Public relations theory, principles and practice.docx

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General Education Studies
Matt Loads

WEEK 1 Introduction  Practitioners actively engage in all levels of organisational and community life as they develop ways to work with the community and other publics and audiences and adapt their practice to changing societal needs and demands.  Engage in organisational decision making, taking an active role in management, and engaging in grassroots campaigns, all of which directly support organisations to achieve their business goals.  PR evolving and changing with ‘porous boundaries to a range of other disciplines; marketing, management, organisation studies, communications, journalism, media studies, as practitioners liaise and collaborate with other disciplines and simultaneously define their practice and position in organisations. Historical origins  Public – any group of people who share common interests or values in a particular situation (especially ones they might be willing to act upon).  Stakeholder – when a public has a relationship with your organisation (has stake in organisation or in an issue potentially involving it).  PR activities also involve communication with audiences or those who might receive or listen to our messages but may not be stakeholders or specific publics.  According to Newsom, Turk and Kruckeberg the US PR profession moved through five main stages: o Press agentry and publicity – tactics, or PR devices such as a press agentry, were publicity dominated. o Communicating and initiating – at a time of press agents, promoters, and propagandists promoting organisations’ achievements. o Reacting and responding – at a time where writers were hired to deal with special interests as the profession began to look at its performance and how it related to society. o Planning and prevention – which was viewed as the maturing of the profession as it became part of a management role. o Status of professionalism development – which widened the profession and in which international perspectives became important. Defining and understanding PR US perspective (Heath and Coombs):  The management function that entails planning, research, publicity, promotion, and collaborative decision making to help any organisation’s ability to listen to, appreciate and respond appropriately to those persons and groups who mutually beneficial relationships the organisation needs to foster as it strives to achieve its mission and vision. UK perspective (Chartered Institute of PR):  Discipline, which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing public opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics. Asian perspective: 1  A scarce resource that is used within a set of rigid requirements that reflect the way PR is understood in Malaysia and in some Asian cultures, where governments’ power and control (especially of media), considers what is permissible and acceptable communication to the public. Author’s definition:  Collaborates with diverse publics through dialogue and multiway discussion, networking, and relationship monitoring and management.  Researches and evaluates its practice to understand how to work well with majority and minority groups in organisations and society, and to explore mutual objectives.  Is creative and innovative, yet flexible in its practice, as it constantly adapts to changing needs and circumstances. o Complexity of PR practice opens up the potential for practitioners to be creative as they adapt their practice and change their program plans in response to changing societal needs. o Profession is open and responsive to different points of view, embraces transparency and accountability, and respects cultural, political, economic, and social differences. o Counsel, or giving advice and working through the best and most appropriate alternatives in PR planning and programming, is important as practitioners become the facilitators of communication that may not always be popular for all parties involved in negotiation. Defining PR values  Emphasis on transparent, two-way communication where listening and taking ideas on board is as important as informing, giving your ideas, and promoting your plans.  Representing the interests and needs of your organisation and your endeavour to work for what is best for society as there is an ethical obligation to do so.  Ethical and responsible practice that becomes part of community engagement or CSR where the moral fibre of organisations goes beyond serving the community to giving back to the community.  Plans and activities of organisations and their values and goals that are in line with the values and goals of publics and audiences, which is critical to relational development between organisations and their publics – PR activity and planning will be successful if it is also formally and informally researched so that there is complete understanding of the context in which PR is managed.  PR taking an active role in organisations to give counsel to and develop strong internal relationships with decision makers and employees, and have input to policy development and the way organisations are managed. Why theory is important  Draws from what has been tested and researched and found to be beneficial; it can also point to what has to be avoided.  Understanding theory and applying it practice is critical to a profession that is the forefront of communication exchange and management.  Theory development is robust, and publications that are specific to theory development can be followed up as students extend their scholarly enquiry. 2 Core theoretical perspectives  Critical theory: o Points to the application of theory to PR practice as inherently tied to corporate interest. o Critical theorists review what is happening in organisations as part of sense making, understanding organisational dynamics, and working out wars to manage effectively.  