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research-in-public-relations - Research in Public Relations...

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Research in Public Relations A review of the use of evaluation and formative research by Jim R. Macnamara BA, MA, FPRIA, AFAMI CARMA International Asia Pacific ___________________________________________________________________________ Introduction While debate continues over whether public relations 1 fits within marketing or corporate management, or both, there is broad agreement that modern public relations practice needs to function as a management discipline within an organisation’s total management team. Grunig, Crable, Vibbert and others point to public relations evolving from a communication technician role focussed on producing and distributing information, to a communication manager role focussed on building and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders. The extent to which public relations can realise this transition from technician to manager depends on practitioners adopting the standards and meeting the requirements of modern professional management. So what are those standards and requirements, and how well is public relations meeting these prerequisites? The management environment in both the private and public sector has undergone a major transformation in the past 20 years, and in the past decade in particular. Along with technological change, one of the major revolutions has been the demand for and growing acceptance of accountability. Over the past decade or two, management has adopted various systems and tools to monitor and measure processes and results including: ? Management by Objectives (MBO); ? Key Performance Indicators (KPIs); ? Total Quality Management (TQM); ? Quality Assurance (QA); ? Quality Accreditation (ISO 9000); ? Benchmarking; ? World’s Best Practice; ? Customer Satisfaction ratings; ? Balanced Score Card As part of these management strategies, companies, organisations and government agencies are increasingly using informal and formal research to evaluate key areas of their operations. 1 In this discussion, the term ‘public relations’ is used to include public affairs, corporate relations, corporate affairs, corporate communication an d other broadly synonymous terms.
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RESEARCH IN PUBLIC RELATIONS – A review of the use of evaluation and formative research 2 __________________________________________________________________________ This paper examines how well public relations has responded to the trend towards accountability and increasing management demands for measurability? Public Relations Use of Research – An Historical Perspective In 1983, James Grunig concluded that a key contributor to the image problem of public relations was the lack of objective, research methodology for evaluating PR programs. Grunig said: “Although considerable lip service is paid to the importance of program
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