Public Relations and Strategic Management

Topics: Public relations, Strategic management, Management Pages: 49 (9965 words) Published: December 4, 2012
Journalism Studies, Volume 1, Number 2, 2000, pp. 303–321

Public Relations in Strategic Management and
Strategic Management of Public Relations: theory
and evidence from the IABC Excellence project

University of Maryland, USA

ABSTRACT This article establishes the case for public relations as a critical component of an organization’s strategic management processes and of the subsequent strategic management of public relations in an effective organization. The article begins with an elaboration of a theory of the value of strategic management in public relations. Qualitative and quantitative results of the IABC Research Foundation’s Excellence project, presented next, con rmed the importance of strategic public relations in helping make organizations effective. The involvement of public relations in strategic management consistently was the best predictor of excellent public relations in the 323 organizations studied. Both CEOs and communication managers in organizations with excellent public relations departments believed the function contributes more to organizational effectiveness than did those with less-excellent departments. However, the research also showed that “strategic management” means different things to different practitioners of the eld and that most public relations departments do not practice public relations strategically. Interviewees in effective public relations operations explained the value of their work primarily in building relationships with strategic publics. KEY WORDS: Excellence, Public Relations, Strategic Management

Since 1985, we have been part of a
team of six researchers who have conducted research, funded by the International Association of Business Communicators
Foundation, on the characteristics of
excellent public relations departments
and on how such departments make
their organizations more effective. After
completing an initial literature review,
we conducted research on more than
300 organizations in the United States,
Canada and the United Kingdom to
determine if organizations actually
practice public relations in the way described by our theory of excellence and to look for evidence that excellent public relations makes organizations more

effective. Preliminary results of our research have been published in two publications issued by the IABC Research Foundation (Grunig et al., 1991, 1994; and in a book written primarily for
public relations practitioners, the Manager’s Guide to Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management (Dozier et al., 1995). A third and nal book reporting the complete
results of the study is in preparation.
The result of this research is a theory
that consists of several generic principles that seem to apply throughout the world, although we believe that these
concepts must be applied differently in
different cultures and political–economic systems. The theory also applies

ISSN 1461-670X Print/ ISSN 1469-9699 Online/ 00/020303-19 Ó 2000 Taylor & Francis Ltd


in different organizational settings such
as government agencies, corporations,
non-pro t organizations and associations. In short, the theory offers a conceptual framework for a professional culture of public relations which, with
appropriate applications and revisions
in different organizational and national
cultures, is a fundamental component
of effective management throughout
the world.
We began our study of excellent
public relations by addressing the research question posed in a “Request for Proposals” issued by the IABC Research Foundation: How, why and to what extent does communication contribute to the achievement of organizational objectives? When we began the research, however, the members of the

research team realized that the one
question posed by the IABC Foundation— the effectiveness question— was not enough. We knew that many
organizations do not manage...
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