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MSc Corporate Comms 2010 - Introduction to PR - London School of Economics
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MSc Corporate Comms 2010 - Introduction to PR - London School of Economics

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Introduction lecture giving students a broad outline of public relations, key theories and how to strive for excellence

Introduction lecture giving students a broad outline of public relations, key theories and how to strive for excellence


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  • 1. PS 438 Lecture 2 Introduction to Public Relations Lesley Muir, January 18 th 2010
  • 2. About Me
      • PR practitioner for 17 years
      • Independent consultant
      • B2B, technology, finance
  • 3. What is PR?
    • Over to you
  • 4. What is PR?
    • Press releases? Media relations/coverage? Publicity? Spin?
    • Mystery (Cropp & Pincus)
      • professional, academic and public definitions differ widely
      • Identity crisis – Hutton
    • Why the Media? – channel for communicating with certain stakeholders – influence and reach
  • 5. Target publics Corporations seeking to shape and influence relevant discourse Media offers legitimacy and advocacy with 3 rd party influence Messages Information negotiation Evaluation and choices Messages Individual and collective voices Output = Altered social perspectives - Objects of desire, new discourses social representations, myths PROCESS Wider Society
  • 6. More on PR
    • Grunig & Hunt: “PR is management of communication between an organisation and its publics”
    • Representational practice - goal is reputation management
    • Positive - Creates a marketplace of ideas, “zones of shared meaning”, socio-cultural influences
  • 7. Sector structure
    • CIPR - 60 years old, £££million industry
    • 50,000 plus practitioners in UK
    • In-house (corporate, NFP) v.s. consultancy
    • Big players - global footprint, specialists
    • Job types: Media relations, Public affairs, External relations, Publicist, Employee communications, CSR Manager, Investor relations, Digital communications, Evaluation
  • 8. Hutton – What do PRs do?
    • Definition:
      • Managing strategic relationships
        • For individuals and organisations
    • Situational roles:
      • Persuader, advocate, educator, information provider, reputation manager
      • evolved as PR discipline matured
    • Primary functions performed:
      • Research, image making, counselling, managing, early warning, interpreting, communicating, negotiating
    • Tactics/tools utilised:
      • Publicity, product placements, news releases, speeches, interpersonal communications, web sites, publications, trade shows, corporate identity programmes, corporate advertising
  • 9. More than “creating awareness”…
    • PR is boundary spanning – persuasion to publics and organisation
    • Influence public opinion
      • Understanding what people think and why?
    • Changing behaviours
        • Buying decisions
        • Living choices
        • Voting etc
    • Becoming more strategic, important
  • 10.
    • “ Nowadays a company without PR representation at Board level is missing a trick….” Zetter, ex CIPR chair
    • “ Many headed hydra from IR to CSR to publicists …phenomenal work in charity sector…” Borkowski
    • “ PR enables organisations to communicate in a coherent and organised way…. allowing people to make their own judgements…” Lewis Jones
    • “ Not just about column inches but developing relationships that deliver business traction and benefits” Wright
    • “ If it’s good PR you will never know it…”
  • 11. Some Typical PR Problems
      • Awareness of an organisation/issue/product/service and influence adoption of the above
      • Understanding among publics around new policy
      • Create/sustain/repair forms of identification (branding)
      • Create/maintain/repair “voice” or persona for an organisation
      • ID and implement CSR
      • ID and respond to marketplace issues
    • Success dependent upon the development of relationships
      • Marketplace – customers, employees – financial rewards
      • Community – mutual support in exchange for reputation
      • Policy – improve operating environment
  • 12. Primary PR models Positive sum Zero sum Zero sum Zero sum Game theory outcome Communicative action Strategic action Strategic action Strategic action Habermasian equivalent dialogic Unbalanced monologic monologic monologic Mono/dialogic symmetrical asymmetrical Pluralistic/ asymmetrical asymmetrical Philosophical worldview 2 way, balanced effects 2 way, imbalanced effects 1 way, truth important 1 way, truth inessential Nature of communication Mutual understanding Scientific persuasion Dissemination of information Propaganda Purpose Two-way symmetric Two-way asymmetric Public Information Press agentry / Publicity Characteristic
  • 13. Grunig’s Excellence Study
    • IABC research conducted in early 1990s into communication excellence
    • Questions:
      • How and what does PR contribute to organisational effectiveness? How much is this contribution worth in monetary terms?
      • What characteristics of PR function increase excellence and what is the contribution of PR to organisational effectiveness?
    • Identified 3 key contributors to “Excellence”:
      • Communicators had the knowledge to practice symmetrical communication
      • Communicators were members of their organisation’s dominant coalition – different to SMT
      • Organisation’s culture facilitated symmetrical communication
    .
  • 14. Critics of Two-Way Model
    • L’Etang, Pieczka, Cameron – utopian, power issues
    • Hutton (1999) – 3 I’s – 3D framework – interest, initiative and image:
      • Interest – whose interests are served?
      • Initiative – is the PR function reactive or proactive?
      • Image – focus on perception or reality?
    • 6 orientations of PR in practice (Hutton)
        • Persuasion – promotion/propaganda
        • Advocacy – defensive persuasion
        • Public information – education role
        • Cause-related – campaigning advocacy (crusader)
        • Image or reputation management
