Excellence in Public Relations and
A Review of the Theory and Results
Organizations are effective when they have the expertise needed to respond to threats and opportunities in their environment. Although the necessary knowledge varies from situation to situation, organizations typically maintain expertise in several crucial management functions. For example, a perusal of the courses offered in a typical MBA program suggests that corporations need competence in accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, logistics, strategic management, manufacturing, transportation, information systems, and operations research. Most MBA programs also require courses in business and public policy, and a few require courses in communication. Few, if any, however, require courses in public relations—even though communication and public policy are essential components of the public relations function.
Some management theorists such as Hammer and Champy (1993) believe that functional categories of expertise, such as in marketing or public relations, will be less relevant in reengineered or reinvented organizations in which people work in teams to solve problems and to produce products and services. Nevertheless, cross-functional teams still will require different types of expertise even though the people holding that expertise no longer are segregated into departments.
At different times and circumstances, certain types of expertise have been more important than others for the survival and success of organizations—for example, manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution, finance when a takeover is threatened, marketing for new companies, or human resources during downsizing. Mintzberg (1983) pointed out that individuals gain power in and over an organization because of “some dependency that [the organization] has—some gap in its own power as a system… the organization needs something, and it can get it only from the few people who have it” (p. 24). Today, more and more organizations seem to depend on public relations.