient operations; streets, sewers, water lines, power and telephone, police and fire services, recreational areas, health care centers, schools, shopping centers, residential areas, cultural and religious facilities, and all the rest. The viewpoint tended to say, “These are what we are entitled to in return for what we give. The community owes use these.”
However, this attitude has changed. Employers now know that they must have more than a general concern for the efficiency and adequacy of community services for themselves and for their employees. They have learned that they must become involved in specific community decisions and actions concerning fiscal policies; honesty in public offices; attracting new businesses and holding older ones; planning for the future; and generating the enthusiasm of volunteers in the charitable, culture, fellowship, educational, recreational, business and patriotic endeavours. In general, they must apply the collective talents of the organization to the community in which it operates. The combination of these concerns involves having representatives in the policy-making structure of the community, sometimes directly and openly, sometimes behind the scenes.
Centre, Jackson, Smith and Stansberry (2008) say that: “Community relations, as a public relations function, is an institution’s planned, active and continuing participation within a community to maintain and enhance its environment to the benefit of both the institution and the community”.
Community Relations (CR) work is a dynamic aspect of public relations. If there were no other reason, the changing physical and social makeup of communities would make it so, but there are many other contributing factors. Among them, few people stay in the communities where they are born. Families move not once, but several times. Community communications programs must deal with this constant turnover of residents.
Also, employers move. Sometimes they move from a congested central city area to a suburb. When they move, both areas are disrupted. A manufacturer may move a headquarters or a manufacturing facility from one city to another, mortally wounding the economy of one and perhaps staring a boom in the other. Branches of businesses and institutions are opened in areas of growing population and closed in areas that are shrinking or that are poorly managed. A new interstate highway bye-passes a community formally dependent on travelers for its trade. Undesirable elements get control of government. A community also undergoes change when there is a movement for reform or rehabilitation.