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Public Relations Strategy, Theory, and Cases

Praxis at Its Best

Tricia Hansen-Horn and Adam E. Horn

Presenting a robust introduction to public relations strategy, this book helps readers explore their perceptions of what strategy is or might be; highlights influencers of strategic decision making such as distinctions among B2B, B2C, and B2G as well as public relations roles and organization types; discusses the education and training value and limitations of the popular case study; and provides a easy-to-understand overview of four theories important for every "student" (academic and non-academic) of public relations to understand. Excellence theory, contingency theory, rhetorical theory, and social capital theory are introduced. In the spirit of praxis (the application of theory to practice), the authors provide theory-specific and other relevant "keys" for use as the reader seeks to apply what is read to actual public relations cases. As might be expected, highly structured case studies that clearly distinguish between objectives, strategies and tactics are included for the purposes of education and training. The featured set of case studies includes: March of Dimes Rebrand; Inside Pediatrics Children’s Mercy Kansas City; Vanity Fair Women Who Do LiftTOUR; TouchNet + Heartland; WeatherTech Public Relations Super Bowl Ad Buy; ZF Race Reporter/Fan Reporter: Europe, Japan and the US; Pinnacle Not So Silent Night; Lee Jeans—Influencer Relations; Fight CRC One Million Strong Collection; Tips for Kids—Seventeen Years Later; and Dairy Queen’s Fan Food Not Fast Food Campaign: Retrospective Cases Analysis from the Outside.

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Chapter Seven: Value in Applied Theory: Social Capital Theory


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Value in Applied Theory

Social Capital Theory

The ability to practice one- or two-way communication, make decisions based on “it depends,” or organize through marketplace wrangle and contested meaning is viewed by social capital theorists as a product of the social capital associated with an organization. Proponents of social capital theory understand an organization as a network of past, present, developing, and anticipated internal relationships (useful or not useful) that’s very existence depends on its suspension, if you will, within, or overlapping with, broader similar networks of external relationships. An organization’s ability to wield power, rely on relationships of trust in times of crisis, successfully accommodate environmental activist demands, satisfy employees, meet client expectations, adapt to social changes, etc., depends on the kinds of relational networks (social capital) it has inside and outside its own boundaries. Its access to and ability to use its social capital as it works toward its goals is a determinant of how successful it will be. As a result, public relations is generally understood as the engagement and use of, or reliance on, social capital in the pursuit of organizational goals.

Social Capital as a Relational Network Resource

Largely a human trait or capability, social capital is embedded in or the product of relational and networked resources. In short, it’s composed of connections ← 87 | 88 → resulting from communicative interactions at a variety of levels and can be viewed...

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