Public Relations as Relationship Management: A Relational Approach to the Study and Practice of Public Relations

Public Relations as Relationship Management: A Relational Approach to the Study and Practice of Public Relations

Public Relations as Relationship Management: A Relational Approach to the Study and Practice of Public Relations

Public Relations as Relationship Management: A Relational Approach to the Study and Practice of Public Relations

Synopsis

The emergence of relationship management as a paradigm for public relations scholarship and practice requires a close examination of just what is achieved by public relations--its definition, function and value, and the benefits it generates. Initiated by the editors' interest in cross-disciplinary exploration, this volume evolved to its current form as a result of the need for a framework for understanding public relations and the potential impact of organization-public relationships on the study, practice, and teaching of public relations. Ledingham and Bruning include contributions that present state-of-the-art research in relationship management, applications of the relational perspective to various components of public relations, and the implications of the approach to influence further research and practice. The discussion conducted here is certain to influence and promote future theory and practice on the concept of relationship management.

Excerpt

Public relations is a field more often characterized by what it does than what it is. Ask a practitioner to define the field and the likely response is a listing of the activities that are included under the rubric of public relations: publicity, press agentry, advertising, events management, media relations and so on. Moreover, many public relations professionals seem to perceive that the production and dissemination of communication messages is the answer to every public relations problem (Ledingham & Bruning, 1998a). As others have noted, the end result of that view is "communication [that] is simply functionary, the generation of messages as an end in themselves, a perpetual motion machine, squirting ink" (Broom, 1986). Moreover, a misplaced emphasis on communication production and dissemination can lead to a basic confusion as to the purpose of public relations, and a tendency to measure programmatic initiatives in terms of communication output rather than in relational or behavioral outcomes.

A BRIEF HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

Public relations traces its beginnings to the late 1800s. However, the field began to emerge as a powerful corporate toot in the early 20th century as industrial and business leaders, under attack by a new breed of investigative journalists termed muck . . .

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