Strategic Planning for Public Relations / the Public Relations Handbook

Article excerpt

* Smith, Ronald D. (2002). Strategic Planning for Public Relations. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. pp. 344

* Theaker, Alison. (2001). The Public Relations Handbook. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 289

Two new books offer fresh perspectives on the strategic planning practices of public relations and public relations specialties. These are Strategic Planning for Public Relations, by Ronald D. Smith, and The Public Relations Handbook, by Alison Theaker.

Strategic Planning for Public Relations is a welcome new book for the public relations campaigns class. It contains a how-to guide to achieving public relations goals and also integrates current theoretical perspectives and concepts. This undergraduate textbook is about persuasive problem solving. The author addresses the strategic communication versus marketing communication debate head-on and gives us a fresh opinion about actual practice.

The book contains nine chapters, one for each of the steps of the strategic planning process: analyzing the situation; analyzing the organization; analyzing the publics; establishing goals and objectives; formulating action and response strategies; using effective communication; choosing communication tactics; implementing the strategic plan; and evaluating the strategic plan. There are three appendices: how to apply social science research techniques; the ethical standards for public relations; and complete case studies.

Each of the chapters contains a theory-based description of the topic. The author helps apply the theory through a strategic planning exercise. Then, he uses two cases throughout to show the progression of the nine steps.

Each chapter ends by asking students to apply the step to their own cases or clients. By ending each chapter with a consensus check about recommended strategies, the book works well for group projects.

Other campaigns books have similar planning steps. However, the chapters on action and communication strategies have welcomed deeper treatments. Action strategies may be the most important things that public relations people recommend. Smith covers organizational performance, alliances and coalitions, and activism. He includes reactive strategies that must be used in crisis situations. Communication strategies consider the processes of information exchange, persuasion, dialogue, rhetorical principles, and nonverbal communication.

Strategic Planning for Public Relations serves as a reference guide to public relations professionals as well. It is a useful approach to insuring that all of the right questions are answered before proceeding with public relations programs and campaigns. The Public Relations Handbook provides a broad discussion of the field of public relations from the UK perspective. There are four parts: the context of public relations; strategic approaches to public relations; stakeholder public relations; and a section on shaping the future of public relations. …