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Background Information

SIDS and Kids is a respected nonprofit organization that carries on health promotion, bereavement support, and advocacy into sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and stillbirth. SIDS and Kids play a pivotal role in Australia. This is because the organization has mostly contributed to a reduction of 80 percent cases of SIDS in Australia. The organization was started  in  1977 by Kaarene Fitzgerald AC who founded the Sudden Infant Death Research Foundation Inc. Kaarene Fitzgerald  had a wide experience of sudden and abrupt death of infants from SIDS. The growth and development of SIDS organizations in other regions in Australia necessitated the formation of the National SIDS Council of Australia in the year 1986. However, the organization changed its name in March 2002 to SIDS and Kids to have a reflection of the organization’s historical background and its future. Services of SIDS and Kids have been widening beyond organisation’s ability to embrace the need to offer support to families who have encountered the unfortunate demise of their infants. The support is given to the families who have encountered sudden and abrupt death of a baby or child despite the cause of death. Currently, SIDS and Kids is a national organization in Australia and offer its service to all states in Australia. The organization has offices in all States and Territory of Australia with national office located in Victoria.

SIDS and Kids Mission and Vision

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SIDS and Kids is a nonprofit organization that is devoted to saving the lives of infants and children during pregnancy, birth, infancy and childhood and giving support to the bereaved families. It offers its services all people in Australia. It aims to fulfill its vision by carrying out excellent research, evidence-based education and bereavement support, and advocacy.

Public Relation in SIDS and Kids

The aspect of public relations is quite critical to SIDS and Kids operations. The SIDS and Kids run an online library called ASK online library which give support to all states and territory offices with insightful research journals on various topics on safe sleeping, stillbirth and the possible causes of sudden and unexpected death in babies and infants. The ASK Online platform is a public relation strategy which makes the organization to foster good relationship in the society. The organization is also involved in several campaigns, which are aimed at creating awareness in child management in a bid to reduce sudden and unexpected death in children.

Ethical Issues in SIDS and Kids

Ethical standard is very important to the organization. This is evidenced by its commitment to carrying out counselling and bereavement support. The organization also follows the stipulated code of conduct as stipulated in the laws that govern their practice. Ethical conduct remains one of the most important business practices that define an organization growth and development.

Maintenance of High Ethical Standards

Strong ethical conduct is vital in the establishment of trust and confidence in any professional discipline and organizational operation. Many professions, which have no laws that require public relations stakeholders to be registered, licensed, or accredited. Therefore, there is lack of statutory penalties to cater for misconduct or discourage professional negligence in PR. In this regard, the existence of SIDS and Kids plays a central role in the organisation for self-regulation, with codes of ethics and standards that governs its members.

Individual Code of Ethics

All SIDS and Kids membership is mandated to make a personal, written promise to its code of ethics, managed by senior leaders of the organisation.

Complaints Procedure

SIDS has a national process for addressing all the allegations of code of ethics breaches. The complaints are dealt with professionally all parties are given a due hearing before the judgement is made.

Significance of Communication in PR

Public relation plays a critical role in the growth and development of an organization. Communication is a critical tool in public relation strategies in a given organization. Public relations theory has recently paid a lot of focus on the people who have an interest in the operation of an organization. However, it is noted that public relations theory and strategies has been silent on the so-called inactive public. The inactive public is the group community who is not interested or talks about, or participates in any endeavor geared towards influencing an organization’s operation or practice (Hallahan, 2000). In public relation theory, there are several theories, which tend to analyze the concept of public relation. For instance, resource dependency theory depicts that individuals get into relationships to respond to the need for resources. In today's global society, the people get into contact with large organizations that offer services that range of agricultural produce of equipment. The theory further stipulates that as long as those commodities are produced in a reliable and inadequate way, there is absolutely no reason for people to pay much attention to these organizations.

The focal point of activism, as shown in issues management, for instance, depicts that people who form part of a public are adequately interested and well equipped to think about the challenges in the society, to employ a meaningful discourse with others, and to arrange to take a decisive action. For instance, normative models that depict that PR is organized as a two-way process of communication. It is noted symmetric communication assume that there are a group of publics who are active participants and are both enthusiastic and able to present their concerns through activities such as collaboration. Similarly, situational theory is geared to serve as a forecaster of activism.

Inactive publics in the society should not be ignored. This is because they consist of a big number. Secondly,  the inactive public group  plays a critical role of   representatives  and considering the emphasis put  on them in several public relations movements, it is prudent to include them in the decision making since  organizations need their efforts  in the  quest  to manipulate the way inactive publics buy, invest, donate, work, and vote. Inactive publics, as a community, are significant, long-term component for many organizations, which are significantly looking for strategies to carry out a good job of communication with them. The definition of inactivity publics as groups with less engagement and less knowledge towards a given organization depicts that the inactive group are not aware of the company or an organization’s product, services, employees, or causes of action. The level in which a community or a group is engaged in an organization is critical in the determination of the level to which a community of people is motivated to attend an organization's public relations activity. Similarly, the level education and knowledge significantly contribute to the degree to which a group of people would respond to accompany public relations efforts.

