PR 2010 /PR 2011
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Changing Theories of PR
In a wonderful article, "Public Relations: The State of the Field," in the Journal of Communication in December 2004, Carl H. Botan and Maureen Taylor point out some important trends in PR theory.
"The most striking trend in public relations over the past 20 years, we believe, is its transition from a functional perspective to a cocreational one. A functional perspective, prevalent in the early years of the field, sees publics and communication as tools or means to achieve organizational ends. The focus is generally on techniques and production of strategic organization messages....
Research from a functional perceptive has traditionally been concerned with business-oriented topics such as advertising, marketing, and media relations. Under this approach, researchers focus on the use of public relations as an instrument to accomplish specific organizational goals rather than on relationships. Theories of media relations, the information subsidy, agenda setting, and persuasion contribute to this functional perspective (p.651)."
"The cocreational perspective sees publics as cocreators of meaning and communication as what makes it possible to agree to shared meanings, interpretations, and goals. This perspective is long term in its orientation and focuses on relationships among publics and organizations....
Examples of cocreational research include the shift to organizational-public relationships, community theory, coorientation theory, accommodation theory, and dialogue theory, but the most researched cocreational theory is symmetrical/excellence theory (p652)."
See: Grunig, J. E. (1992). Excellence in public relations and communication management.
Botan and Soto in an article in Public Relations Review in 1988 give a cocreational definition of a public and meaning interpretation:
"We can best understand a public as an ongoing process of agreement upon an interpretation, and that during this process a public may well develop an interpretation that is more sophisticated, insightful, and socially linked than the understanding with which the practitioner/client started (p.21)."
The Impact of the Internet on PR
Other changes include: