Strategic Planning for Public Relations

Beginning the Journey

by Tricia Hansen-Horn (Author) Adam E. Horn (Author)
©2014 Textbook XIV, 254 Pages


Strategic Planning for Public Relations: Beginning the Journey is written for the next generation of public relations professionals. It takes account of the changing needs of the PR industry, where strategic thinking is needed in abundance but tends to be in short supply among many people who are just launching their careers. This book is designed to address this shortfall by providing a multi-level understanding of strategy to show how it directly correlates to successful public relations. The book’s conversational tone and real world chapter exercises move the reader from insight to strategic vision and application. Exercises at the end of each chapter are designed to help students further explore, reflect on and apply what they have learned. The book’s unique approach to strategy and strategic planning provides the tools for students becoming strategists first and tacticians second – essential criteria for successful public relations professionals.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • 1. The Essence of Public Relations
  • Public Relations Instances: Planned and Strategic
  • World Vision
  • McDonald’s Corporation and Children’s Well-being
  • CERC: Pandemic Influenza Overview and Objectives
  • Denny’s Diversity
  • Rent a Race Track and Car & Driver
  • Chick-Fil-A
  • Kohl’s Cares for Kids
  • Premier Road Racing Team and Family Restaurant Sponsor
  • U.S.-based Kansas City Star and Kansas City Business Journal Coverage
  • Mid-sized U.S. Town Basketball Tournament
  • Public Relations: Results from Efforts Not Well Thought Out or Strategic
  • The Voice Behind the Voice
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Exercises
  • Endnotes
  • 2. Public Relations Defined as Communication and Business
  • Communication and Communicative Effort
  • Communication Defined
  • Transactional Communication Model Applied to Public Relations
  • The Communicative Effort Frame for Public Relations
  • Results Driven
  • The Idea of a Public
  • Planned Action
  • Strategy and Strategic
  • PRSA Adds the Specifics Behind the Idea of Mutually Beneficial Relationships
  • Public Relations and Ethics
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Exercises
  • Endnotes
  • 3. Communication Complexity
  • Communicative Assumptions
  • Self-reflexiveness
  • Rhetoric and the Marketplace Wrangle
  • Toward a Clearer Understanding of the Rhetorical Process
  • Situation and Context
  • Marketplace Wrangle and Contested Terrain
  • SRC Public Relations Strategist
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Exercises
  • Endnotes
  • 4. Successful Public Relations as Results-driven ROI-minded Business
  • Success and Business
  • Meanings of Business Explored
  • Purposeful Activity
  • Role or Function
  • Economic-driven Action
  • Doing Things as Usual
  • The Act of Producing
  • Atmosphere Creation
  • Organization-only Issue
  • Concentrated Action Directed at a Serious Issue
  • Rebuke
  • The Business Case for Public Relations
  • Public Relations and Individual Success
  • Successful Public Relations and ROI Vision
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Exercises
  • Endnotes
  • 5. Strategy, Strategic, and Strategic Planning Unpacked
  • Defining Strategy
  • Mintzberg on Strategy
  • Codification, Elaboration, and Conversion
  • Three Approaches to Strategy: 10 Schools of Thought
  • Prescription: Design, Planning and Positioning
  • Description: Entrepreneurial, Cognitive, Learning, Power, Cultural, and Environmental
  • Transformation: Configuration
  • Five Ps of Strategy: Plan, Ploy, Pattern, Position, and Perspective
  • Chaffee on Linear, Adaptive, and Interpretive Views of Strategy
  • Two Driving Forces in Strategy Education
  • The Strategy Definition Lesson: “So What?”
  • Strategic
  • A Strategic Quality: Alternaquence Thinking
  • Strategic Planning
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Exercises
  • Endnotes
  • 6. Public Relations Functions, Roles, Situations and Contexts, and Specializations
  • Public Relations Functions
  • Professionals’ Roles in Public Relations
  • Public Relations Situations and Contexts
  • Advancement
  • Campaigning and Debating
  • Cause Marketing and Branding
  • Community Relations
  • Corporate Communications
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • Crisis Communication (and/or Management)
  • Development
  • Image and Reputation Management
  • Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)
  • Issues Management
  • Lobbying
  • Marketing Communications
  • Media Relations
  • Public Affairs
  • Risk Communication
  • Special Event Planning
  • Strategic Communication
  • Sustainability
  • Public Relations Specializations
  • Agency Public Relations
  • Aviation Relations
  • Conference and Convention Relations
  • Consumer Relations
  • Digital Communications
  • Education Relations
  • Employee Relations
  • Entertainment Public Relations
  • Environmental or Conservation Relations
  • Fashion Relations
  • Fundraising
  • Government Relations
  • Healthcare Communication
  • International Relations
  • Investor and Financial Relations
  • Maturing Public Relations
  • Member Relations
  • Relations with Special Publics
  • Sports Public Relations
  • Travel and Tourism Relations
  • University Relations
  • Volunteer Relations
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Exercises
  • Endnotes
  • 7. Public Relations Initiatives and Choice of Medium
  • McLuhan’s Ideas
  • The Medium Is the Message (Massage)
  • The Global Village
  • Four global village lessons
  • Hot and Cold Media
  • Distinctions Characterizing Public Relations Efforts
  • Print
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Face-to-face
  • Experiential
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Exercises
  • Endnotes
  • 8. Public Relations: Digital Convergence, Access and Technology, and Integration
  • Digital
  • Convergence Explored
  • Digital Access and Digital Technology
  • Internet Users and Preferences
  • Social Media Lessons and Their Strategic Use
  • Keeping Track of Digital Change
  • Social Media Release
  • Integration Explored
  • Schultz on Integration
  • Evidence of Convergence and Integration in This Very Book
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Exercises
  • Endnotes
  • 9. Applying Strategic Planning
  • #teamUCM
  • Background
  • Situation Analysis
  • Statement of the Opportunity
  • Goal
  • Objectives
  • Publics
  • Messages
  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Strategies
  • Tactics
  • Strategy 1 Tactics: Social Media Use
  • Strategy 2 Tactics: #teamUCM Blackout Basketball Spotlight Giveaway Games
  • Strategy 3 Tactics: Inclusiveness
  • Timeline
  • Budget
  • Evaluation
  • In process
  • To facilitate support for the #teamUCM concept.
  • To increase UCM Athletics’ Twitter followers by 10 percent or nearly 307.
  • To generate significant use of the #teamUCM hashtag during the event.
  • To increase UCM Athletics’ Facebook likes by 5 percent or nearly 86.
  • Summative
  • To facilitate support for the #teamUCM concept.
  • To create an engaging atmosphere that allowed fans to feel a greater part of the blackout basketball Spotlight t-shirt giveaway experience.
  • To increase attendance at the Jennies and Mules blackout basketball Spotlight t-shirt giveaway games by 10 percent, increasing the MIAA average of nearly 3,200 to 3,520.
  • To increase UCM Athletics’ Twitter followers by 10 percent or nearly 307.
  • To generate significant use of the #teamUCM hashtag during the event.
  • To increase UCM Athletics’ Facebook likes by 5 percent or nearly 86.
  • Chapter Exercises (#teamUCM)
  • Huey P. Long Bridge Widening
  • Background
  • Situation Analysis
  • Statement of the Opportunity
  • Goal
  • Objectives
  • Publics
  • Messages
  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Strategies
  • Tactics
  • Strategy 1 Tactics: Keep Public Informed and Promote Positive Benefits of Project
  • Strategy 2 Tactics: Use Emerging Engagement Tools
  • Timeline
  • Budget
  • Evaluation
  • In process
  • Keep public informed and promote positive benefits of the project
  • Use emerging tools to engage the public
  • Chapter Exercises (Huey P. Long Bridge Widening)
  • March of Dimes Rebrand
  • Background
  • Situation Analysis
  • Statement of the Opportunity
  • Goal
  • Objectives
  • Publics
  • Messages
  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Strategies
  • Tactics
  • For All strategies
  • Timeline
  • Budget
  • Evaluation
  • In process for all objectives (all evaluation is in process as the campaign continues)
  • Chapter Exercises (March of Dimes Rebrand)
  • Appendix: Important Public Relations and Media Job Titles and Jargon
  • Terms Important to the Public Relations Professional
  • Typical and Emerging Job Titles
  • Public Relations Jargon
  • Media Jargon
  • Typical and Emerging Media Job Titles
  • Conclusion
  • Strategic Applications
  • Endnotes
  • Index



