Chapter 4- Public Relations Departments and Firms

Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics by Wilcox & Cameron (

In a changing environment, and faced with the variety of pressures previously described, executives increasingly see public relations not as publicity and one-way communication, but as a complex and dynamic process of negotiation and compromise with a number of key publics.

Line and Staff Functions

Traditional management theory divides an organization into line and staff functions. A line manager, such as a vice president of manufacturing, can delegate authority, set production goals, hire employees, and directly influence the work of others. Staff people, in contrast, have little or no direct authority.

Advertising: Advertising public relations departments often collide because they compete for funds to communicate with the external audiences.

Marketing: Like advertising, tends to think only of customers or potential buyers as key publics. Public relations, on the other hand, defines publics in a broad way-any group the can have an impact on the operations of the organization. These publics include governmental agencies, environmental groups, neighborhood groups, and many other publics that marketing would consider customers.

Public Relations Firms-Services

  • Marketing communications- This involves promotion of products and services through such tools as news releases, feature stories, special events, brochures, and media tours.
  • Executive speech training- Top executives are coached on public affairs activities, including personal appearances.
  • Research and evaluation- Scientific surveys are conducted to measure public attitudes and perceptions.
  • Crisis communication- Management is counseled on what to say and do in an emergency.
  • Media analysis- Appropriate media are examined for targeting specific messages to key audiences.
  • Community relations- Management is counseled on ways to achieve official and public support for such projects as building or expanding.
  • Events management- News conferences, anniversary celebrations, rallies, symposiums, and national conferences are planned and conducted.
  • Public affairs- Materials and testimony are prepared for government hearings and regulatory bodies, and background briefings are prepared.
  • Branding and corporate reputation- Advice is given on programs that establish a company brand and its reputation for quality.
  • Financial relations- Management is counseled on ways to avoid takeover by another firm and effectively communicate with stockholders, security analysts, and institutional investors.


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Filed under COMM 2322, Reading Notes

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