A rhetorical perspective: o Discussion and discourse between parties, which includes verbal and non- verbal communication and where the objective, or end goal is part of the discourse. o Assumes that factual evidence is reasoned argument, where ethical judgement is crucial to effective communication and establishing solid relationships.  Systems theory: o Set of parts (or subsystems) which impact on each other and which together interact with the organisation’s environment. o Organisations are understood as being part of a social system, which involves the management of these systems, adapts to changes in the systems and subsystems, and produces products or services of the organisation. o Systems and boundary spanning also depend on practitioners’ roles that may/may not be in positions of power or authority to carry out the necessary boundary spanning to influence internal and external publics. o PR practitioners as boundary spanners are the go-betweens, explaining the organisation to its stakeholders and interpreting the environment to the organisation.  Relationship management and relational theory: o Focus on the way that relationships develop, how they are challenged, and how they sometimes collapse. o Effective relationships – satisfaction, commitment, control mutuality, or control and power. o Relationships are complex and constantly changing so we need to understand the context of relationships and manage them according to changing relational dynamics. o Amidst uncertainty and tension, PR relationships and relational exchanges react and respond to relational dynamics from their point of view. o Relational sense making – relational partners together work out ways to continue relationships where the relational expectations are reviewed and constantly reframed so that they can be effective and meaningful.  Communication theory: o Each party has to interpret the message and shape a response before sending it out or back. o The way that parties/publics interpret PR messages also needs to be carefully monitored according to the circumstances and context in which they are sent.  Agenda setting theory: o Maintains that the media determine what people think or have an interest in. 3 o Agenda setting – refers to the variable degrees of attention the mass media give to certain ideas, issues or themes, lending them more or less significance. o E.g. constant reports about global warming set the agenda for further reporting to the public as global warming is on the public agenda.  Behavioural change model: o Proposes that PR activity aims to increase awareness, call the public to action so that they do not remain latent and inactive to the messages they hear, and trigger participation and behavioural change. o E.g. unless special conferences, campaigns and community programs targeted towards specific publics are put together, messages about eating healthy foods would not get a response. PR Theory (Grunig and Hunt) Press agentry model. Propagandistic; seeks media attention; focus on promotion; one-way communication. Public information model. Disseminates accurate information but does not volunteer negative information or seek input; one-way communication. Two-way asymmetrical model. Identifies those messages most likely to gain support from targeted publics without having to change the behaviour of the organisation; manipulative; change benefits the organisation but not necessarily the publics. Two-way symmetrical model. Bargaining, negotiating and conflict resolution strategies to effect change in ideas, attitudes and behaviours of both the organisation and its publics for mutual benefit. Practising PR  PR practitioners responsible for: o A campaign to increase blood donations to a blood bank. o Managing a speedway racing event with a focus on families and family involvement. o Developing a position paper on climate change for a government department.  Consultants – help organisations: o Understand the culture of the organisation that hires them. o Challenge perceptions of the client about themselves and their target publics. o Be transparent and open in their dealings with clients so that understanding of each other’s perspective is central to the development and growth of the consultant-client relationship.  All sectors: o Sound ethical practice guided by codes of ethics that are relevant and active. 4 o Open, transparent, two-way or multiway internal and external communication. o Acknowledgement of the need for good relationships with key publics and audiences, and sustaining and building these relationships. o Recognition and support of management in PR campaigns and programs. o Good understanding of research. o The skill to manage new and traditional media. o Local and global understanding of PR, with sensitivity to and awareness of intercultural matters. PR Sectors and Positions  In-house practitioners.  PR consultants.  Academics & other. What PR people do Internal communications management. - Internal publications, managing bulletin boards, managing organisation’s blogs, collaborative website management, writing speeches. - Employee relations, working with HR and management to keep employees informed, included and motivated in all aspects of an organisation’s PR programs, policy development and decision making. - Developing media relations, placement of appropriate communication to media. External networking and multifaceted - Managing online communication communication, relationship building. through interactive websites, blogging and new media initiatives. - Meeting and collaborating with community leaders and stakeholders and organising events to celebrate organisations’ success and role in the community. - Promoting CSR in partnerships with other organisations. - Publicity and promotion for organisations. Issues and crisis management, - Monitoring issues or the ongoing reputation and brand management. matters of concern to the organisation and/or society, providing media training for crisis management, and taking