Community relations: why it is important

By: Natalie Burns

As we strive to enhance our education in public relations and communications, we need to understand the importance of community relations. Community relations is now a vital and strategic aspect behind any functioning American business. As many factors go into making an organization work, community relations is a key ingredient in keeping a company alive.

In the past, the contribution of many companies toward communities consisted of charitable donations, rather than taking an active part in the community or causes. Today, interacting and connecting with your audience daily is imperative. The relationship between a company and community solely depends on the commitment the organization has to its audience. In order to gain a positive image, build trust with the community, and boost a reputation, we have to integrate specific business strategies.

Ronald Speed, who was vice president for public affairs at the Honeywell Corporation, defined three different program elements that can help an organization stick to the basics of community involvement in the book “Corporate Communication, A Guide to Theory and Practice,” by Joep Cornelissen.

Philanthropy: These may be charitable donations. They consist of cash or in-kind contributions to local community causes or charities. Philanthropy provides a strong indicator that the organization really cares about the community.

Volunteers: Employee volunteers may sometimes be the most important resource of a company, especially for nonprofits. When employees are working on local causes and public programs they act as ambassadors for that organization and enhance its reputation.

 Partnerships: As this may be a higher level of commitment, companies are able to engage in partnerships with multiple community agencies that help address issues. surrounded by education, infrastructure, and welfare. This can help leverage the entire community relations aspect as a whole.

Proactive communication and engagement with the community will allow you to represent your organization in a positive and bold way. Knowing the importance of community relations is key as we begin our careers in field of public relations.

Natalie Burns is a senior pursuing her public relations major. She is the Chief Financial Officer of PRSSA. She has experience in both marketing and non-profit organizations. Connect with her via Twitter @burns_natalie and Instagram @natbsweetee. You can also check out her blog at


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