        • Relationship management – consensus, trust
  • 15. Conclusions – Grunig’s response
    • Clarification of symmetry vs. asymmetry
      • Not pure consensus - balanced (self) interest
      • “ Organisations get more of what they want when they give up some of what they want” – Excellence study findings
      • Limits to potential for collaboration - inhibiting scenarios
    • Mixed motive model – hybrid “co-operative antagonists”
      • Murphy (1999) – game theory approach
      • “ PR increases organisational effectiveness when builds long term relationships based around trust and mutual understanding with strategic publics and symmetrical or asymmetrical, either alone or used together as the mixed motive model would be most effective in achieving these goals.” Grunig
  • 16. PR ‘Toolbox’ from Foucault
    • Foucault:
      • How did the accepted ways of understanding and speaking about our milieu and the wider world come about?
      • Why do we believe and think about things in the way we do?
      • Concepts of discourse, power/knowledge and subjectivity
    • Motion and Leach (2007) - PR has central role in
      • Practice of constructing and transforming discourse
      • Way PR acts to create meaning - three levels
        • Ideational – promoting new concepts, ideas, thoughts = “selling ideas”
        • Relational – managing relationships – systems of power/knowledge, influence, hegemonic practice = “agent with the right connections”
        • Identity – creates and advises upon the “subject” position – how the organisation/individual/issue is viewed e.g. celebrity publicists, brand values, training for spokespeople
      • “ Technologisation” of discourse is what PRs do
      • Makes more thoughtful practitioner – how and why PR works
  • 17. Strategic publics Corporations seeking to shape and influence relevant discourse Media offers legitimacy and advocacy with 3 rd party influence Rhetoric Information negotiation Evaluation and choices Rhetoric Individual and collective voices Output = Altered social perspectives - Creation of new discourses social representations, myth PROCESS Rhetorical view - All parties equal rights Wider Society
  • 18. Raincoats and Umbrellas
    • Handy – The Empty Raincoat
    • Organisations are hollow - “all fur coat and no knickers”
    • Kitchen and Shultz (2001)
    • Corporate Umbrella metaphor
    • Corporate communications underpins organisational strategy – favourable climate
    • Integration, substance, dialogic
    • Increased importance of PR - evolution to corporate communications
    • Centralised function - internal and external alignment
    • Single organisational identity, culture - reputation
    • Manage competing/conflicting stakeholders
  • 19. Stakeholder Auditing Dormant Dangerous Definitive Dominant Dependent Demanding Discretionary Non-stakeholders Power Legitimacy Urgency
  • 20. Stakeholder Classifications
    • Mitchell, Agle & Wood (1997) theoretical model
    • Single attribute:
      • Dormant – disgruntled employees, lapsed customers
      • Discretionary – museums, galleries, philanthropists
      • Demanding – isolated activist
    • Two attributes:
      • Dominant – employee shareholders, investors
      • Dependent – local community
      • Dangerous – terrorists, employee saboteurs
    • Three attributes:
      • Definitive – stockholders, customers, big NGOs, employees
  • 21. Identity
    • Self-representation of an organisation, anchor for communications
    • (Cheney and Christensen) Organisational + corporate = total identity – 2 sides of the coin
    • Communication needs to mirror the reality
      • Symbolic + behavioural => ideal of transparency
    • Multiples – Balmer’s ACID test
      • As perceived by the audience – perception is the truth
      • Reality of the identity is what the audience takes away
    • Balmer & Gray, Argenti – 10 factors behind saliency = invest in “corporate brands”
      • Faster innovation rates (product lifecycles), deregulation, privatisation, competition, globalisation, M&As and divestments, talent wars, CR expectations, stakeholder management (tensions)
  • 22. REPUTATION IMAGE IDENTITY Immediate mental picture held by an individual Lasting belief, held by an individual and shaped by group’s past experience, WOM, endorsements, experiences Stakeholders and media can influence perception (reputation) Aka corporate brand. Value rooted in difference
  • 23. Balmer’s AC 2 ID test
    • Alignment of multiple organisational identities
    • Misalignment: “moments of truth”
    • Multiple stakeholders
    Communicated Actual Conceived Desired Ideal
  • 24. Reputation
    • Fombrun “a perceptual representation of a companies’ past actions and future prospects that describe the firm’s overall appeal to all of its key constituents when compared to other key rivals”
      • reputation signals firms’ status within the industrial social system.
    • Pre-requisites: legitimacy and transparency (alignment with corporate identity)
    • “ Good reputation is very useful for an organisation: it may enable it to charge premium prices for its products, enter into favourable financial arrangements with banks, attract graduates from top universities, get in touch with customers easily, and so on, such that good reputation constitutes a valuable asset to the organisation.” (Fombrun and Shanley, 1990; Shapiro, 1983)
  • 25. Key CC Challenges
    • Integrating communications within the business
    • Communicating with diverse stakeholders
    • Executing an online strategy
    • Maintaining trust
    • Managing the 24 hour news culture
    • Maintaining SOV
  • 26. The Harsh Reality
    • “ You and I have heard about the work we each have been doing and a mutual friend has been trying to get us to meet for over a year. Finally we are both at the same conference and our friend brings us together at the reception. You introduce yourself and say a few words….I stop you and say I’ve only got a few minutes to spare and I want to tell you all the good things I do and how fortunate you are to have me around.
    • Valid for 95% of corporate communication scenarios
    • Audience: relevance and meaning
    • (Quote source: Oechsle 2002)
  • 27. Podcast
    • Charles Fombrun on Reputation