Article-Alignment of PR Theory & Practice

Article-Alignment of PR Theory & Practice - 1 Public...

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Maureen Taylor & John A. Grasso INTRODUCTION Public relations is a strategic communication activity that clearly demonstrates how scholarly theory informs practical application. From something as fundamental as systems theory underpinning the need for a company newsletter to the ethical imperative for organizations to be open to public persuasion, public relations provides a rich mosaic of principles of practice framed within the clearly defined boundaries of research and inquiry. This chapter will cover three areas where communication theory directly informs effective public relations practice. At the heart of effective public relations lies systems theory. Systems Theory and Information Flow Systems theory describes communication relationships. According to Katz and Kahn (1967), systems theory examines the "problems of relationships, of structure, and interdependence" (p. 18). In a previous chapter by Professor Brent Ruben, systems theory was discussed as a communication activity. Any understanding of public relations communication thus can be enriched by considering three attributes of a system in particular-input, throughput and output. Before any effective public relations programs, campaigns or projects can be undertaken, the public relations practitioner must have access to factual, timely and usable information. This information, known as input is the lifeblood of the profession. It forms the basis for the creation of the strategic plan and the selection of appropriate tactics. Information flows into the public relations process from sources external to the organization and comes in many forms--research, content analysis, audience feedback. Input is achieved through an organization conducting research and listening to its various publics. What does an organization do with input? The answer is this: an effective organization creates processes within the organization to disseminate this information to the organizational units that most need it to make timely and ethical decisions. This flow of information, known as through-put, usually remains within the organization in the form of employee communication including newsletters, town meetings and recognition programs. This information is crucial in public relations because it ensures that all organizational members, from upper management through staff workers, understand the environment in which they work. Organizations that have poor throughput processes are often unsuccessful in meeting the changing needs of their publics. Once an organization knows what its publics want and is confident that its members understand this information, then the organization communicates with its various publics through the output function. This is the function that is most often associated with public relations. Output, in the form of executed public 1
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This note was uploaded on 02/10/2011 for the course COMM 365 taught by Professor Grasso during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.

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Article-Alignment of PR Theory & Practice - 1 Public...

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