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Public Relations, Values and Cultural Identity

by Enric Ordeix (Volume editor) Valérie Carayol (Volume editor) Ralph Tench (Volume editor)
©2015 Edited Collection 398 Pages

Summary

As organisations seek legitimacy in a fast-moving, interconnected and changing world, how do public relations help them to manage their identity, responsibilities and impact on society? In a more interactive society, organisations need to align their actions with social demands and values. If the main role of public relations is to build trust and influence opinionmakers, media, the public and the political agenda, what are the constraints and limitations at play here, and what is the impact on ethical principles?
The published research shows the profession is facing crucial changes: the existence of new organisational structures better aligned with social demands; the emergence of new techniques for interacting with organisations in a more trustworthy manner; and growing pressure by social groups acting both for and against particular social values, ideas and identities.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction: A New Era of Understanding for Public Relations Theory and Practice
  • Part 1 Strategic Public Relations, Public Values, and Cultural Identity: Overview
  • From Integration to Legitimacy: Values and Publics in Public Relations
  • A History of the Future: Concepts for Telling the Story of Online PR
  • Talking with or at Stakeholders? An Empirical Investigation of Architectures of Listening and Structures for Dialogue in the Social Web Build up by Organizations
  • Part II Grassroots Influence and Community Engagement
  • Graduate Education in Public Relations: A Key Strategy for Professional Affirmation in Portugal
  • Perspectives on Citizens’ Crisis Communication Competence in Co-Producing Safety
  • Participative Public Relations: An Integrative Approach to Participating in PR
  • Empowered Spaces: The Political and Everyday Life
  • Part III Cultural, National and Global Issues
  • The Impact of Competitions’ Success or Failure on the Online Reputation of Sport Teams: A Tool of Analysis
  • Communicating Public Values in a Young Democracy: Successes and Failures of Western Donors to Support Ukrainian Independent Media
  • Strategic Public Relations versus Public Values? The ‘Swarming’ of German Defense Minister Zu Guttenberg
  • Part IV Organizational Polices and Public Issues
  • The Challenge of Improving the Public Representation of Mental Illness: A Case Study of Crime Reporting, and a Call for Radical Change
  • Turkish Universities’ Adoption of Social Media for Dialogic Communication
  • Social Media and Juridical Constraints: Possibilities and Limitations of Digitized Governmental PR in Germany
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Health Literacy: A Challenge for Communication Professionals
  • Part V Public Opinion and Networks, Public Sphere, and Agenda Building
  • A Reputation Measurement Model for Online Stakeholders: Concepts, Evidence and Implications
  • Panacea for the Public Sphere? The Use of Social Media in the Public Sector in the UK
  • Digital Communication Strategies: The Example of the Portuguese PR Consultancies Websites
  • New Modes of Participation in Online-PR: Understanding Texto-Material Networks
  • Part VI Strategic Public Relation: Organizational Roles and Functions
  • Public Relations and the Use of Interactivity in Digital Press and in Social Media: A Comparative Analysis
  • Can PR Practitioners Build Positive Journalist Relationships Via Social Media?
  • Social Media Meet Dialog? Analyzing the Communication Activities of Companies on Facebook
  • Strategic and Tactical Role of Public Relations: A Framework Proposal
  • Contributors

Introduction

A New Era of Understanding for Public Relations Theory and Practice

This book is a collection of some of the best papers from 64 double blind peer reviewed submissions which were presented at the annual Congress of the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) in October 3-5th, 2013. The Congress was held at the Blanquerna School of Communication and International Relations of Ramon Llull University (FCCRIB-URL), in Barcelona (Catalonia-Spain) and co-organized by EUPRERA and the School’s Research Group in Strategy and Creativity in Advertising and Public Relations.

Under the topic “Strategic Public Relations. Public Values and Cultural Identity” the Congress demonstrated how Public Relations is growing and maturing as a professional field in communication. In a more interactive society organisations need to align their actions with social demands and values. Public Relations’ main role is to seek legitimacy to act and influence opinion makers and public, media and political agendas. Public Relations is at a crossroads as it is facing crucial changes such as: the existence of new organisational structures better aligned with contemporary social demands; the discussion of new techniques to explain and build understanding about organisations through a more trustworthy and transparent lens; the growing pressure by social groups that act as opinion leaders against and for values, ideas and identities; and the coexistence of different agendas (public, media and political) depending on the means, fields or types of publics. These are significant and deep discussions that we are engaged with as an academic, professional and practice based field.