Figure 2.1 Transactional Model of Communication

Figure 9.1 Strategic Planning Checklist

Figure 9.2 #TeamUCM Creative Brief

Figure 9.3 Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project Twitpic Screen Capture

Figure 9.4 Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project Facebook Post

Figure 9.5 March of Dimes Stronger, Healthier Babies Campaign Poster

Figure 9.6 March of Dimes Baby with Sneakers.

Figure A.1 Public Relations Job Titles

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Thank you to Crossroads, Innovative PR and the University of Central Missouri, Shane Peck for Huey P. Long Bridge Widening, and National Communication Association for contributions in terms of permissions and content.

← ix | x →

← x | xi →



Strategic Planning for Public Relations: Beginning the Journey is a text for the next generation of public relations colleagues-in-training. Its unique approach to strategy and strategic planning should help transform its readers into strategists first and tacticians second. Many of the discussions and chapter exercises included in the book are a result of the lively discussions and strategic efforts behind the 2007 debut of the University of Central Missouri public relations program’s Strategic Planning & Research for Public Relations course.

A spring 2013 roundtable led by Council of PR Firms and Fleishman-Hillard President and CEO David Senay would agree with initiatives such as ours. A conclusion of the Council’s recent roundtable was that “the curriculum at many colleges has changed over the past five years. Social and digital media now figure more prominently. Meanwhile, the talent needs of PR firms are changing. Tactically, today’s interns seem strong, but participants agreed that firms also need deeper, more strategic thinking.”1 Strategic thinking is needed in abundance in the public relations profession but tends to be in short supply among most people just launching their careers. We want to change that. Those who read and actually use the ideas in the book will move along a nine-chapter journey, supplemented by an important appendix, designed to develop them ← xi | xii → as contextually and rhetorically sensitive public relations professionals who approach public relations from a broadly defined business-kind-of-mindset. At each chapter’s end is a Chapter Exercises section specifically designed to help future public relations colleagues-in-training further explore, reflect on, and apply what they learned in it.

Chapter 1 introduces readers to the essence of public relations. Once someone can grasp the essence of public relations, its definition is more easily understood. Ten recent public relations examples are highlighted as a way to make the essence of public relations obvious. The results of three public relations initiatives that were not strategic are also introduced, and the ideas embedded in the tag “the voice behind the voice” are discussed.

Chapter 2 unpacks what is meant by planned and strategic results-driven communicative effort with the publics in mind. The Public Relations Society of America’s newly adopted definition of public relations is highlighted, along with its ability to enhance the definition of public relations we present in this book. And, public relations is situated as the uniquely positioned voice for ethical decision making that is.

Chapter 3 helps readers become more sensitive to the ways they communicate and more aware of the communicative assumptions they and others hold. Age-old questions about communication and often-held communicative assumptions are explored. Public relations professionals-in-training are encouraged to become self-reflexive and conscious of how the language that is used facilitates and limits meaning. The influences of situation and context are highlighted as are the ideas of the rhetorical marketplace wrangle and rhetorically contested terrain. The chapter concludes by introducing readers to the SRC public relations strategist vision.

Chapter 4 explores multiple definitions of business as well as personal and professional success. It explores the ins and outs of applying traditional understandings of return on investment (ROI) to public relations, making sure to point out inadequacies, while still endorsing the value of developing an ROI vision. It also provides an introduction to alternative public relations measurements.

Chapter 5 provides a robust exploration of what public relations strategy might mean or be through an exploration of the ideas of prominent strategy experts. It then addresses what it might mean to be strategic. And, finally, a concluding discussion of what strategic planning itself means for the SRC public relations strategist is offered.

Chapter 6 acquaints readers with an overview of the kinds of public relations functions they can expect to encounter and the many professional ← xii | xiii → public relations roles they might someday find themselves filling. The variety of general public relations situations and contexts that structure the field are discussed, and the large number of public relations specializations that can be pursed as a career are identified. Chapter 6 is supplemented by a valuable appendix titled “Terms Important to Public Relations and Media Job Titles and Jargon.

Chapter 7 introduces readers to three of Marshall McLuhan’s ideas as they illuminate professional communicative choices. Three concepts that are key to strategic media use and selection are presented. And finally, readers are taken on a reflective journey through five media types, strategically leaving a sixth for chapter 8.

Chapter 8 is devoted to the exploration of the digital medium. Specific discussion is given to the digital label in light of convergence, digital access and digital technology, Internet users and preferences, the strategic use of social media, tracking digital change, and professional integration.

Chapter 9 represents the lessons behind understanding strategy, being strategic, and strategic planning. It also provides a strategic planning check list for use by emerging SRC public relations strategists. In addition, three recent and well-executed cases (#teamUCM, Huey P. Long Bridge Widening, and March of Dimes Rebrand) are provided in case study form. The first intent is to provide three frames of reference for excellence in strategic planning. A second intent is to let readers engage the cases in strategic applications exercises designed to let them use the strategic planning check list and present or represent strategy in light of public, situation, or context changes.