a leading role at the time of the crisis to inform, manage the crisis team and support management and managing 5 an organisation’s reputation. Research. - Conducting interviews, focus groups and internal audits, requesting market research for strategic thinking and planning, evaluating and reviewing all programs and campaigns. Public affairs. - Lobbying, preparing position papers, putting forward proposals for new government campaigns and promoting government initiatives. - Developing white papers and opening up communication for community consultation. Investor relations and financial PR. - Promoting financial services in a way that can be understood by those who access the service of credit unions, banks, and other providers and promoting these services. - Shareholders are one stakeholder group who expect service and support. Developing a new PR position for an - Recognising the need for PR in an organisation. organisation and establishing PR functions and components of PR. 6 WEEK 2 What is shaping 21 century PR  The realisation that the most important stakeholder is society itself, and that organisations do not exist as individual entities surviving in a vacuum with little need to respond to society and the community. o PR professionals have an ethical obligation to act responsibly because of their influence on society and in doing so need to be guided by their professional values and beliefs if their input to corporations’ social aspirations is going to be relevant and meaningful. o Need for PR leadership to make communication transparent, so that practitioners are able to help develop productive organisational culture and positively influence organisational outcomes.  Organisations’ expectations for timely, effective and creative PR programs have an impact on practitioners who are working hard to meet the requirements of project managing and scheduling multiple PR activities while also acting ethically and responsibly. What is influencing PR practice  Publics want changes made to health and transport policies and services but don’t want governments to be too powerful or to regulate excessively.  Transparency and disclosure are now the norm.  Ethical practice is paramount to PR professionalism and best practice.  International context and increased tension between local-global perspectives. o As publics are informed worldwide through media, activity at the local level is growing as citizens become passionate about local issues what is important to them.  Community engagement means that organisations take a proactive interest by identifying communal interests, whose aim is to promote these interests for the benefit of the community. Key points from the Commission on PR Education  Recommends there be: o More emphasis on ethics and transparency, new technology, integration of messages and tools, interdisciplinary problem solving, diversity, global perspectives and research and results measurement.  Practitioners need to understand the impact of varying cultural values and beliefs on their practice.  Internal needs of organisations and their internal audiences affect PR education and practice.  Educators and practitioners need to encourage diversity in the workforce and in training and recruiting, thereby enabling a diverse ‘mix of talent’ that has the skills to engage with diverse internal and external publics. Might new media be obsolete tomorrow?  Organisations are transparent whether they choose to be or not as a result of information being stored, transmitted and accessed electronically. 7  Numerous short-term relationships develop as there are so many more exchanges with different publics than were traditional forms of communication (face-to-face meetings or letter writing).  Might make relationships transitory and less able to be managed.  Public scrutiny takes place online and the complexity and uncertainty of online communication exchanges as messages are accessible to known and unknown constituents, clients and customers.  New ways to communicate: o Intranets – internal communication, which targets internal publics. o Extranets – target external audiences and require skilled management to not overload receivers. o Podcasts – audio programs available online 24 hours a day. o YouTube and MySpace – increase online networking and exchange. Global versus local  Communication at the local or global level might be: o Mediated communication, or communication that goes through a channel such as television or print media. o Unmediated communication, or direct communication to the public such as communication on a website where publics have the opportunity to engage with organisations and key decision makers.  Think global, act local requires: o Careful review of all PR and marketing material that has been prepared. o Understanding of the operational procedures and protocol of the countries where brands are launched and PR programs are developed. o Understanding of the country, region and ethnic particularities. o Respect for and observation of customs and cultural manners, as they are essential to good business. o Awareness that technology might be convenient but time zones may be very different. The PR-marketing mix and broader perspectives  Marketing and PR complement each other but are different.  Marketing – management process whose goal is to attract and satisfy customers on a long-term basis in order to achieve an organisation’s economic objectivity. o Marketers emphasise measured outputs that make their role in an organisation tangible. o PR measurement and evaluation of outputs is also becoming increasingly important.  PR-marketing mix described as: o Marketing communications. o Marketing PR. o Integrated communication management. o Inkind promotion, services, product or other consideration in exchange for publicity exposures offered or using spokespeople to promote a product become part of the mix. 8  A PR activity to promote, target media, and develop online resources about a product will not actually sell the product but it assists in the marketing of it.  