Through these themes during the 2013 Congress 140 researchers and scholars from 86 universities and 24 countries engaged in dialogue and debate to consider new trends in Public Relations and to address cultural, national and global issues. The 64 papers presented in the Congress were organised under 5 main sub-themes: 1. Strategic Public Relations. Organisational roles and functions, which implies, among others: New PR challenges. Strategic versus tactical PR; New opportunities. Increasing PR Strategies as a key strategy for organisational development, and Development of integrated communication strategies by agencies and consultancies. 2. Organisational policies and public values, that ← 13 | 14 → included: Trends and challenges of Public Relations roles in organisations; Governances, corporate culture and social engagement, and Leadership and change management. 3. Cultural, national and global issues with topics such as: Social analysis research and public opinion; General interest and corporate social responsibility (CSR), and national versus global brands, companies, institutions and countries. 4. Public opinion and networks, public sphere and agenda building, involving: Value of relationships with strategic publics of organisations; Scenario building in crisis and issues management, and spin doctoring and persuasion; Speech writing and delivery. 5. Grass roots influence and community engagement, where researchers debate on: Social media and dialogue; Public representation and opinion leadership and measurement and monitoring of communicative processes.

This book contains the best papers on these topics with a very selective and rigorous process of double blind reviewing by members of the EUPRERA Scientific Committee who filtered and selected papers for the Congress journal or for this book. Through this book, the editorial team, Dr. Enric Ordeix (Congress Organiser), Professor Dr. Valérie Carayol (EUPRERA President) and Professor Dr. Ralph Tench (Head of the Scientific Committee), aim to represent a large number of academics who were able to attend the Congress in order to promote discussion in this field. The papers have significant quality and depth as did those papers that made up the three days of discussions at the Congress. From this high level of presentation and contribution to the field it is relevant to capture within this introduction just some of the sentiments, themes, discussions and debates that were held over the important Congress period in Barcelona, 2013.

One of the main conclusions reached is that Public Relations seek both the societal support and the legitimacy of the organisational or corporate setting. As such the theoretical principles that help social values and the identity of many organisations to be part of the public, political and media agenda still need to be accurately identified. In fact, this is the same as researching how legitimacy, innovation, symmetric and public agenda converge when Public Relations performance is excellent. Organisations are therefore still fighting the contested terrain to gain social support in order to legitimize their messages and societal position or role.

A second theme is that the social sphere demands procedural and critical thinking with more grass-roots communication and a higher level of social engagement. Key opinion leaders are now crucial in order to give support and act in favour or against organisations. We realise the incoming need for Public Relations to be aware of the leadership groups’ performance as opinion makers and agenda setters. Opinion making and ← 14 | 15 → influence have a direct connection with the companies’ publics and their behaviour and, of course, online communication contributes effectively to offline activities (influencing the promotion and development of projects, dissemination, evaluation etc.).

And as a final, general statement, we are facing a new area of understanding among organisations and society and the papers this book contains are proof of it. We are arguably now in an era where citizens and organisations need to merge or behave more symmetrically to influence the society where mutual comprehension is an increasing expectation. It is essential to achieve societal benefits in terms of ethics and civic engagement, it is necessary for companies to make profit in a transparent and non harmful way to the wider society. Opinion leadership, through key stakeholder groups and relationships, is arguably driving companies towards the values and community representation boundary. All-in all, we notice the increasing need for companies to act as corporate citizens which implies a wider participation in the decision making process and by means of a wide range of strategies (for example, the creation of foundations or through public-private partnerships) to take over some of the traditional functions of the state. Not all regions and countries of Europe are at the same place on this journey nor will all of them expect to be there. Again this is a pluralism that must be recognised and accommodated within EUPRERA and also within academia and practice more broadly as well as in academic thinking and critique.