The future is bright for public relations professionals. World and marketplace change have paved the way for them to assume ever-more prominent and influential roles. Recently, career expert Laurence Shatkin2 ranked public relations specialist 29th on his famous list of the 400 best jobs overall. His calculations determined best by accounting for lower annual turnover rates, higher skills requirements, and better pay. He viewed public relations specialists as positioned for nearly 24 percent growth in the next 10 years, with a median income of $52,090 and 13,130 annual openings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor made a complementary growth prediction.3

The promising future in store for public relations even made a Yahoo Education post. PR News author Matthew Schwartz endorsed the post for naming the position of public relations specialist “as #5 among the ‘Eight Hot Careers to Watch in 2013.’”4 This book is designed to help future colleagues draw on information, ideas, and skills from an array of areas and get ready to take their places. ← xiii | xiv →


  1.  Cripps, K. (2013, April 24). Building bridges between academic and business: A report from the Council’s “taking flight” event in Chicago [Web lot post]. Retrieved from http://prfirms.org/voice/2013/building-bridges-between-academia-and-business-a-report-from-the-councils-taking-flight-event-in-chicago?utm_source=Firm+Voice+4-24-13&utm_campaign=FV+3-6-13&utm_medium=email.

  2.  Shatkin, L. (2012). Best jobs for the 21st Century (6th ed.). St. Paul, MN: JIST.

  3.  U.S. Bureau of Labor. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2013, from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Public-relations-managers-and-specialists.htm.

  4.  Schwartz, M. (2012, December 27). ‘PR specialist’ shaping up as one of the fastest growing careers. Retrieved January 10, 2013 from http://www.prnewsonline.com/watercooler/PR-Specialist-Shaping-Up-as-One-of-the-Fastest-Growing-Careers_17642.html, p. 3. ← xiv | 1 →





The Essence of Public Relations

All public relations professionals are students of public relations and the world around them. They have to be. The fast-changing industry, the speed at which communication takes place, and continuing business fluctuations guarantee that we need to keep learning. Like an excellent athlete, a good public relations person is always in training. In fact, our ability to achieve public relations excellence is to know what it really is and then to clearly understand strategy, what it is to be strategic, and how to engage in strategic planning. That is why we are passionate about putting together this book for you. As the consumers of what we have written here, we know you question the credibility with which we broach this topic; it is natural to do that. So, to answer your question, we provide a bit of background for you.

As the authors of Strategic Planning: Beginning the Journey we have a long history of teaching and training. We train future colleagues, even if most of them are college students. Most professionals readily accept that business-initiated training is a necessary lifelong endeavor once they leave the classroom, but many assume that learning through teaching is something different. They figure that kind of learning ended when they graduated from the last school they attended. We disagree. We train and teach. We take this philosophy with us as we introduce others to our profession. To us, each individual we work with is a professional-in-training. You are, too.

We have facilitated all variety of college-level and professional training courses, such as introduction to public relations, writing and editing for public relations, public relations research, public relations case analysis, crisis communication, advanced public relations writing, brand and image management, media training, integrated marketing communications, and public relations campaigns. Our public relations ← 1 | 2 → education careers span more than 25 years. So do our non-academic professional careers. We have been privileged to work with billion-dollar athletic organizations, some of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers, global restaurant chains, and many others. We have even served as trainers for specialized organizations outside the university walls. What we have found is a bit disturbing. Most people are tactical (tool oriented) and not strategic. In fact, understanding strategy, forming and communicating strategy, and pursuing strategy is a challenge for most people, even for many longtime professionals. That is why this book exists. Our target public—that means you—needs strategy training.


XIV, 254
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2013 (May)
vision application professionals
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 254 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Tricia Hansen-Horn (Author) Adam E. Horn (Author)

Tricia Hansen-Horn (PhD, Purdue University) is a professor and public relations program coordinator at the University of Central Missouri. Specializing in theory development, pedagogy, strategic planning, and campaign development, she is co-editor of Public Relations: From Theory to Practice (2008). Adam Horn (PhD, University of Missouri-School of Journalism) is an assistant professor at the University of Central Missouri, where he designed and implemented UCM’s strategic planning for public relations courses. He is an active sports consultant, specializing in media relations and crisis communication strategy.


Title: Strategic Planning for Public Relations
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270 pages