Conference PaperPDF Available

Effective media-monitoring reports: Framing, measurement and evaluation

Conference Paper

Effective media-monitoring reports: Framing, measurement and evaluation

Abstract

Producing proper media-monitoring reports are essential for PR specialists as well as for media-researchers. As for Journalists and associates, they can apply this researchbased knowledge to become more result-oriented. Research Question: what are the elements that exist in the story or event and cause positive or negative media reflection, framing of the news? Hypothesis 1: The elements that influence on media tone are in correlation with each other and the more elements/symbols exist in the story, the more influence they have on media-coverage. Hypothesis 2: These elements might be used during event-planning, agenda-setting for adjusting the media stance of the relevant organization and framing the positive or negative media-positioning. Hypothesis 3: There could be some correlation between the relevant organization’s pro activeness, which shapes the organization’s niche in the media, and the negative news niche about the organization. The goal of the research: identify the indicators/elements, that cause the positive or negative make up of the media content. Also, provide the recommendations for mediaresearchers, as well as for PR specialists and journalists. Methods: using quantitative and content-based analysis, more than 10,000 news stories covering the fields of Education and Science, in broadcast media have been analyzed. Findings: based on the research the main elements that cause positive and/or negative coverage in the media have been identified. According to the findings of the survey 12 positive and 12 indicators/element had been detected. These elements in the study have the unique name: “Magic 12”. Research limitations: the research observes the only branch – education and science, and shows the particles of event-planning, which might be suitable or not for any other context, branch and environment. Future research context: conduct the survey to determine major and minor elements, that are more or less significant for the public. With the additional help of a custom-made pattern and coding system it becomes easier to analyse the relevant organization’s stance in particular news network and efficiency of media-relations, as well as assessing the media-product itself (accuracy of coverage) and the company’s result vector (in setting the agenda). Efficiency of the above mentioned media-monitoring reports were tested and applied in Georgia’s Ministry of Education and Science in 2007-09.
Competing identities:
The state of play of PR
in the 2010s
Edited by Ferran Lalueza, David McKie, and Jordi Xifra
Competing identities:
The state of play of PR
in the 2010s
Editors:
Ferran Lalueza
Open University of Catalonia
David McKie
University of Waikato
Jordi Xifra
Pompeu Fabra University
Editorial UOC
Editorial UOC
ISBN: 978-84-9788-538-6
Proceedings of the Barcelona Meeting COM #1: International PR 2011 Conference
Barcelona, 28 and 29 June 2011
http://www.uoc.edu/symposia/meetingcom2011/index_eng.html
5
Contents
Presentation .................................................................................................................... 7
Agency, reflective CSR management, and stakeholder participation: The
Stockholm Accords and the communicative organization
Robert L. Heath, Finn Frandsen, and Winni Johansen .................................................... 9
Communicating with national stakeholders: Lessons for public relations from
advertising in two different nations
Fabrice Desmarais, and David McKie ........................................................................... 29
Working woman/PR professional: The multi-faceted identities of women working
in public relations
Christine Daymon, and Anne Surma ............................................................................. 39
Effective media-monitoring reports: Framing, measurement and evaluation
Mariam Gersamia .......................................................................................................... 51
Instruments of public diplomacy in the promotion of Poland
Marta Ryniejska-Kiełdanowicz ..................................................................................... 59
Communication and Web 2.0: New skills, new professionals / Comunicación y web
2.0: Nuevas competencias, nuevos profesionales (paper in Spanish)
Carmen Silva, and Gloria Jiménez ................................................................................ 79
Acknowledgments ........................................................................................................ 93
6
7
Presentation
The end of the first decade of the 21st century has been marked by significant shifts in
the power, practice, and theory of public relations. Alongside the continuing global
expansion of connectivity, ecological degradation, and social media, more recent events
– such as the global economic downturn and changing public attitudes to business – are
creating different operating conditions. Academically, the rise of different voices in
journals, books, and research has been paralleled by the declining power of the ruling
paradigm of late 20th century public relations. The old centre has not held and a
diversity of opinion that is less insular, and more socially concerned, continues to
emerge. These newer voices differ on perceptions of present, past, and future – not only
are there disagreements on what public relations is now, but on what public relations
has been, and on what public relations might be. In examining public relations and
identity construction in these more visibly competitive and uncertain times, Barcelona
Meeting COM #1: International PR 2011 Conference looked beyond business
competition to competition between nations and cities, between practitioners in different
professions, and between different academic disciplines.
The conference invited a wide range of contributions: that reflect, and that reflect on,
the spectrum of possibilities of these conditions; that address current issues and trends;
and that speculate on future pathways. This book includes a selected group of papers
that were presented at the International PR 2011 Conference.
David McKie, Jordi Xifra, and Ferran Lalueza
