Monday, January 16, 2006

PR is what it says on the tin

So, Public relations is “…. what it says on the tin” says professor of Public Relations, Anne Gregory. “It is about organisations building relationships with its publics……… to build positive relationships in both directions” she said on the BBC Radio 4’s The Message programme on 14th January 2005.

Ledingham,& Bruning, (2000) explore a view of PR as a relationship practice. Their view is limited because they did not see the value of relationships as a primary asset or as a primary actor for in changing the value of assets. Their view is limited to an unspecified benefit:

“At the theoretical level, simplistic dissemination models gave way to the normative two-way symmetrical model that envisions public relations functioning in such a way as to generate mutual benefit for organizations and for their key publics.”

Evaluation work has also been explored further by Grunig and Hon (1999) and Jo, Hon & Brunner (2004) which help to develop the Grunig Hon view with empirical research. Here we see a deeper insight into the nature of relationships and a movement towards their measurement.

It is clear that relationship management and the management of relationships is an area of management that enthuses the PR industry.

Differentiation is one PR objective.

“In a mature economy it is increasingly difficult to find tangible resources of differentiation and it is the reputation and relationships which organisations establish with their stakeholders which are the drivers of corporate success,” suggests Danny Moss (Moss in Theaker 2004 pp. 328).

PR as a business driver is suggested by White and Murry: PR… “Inclusivity in relationships with all stakeholders is seen as correlated with company performance. The things that really drive a company – these are all around relationships – are not seen as of interest to financial commentators” (White & Murray 2004).

The IABC Research Foundation, concluded that in order for organizations to achieve the most value from their intangible assets they must encourage systematic relationship-building and boundary-spanning behaviour by everyone in the organization. The challenge for communication managers is to understand how they can contribute to this process.

The concept of relationship management being significant in its ability to contribute to worth also comes from outside the public relations industry. British Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Patricia Hewitt MP called for corporations to have "successful relationships with a wide range of other stakeholders" because they "are important assets, crucial to stable, long-term performance and shareholder value".

In a paper to be published next month I argue that “without effective relationships all other corporate assets are at risk. Sources of capital, raw materials and services, valuable intellectual assets, markets, customers and processes throughout the value chain are completely dependent on relationships between people within organisation and their counterparts without.” Once again, the argument favours a range of relationships, internal and external and a range of different forms of PR practice relevant to relationships along the extent of the value chain to influence value.

The practice of Public Relations is regarded as a practice of Relationship Management by a wide body of opinion.