Finally we would like to express our thanks to all contributors, presenters, guests and delegates at the Barcelona Congress, particularly to Prof. Josep Rom, Director of the GRECB-FCCRIB, Ramon Llull University, as well as to the staff Cristina Feixas, Lali Mirapeix, Maria Warith and Jordi Botey and to, Virginia Villa, DPRA EUPRERA. Together you were able to help make these advancements possible in our research in Public Relations and communication and in so doing keep our area of knowledge moving forward.

Dr. Enric Ordeix, Prof. Dr. Valérie Carayol
& Prof. Dr. Ralph Tench
← 15 | 16 →

← 16 | 17 →

PART 1

STRATEGIC PUBLIC RELATIONS, PUBLIC VALUES, AND CULTURAL IDENTITY: OVERVIEW

← 17 | 18 →



← 18 | 19 →

From Integration to Legitimacy

Values and Publics in Public Relations

Jorge DA SILVA

Nuno, ESCS, Portugal

João SIMÃO

ESCS, Portugal

1. Public Relations: The Organizational Political Function

Public Relations planners are in a privileged position in that they interact with organisational publics frequently: their job is to manage and facilitate the communication between the organisation and its publics, sometimes in conjunction with colleagues from elsewhere in the organisation. (Gregory, 2001: 39)

Public Relations provides a strategic role in the organizations core business, through its influence on the decision-making process and monitoring the environment – Public Relations practitioners must therefore be permanently aware of the knowledge, dispositions and behaviours of their publics. Therefore Public Relations is not only a product-promoting function – but it can adopt that function and Public Relations can also encourage Marketing activity. Besides that, all the legitimacy that Public Relations brings to organizations also helps to promote it (Porto Simões, 1991).

Nowadays the Public Relations function cannot only be seen as a “(…) management function which identify, establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between the organization and their publics, form whom depend their success” (Cutlip et al., 1985: 4). The emphasis should be on the strategic role that Public Relations can perform, going beyond the operational role, to occupy a more central place in the organizational core business, allowing the legitimization of the organization’s life in the society.

Therefore it’s urgent to rethink the concept of Public Relations beyond management relations, but also the construction of that same relations and not only the process optimization from a systemic viewpoint – thus, ← 19 | 20 → we refer to a strategical level to allow decisions so the organization can be recognized by a larger number of people. Public Relations as a management function is something that by itself does not allow the organization’s legitimacy we also need to build that legitimacy.

In Public Relations there’s a management and an optimization of processes that cannot be denied because this is a part of their activity, but this does not allow us to have a comprehensive view of the discipline’s entire function, because Public Relations is not limited to such management and process optimization – they are not a communication engineering, they have a political function: ‘Public Relations activity is the management of the organizational’s political function’ (Porto Simões, 1995: 39).

Our core question is: How can Public Relations have a political role in organizations? In this article we argue that Public Relations is a political function that allows an approach by the different publics to the organizations’ core, their values – the centre of the organizations.

2. From Values to Legitimacy: A Process of Integration

In a society there are a wide number of subsystems and organizations. Organizations are complex, dynamic, and define themselves in different temporal and spatial degrees. Part of their diversity is constituted by the various interpretations made by organizational culture. In this variety of interpretations emerge opportunities or problems for organizations. Thus, the relationship management with different publics is critical to the survival of the organization (Hagen, 2009).

An organization is linked to a system of core values, which forms the central zone of the society from which individuals are positioned and are bonded by shared or conflicting values – society itself is the system. This sharing vs. dispute originate an adaptation of different social elements, as an organization, to their contextual needs, in a dynamic logic of mutation from what is expected of their members. This centre is a key element that combines the dominant values (those which are more fundamental and sacred), and exercises a certain authority over the periphery – the periphery can be understood as the relationship of less integration that you can have with the centre.

