Public Relations as Relationship Management
Many authors have specialised in the field of Relationship Management, such as Ledingham, Jahansoozi and Fawkes, and all give their fair share of reasons as to why it is important. For example, Ledingham (2003, p190) writes that Relationship Management is a theory which "results in mutual understanding and benefit for interacting organizations and publics." It is in Ledingham's view that having a good relationship with the public will work in the favor of any organisation. However there is perhaps much more to Relationship Management than Ledingham writes. Some argue that Relationship Management is so important, that it indeed defines Public Relations itself, such as Grunig and Hunt (1984, p6), who reference Relationship Management when they define Public Relations as "management of communication between organization and its publics." No matter what the definition, it has been argued that Relationship Management is a must for an organisation such as The Engine Shed, which has many publics to deal with on a day to day basis.
In order to define the issues that The Engine Shed need help with, the quality of the cafe's Organisation-Public relationship must be measured. This view is shared by Ledingham (2003, p470), who believes that defining the Organisation-Public relationship is very useful for "determining the impact of public relations initiatives." This, effectively, would be helpful to see what Public Relations tactics would be best for The Engine Shed. Ledingham had backed up his assumption on the Organisation-Public relationship earlier in his article, yet does not offer any alternative views, nor does he provide a reason for their exclusion. Fortunately, most authors agree that determining the relationship level between an organisation and their publics is needed when dealing with Public Relations. Jo et al (2004, p15) claim that relationship building is of a high importance to Public Relations, and agree that "more empirical research is required to identify the specific components to use when assessing public relationships." Jo then goes on to cover a case study conducted by Hon and Grunig (1999), which measured the theory of Public Relations between an organisation and its publics, and then even came up with their own means of measuring Organisation-Public relationships.
The relationship between the Engine Shed and its publics should be measured by either Ledingham and Bruning's Five Dimensions (1997, p23) or Jo et al's Organisation-Public measurement (2004, p17) which has been mentioned briefly already. There are many differences and many similarities between the two theories, which have been disputed by many writers. For example, both theories agree that "trust" and "commitment" are two absolute essentials for measuring the relationship between organizations and their publics.
The role of trust in an Organisation-Public relationship has been widely agreed as important by many critics. Indeed, Huang (1998, p3) believes that an Organisation-Public relationship is built on trust, by defining the relationship as “the degree that the organisation and its publics trust one another.” The purpose of this definition of trust is very clear, as it establishes trust as a major factor in determining the quality of a relationship. Huang makes it clear that if publics don’t trust an organisation...