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Comm 3120

by: Sami Conoly

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General Notes on Public Relations Theory
Public Relations Theory
Dr. Soumitro Sen
Class Notes
Public Relations Theory, PR Theory, Communications, public relations, Theory
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sami Conoly on Monday February 8, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Comm 3120 at 1 MDSS-SGSLM-Langley AFB Advanced Education in General Dentistry 12 Months taught by Dr. Soumitro Sen in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 18 views. For similar materials see Public Relations Theory in Communication at 1 MDSS-SGSLM-Langley AFB Advanced Education in General Dentistry 12 Months.


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Date Created: 02/08/16
Public Relations Theory 1.14.16 Word and phrases associated with/used in place of PR:  Public Affairs  Public Information  Corporate Communications  Community Outreach  There also is no consensus on where exactly the public relations function ought to be place within the organization. o Sometimes it stands alone, reporting directly to the CEO. o Often it appears under the umbrella of some other department. What does PR do?  Media Relations o Work directly with the media  Crisis Communication o Spokes person for the company they work for  Community Relations o Non-Profit usually PR vs Advertising vs Marketing:  Advertising: use of paid media to attempt to influence the actions of targeted publics  Marketing: Is the process of researching, creating, refining and promoting a produce or service and distributing that product or service to targeted consumers.  Public Relations: Is the management of relations between an organization and its publics. In Search for a definition:  In 1976, Scholar Rex Harlow: “PR helps establish and maintain mutual line of communication, understanding, acceptance, and cooperation between an organization and its publics.”  Other scholars have referred to PR as reputation management, perception management or image management  The most well accepted function of PR is relations management. Relationships with whom?  Publics versus Stakeholders  Publics are a group of people who organize around an issue (related to an organization) and might be willing to act upon it.  A “public” is a group of people who encounter a problematic situation, recognize its existence, and organize to solve it. o All publics are stakeholders, but not all stakeholders are a public. o Publics are the people you need to be careful about  Stakeholders are people who are related to an organization, who are impacted by the organization, and in turn also impact it. o Students, teachers, parents, etc. Models of PR:  James Grunig and Todd Hunt developed a four-model approach to describe public relations function: o Press agentry/publicity model: Focus is on gaining media coverage  Only thing your interested in is publicity  Oldest form of PR propaganda o Public information model: Practitioner serves as a journalist in residence.  Most people follow this model o Two-way asymmetrical model: Research is used to influence public to accept a certain point of view  Studying the target audiences to get into their minds  Then manipulate them into listening o Two-way symmetrical model: The focus is on two-way communications to resolve conflict.  Most widely doubted model  You study targets, but you also have a way for people to contact you to give you information Two broad paradigms (or perspectives/approach):  The symbolic, interpretive approach to PR o PR used to influence how publics interpret an organization o Uses communication tactics to create positive impressions in the minds of publics that allow the organization to buffer itself from its environment, which in turn allows organizations to function the way it wants to.  It allows PR to buffer  You feed yourself a very positive image to the public o Practitioners who follow this paradigm emphasized messages, publicity, media relations, and media effects.  More concerned about reputation  Strong brand image  The strategic, management behavioral approach o Focuses on the participation of PR executives in the strategic decision-making so they can help manage the behavior of organizations.  All about bridging o PR as a bridging activity—building relationships with stakeholders o Advocated two-way communication between organization and publics to allow publics a voice in management decisions. o More normative and ethical than the symbolic, interpretive paradigm The Excellence Study by James and Larissa Grunig  Conducted in the mid-1980s, its investigated two main questions. o 1. How does public relations make an organization more effective, and how much is that contribution worth economically? o 2. What are the characteristics of a public relations function that are most likely to make an organization effective?  Public relations contribute to organizational effectiveness when it helps reconcile the organization’s goals with the expectations of the strategic constituencies. o This contribution has monetary value to the organization. o Goals need to match the goals of the stakeholders  Public relations contribute to effectiveness by building quality, long-term relationships with strategic constituencies.  Public relations is most likely to contribute to effectiveness when the senior public relations manager is member of the dominant coalition where he or she is able to shape the organization’s goals and to help determine which eternal public are most strategic. o PR becomes effective when the person in charge becomes a part of the dominate coalition (the group of executives of the company) Roles of PR practitioners  Scott Cutlip, Allen Center, and Glen Broom categorized the actions of PR practitioners into four categories o Expert prescriber (seen as an authority on PR problems and solutions) o Communication technician (hired primarily for writing and editing skills) o Communication facilitator (a liaison, interpreter and mediator between an organization and its publics) o Problem-solving process facilitators (who collaborates with other managers by helping them define and solve problems)  David Dozier later categorized PR practitioner into communication managers and communication technicians. o Communication managers: enact aspects of the expert prescribes, problem-solving process facilitators and communication facilitators’’ roles. o Communication technicians: are writers and editors as in the earlier study.


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