Vol. 3, No. 2 - Winter 2001


Getting Respect: How the Concept of Public Relations... - Leeora D. Black and Charmine E.J. Hartel
Interactivity, Influence, and Issues Management ... - Elizabeth Dougall, Andrew Fox and Lorelle J.Burton
Describing Best Practice In Producing Publications – Dr Judy Gregory
How World’s Best Public Relations Practice was not, but ... - Steve Mackey
Nil by Mouth: The Devaluation of Oral Communication ... - Collete Snowden
Pictures in New Zealand Annual Reports: Winners and Losers - Keith Hooper, Mary Low and Heidi Kearins
People, Power and Public Relations - Kristin Demetrious
The Relational Approach to Public Relations Theory Development - Catherine Rennie
Stratfor.com: A Case Study - Juliet Roper and Michele Schoenberger - Orgrad

Getting Respect: How the Concept of Public Relations Orientation can Transform the Client-Consultant Relations from an Activity-Based to Results-Based Transaction

 Leeora D. Black and Charmine E.J. Hartel

The concept of public relations orientation (PRO) is advanced as a way of conceptualising public relations practice and transforming consultant approaches to client problems.  Public relations orientation is defined as the possible philosophical stances organisations adopt when relating with publics.  Public relations orientation, therefore, embraces the range of public relations goals, behaviours and transactions pursued by organisations.  The three aspects of PRO and their sub-dimensions were elaborated through analysis of the public relations management literatures.  The article concludes by discussion how consultants can transform the client-consultant transaction model from an adult-child ego state to an adult –adult ego state by using PRO to develop interventions with organisation-level outcomes, rather than the usual program-level outcomes.


Interactivity, Influence, and Issues Management: The Impacts and Implications of Computer-Mediated Communication for Australian Public Relations Practitioners

Elizabeth Dougall, Andrew Fox and Lorelle J.Burton

In December 2000, almost 90% of Australian public relations practitioners reported that computer-mediated communication (CMC) was fundamentally changing the way organisations communicate with their stakeholders.  This paper presents the findings of a national survey of Australian public relations practitioners’ attitudes toward and usage of CMC.  In particular, this study examined practitioner perceptions of CMCs’ impacts on the roles that they enact and the activities that they undertake.  The findings of this survey contribute to establishing Australian’s international position in relation to the integration of computer networks and CMC within the public relations industry.


Describing Best Practice In Producing Publications

Dr Judy Gregory

In this paper, I consider best practice approaches to producing publications in public relations.  Instead of developing best practice guidelines for practitioners to follow, I consider best practice from the perspective of the ultimate judges of a publication’s success – its audiences.  I aim to describe what issues audiences consider as they decide whether a publication is worth the effort of reading.  Through qualitative interviews using real-world publications and an exploration of the research literature, I propose that audiences consider five recognisable issues as they decide whether publications are worth reading.  Understanding the decisions that audiences make as they decide to read is a first step in developing a best practice approach to designing publication in public relations campaigns.

How World’s Best Public Relations Practice was not, but might have been Achieved, in respect of a “Biosolids” (Stabilised Sewage Sludge ) Project

Steve Mackey

This is a case study which criticises the way a water authority has been trying to introduce “biosolids” (stabilised sewage sludge) projects.  Two proposed projects have been abandoned after outcry by communities neighbouring earmarked sites.  At the time of writing a third project was going ahead.  This local scale clash reflects contests which are cropping up globally as water authorities are restricted in their use of land or sea dumping and ordered to introduce environmentally sustainable practices.  The case study ends with a discussion of a strand of cultural theory which might have given the water authority a better understanding of the public issues involved.  The article concludes that understanding cultural theory might assist organisations achieve world best practice in public relations when they face some of the pressing environmental and safety concerns of the 21st century.


Nil by Mouth: The Devaluation of Oral Communication in the Information Age, and the Implications Public Relations Practice and Education

Collete Snowden

New communication technologies have increased the number of methods for delivering and receiving information and for communication between people.  However, at this stage of technological development much of the communication is based on text and data.  This mode of communication has particular benefits, but also has dome disadvantages, specifically the dominance of written forms of communication. Yet, even through oral communication continues to have an essential role it is increasingly undervalued and under-utilised as a ‘tool’ for communication. 

This paper explores some of the practical and theoretical implications of the devaluing of oral communication for the professional practice of public relations and professional education.  It argues for a re-emphasis on orality in association with written communication skills.  It proposes that the value of oral communication must be acknowledged and valued and that a fresh approach to its use in practice and the development of additional skills and methods in conjunction with new technology is required.


Pictures in New Zealand Annual Reports: Winners and Losers

Keith Hooper, Mary Low and Heidi Kearins

The paper examines the role of pictures in selected annual reports.  The essential research question being how much does a company’s share price rise or decline influence the choice of pictures in an annual report?  Can these pictures be explained as being complementary to or reflective of a company’s success or failure in terms of share price?  The small New Zealand share market is dependent for funds on the whims of thousands of small domestic investors.  For most of these scattered investors a company’s annual reports is an important source of tangible contact.  Accordingly, these self-promoting documents are generally expensively produced, well designed and lavishly illustrated.  Pictures with suitable captions may directly depict company operation, staff or customers or even puzzling figurative illustrations.  The aim of the designers seems to be to trumpet the positive and minimise the negative. 

The collection of pictures evaluated is drawn form six companies listed among top twenty New Zealand companies by market capitalisation.  Our method is to select companies, which have added to their market value, others, which have lost market value, and some, which have experience fluctuating market values.  The pictures from the annual reports of each company are then examined over a period of three years (2000, 1999, 1998). Our aim is to see if, and/or how these share price trends are reflected in the illustrations that accompany the narratives.  Our findings indicate that illustrations in annual reports do complement share price trends but in interesting and subtle ways.  It would seem from our small study that illustrations are used to overtly laud gains, while iconic pictures depicting such virtues as endurances, progress and steadfastness may be used to mark losses in share value.


People, Power and Public Relations

Kristin Demetrious

Public relations is conventionally viewed from a corporate perspective.  However, recent events in Victoria have illustrated the fact that grassroots activism holds an increasing share of public relations expertise.  In contemporary Victoria civil activism has advanced a long way from traditional adversarial NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) campaigns and has succeeded in generating both social and cultural change. How does a civil activist approach the complex problem of public relations?  How do they convince publics their arguments are in the interest of the whole community?  Is it is a question of mimicking corporate techniques or has a new style of public relations evolved specific to their needs?  This paper examines a case study in which an outer- suburban grassroots activist group effected significant change in state government and corporate policy. The results challenge the view that public relations is the exclusive tool of large corporations and governments and calls for a redefinition of ‘what is public relations’?


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