Since the last time I edited this book, public relations (PR) practitioners have continued their efforts to build strong leadership for businesses and other complex organizations. These continued efforts to integrate at several levels of business and society will create more integrated management processes, protecting and preserving the reputation of the organization and its stakeholders. In the past decade, public relations has moved beyond its self-defined role of building relations to integrating relationships between an organization and its publics.
After reading all the chapters in this second edition of the Handbook, the big idea that emerges is that PR provides management a leadership opportunity to integrate relationships both inside and outside their organization, using a wide range of management strategies and tactics, including communications. I was surprised to find that I only needed to modify my formal definition slightly since the first edition.
However, PR is still naturally focused on communications as its strategic advantage and knowledge base. Because of what we are presently calling social media, the field of communications has exploded. The social media chapter, written by part of the leadership team at Edelman, reinforces the concept that PR has gained the greatest ownership and understanding of the use of these applications. Reputation management is now under the wing of public relations, as demonstrated in the chapter by John Graham of Fleishman-Hillard (Chapter 25).
Although some teachers and practitioners continue to waiver between the fields being called strategic communications and public relations, I prefer not to begin to label all the sister fields of marketing, advertising, and human resources with the now overused descriptor of strategy or strategic.
The terms new and continuing are also prescient to the common marketing word loyalty. Perhaps loyalty is a more pithy representation of the idea, but new and continuing are dynamic. Finally, relationship is defined as a two-way interaction, obviously augmented by Web 2.0, which allows for the conversation to occur on the Internet. This idea continues to be defined by public relations.
Most of the authors in this field have the idea that integration is more than a simple (although useful) combination of the fields of advertising, promotions, direct marketing, events and marketing public relations. The growth of integrated marketing communications (IMC) as a practical field was based on the initial value of this useful combination of communication tactics into a more comprehensive strategy. However, what is still missing from the general teaching and understanding of IMC is a broader understanding of the importance of integration and why public relations is the ideal professional field to guide and lead in integration.
Because public relations is responsible for stakeholders, this allows the practitioner to bring a tremendous asset to the boardroom. The second level of integration of PR is with other management functions, including marketing, finance, accounting, human resources and general management. PR also integrates with the legal profession.
Public relations still offers its organizations the greatest experience and skill through the use of various communications-based strategies and tactics. Other management fields represented by the educational curriculum for the MBA in finance, management, marketing, human resources, production and accounting do not receive any serious level of communications knowledge or training. Although PR does not only use communications to accomplish its goals, the practitioners in this field have built their careers using, testing and recommending all forms of communications including written, oral and nonverbal. PR has used and refined all channels of communications, including advertising, speeches, press releases, Internet and intranet, direct mail, events and displays. According to most observers, PR has become the principal advocate of social media for management goals.
This level of PR integration also logically emerges out of the changes in the restructuring and design of organizations. Stress and demands on corporations and other complex organizations also force public relations professionals into a leadership role. In increasingly diversified corporate structures, where profit and management responsibilities have been given to strategic business units (SBUs) and separate profit centers, public relations must examine its role in all areas of management. The continued downsizing and leveling of the corporate hierarchy will force public relations managers to examine their roles in the management of divisions and at the corporate level.
The ability of the PR professionals to integrate the communications, product and corporate branding strategies, and generate a unified message to investors increases the operational level role of PR in the C-suite. Again, the ability to manage current issues and anticipate future demands on corporate resources enables educated and well-trained public relations professionals to assume leadership roles.
The leadership of the school was again demonstrated when the faculty, administration and students integrated the existing power of the advertising, sales promotions, direct marketing and public relations courses and knowledge. The combination of the fields provided businesses and organizations that hired the graduate students, interacted with the faculty and read the research with a competitive advantage over the traditionally nonintegrated and functionally separate operations. Although the curriculum has fluxed from time to time under pressures of temporary market changes and changes in leadership, the field continues to fill an important void in business education. However, IMC has not been given as much attention from the academic community as it has from the practical professional community in PR, sales, marketing and advertising.
IMC proves that educators can take a new direction with the traditional elements of advertising, direct marketing and public relations education. The distinct elements provided corporations and other organizations with compelling reasons to re-examine their business processes. The reinvention and re-engineering of marketing, public relations and direct marketing as a more fully integrated process has offered public relations professionals the most significant opportunity for advancing the influence of the profession. As a number of authors have shown, IMC and integrated communications will permit PR to take the leadership role it deserves based on the range and depth of the field, its attention to multiple stakeholder groups, and its experience and strength using communications as an important management tool.
In fact, the power of public relations is its ability to relate and develop productive relationships with other business functions and with multiple stakeholders. PR has not just been introduced to the notion of integration in the last decade, it has defined the concept and practice over many decades of leadership. If the future of public relations is not integrated, then the future will not be as bright as the authors predict in the following pages.
4. Finally, the book expanded the sections on how to create great communications with stories, speeches, virtual meetings and much more. All the chapters from the first edition have been substantially rewritten since 1997. The reader will find the wait worthwhile because so much has changed that empowers and redefines the professional and practical role of public relations.
Based on an agreed structure for each chapter, the authors were asked to use their experience and knowledge of the field to produce chapters that (1) define their area of PR, (2) describe the strategic approach that their company and other organizations have taken to the field, (3) discuss and list tactics that have usefully implemented these strategies, (4) describe in one or more detailed case studies the best practices in public relations, and (5) discuss future trends relevant to their industry or area of expertise in PR. This format proves useful to the reader searching for specific ideas across industries. The organization of the book also provides a strong sense of the future from a wide range of authors and a wide selection of case examples illustrating the practice of PR.
Without overpromising, I know that you will learn from the authors and enjoy their insightful perspectives on the field of integrated public relations now and throughout your career in the twenty-first century.
By adding business courses in management, accounting, finance, statistics, marketing and communications research and marketing management, communications students are better equipped to address business and organizational challenges. The integrated model provides a superior knowledge of communications over the traditional approach of advertising or public relations, which taught the subjects separately in two different majors. The challenge would be that many small marketing communications agencies and smaller companies needed more professionals. After all, what marketing communications program would want to be considered disintegrated?
After 20 years of education and training in graduate, undergraduate, and professional education, the field acknowledges that research is a more critical part of the strategic process. The leadership of social science researchers in business, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), education, and government has provided support for public relations practitioners to apply research to their PR programs.
The development of relational database technology makes behavior segmentation manageable. Companies in the airline, hotel and mail order industries have massive amounts of individual consumer data, for instance. The relational database plays an important strategic role in public relations as well. The public relations department at Walmart, for instance, uses a database to track individual journalists. To build a stakeholder database, start with internal sources: the rolodex, the Christmas card mailing list, the billing list from the accounting department and so forth. Next, consider renting outside lists to enhance your database. The process of incorporating different databases with each other and deleting duplicates is called merge or purge. 2b1af7f3a8