Inside the Organization:
Culture, Structure, Systems
of Internal Communication,
Gender, and Diversity
Public relations practitioners working in or for organizations are professionals whose role is to establish and maintain a system of communication within that organization and between that organization and stakeholders in the environment. An organization and its environment constitute a system, however; and systems theory tells us that all parts of a system and its environment interact and influence one another. Being part of a system makes professionalism difficult because the interactions that characterize systems produce constraints on professional behavior. The systemic nature of organizations is especially important for communication managers because they must work for and with most other subsystems in and around the organization.
Professionals are most free to carry out their professional roles when they face little interference from clients or employers who want to impose what often are nonprofessional behaviors on them. The excellence of a public relations function, therefore, does not depend on the knowledge and behavior of public relations professionals alone. How communicators behave depends greatly on their interaction with other people in the organization and with strategic constituencies in the environment. In chapter 10, we examined the effect of the environment—of activists in particular—on public relations. In this chapter, we examine the interactions of public relations with internal groups and processes.
As we explore the organizational context in which public relations must function in this chapter, we also devote particular attention to the system of internal communication in the organization and to the context for women. On the one hand, internal communication is one of the most important specialties of public relations. Without internal communication, organizations would not develop structures and cultures. Internal communication, therefore, is the force that produces the context in which a public relations department must function.