The Business of Public Relations

The Business of Public Relations

The Business of Public Relations

The Business of Public Relations


Using systems theory, this volume approaches public relations as an organizational subsystem. The author defines a functional framework for the practice of public relations consistent with contemporary management theory. The book also presents a practice management model for application in both corporate and counselor settings; develops this model to elaborate the role of the PR unit; and meets the development-related informational needs of both organizational and counselor practitioners in terms of human resources management, fiscal services, and insurance.


Academicians have argued for years whether public relations meets the classic definition of a profession. The argument is now being overtaken by events; public relations has achieved maturity, and more. It is a field increasingly populated by professionals; by individuals who adhere to stringent ethical standards; who hold the public good above private gain. Contemporary efforts toward licensure and certification should enable them to purge public relations of less ethical practitioners.

Public relations since the 1960s has been growing at an unprecedented rate. At minimum, it is a business; more appropriately, it might be termed an industry. This trend appears likely to continue.

Larger counseling firms number their employees in the thousands and their revenues in the tens of millions, in one case more than $100 million. Practitioners number in the tens of thousands; some suggest more than 100,000. The combined memberships of the Public Relations Society of America and the International Association of Business Communicators soon will exceed 25,000. Their combined practice budgets almost certainly exceed $1 billion.

Not unlike many professions that have achieved similar size, however, public relations lacks a strong management cadre. Most who lead the nation's largest public relations organizations are practitioners by education, training, and experience. Their successes have been a product of good advice, good fortune, and a great deal of hard work. In many cases their experiences were more painful than need have been the case.

Knowledge of management in public relations practice is limited; most is anecdotal in nature. The Counselor Academy of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has made some progress in this area through a series of monographs and other publications. Unfortunately, the Academy considers this material proprietary and it is available only to members. Requests for permission to reprint portions of its content have been declined.

Individual members of the Academy and others fortunately have been more forthcoming in PRSA seminars and in professional publications. Their descriptions of successful management techniques and this author's experiences during some 20 years of organizational and counselor practice are incorporated into this volume. Traditional and contemporary management techniques in finance, human resources, and other areas were added to complete the work.

This book is an effort to ease the paths of a new generation of public . . .

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