Conference co-chairs
8
9
Agency, reflective CSR management, and stakeholder participation:
The Stockholm Accords and the communicative organization
Robert L. Heath (University of Houston, rheath@uh.edu), Finn Frandsen (Aarhus
University, ff@asb.dk), and Winni Johansen (Aarhus University, wj@asb.dk)
Abstract
At the World Public Relations Forum (2010) in Sweden, authors of the Stockholm
Accords drew upon public relations and communication management (PR/CM) theory
and best practices to define, recommend, and promulgate performance standards to
foster the “communicative organization” (CO) as vital to achieving sustainability. That
project is challenging for several reasons. (1) All too frequently, academics and
practitioners do not collaborate to solve daunting professional problems, let alone one
that has societal implications this vast. (2) The Accords, as a companion to Vision 2050
(World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2010), framed the challenge as
one confronting management policies along with requirements of the CO. PR/CM can
help achieve sustainability by making organizations more communicative as a
precondition toward sustainability. To do so, the current emphasis on processes of
communication needs to shift to feature discourse, shared (co-created) meaning, and the
agency of society as a force for collaborative decision making. The challenge before us
as academics and professionals is to assure that the communication effort to achieve
sustainability is sufficiently grounded to achieve that mission and vision.
Introduction
All too often applied projects and even academic work only analyze means for making
organizations effective without addressing how communication and management
combine to make society more fully functioning (Heath, 2006). Sustainability demands
a macro-level approach; it can only be achieved if sound science, management, politics,
economics, and communication combine to make society fully functional. Success,
therefore, is not an organizational management challenge per se, but that of many voices
collaborating for a sustainable world. To that end, we ask whether paradigm shifts and
innovative approaches to PR/CM are needed beyond what is reflected in the Accords if
PR/CM is to perform optimally to help define and collaboratively achieve sustainability.
May it be that the focus of the Accords should shift to address the communicative
society (a more sociological view) made so through the communicative organization?
Discussion of the nature and role of PR/CM in achieving the vision of sustainability
aspires to add understanding of and learning applications resulting from tensions
between effective stakeholder participation and managerial standards of CSR (de Bussy,
2005, 2008, 2010; Heath, 2010). As such, this discussion needs to focus on multiple
voices, competing interest dialogue as a societal challenge. It presumes collaborative
engagement that leads to aligned interests, as opposed to unfair, unequal, and unsafe
risk and resource allocation.
10
Thus, this paper reasons that the Accords are a work in progress; they need to be refined
and extended through careful consideration of cutting edge research and theory that
require various paradigm shifts. In the crafting of its central theme, the paper starts with
a brief review of Vision 2050 to set the managerial, technical, socioeconomic, and
political challenges that motivate the project. It continues with a review of the current
status of the Accords’ reasoning on the communicative organization and progresses to
consider a situational analysis of the conditions that confront the effort, including
premises relevant to a fully functioning society. Finally, brief attention is given to major
theories to determine how and what they contribute to meeting the challenge of
transforming business, quality of life, and sustainable resource use.
The paper argues that theory and best practices should focus on how to make society
resilient in the transformation to a new shared reality needed to achieve sustainability.
In such an endeavor, PR/CM processes are important, but discourse quality is the
ultimate challenge. To achieve sustainability, discourse needs to envision and achieve a
new, shared reality regarding resources and their use. As such, no organization can be
more agentic than its ability to work with other voices toward a new socially
constructed reality. Until the global society can collectively imagine the requirements
and means for change, the processes of change will lack coherence and likely fail.
Vision 2050
Taking the lead to develop a global sustainability plan, the World Business Council for
Sustainable Development (WBCSD) (2010) crafted Vision 2050. It is intended to be a
comprehensive plan, a pathway that will require fundamental changes in governance
structures, economic frameworks, business and human behavior. It emerged that these
changes are necessary, feasible and offer tremendous business opportunities for
companies that turn sustainability into strategy” (p. v). It seeks to establish a “platform
for dialogue—not a blueprint” (p. v). The key word is dialogue, the essential challenge
facing the CO; the context is societal agency.
In its Vision, the WBCSD invites “all stakeholders—business, government and civil
society—to join the exploration and effort” (p. v). Those challenges start with
population growth and resource availability, needs and distribution. It centers on current
patterns and policies of resource development, distribution and use. Changes will be
required in how business and government operates, as well as how individuals act
collectively. The effort will require partnerships between businesses, government, and
NGO’s as well as daunting changes in society’s expectations and resource use: framed
as a shared vision. As a call to managements, the Vision not only identifies problems
but also focuses attention on business opportunities that arise from private sector
solutions to this problem, in conjunction and collaboration with the other forces of
society.
The accords: understanding and championing the communicative organization
Meeting the challenge of sustainability requires knowing what discourse and
infrastructural constraints work against and what leverage points facilitate overcoming
the most serious challenge of the risk society (Douglas, 1992; Beck, 1992, 1999). As
