IMPORTANCE OF AN EFFECTIVE
COMMUNITY RELATIONS PROGRAM
Learning Objective: ldentify the pupose of an effective
community relations program and recognize its
It is stated often that community relations are
public relations at the local level or that it is living
right and telling about it. It has also been explained as
having and keeping friends in the community.
These statements get to the heart of community
relations, but they are oversimplified definitions when
the vital mission of community relations is analyzed
To paraphrase the Public Relations News definition
of public relations:
Community relations is the command
function that evaluates public attitudes,
identities the mission of a military organization
with the public interest and executes a program
of action to earn public understanding and
Like public relations, community relations
something an organization has whether this fact
recognized or not. Unlike public relations, community
relations is usually limited to the local area.
Business organizations give attention to their
community relations for good reason. Organizations can
exist and make a profit only as long as the public allows
them to exist. The concept that American free enterprise
exists only to make a profit and is responsible only to its
official family has diminished to a great degree. It has
fast given way to the realization that there is also a
responsibility to the community in which the
organization is located and that it is advisable for the
organization to meet this responsibility of its own free
While there is not universal agreement on the
specific benefits gained, organizations conducting
planned programs cite many tangible and intangible
benefits from their community relations efforts. A
Bureau of National Affairs survey found that the
benefits mentioned most often were better recruiting,
relations, increased sales and
Community relations literature reflects general
agreement that effective community relations programs
make it easier to hire the better workers in a community,
help to get more confidence in local plant management
from communities and provide better understanding
between the organization and local officials.
Benefits from good community relations do not
come automatically. In fact, many organizations that are
fine employers and outstanding corporate citizens fail
to realize the rewards to which their virtues entitle them.
They miss the payoff because they fail to tell about it.
Communicating to key publics the benefits derived
from sound community relations further enhances an
organizations overall program. Attitude surveys reveal
that community neighbors traditionally know little
about companies in their towns and the important part
each plays in the civic programs of their towns. Surveys
also reveal that civilian companies rated favorably in
their communities are generally guided by the following
three-point formula for effective community relations:
. Live right.
. Have a planned community relations program.
l Tell employees about the program and tell the
community about the company.
Many of the benefits civilian enterprise derives
from planned community relations programs are equally
desirable for military organizations. Military commands
also need to enjoy a favorable position in the local
community, strive for good employee relations and seek
cooperation and high esteem from the local population.
Military organizations should be concerned with
community relations because the business of the
military is the peoples business. Military organizations
have a responsibility to report to the public on the
conduct of military business. In a democratic nation, the
individual citizen has a right to know how efficiently,
and to what purpose his armed forces are using his sons
and daughters and his tax money plus what the returns
on his investment are in personal and national security.
The effectiveness of military operations depends upon
public understanding, support and cooperation.
Like business organizations, military establish-
ments have a moral debt to take their place in the
community as corporate citizens, be good neighbors
and to show an awareness of community problems and
a willingness to help out. Community relations