PR now very important to strategic marketing – marketing PR is the largest and fastest growing segment of a fast growing industry.  Messages about products and services – traditionally marketing messages – are only one part of the full range of communication tasks to be undertaken. o As PR messages often try to reach several key publics, beyond customers or potential customers, their focus might be on internal communication, or on a group of activists who oppose the profit-only focus of the organisation.  PR practitioner needs to have a sound knowledge of marketing practice and principles – makes PR relevant and significant, good support provided to the marketing-communication mix.  PR plays a subtle role in developing relationships with customers and clients, important because: o Customers are irritated by mass advertising as well as the minor differences between brands that no longer attract them. o There is considerable dissatisfaction with the value of products and the number of recalls and the concerns about being taken for a ride as product claims cannot be substantiated. o Customers also question the ethics and the social contribution of organisations.  The context of an organisation’s motivation to give back and engage with the community involves 3 dimensions of social capital: o Structural – the way that relationships are set up and networks and connections developed with the community. o Relational – where relationships are developed and reciprocal components of relationships become important. o Communication – makes these relationships function, as organisations communicate to the community recipients and vice versa. Women taking the lead  Find the communication environment more welcoming than, for example, newspaper or other media work.  Make more money in PR than comparable female-dominated fields such as teaching.  Can begin a PR consultancy without a great deal of capital.  Tend to be more proficient listeners and communicators than men.  More sensitive in managing dialogue and consultation. 9 WEEK 3&4 Why understanding theory is important  Ability to contextualise and sometimes predict outcomes, and to decide when and why certain strategies and tactics need to be developed and implemented.  Challenge you to think more deeply about what and where your assumptions about PR come from. Where does PR theory come from  Early approaches to PR developed with influences from psychology, sociology, social science, management and communication disciplines.  Persuasion/learning effects, social learning, low involvement, cognitive consistency and value change underpin the design of PR campaigns. Their influence can be seen in a number of ways: o Most communication campaigns that follow the cognitive-attitudinal- behavioural effects (awareness, attitude and behaviour change) are grounded form social psychology’s learning traditions. o Psychology is helpful in understanding how individuals and audiences think, feel and behave so that communication messages and strategies can be made more effective. o Sociology is useful in understanding how people behave within their groups, or between other groups, particularly if the PR campaigns will affect several stakeholders who may not necessarily agree on issues. o Understanding management theories helps PR managers to work with their CEOs, other managers, colleagues and other employees.  Early approaches referred to as modern, structural/systems-functionalist and managerial – view that PR is a function of management. o Focus on roles, structures, effectiveness and efficiency of PR.  Rhetorical approaches – focus on how PR practitioners create, interpret and shape messages.  Critical approaches – focus on the power and influence inherent in relationships established and managed by practitioners.  Postmodernism approaches – offers an alternative lens by which to study PR. o Questions the links between knowledge and power, dissensus (orientation that considers struggles, conflicts and tensions) and consensus, power and resistance, power and ideology, and the representation of minorities and marginalised groups.  Multiple perspectives approach is necessary to respond to the changing demands of the PR environment. Perspective Focus of analysis Functionalist/systems. Practitioner roles, reporting relationships, organisational structures and systems, responsibilities, activities, organisational profiles, practitioners focus on effectiveness and efficiency, managerial bias, alignment of an organisation’s needs with the needs of publics. Interpretive/rhetorical. Practitioners as producers of symbols, discourse, meaning, as corporate 10 advocates, as shapers and creators of organisational culture, and as receivers and interpreters of organisational symbols. Critical/dialectical. Practitioners views of their power, control, and influence in the organisation, involvement in process and dialogue, practitioners’ ability to effect organisational change. A key theoretical trend from functional to co-creational  The main development in PR theory is the move from a functional perspective to a co-creational one. o Functional perspective – sees publics and communication as tools/means to achieve organisational ends. o Co-creational perspective – acknowledges that PR practitioners working, for example, on an organisation’s new environmental initiatives need to understand that the perspectives and goals of their employees, clients and community residents so they can work together and collaborate on effectively implementing the policy. Systems theory  What it is: o The dominant framework used in PR scholarship and practice. o Helpful to think of an organisation as a system, made up of a number of different parts (subsystems) such as marketing, HR, etc. o System – a set of things that affect one another within an environment and form a larger pattern that is different from any of the parts. Characterised by:  Being part of a whole where its parts may be interdependent.  