Vol. 1, No. 1 - Summer 1999


A Systems Based Analysis of Public Affairs ... - Craig S Fleisher
Against Grand Narratives: Localised Knowledges ... - Judy Motion & Shirley Leitch
Requisitioning Variety: Photographic Metaphors ... - Debashish Munshi
Organisational Creativity: The Views of Hong Kong ...- Richard A. Ruidl, PhD
Public Relations Practitioners: An Endangered Species? - Caitlin Foster

A Systems Based Analysis of Public Affairs as a Strategic Communication Function

Craig S Fleisher*

This paper reviews the practices of those individuals who have the primary responsibility for managing the relationship between their organisations and the macro environment. This paper reviews existing scholarship and synthesises it using a systems based approach in order to (1) identify how public affairs is defined in a number of different contexts, (2) describe and apply a systems based framework for analysing developments in the function, (3) examine trends in the management of public affairs, and (4) provide some highlights that demonstrate how the function has evolved using survey data generated in Australia, Canada, the European Union (EU), and United States (US).


Against Grand Narratives: Localised Knowledges of Public Relations

Judy Motion & Shirley Leitch*

This offers an exploration of the unique features of New Zealand public relations. We focus, in particular, on the following features: the history of public relations; the development of public relations education; and international and multicultural issues for practitioners. We argue that there is a need to consider how the practice of public relations differs so that rigorous theoretical foundations may be established that are relevant for international public relations scholarship.


Requisitioning Variety: Photographic Metaphors, Ethnocentric Lenses, and the Divided Colours of Public Relations

Debashish Munshi*

The concept of requisite variety has increasingly featured in recent theoretical work on public relations. A metaphor borrowed from the realm of photography, requisite variety emphasises the importance of diversity in public relations in the context of organisational effectiveness. However, just as photography is as much about the construction of reality as it is about the reflection of reality, the use of requisite variety is as much about controlling diversity as it is about acknowledging the importance of diversity in the internal and external publics of an organisation.

This paper argues that the contextual framing of requisite variety in public relations literature tends to consolidate control in the hands of a western cultural elite and, in the process, impedes the progress of multiculturalism in public relations. In facing the challenge of upgrading public relations consideration of diversity issues, the paper proposes that public relations should draw on material from other disciplines to reconfigure the field from a more multicultural perspective.


Organisational Creativity: The Views of Hong Kong Public Relations Professionals

Richard A. Ruidl, PhD*

This article reports what public relations professionals in Hong Kong say about organisational creativity. Creativity, as generated and practiced in the work place, is considered the main source of value in today's economy. The exploratory research question posed is: whether differences exist in the ways more open, more innovative, more experienced, less cautious, right brain oriented public relations professionals perceive organisational commitment to creativity vis a vis their counterparts? Also examined is organisational size and its relationship to creativity.

A detailed survey was administered to members of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)/ Hong Kong chapter. Respondents were asked a series of stems about organisational creativity to which they could agree or disagree. Also included were two scales. One scale measured brain hemispheric tendencies. The other looked at innovation as a collective construct of openness and caution. Finally, demographics related to years of experience and size of organisations were assessed.

The findings indicate some apparent differences between public relations professionals on a number of salient issues of organisational creativity. For instance, as compared to those working in larger organisations, public relations professionals in smaller organisations agree that their colleagues are more creatively supportive. Right brain oriented public relations professionals feel their organisations provide more brainstorming opportunities. Those who declare themselves more open believe their organisations provide special times just for creative thinking. And those saying they are innovative report they work in organisations with fewer "rules" about creativity. No differences distinguishing between more experienced and less experienced.


Public Relations Practitioners: An Endangered Species?

Caitlin Foster*

The article reports on a major finding from the fifth year of a longitudinal quantitative research project into the public relations labour market in Sydney.

Since 1994 the percentage of employers placing job advertisements for public relations practitioners in major newspapers who want to recruit practitioners possessing experience performing public relations tasks in their particular industry has fluctuated dramatically. In 1998, demand peaked at an alarming 78% of employers. The author argues that the trend of employers demanding industry specific experience is dangerous to the continued development of public relations as a profession.

This demand is creating critical shortages of public relations practitioners, especially at the senior level, in key industries. The author contends employer demand will backfire on them, and the profession as a whole, and details the potential consequences if the trend continues. She advances preliminary ideas for ways to combat the problem, based on her experience as a recruiter of public relations practitioners in key Australian markets and also on observation of methods used in the United States, and urges practitioners to educate employers for the benefit of all.

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