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Theoretical basis for executing effective pr strategies
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Theoretical basis for executing effective pr strategies

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  • 1. Theoretical Basis in Executing Effective PR Strategies Bisi Olawuyi, Ph.D. Research and Strategy Unit The Quadrant Company, Nigeria
  • 2. “Any practice not grounded in sound theoretical foothold risks being referred to as a profession” (Bisi Olawuyi)
  • 3. The Core of our Profession At the heart of PR functions lie the attempt to manage people’s perception by influencing their opinion. Most PR programmes are designed to: Persuade people to change their opinion Crystallize uninformed or undeveloped opinions Reinforce existing opinions
  • 4. Theories... Descriptive assumptions (Baran & Davis, 2003) Parameters for making sense/understanding of the social world and how it works. explain or predict the way things work or happen. They present an understanding of the relationship between various activities or events
  • 5. Public Relations and Theories ‘One can think of many theories that apply to public relations but it is more difficult to think of a public relations theory (one that has not been borrowed from another discipline) (James Grunig).
  • 6. Why Theories in PR? A PR practitioner requires a set of theories to use and refine in the application of professional skill to the task of executing PR Strategies
  • 7. Types of Theories RELATIONSHIP •Systems Theory •Situational Theory COGNITION AND BEHAVIOUR •Action Assembly Theory •Social Exchange Theory •Diffusion of Innovation Theory •Social Learning Theory MASS COMMUNICATION •Uses and Gratification Theory •Agenda Setting theory •Gatekeeping Theory •Perception Theory
  • 8. Relationship Theories: Systems Theory (1) The interdependence of organisations with their environment. A kind of relationship that is based on mutual respect, mutual understanding, mutually-perceived importance and commitment of both parties to the realisation of the organisation’s goal(s) and aspirations without jeopardising public interest. PR practitioners can achieve this through: Boundary Spanning and Dominant Coalition
  • 9. Relationship Theories: Situational Theory (2) Explains why certain PUBLICS are more important than the other on an ISSUE that affects an organisation. Its major proposition is that publics are situational. i.e, as situation, problem, opportunity, or issue changes, the publics also change. This theory can be summarised by the Orwellian saying that “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than the others”
  • 10. Relationship and Conflict Conflicts are inevitable The following are important in managing conflict: •-Separate the people from the problem •-Focus on interests, not positions •-Invent options for mutual gains (Win-win) •-Insist on objective criteria
  • 11. THEORIES OF COGNITION AND BEHAVIOUR Cognition deals with knowing Behaviour focuses on doing Typically, PR practitioners try to persuade their publics to know something or do something
  • 12. Theories of Cognition and Behaviour- Action Assembly Theory (1) Action Assembly Theory argues that “All behaviour is logical to the person doing the behaviour (Lattimore, Baskin, Heiman, Toth & Van Laiven, 2004). Before people’s behaviour can be understood, there is the need to first understand how they think.
  • 13. Theories of Cognition and Behaviour- Social Exchange Theory (2) Individuals & groups choose strategies based on perceived REWARDS and COSTS. People ALWAYS would want to keep their cost LOW and rewards HIGH. The use of economic permutation of Cost- Benefit ratio underlie the rationale behind people’s behaviour
  • 14. Theories of Cognition and Behaviour- Diffusion of Innovation Theory (3) Diffusion of Innovation holds that embracing new ideas occurs in a process People adopt an idea only after going through the following Five Stages: • Awareness-Exposure to an idea • Interest-Arouse the individual • Evaluation-Potential usefulness of the idea • Trial-People try out the ideas on others • Adoption-Acceptance
  • 15. Theories of Cognition and Behaviour- Social Learning Theory (4) Social Learning Theory highlights how individuals process information People model other people. i.e. people learn new behaviours by observing others. We vicariously try out the behaviour
  • 16. Theories of Cognition and Behaviour- Elaborated Likelihood Model (5) People are influenced by such things as: •Repetition •Highly credible spokespersons •Tangible records
  • 17. Mass Communication Theories-Uses and Gratification Theory (1) The theory presents the use of media in terms of the gratification of social or psychological needs of the individual such as information, personal identity, integration and social interaction, entertainment. A media user seeks out a media source that best fulfills his/her needs.
  • 18. Mass Communication Theories- Agenda Setting Theory (2) The media (mainly the news media) aren’t always successful at telling us what to think, but they are quite successful at telling us what to think about (Maxwell McCombs and Donald L. Shaw, 1972/1973) The theory comes from a scientific perspective, because it predicts that if people are exposed to the same media, they will place importance on the same issues. It suggests that media content that people read, see, and listen to set the agendas for society’s discussion and interaction
  • 19. Mass Communication Theories: Gatekeeping Theory (3) “Who are the people responsible for making decisions about what is news – and how do their backgrounds, education, attitudes and beliefs influence these decisions? How do the individual routine, organisational, extra-media and ideological constraints influence the daily work of journalists?” (Hanitzsch, Loffelholz, and Weaver, 2005 cited in Niblock and Machin 2007:187)
  • 20. Gatekeeping Theory (Cont.) ...is about accessing or refusing access (Watson, 2003, pg. 123) Gatekeepers are empowered to influence the quantity and composition of news flow through their decisions to “cover, relay, or attend to some events and to reject others” (Ahern, 1984:217) Decisions are made among other factors based on the media owner's ideology, media routines, and official sources including government and corporate officials” (Kim, 2002).
  • 21. CONNECTING THE DOTS… Persuasion is the ultimate goal of all PR programmes. In order to persuade, evidence that coincides with people’s own beliefs, emotions, and expectations should be cited.
  • 22. Persuasive Strategies Effective PR programmes always start with research – the FACTS People can think, but they also respond to EMOTIONAL appeals People respond to PERSONAL EXPERIENCES and stories People want to know, “What’s in it for me?” - Appealing to “you”
  • 23. Things aren’t always as they seem
  • 24. Theory of Perception Obtaining information through our senses of hearing, sight, taste, smell and touch Interpretation of what we take in through our senses Perception is relative The biases are due to structural, learned, and attentional issues
  • 25. The Perceptual Process Exposure Attention Perception Interpretation Retention Recall Action
  • 26. “People only understand things in terms of their own experience……If you try to get your ideas across to others without paying attention to what they have to say to you, you can forget about the whole thing.” (Saul Alinsky)

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