The existence of an organization implies much more than an economic, political or territorial system, it implies the existence of certain properties which are not merely a list of groups, layers or individuals with certain characteristics. Based on the notion of society by Edward Shils (1992), we consider that this existence implies the connection of these elements with each other and the integration carried out throughout actions, functions and constitutive and central meanings to the organization. Therefore, we propose a new approach: ← 20 | 21 →

VALUES1

INTEGRATION • LEGITIMACY

The values that compose the centre are regulators of all the activity and the organization’s existence. Thus, when the latter is contested, it’s the centre that is a stake and it’s up to the Public Relations to legitimize it.

‘The center dominates and saturates the periphery – at least this is the goal which it aspires and which reaches to a certain extent. Society is becoming more integrated, from the center to the outside, in belief and action’ (Shils, 1992: 103).

Integration can be understood as the process of the society’s unification that tends to be harmonious, based on the order that exists for their members, assuming not only the annulment of conflict but also the development of solidarity, to be done by linking expectation and achievement.

We are concerned not with the enumeration or ranking but with ties or structures that constitute a society from these parts. Integration is the sum of the structural parts; is what makes the whole of society more than the arithmetic sum of their parts. The integration in the society of different components and partnerships represents conditions linked together by

1. The concept of value, while the characteristic that means how important a thing is, as Rokeach (1973) defines: ‘enduring believes that specific modes of contact or and states of existence’ (p. 5) multiple and complex ways. […] Each of them can be present in varying degrees of strength and effectiveness’ (Shils, 1992: 119).

We can say that the relationship with the centre defines the integration of their members, since an action is involving in the terms that it’s successful in approximate the centre and the periphery, i.e., to legitimize their existence. The centre is the only integral power member, because it regulates and executes the only truly integral power of organizational existence. It’s through the recognized values that the constituents revise themselves in it and feel the organization as part of their own.

Thus, there’s a need to communicate what an organization actually is – disappoint the expectations of an audience will inevitably make this particular audience move away from the centre – this justifies the dissatisfaction of a consumer with a product, rising to an approximation of another centre, i.e., being more tempted to choose a product from a direct competitor of this organization.

Publics are not merely contemplative, they create their own reality, choosing one organization over another. This is the foundation for the idea of Public Relations as legitimacy, approaching the publics to the centre: ← 21 | 22 →

Furthermore, the Public Relations professional will be aware of the attitude towards or behaviour of the various stakeholders (or publics) in relation to the wider issues identified in the environment and towards the organisation itself (Gregory, 2001: 39).

Unlike advertising, which works as push, Public Relations act as pull, i.e. the organization does not impose their values but build a platform where these meanings are recognized as legitimate by different publics – that’s the idea of attracting different publics for the centre of the organization. We argue that the organization is a social construction which inserts within a network of individuals who influence each other and are important because they directly or indirectly influence the legitimacy of the organization – from its values. Therefore organizations can take advantage of building relationships with stakeholders who have not a direct interest in the organization, taking advantage of the influence they have on the remaining public recognition, and also strengthening their business as legitimate by sharing common values.

Details

Pages
398
Year
2015
ISBN (PDF)
9783035265279
ISBN (ePUB)
9783035298796
ISBN (MOBI)
9783035298789
ISBN (Softcover)
9782875742513
DOI
10.3726/978-3-0352-6527-9
Language
English
Publication date
2015 (April)
Keywords
Social Media PR Public Relations
Published
Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 398 pp., 33 graphs, 29 tables

Biographical notes

Enric Ordeix (Volume editor) Valérie Carayol (Volume editor) Ralph Tench (Volume editor)

Enric Ordeix has been a member of the Communication Department of Blanquerna School of Communication and International Relations – Ramon Llull University since 1995. He is a member of the research group GRECPRP, Vice-President of the Global Communication Institute and Track Chair of the IABD, International Academy of Business Disciplines. He was the 2013 EUPRERA Congress Chair. Valérie Carayol is full Professor at the Institute of Information and Communication Sciences, Bordeaux Montaigne University. She is the director of the research group MICA dedicated to communication sciences and art and the editor of the French academic journal Communication & Organisation. She is a former President of the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA). Ralph Tench is full Professor of Communication Education and Director of PhD programmes for the Faculty of Business and Law at Leeds Beckett University. He is the former subject head for public relations and communications at Leeds Beckett University and is member of the EUPRERA Board of Directors.

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