Strategic Public Relations Management
eBook - ePub

Strategic Public Relations Management

Planning and Managing Effective Communication Campaigns

Erica Weintraub Austin, Bruce E. Pinkleton

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  1. 389 pages
  2. English
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  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Strategic Public Relations Management

Planning and Managing Effective Communication Campaigns

Erica Weintraub Austin, Bruce E. Pinkleton

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About This Book

Strategic Public Relations Management features an applied approach to evidence-based, strategic public relations management. It emphasizes understanding audiences through research and demonstrates success through quantitative evaluation methods. The volume presents a scientific approach that helps future and current practitioners understand and communicate the value of public relations to others, using performance metrics to demonstrate return on investment.

New to the third edition:



  • New examples on the effective use of digital communication and online research tools;


  • Updated guidance on researching using digital tools and social media;


  • New examples that provide a more accessible pathway to real-world application.

In addition to these new features, the book covers:



  • Creating a framework for planning;


  • Up-to-date research tools and how to develop a research plan;


  • Gathering useful data for strategic guidance;


  • Real-world examples that provide readers with realistic cases and situations;


  • Applying theory to professional practice.

The book's accessibility will be welcomed by instructors and students with definitions of terms, a how-to approach, and an accessible style of writing throughout.

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Information

Publisher
Routledge
Year
2015
ISBN
9781317625292
Edition
3
1
The Need for Strategic Public Relations Management
Chapter Contents
Surviving Amid Fierce Competition
Strategic Versus Tactical Decision Making
Defining Public Relations
The Often Misunderstood Role of Public Relations
Using Research to Enhance the Credibility of Public Relations
Organization of the Book
Strategic public relations planning and research techniques have evolved into the most powerful tools available to public relations practitioners. Success requires practitioners to demonstrate in a measurable way how the results from public relations programs benefit the organizations they serve. Practitioners well prepared to use the tools available to them can enjoy bigger budgets, more autonomy in decision making, and greater support from management. On the other hand, managers who rely on an intuitive model of public relations based on their knowledge of media markets and a well-developed network of contacts have less credibility, enjoy less autonomy, receive lower priority, and suffer greater risk of cost cutting that threatens job security.
Surviving Amid Fierce Competition
The increasingly competitive business and social environment makes it critical for public relations managers to understand how to apply public relations planning, research, and program-evaluation practices that help ensure success and demonstrate accountability. Research-based public relations practices enable managers to solve complex problems, set and achieve or exceed goals and objectives, track the opinions and beliefs of key publics, and employ program strategies with confidence. Although the use of research in public relations management cannot guarantee program success, it allows practitioners to maximize their abilities and move beyond reactionary management to scientific management. An evidence-based and strategic management style can help control the ways a situation will develop and the outcomes practitioners achieve in those situations.
Consider the following scenarios in which communication professionals can use research-based planning to develop effective strategies for solving a problem and demonstrate program success.
Community Relations
You are the public affairs director for the largest employer in a community. The local media have been running stories about problems at the company, claiming management has lost sight of its unique role in the community. The board of directors wants a clear understanding of public perceptions of the company. It also wants to develop new programs that will better serve the community and improve community relations. You remain unconvinced the company needs to establish new programs more than it needs to support its existing programs. How do you determine the opinions and attitudes of community members toward the company? How do you measure community perceptions of existing programs, as well as community interest in new programs? How can you convince your board to embrace the most effective course of action?
Special Events Planning and Promotion
You are the manager of a performing arts coliseum. The coliseum has lost money on several events over the past 2 years and now is threatened by competition from a new community theater scheduled for construction in 2 years. The coliseum management and its board of directors sense they have lost touch with the community and are unsure how to address the situation. How can management determine community programming interests and begin to reorient itself to the needs and desires of community members without wasting valuable resources?
Political Campaign
You are the campaign manager for a state senatorial candidate. The mostly-rural district has 75,000 registered voters, many of whom work as farmers or in farming-related businesses and industries. The election is 9 months away, and the candidates already are engaged in a close contest. How do you track changes in voters’ perceptions of your candidate as the election nears?