The discussion of public relation presents a wide range of alternative strategies, based on whether a public is active, merely aware, merely aroused, or inactive, and might be appropriate. While normative theory illustrates that public relations is preferably performed as two-way, symmetric communication. However, this idea has been strongly confronted in recent years by contingency theories that argue that a combination of advocacy and accommodation might be necessary. The model of argument presented in this paper is relevant to the  discussion since it  suggests that advocacy should  be valuable, to the level that a given  public is less active, that is to say, less engaged and less knowledgeable, in a given discourse or debate.

The Concept of Dialogue in Public Relation

In the current public relation (PR) studies, scholars continue to develop theories that support two-way relational communication framework. PR practitioners and researchers now use the term dialogue as a way of addressing PR ethics and practical advances. The use of dialogue in PR was developed from the philosophy of rational communication theory. Dialogue is fundamental in the understanding of how organizations run their affairs. Building relationships with the public, employees, and other stakeholders should be geared towards serving the public interest. It is critical for organizations to define their PR vocabulary in a bid to create an enabling environment for interaction of organizational duties and operations in a manner that serves the public interests. Kent & Taylor (2002) suggest three pillars that organizations should use to enhance dialogue.

The Three Pillars of Dialogue

An ethically sound PR depends on the nature of communication systems. Regardless of which PR philosophy that is adopted by an organisation, communication remains important in sending message to the public. Kent & Taylor (2002) therefore suggest three ways of incorporating dialogue in the running of daily activities. 

Building interpersonal relationship

Organisations should be comfortable with how they convey their message to the public. Dialogue is the best way of passing information from the organisation to the public. Members should be taught the basics of dialogue just like they are trained on public speaking, managing conflicts, and managing crisis. The essence of building interpersonal skills is to establish external relationships with the public and other stakeholders through the media. “Consideration of these factors will no-doubt strengthen the communication relations with external constituencies as well,” (Kent & Taylor, 2002, p.31).

Building mediated dialogic relationships

To build relationships, organisations should diversify their outreach mission by using a number of platforms to reach the public. Commitment to dialogue should include the placement of email address, web links, telephone numbers, and social media links in all the correspondence used by an organisation. These initiatives with widen the platform for dialogue by engaging the public to discussions on issues of society interest. Ken & Taylor (2002) suggest that instead of organisations using the correspondence for advertisement, they should use the platform to create dialogue. The web links and online social media provide real-time organisation-pubic interaction. Moreover, the traditional media like radios and television can also create a forum for dialogue by allowing contribution from viewers or listeners by allowing call-ins.

SID and Kids Australia has a platform for building dialogic relationship as the organisation, through the ‘ASK Online’ programme enables users to access researches done since its establishment in the late 1970s. The catalogue contains written literature on 40 main topics. The public can access information relating to the care of young children and health related issues that affect the community. Through the ASK Online programme, SID and Kids Australia takes a national role in creating awareness on stillbirths, safe sleeping sensitization, the infant sudden death syndrome. Moreover, the two Twitter accounts and two Facebook accounts enable to public to give their views on every matter that the organisation engages in as required by the Kent & Taylor (2002) process of building mediation.

Well-laid channel of dialogue

Kent & Taylor (2002) recall that dialogue is about creating products that entrust and satisfy the public interest. The processes of making dialogic communication should enhance ethical practices. The concert should be public-centred through creation of organisational frameworks that encourage dialogue. In PR, Pearson advanced procedures that can facilitate dialogue; hence, “no topic should be excluded a priori from discussion, that no type of communication be considered a priori as inappropriate or irrational, and that during discourse, communicators have the option of changing,” (Kent & Taylor, 2002, p.32).

The ASK Online programme also allows the public to place their requests on what topics the organisation should research and respond. This is a public gala forum that enables dialogue between the public and the organisation. It is on the ideas provided by the online platform that SID and Kids Australia develop their research. Just as Kent & Taylor (2002) propose that organisations should not have predetermined issues to discuss, they have let the public decide which topic to address and this is a show that the SID and Kids comply with the PR ideals of in encouraging dialogue.           

Keeping contact in the communication system is important and for this reason, the organisation platforms for both private and public entities should encourage the public to make inquiries. For instance, when the provided telephone numbers are busy, message should be sent to the callers on the appropriate time they can make next call. Other avenues for keeping contact include: creation of a platform to allow the callers to leave their messages, developing alternative methods of communication, and the identification of best time when callers would get help. The reason for assisting caller to get in touch with the organisation is to make the public feel validated in the running of affairs.    

SIDS and Kids have mastered the PR philosophy of diversifying their outreach platform. The organisation has tried to give as many web links, telephone numbers, email addresses, physical addresses, and other important contact information for the public to reach them. Moreover, the contact information is given distinctively for the many initiatives that they run. For instance, SIDS and Tasmania has its unique contact information. This kind of arrangement allows easy access for the specific issues that callers may require. It also fastens the response rate as the services are well distributed. More significantly, these contact information are available in all correspondence that the organisation writes. It is a show of how well developed SIDS Kids’ PR is, especially in establishing dialogistic communication.

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