The Shifting Paradigm of Public Relations


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The Shifting Paradigm of Public Relations

  1. 1. James E. Grunig, Professor Emeritus Department of Communication University of Maryland College Park, Maryland, USA
  2. 2. <ul><li>As of June 30, 2009, there were 1,668,870,408 internet users in the world—24.7% of the population. ( , accessed Sept. 4, 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>There were 704,213,930 users in Asia—18.5% of the Asian population and 42.2% of the users in the world. </li></ul><ul><li>Internet use in the world grew 362.2% from 2000 to 2009, 516.1% in Asia. </li></ul><ul><li>On December 31, 2008, there were 298 million internet users in China, 22% of the population, with an annual growth rate of 41.9%). ( China Internet Network Information Center, The 23 rd Statistical Survey Report on the Internet Development in China , January 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>China has more internet users than any country in the world, surpassing the USA in 2008. (, January 14, 2009) </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>51% are responsible for digital communications. </li></ul><ul><li>49% for blogging. </li></ul><ul><li>48% for social networking. </li></ul><ul><li>52% for microblogging (such as text messaging, instant messaging, and Twittering). </li></ul><ul><li>(iPressroom, Tendstream, PRSA, and Korn/Ferry </li></ul><ul><li>International, 2009 Digital Readiness Report), </li></ul><ul><li>as reported in PR News [], August 17, 2009) </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Messages received by publics can be controlled by public relations practitioners. </li></ul><ul><li>Publics can be created and “targeted.” </li></ul><ul><li>Publics can be persuaded—i.e., their cognitions, attitudes, and behaviors can be controlled through asymmetrical communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Images, reputations, brands, impressions or similar names used to describe cognitive representations can be “managed.” </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Members of publics have always controlled the messages to which they are exposed. </li></ul><ul><li>Publics create themselves around problems their members face in life situations—stakeholders define their stakes in organizations. </li></ul><ul><li>Two-way symmetrical communication is more effective than asymmetrical communication in building organization-public relationships . </li></ul><ul><li>Reputations, images, and similar concepts are what members of different publics think and say to each other, not something controlled by an organization. </li></ul><ul><li>These cognitive representations are a by-product of organizational decisions and behaviors, active communication with publics, and the quality of organization-relationships. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Members of publics are less constrained by the information traditional media choose to make available. </li></ul><ul><li>New media make it possible for members of publics, and journalists, to seek information from many sources, anywhere in the world. </li></ul><ul><li>Members of publics can interact with each other, and publics can interact with organizations and other publics whenever they want. </li></ul><ul><li>Through publics relations, organizations can join the conversations within and among publics. </li></ul><ul><li>These conversations may, or may not, include journalists online and in the traditional media. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Communicators typically use a new medium in the same way they used existing media. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Television showed broadcasters reading the same stories they read on radio. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public relations practitioners first used the internet as an information dump, in the same way they produced publications (Web 1.0 rather than 2.0). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>New media can be used for all four models of public relations: press agentry, public information, two-way asymmetrical, and two-way symmetrical. </li></ul>
  8. 9. <ul><li>A messaging, publicity, informational, media-relations function? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Publications, news, communication campaigns, media contacts. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A marketing function? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Support for marketing through media publicity? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A strategic management function? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Active participant in decision making? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research-based, organizational listening and learning? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building relationships for other functions, including marketing? </li></ul></ul>
  9. 10. <ul><li>The symbolic, interpretive, paradigm vs. the behavioral, strategic management, paradigm. </li></ul><ul><li>Both paradigms existed in the history of public relations, are practiced today, and are competing for the future of the profession. </li></ul><ul><li>Public relations cannot take full advantage of the digital revolution if it is practiced under the interpretive rather than the strategic management paradigm. </li></ul>
  10. 11. <ul><li>Public relations manages how publics interpret the organization—to buffer the organization from its environment. </li></ul><ul><li>These interpretations include popular concepts such as image, identity, impressions, reputation, and brand. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis is on publicity, media relations, and media effects. </li></ul><ul><li>Views the effects of public relations as changes in cognitive representations, as the negotiation of meaning. </li></ul>
  11. 12. <ul><li>Public relations participates in strategic decision-making to help manage the behavior of the organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Public relations is a bridging activity to build relationships with stakeholders rather than a set of messaging activities designed to buffer the organization from stakeholders. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis is on two-way and symmetrical communication of many kinds to provide publics a voice in management decisions and to facilitate dialogue between management and publics. </li></ul><ul><li>Views effects as changes in behavior, as the negotiation of behavior. </li></ul>
  12. 13. <ul><li>Excellent public relations is </li></ul><ul><li>Managerial. </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic. </li></ul><ul><li>Integrated but not sublimated to other management functions. </li></ul><ul><li>Symmetrical. </li></ul><ul><li>Diverse. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethical. </li></ul><ul><li>Global. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Organizational Reputation Management Decisions Communication Programs ( Relationship Cultivation Strategies) Issues Achievement of Organizational Goals Crises Relationship Outcomes Consequences Consequences Behavior of Publics Creates Model of Strategic Management of Public Relations: New Media Can Be Used at Each Stage of the Model Stakeholders Publics P1 Pi P2 No Consequences
  14. 15. <ul><li>Environmental scanning and rumor control. </li></ul><ul><li>Segmentation of stakeholders and publics based on problems, issues, values, concepts, and ideologies. </li></ul><ul><li>Anticipating and dealing with issues and crises. </li></ul><ul><li>Identifying and evaluating the type and quality of relationships with and among publics. </li></ul><ul><li>Measuring reputation (“Reputation and brand increasingly depend on what comes up when you are Googled,” David Phillips and Phillip Young, Online Public Relations, 2009). </li></ul><ul><li>Implementing communication programs—e.g., employee relations and media relations. </li></ul><ul><li>Formative and evaluative research for communication programs. </li></ul>
  15. 16. <ul><li>The decisions, behaviors, and actions of an organization are transparent to internet users anywhere in the world: Corporate social responsibility is no longer a choice. </li></ul><ul><li>When an organization participates in conversations with publics, ethically it must disclose its name and interests. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, fake blogs (flogs or flack blogs) and other camouflaged participation in the dialogue are unethical. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 17. <ul><li>Shifting the public relations paradigm from a symbolic interpretive approach to a strategic, behavioral approach is crucial in a global, digital world. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For organizations to be effective. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To cultivate relationships in societies and globally. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To reduce conflict. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The digital media provide new tools for public relations that facilitate this paradigm shift. </li></ul>