Nonprofit
You are a public relations practitioner at a small, nonprofit organization. Your new assignment is to rescue a local special event with a troubled history. The event, sponsored by the local chamber of commerce, is supposed to raise money for your organization while attracting visitors who patronize businesses in your community. The most recent event was a disaster, however, despite a strong media relations effort that included social media. Because of low attendance, the organization barely broke even on the event, and local businesses have lost interest in participating next year as sponsors. How do you find out what went wrong and make next year’s event a success?
Development
You are a senior development officer at a major university. Development, also known as philanthropic giving, has gained importance as state budgets have dwindled. Just as the university is making preparations for the largest development campaign in its history, students let their partying get out of hand after a big football win over their cross-state rivals. The fracas attracts national media attention. You worry the negative media attention will significantly hinder university development efforts. You need to understand the opinions and attitudes of key segments of the public to quickly develop and implement a plan that will allow you to respond in an effective manner. How do you determine the responses of donors and non-donors to news of the disturbance?
Public relations practitioners face problems like these on a regular basis. Small problems can help organizations deal with bigger ones when they arise. J. Wayne Leonard, the chief executive of Entergy, the power company serving the New Orleans area, said his company felt prepared for the unprecedented catastrophe of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina because “we have the skills and planning to deal with catastrophe because we deal with it on a small scale all the time.” Besides the company’s efforts to restore power to 1.1 million customers, his management response included evacuation for his own employees, assurances that their jobs would be preserved, coordination with government officials, and making sure “front-line” employees were “empowered to make common-sense decisions” (Feder, 2005, p. B2). Similarly, Lt. Sue Kerver of the Coast Guard explained that they coped effectively with the BP oil spill in 2010 because they had prepared and trained to implement a multifaceted plan and to adjust it based on how events evolve: “The last thing you want to do is create a crisis plan during a crisis,” she said (Williamson, 2011, ¶ 2).
Preparation also can include learning from others, known in the business as secondary research. In other words, not all situations can be practiced and not all lessons need to be learned the hard way. John Deveny of Deveny Public Relations in New Orleans felt prepared to work with the Louisiana Office of Tourism when Katrina and the BP oil spill happened because he had spent time tracking others’ experiences and results. In particular, he employed his analysis of Nashville’s success following its own natural disaster in 2010 to respond to the BP oil spill aftermath. “You have to prepare a proactive and a reactive strategy.”
Strategic Versus Tactical Decision Making
According to Dick Martin (2005), who served as executive vice president of public relations for AT&T until his retirement, successful public relations management requires acting as “an honest broker” who understands the concerns of internal and external stakeholders “and can synthesize them into a perspective the CEO can actually use.” Martin went on to say, “it means making forecasts instead of compiling yesterday’s clips, and backing up those predictions with plans for dealing with them” (p. 23). In other words, successful public relations management requires strategic research and strategic planning.
Research helps practitioners acquire accurate information quickly at a relatively low cost to aid them in sophisticated planning and problem solving every day. When practitioners respond to organizational problems and challenges by engaging in media relations campaigns, they typically respond tactically instead of strategically. Strategic decision making is goal directed and guided by an organization’s larger purpose. According to Fred Nickols (2000), “strategy is the bridge between policy or high-order goals on the one hand and tactics or concrete actions on the other.” Tactical decision making, on the other hand, focuses more on day-to-day actions and therefore tends to be more response oriented in nature. Tactical decision making can allow public relations programs and campaigns to drift aimlessly, lacking direction or purpose. Practitioners often use media clips as the basis for tactic-based program accountability, but the benefits of clip-based evaluation are limited. It is impossible, for example, for practitioners to determine message effects on targeted audiences’ opinions, attitudes, or behavior using clips. Practitioners find their ability to solve organizations’ problems through such a response also severely limited because no basis exists for determining the extent of a problem or evaluating the results of their programs.
Finally, organizational managers can become frustrated in their attempts to adapt to changing internal and external environments because practitioners have no basis for understanding and accomplishing the steps necessary to successfully address or accommodate stak...

Table of contents