Identity Crisis: The Changing Functions of Public Relations

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Identity Crisis: The Changing Functions of Public Relations

  1. 1. Identity Crisis: The Changing Functions of Public Relations Dr Lyn McDonald School of Journalism and Communication University of Queensland
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>The erosion of Public Relations functions </li></ul><ul><li>The three Public Relations Functions: </li></ul><ul><li>- Communication </li></ul><ul><li>- Relationship Management </li></ul><ul><li>- Strategic Management </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic management opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>- Issues Management </li></ul><ul><li>- Corporate Social Responsibility </li></ul><ul><li>Your thoughts? </li></ul>
  3. 3. The erosion of PR functions <ul><li>Marketing has taken responsibility for: </li></ul><ul><li>Crisis communications (Hutton, 1999). </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate identity programs have been relabelled as corporate branding. </li></ul><ul><li>Relationship marketing. </li></ul><ul><li>Public awareness campaigns are now called “social marketing.” </li></ul>
  4. 4. Social marketing <ul><li>Example of Australian anti-smoking advertising campaign </li></ul>
  5. 5. The erosion of PR functions cont. <ul><li>Management has taken responsibility for: </li></ul><ul><li>Stakeholder relations </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate Social Responsibility </li></ul><ul><li>Legal departments have taken responsibility for: </li></ul><ul><li>Government relations (Hutton, 1999). </li></ul><ul><li>Crisis management (in part) </li></ul><ul><li>Human Resource Management departments are taking responsibility for: </li></ul><ul><li>Employee relations </li></ul>
  6. 6. The functions of Public Relations <ul><li>Two functions: communication and relationship management. </li></ul><ul><li>A study of Fortune 500 companies in suggests that PR is losing responsibility for both functions (Hutton, Goodman, Alexander & Genest, 2001). </li></ul><ul><li>Mismatch between the practice which focuses on communication and teaching, which focuses on management. </li></ul><ul><li>Third function: strategic management </li></ul>
  7. 7. PR functions: 1. Communication <ul><li>P.R. has evolved into corporate communications and uses its vocabulary e.g., stakeholders, identity, reputation (Cornelissen, 2004). </li></ul><ul><li>This applies to Europe (Van Ruler & Verčič, 1992) and Australia, possibly due to negative connotations e.g., “spin doctoring.” </li></ul><ul><li>This heralds a return to P.R.’s functional role, rather than meditative counsel (Budd, 2003). </li></ul><ul><li>P.R. practitioners now viewed as skilled communication technicians delivering organizational messages. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Jobs in Corporate Communication Head of Global Corporate Communications Working with a substantial budget, you will be responsible for both internal and external communications and the roles they play for the brand and within the organisation.  You will be an absolute Brand champion and keen to play this role within an organisation.   Reporting to a Vice President of Global Marketing , this is a wonderful opportunity to implement your strategic communication plans and lead a passionate and dedicated team.
  9. 9. PR functions: 2. Relationship building <ul><li>Recent theoretical shift to using communication for managing relationships (Kent & Taylor, 2001). Also identified in Grunig and Grunig’s (1998) IABC Excellence project. </li></ul><ul><li>Some researchers consider that this is suitable to serve as an organizing concept of PR, yet who are the key publics is loosely defined. </li></ul><ul><li>Much competition from marketing which has expanded its role from customer relationships to establishing, developing and maintaining successful relationships with a variety of stakeholders (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). </li></ul>
  10. 10. PR functions: 3. Strategic Management <ul><li>Past definitions of PR considered it had a strategic management function. </li></ul><ul><li>Past researchers have called for public relations to be included in the organisation’s dominant coalition. Yet PR executives lack influence in the US (Budd, 2003) and Europe (Nessman, 1995). </li></ul><ul><li>Practitioners can become part of a company’s dominant coalition through involvement in strategic planning. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Strategic management opportunities <ul><li>In the current environment of public mistrust, opportunities exist to counsel management in the areas of issues management (IM) and corporate social responsibility (CSR). </li></ul>
  12. 12. 2003 Parmalat collapse <ul><li>2003 collapse of dairy group Parmalat left €14 billion in debts and more than 100,000 investors out of pocket. </li></ul><ul><li>                                                                                       </li></ul>Parmalat CEO, Calisto Tanzi, is facing charges of fraud and criminal association
  13. 13. 2001 Enron collapse, USA <ul><li>Company collapse puts 21,000 employees out of work. </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple class action lawsuits. </li></ul><ul><li>US$50 billion bankruptcy </li></ul><ul><li>US $32 billion lost in market capital </li></ul><ul><li>Employee retirement accounts lost $1 billion, directors charged. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Strategic management opportunities <ul><li>In the current environment of public mistrust, opportunities exist to counsel management in the areas of issues management (IM) and corporate social responsibility (CSR). </li></ul><ul><li>IM is a strategic information monitoring system that identifies trends and key issues confronting organizations. Coupled with strategic business planning, IM manages organizational responses to them. </li></ul><ul><li>If practitioners defined their organizational role as including an IM function, they could ally themselves more closely with the dominant coalition, enhancing legitimacy. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) <ul><li>Management and marketing scholars are strongly researching CSR, also referred to as “corporate citizenship.” </li></ul><ul><li>Different to Community Relations which has a more narrow focus on engaging and advancing the needs of the community. </li></ul><ul><li>As well as community support, CSR encompasses employee diversity, employee support, product issues, environmental impact and overseas operations. </li></ul>
  16. 16. CSR: example of community support
  17. 17. CSR: Corporate philanthropy following China’s earthquake <ul><li>Yum! Brands Inc. (who run KFC and Pizza Hut) raised its corporate and staff donation to 2 million Euros. </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. chain Wal-Mart raised its donation to 1.9 </li></ul><ul><li>million Euros. </li></ul><ul><li>France's Carrefour increased its largesse to </li></ul><ul><li>2.15 million Euros. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Your thoughts? <ul><li>Is being labelled a “corporate communicator” heading back towards a functional approach? </li></ul><ul><li>Are practitioners heading towards a more functional approach? </li></ul><ul><li>Is taking a strategic management function with IM and CSR a realistic option? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the role of academics in this debate? </li></ul>

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