A hierarchy, which undergoes self-regulation and control.  Its interaction with its environment where it strives for balance so that it can maintain itself.  Its adaptability to change so that it can achieve its end goal through different means. o Applied to organisations, systems theory focuses on the elements within the group and how they relate to each other through the network of subsystems within it. o A change in environmental conditions (e.g. an emerging issue) will lead to some response by the organisation and its various subsystems as it adapts to the new environmental conditions. o How much the organisation adapts is determined by whether the system is open or closed.  Open – regularly interact with their environment (such as audiences or publics). Ask for feedback on their product and service delivery.  Closed – isolated and do not interact with their environment. o Because we use systems to understand how processes work, effectiveness and productivity become an essential purpose. 11 o Elements of the organisation are perceived as undertaking a function for the survival of that system (functionalist approach).  Cybernetics: o The study of regulation and control in systems. o Primarily deals with how systems adjust to feedback received to determine the changes and adjustments needed for the system to stabilise and/or be effective. o Practitioners apply cybernetics when they provide and respond to feedback between their organisations and their publics and audiences. o Senior management doesn’t know whether their employees are well informed about and satisfied with the new structure or not unless they give them the opportunity to comment on the change.  If feedback is not possible, then when the system parts (employees) cannot handle the change, the system might experience a stoppage (strike) or might implode (employees resign). o A PR practitioner should become a sensor of social change and a corporate monitor, along with being the corporate conscience and communicator.  Requisite variety: o Suggests that organisations will be better prepared to withstand the effects of change if they comprise members (employees) with different points of view. o Organisation’s adaptability to change (especially within a complex and turbulent environment) is its key to survival. o Open systems are characterised by this adaptability to change, and most contemporary organisations would reflect this type of system. o The more representative organisations are of the diverse members of their communities, the more likely they are to adapt and survive the change.  These diverse members of communities will enable the organisation to access information and insights that may provide competitive advantage.  Boundary spanning: o Organisational boundary – a region in which elements of organisations and their environments come together and in which activities are performed of such a nature as to relate the organisation more effectively to the outside world. o Boundary spanning – what organisational members do when they operate in the internal and external environments or across organisations. o Typology for the boundary spanner:  Representation.  Scanning and monitoring.  Protecting.  Information processing.  Gatekeeping.  Transacting.  Linking and coordinating.  Knowledgeable. 12  Articulate.  Responsive to change.  Sensitive to the preferences of the external organisation with which they are dealing. o E.g. a practitioner who is working on a disability project would act as a boundary spanner by:  Gathering and analysing information on disability statistics in Australia.  Representing the organisation in meetings with funding bodies, government, and corporate partners and to the media.  Maintaining those linkages for the benefit of the organisation.  Why systems theory is important: o Useful in providing PR with a context. o PR practice is part of a much larger operation (the business of the organisation), and understanding that it works with other elements inside and outside the organisation will allow practitioners to work to their optimum. Communication theories  Evolved from simplistic transmission and effects (functionalist) traditions to the textual and reception traditions. o Textual and reception studies – research that examines how audiences read and receive media messages or events within social, political, and economic contexts.  Information transmission models: o Looks at information as a mechanical process that excludes meaning and interpretation. o Source, encoder, interpreter, decoder, message, and fields of experience. o If sender and receiver’s fields of experience overlap, they are more likely to understand each other and thus, effective communication is more likely to take place.  Persuasion: o Previously labelled as an unethical practice within PR but is now included in the excellence theory as an element of dialogue.  Attitude vis-à-vis behaviour change: o Attitude described as having 3 major components – cognitive (thinking), affective (feeling) and behavioural (doing). o To achieve attitude change you must understand the facts of the case in a rational manner, and feel and believe the merits of the case before you will change your behaviour. o Change in attitude must occur before change in behaviour.  Source credibility: o Believability of the communication source is an essential component of many PR and media messages, especially within celebrity-infused media campaigns.  Two-step and multistep flow: o Suggests that every group has an opinion leader who receives information from the media and passes it on to their peers. 13 o Individuals may also listen to information from other sources or directly access the information themselves.  Emotional appeals: o Persuasion theory suggests that using fear appeals in media messages is effective in making people c
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