Public Relations in Turkey
Public Relations, which was perceived by most people in Turkey three decades ago as an unimportant subject, is now a huge sector with a vital role in every for profit and non-profit middle and larger sized company. PR is an extremely attractive career choice for young people and has a significant influence on companies’ growth and expansion in audience. Public relations is not an added function in organizations but rather plays a crucial and constant role in businesses. There are 29 colleges offering degrees in PR in Turkey. Every year more than 1000 new graduates who join the work force select the public relations sector. Public Relations companies are growing and expanding their specialized areas.
TUHID, Turkish Public Relations Associations
TUHID, founded in 1972, was established to promote association between PR experts within organizations, to provide solidarity within the sector and to establish PR’s position in business throughout Turkey.
Some functions of TUHID include training through Professional Development Seminars, periodic TUHİD forums and conferences, whereby prominent representatives of our industry give speeches on popular communication-related topics.
Also included in our operations is the Golden Compass Public Relations Award. The Golden Compass Public Relations Award, which was initiated in 2001, has become a very popular and well respected sector award promoting PR projects. By including students' projects in 2004 the award’s boundaries were expanded in a very positive way.
TUHID additionally monitors PR ethics within Turkey. Our organization believes that ethical standards in public relations in Turkey must be in parallel with the global standards and that professional standards within the membership must also be maintained. For this purpose a special project will be initiated in 2005 by TUHID.
TUHID has been working with universities on many different PR projects.
The year 2004 marks one of the most important milestones in the history of our association as we became the only association officially representing the public relations sector in Turkey. This year we were granted permission to add the word “Turkiye” to the name of our association. Now, our official title HID (Halkla Iliskiler Dernegi) has changed to TUHID (Turkiye Halkla Iliskiler Dernegi). We take very seriously the added responsibility as the official representative.
In recent years we have reached more audience and membership has increased 40%. We established an internet website and motivated greater participation by the prominent Turkish PR personalities in our projects. In order to be prepared for the future we have started new restructuring projects within TUHID and have provided new financial resources. Our improved financial position and expanded voluntary workforce further help us affectively achieve our association’s goals.
Presently, TUHID has 270 members. The members of TUHID, who include the most prominent public relations professionals in the country, are immediately informed about PR related subjects. Non-members also closely follow TUHID’s activities.
The website of the association (www.hid.org.tr) and the email-groups are important tools in facilitating rapid communication with and between our members. Our website is very active and is continuously updated. Young professionals can immediately benefit from others’ PR experience by accessing the information on our website.
The exchange of ideas in the email groups was so active that in terms of activity and usage it ranks eighth in PR websites worldwide. These groups are particularly popular with students. Our association is planning to grant a special membership status to students.
Challenges in the PR Industry in Turkey
As business administration has developed and advanced globally the role of public relations within organizations has become clearer. Sector difficulties are currently being resolved through better understanding and acceptance by company managers. Titles, work and job descriptions are now better delineated. Major players in the business sector are consulting PR experts before finalizing their business plans.
The importance of public relations in companies’ success is realized by organizations and their managers who utilize PR professionals and therefore experience a much more receptive audience. We want to see more organizations and people employing PR strategies and tactics.
There is a misconception held by some managers that public relations means to be in the news media. However, media is only one side of the public relations. A success can only be achieved by a systematic PR work plan.
From top to bottom, regardless of education or status, communication is every employee’s duty. Executive managers’ initiatives and persuasiveness plays a key role in well managed PR activities. Successful managers are those with strong communication skills.
PR Sector in Turkey in 2004
Turkey has experienced financial turmoil in the last decade. The painful economic crisis reached rock bottom in 2003, after which trends started to turn upward. Political stability, single digit inflation rate and some other factors in 2004 created an atmosphere for the companies to have hopeful expectations for the upcoming years. This positively affected our business, even though it was still lower than what we, PR professionals expected. Developments in the last decade seriously reshaped the economy and companies. Strong companies survived and the weakest ones did not.
Economic crisis affected our sector in different ways. On the one hand, some companies shied away from public relations and thought they were saving money. They either cancelled or postponed PR projects. When they executed any PR projects, they cut their budgets, although in reality they needed more and better PR work. Now, most of them understand that they should have used more PR techniques. After that experience, they now want to see more PR professionals in their organizations. On the other hand, reorganization of Turkish companies in recent decades brought many concepts, such as crisis management and itibar yönetimi, to the forefront. Likewise, many PR professionals found opportunities to improve their skills and specialize in rarely found business situations. But in either case, surviving companies, most of which have strong international connections, did become sure of the importance of public relations more than ever which is to our benefit.
Public relations is directly related with the economic and social life in a country. The conditions we experienced helped us learn a great deal. We are fortunate in Turkey for having very skillful and well-qualified professionals in almost every aspect of the public relations business.
The last decade also witnessed another phenomenon in telecommunication technology worldwide which is a significant tool in PR. As Turkey made an impressive advancement in our telecommunication infrastructure in the late 80s and early 90s, it was ready to adapt the new technical developments.
From the public relations perspective now we have skillful and experienced professionals utilizing advanced technological equipment, operating worldwide and in tough economic conditions. The public relations business in Turkey may still be behind the USA, but our special situation puts us in a unique place in worldwide public relations.
Expectations in 2005
Like in every New Year, we have high expectations for the upcoming year. We hope that organizations and their managers will place more importance on PR and dedicate more resources to the short and long term public relations projects. Successful achievements of our PR professionals will provide new opportunities for many people to turn to us, invest more and allocate bigger budgets. For this mission, every single player in our field has a significant responsibility. As the leading association representing the industry in Turkey TUHID is strategically unified and well-prepared to execute both short and long term plans.
TUHID is a major supporter of the next IPRA Congress to be held in Turkey. We will be honored to celebrate the 50th anniversary in Turkey. We will also be privileged to host and meet thousands of the IPRA members from all over the world expected to come to Turkey for that distinguished professional meeting.
Who is Ms. Fugen Toksu
Ms.Toksu graduated from Communication Faculty in Marmara University. She received her MBA degree from Istanbul University.
She worked for MESS Employee Union as PR manager before she founded Toksu & Chase PR Co. Ms. Toksu created and published an automobile classified site on the internet, called www.otoalsat.com, which received the Golden Spider award. Ms. Toksu is also the founder member of Açık İletişim Yayıncılık PR Co.
Ms.Toksu, who has been in the Board of Directors for four terms, serves as the Chairman of TUHID for the second time in a row. In addition to the IPRA she is also a member in TGC (Turkish Journalists Association). She is a press-card holder and has been lecturing in Istanbul Ticaret University.
2 Aralık 2004
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