Environmental scanning refers to information use and acquisition with regard to organizations relationships, events and trends in its external environment aimed at helping an organizations management in planning the organization’s future activities (Albright, 2004; Aguilar 1967; Choo and Auster, 1993). With regard to public relations, environmental scanning refers to the gathering of information on the reaction and opinion of the public towards the organization. Most organizations engage in environmental scanning because it provides them with a better understanding of external forces of change and aids at identifying emerging issues, drawbacks and situations which enables them came up with strategic measures to change their policies, procedures, services, behavior and products in order to benefit the organization and to adhere to the public’s interest (Cultip et.al, 1987). According to Sutton (1998), environmental scanning is aimed at identification and avoidance of surprises, acquisition of competitive advantage, short-term and long term planning improvement and identification of opportunities and threats (Albright, 2004). To be more specific, environmental scanning is a method used for information identification, translation and collection with reference to external influences into constructive decisions and plans. Most notably, there has been a debate on the strengths of environmental scanning and its specific limitations in relation to public relations (Conerlissen (2007, p.99) opines that environmental scanning helps organizations through “analyzing the organization’s position and identifying emerging issues that may have significant implications for the organization.” However, L’ETang (2008, p.86) opines that environmental culture inculcates the “surveillance culture” among public relations professionals. Accordingly, this essays reflects on this issues arising in this debate in a bid to arriving to a convincing conclusion.
Reasons for Environmental scanning
The emergence of new business practices and rapid features in the markets makes environmental scanning an important activity to be undertaken by many organizations as these will enable an organization to be at par with the numerous increasing trends such as regulations and technology. Accordingly, environmental scanning enables an organization to be more anticipatory in its management and reduces the probability of it being left behind (Albright, 2004)
Organizational success is defined by the relationship among the organizations, external environment, strategic planning and markets. Therefore, identification of external forces provides an organization with the opportunity to evaluate a particular existing challenge and consider their response to that challenge in relation to their internal strengths and weaknesses (Albright, 2004). Stoffel (1994) argues that environmental scanning enables an organization to tackle persistent issues such as technical, economic...