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Public Relations Journal — Vol. 2, No. 3

Title: Triangular Communications: The Who, Why and How

Authors: Lou C. Williams, ABC, APR, Chairman, L.C. Williams & Associates and David M. Dozier, Ph.D., Professor, School of Journalism and Media Studies, San Diego State University.

Abstract: This study describes a model of triangular communication wherein the communicator treats management as a public. This model posits that the communicator serves as one corner of a communication triangle, conducts formative research on management as well as publics, and treats management and publics as targets of program planning/communication. Evaluating 22 case study organizations, the use of this model positively impacted overall success of communication/public relations audits. The theoretical basis of the article is derived from the noted Excellence Study on public relations both authors were intimately involved with. It also provides practical advice including detailing ten specific lessons learned through this examination of case studies, five suggestions regarding how to sell management on the idea of conducting a communication audit and eight detailed recommendations for conducting successful communication audits.

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Title: Admiring the Organization: A Study of the Relational Quality Outcomes of the Nonprofit Organization-Volunteer Relationship

Author: Denise Bortree, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of Communication, College of Communication, Pennsylvania State University and Richard Waters, Ph. D., Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, North Carolina State University.

Abstract: The contribution of volunteer hours to nonprofit organizations plays a critical role in the success of an organization; however little research in public relations has been conducted on the nature of the relationship between volunteers and nonprofits. This study measured the organization-public relationship between these two partners using the four relational quality outcomes originally proposed by Linda Hon and James E. Grunig a decade ago. In addition, the study introduced the measurement of admiration as an outcome in the organization-public relationship. Analysis showed that in the volunteer-nonprofit relationship, admiration is the strongest predictor of the overall rating of the relationship. Further analysis showed that while organization type is rarely a significant factor in volunteers’ rating of the relationship, volunteer involvement with the organization does impact significantly on all five outcomes.

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Title: Public Relations and the Path to Innovation: Are Complex Environments Good for Business?

Author: Sandra C. Duhé, Ph.D., APR, Assistant Professor and Coordinator, Public Relations Program, University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Abstract: This exploratory study of 622 small-to-medium sized firms examines the potential role of public relations in helping firms to leverage environmental complexity and gain competitive advantage through innovation. Findings reveal that environmental complexity – defined as the number of publics considered vital to firm growth and survival – appears to be good for business in that it contributes to firm innovativeness and even more powerfully influences organizational structure to better fit the operating environment. Organizational structure has a positive effect on innovation in that firms concerned about multiple public relationships tend to centralize their decision-making and, as a result, become more innovative. Contributions of the study include a revised and reliable scale measure for environmental complexity and a first known attempt at mapping the interrelationships between environmental complexity, innovation, organizational structure, technology, and market factors for the public relations literature. Implications for public relations practice are discussed.

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Title: West Meets East: A Cross-Cultural Look at American and Russian Public Relations Students’ Perceptions of Leadership Style and Ethics

Authors: Elina Erzikova, Doctoral Candidate, College of Communication, University of Alabama and Bruce K. Berger, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Advertising and Public Relations, College of Communication, University of Alabama.

Abstract: This research study represents an attempt to examine ethical inclination, similarities and differences between public relations students in Russia and the United States. Scholars recognize that perception of an ethical issue is an important prerequisite for the ethical decision process, and this survey explored perceptions of 377 American and Russian public relations students regarding professional ethics and leadership styles. Results found Russian participants less likely to follow ethical codes than American respondents. The more respondents believed in the effectiveness of the transformational style, the more they appeared to follow professional ethics, or vice versa. There was a correlation between participants’ adherence to ethical conduct and their beliefs in the effectiveness of the transformational leadership style. The results of this study suggest there is a need for greater emphasis on ethics education in university public relations programs in both countries.

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Title: Creating Recognition for Employee Recognition

Author: Brian G. Smith, M.A., Doctoral Candidate, University of Maryland.

Abstract: The integration of public relations, marketing and branding presents critical issues to strategic communication. Whereas organizations seek integration for communication efficiency and effectiveness, scholars argue that to imbue public relations with marketing persuasion would damage the credibility of public relations. This case study explores public relations within a marketing context at the global employee recognition firm, O.C. Tanner. This study reveals an under-examined role of public relations within marketing communication—public relations to create the corporate brand—and demonstrates how public relations, as education, can be integrated into marketing communication without damaging the credibility of public relations. The article concludes that public relations research should focus on the development of public relations as strategic communication, and finds that one potential area for this development is understanding public relations' role in brand management.

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Title: Public Relations Among the Functions of Management: A New Zealand Perspective  

Author: Graeme D. Sterne, M.A., DipGuid, DipBusAdmin, APR (PRINZ), Senior Lecturer in Communication Studies, Manukau Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.

Abstract: Public Relations in New Zealand lives in a tension somewhere between where it is and where it would like to be. Its relationship to management functions currently varies according to two major variables. One is how public relations defined. The other is who defines it. These two factors have had a direct bearing on where the function is placed in the company or organization. However, changing demands in the social, commercial and media environment are having a direct impact on public relation practice in New Zealand. Academics propose the field should be viewed as a management function, as a relationship builder, as a conscience to the organization, but the reality of the marketplace is a more powerful determinant of the role of public relations. Given this apparent yawning chasm between practitioners and academics and the reality of business, this study was designed to ask senior managers from the country’s 200 largest companies how they view public relations. The study explores where public relations is placed in New Zealand business hierarchy, what perceptions business leaders have about public relation and where these senior managers are deriving their opinions from.The integration of public relations, marketing and branding presents critical issues to strategic communication. Whereas organizations seek integration for communication efficiency and effectiveness, scholars argue that to imbue public relations with marketing persuasion would damage the credibility of public relations. This case study explores public relations within a marketing context at the global employee recognition firm, O.C. Tanner. This study reveals an under-examined role of public relations within marketing communication—public relations to create the corporate brand—and demonstrates how public relations, as education, can be integrated into marketing communication without damaging the credibility of public relations. The article concludes that public relations research should focus on the development of public relations as strategic communication, and finds that one potential area for this development is understanding public relations' role in brand management.

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