11
such, it is necessary to frame the project imagined in the Accords as relevant to resource
dependency and neo-institutional organizational theories. However, the issue is not
merely the resources needed for one organization to exist, survive, and thrive, but rather
those required for collective management of risk central to societal and global
sustainability: the conditions of a resilient society.
To that end, the Accords focus on sustainability as consisting of two challenges. The
first “depends on balancing today’s demands with the ability to meet future needs based
on economic, social and environmental dimensions” (p. 2). Thus, the first step toward
sustainability is to collectively understand and consider (among organizations and
across populations and nations) resource availability, dependence, and sharing. The CO
requires a rationale based on reflective management theory, neo-institutional theory, and
resource dependency theory; the adequacy of the theory basis for change is assessed by
the degree to which innovation and shared visions of change can be co-created. To that
end, it is likely insufficient to merely focus on the availability of information, however
essential that is, to also work to create a shared sense of the premises by which data are
analyzed and resilient change imagined.
That analysis supports the definition offered in the Accords. “The communicative
organization assumes leadership interpreting sustainability as a transformational
opportunity to improve its competitive positioning by pursuing and constantly reporting
on the achievement of its sustainability policies across the economic, social and
environmental ‘triple bottom line’” (p. 2). This description of the communicative
organization focuses primarily on the agentic nature of the organization, and does not
include well-defined challenges that require collaboration with other organizations,
populations, and nations to increase the full functioning of society, the agency of
community. It also presumes that each PR/CM officer is likely to “monitor” no more
than “10% of its communicative behaviour” (p. 12). In that effort, such individuals play
a political role that supports and provides “the organization’s leadership with the
necessary, timely and relevant information which allows it to effectively govern the
value networks as well as an intelligent, constant and conscious effort to understand the
relevant dynamics of society at large” (p. 12). These individuals are also expected to
perform a contextual role, “the constant delivery of communicative skills, competencies
and tools to the components of its value networks so that they may improve their
relationships amongst each other and with the other value networks” (p. 12).
As explained in its Glossary, the Accords reject or refine Michael Porter’s value chain
model. The Accords call for a value chain model that “stems today from fuzzy (not
linear) and immaterial networks that normally disrupt the distinction between internal
and external publics.” “The value in itself is based on the quality of the relationships
existing between the various components of each network and on the quality of the
relationships which exist between the various networks” (p. 12). It is not even more the
quality of discourse that arises from high quality relationships? Sustainability cannot be
achieved without high quality relationships, but relationships alone will not suffice.
The accords: challenge and solution
The Stockholm Accords are the product of collaboration between 985 PR/CM industry
leaders from 32 different countries. They were endorsed by the World Public Relations
12
Forum in Stockholm, Sweden, on June 15, 2010 (www.globalalliancepr.org). The
Accords builds a rationale for the communicative organization (CO) by featuring key
supporting sections: Sustainability, Governance, Management, Internal and External
Communication, Coordination of these contexts, followed by a “Stockholm Accords
Glossary.”
The Accords were created and promulgated to “enhance and affirm the central role of
Public Relations and Communication Management in organizational success.” As such,
they form part of a “professional project” (Larson, 1977). The document was intended
to help associations, managers, consultants, students, educators, and researchers “to
administer its principles on a sustained basis and to affirm them through the profession,
as well as to management and other relevant stakeholder groups” (p. 1).
The structure of the document features key parts, starting with Sustainability. To make
organizations communicative the effort must be broad, rather than narrow. PR/CM
professionals are expected to:
Involve and engage key stakeholders in the organization’s sustainability policies
and programs.
Interpret societal expectations for sound economic, social and environmental
commitments that yield a return to the organization and society.
Ensure stakeholder participation to identify information that should be regularly,
transparently and authentically reported.
Promote and support efforts to reach an ongoing integrated reporting of
financial, social, economic and environmental. (p. 2)
This list does not include several essential themes and challenges, perhaps the most
important is to change attitudes and expectations. The document assumes an essential
role for information generation and sharing, but it fails to acknowledge the need for
shared meaning and premises (the stuff of attitudes and values) which allow for
collective, collaborative decision making. This challenge can be framed as collective
decisions to establish relevant and appropriate CSR standards. The sorts of changes in
attitudes and values needed are those imagined in Vision 2050: “Fundamental changes
in governance structures, economic frameworks, business and human behavior” (p. v).
CSR standards, one of the pillars of strategic issues management (SIM), explicitly relate
to businesses’ (and other organizations’) license to operate. The challenge of achieving
sustainability is and will likely become an even more important element of each license
to operate as the years go on and the effort continues.
Following discussion of Sustainability as a foundation for setting PR/CM’s value , The
Accords featureseveral functional headings: Governance, Management, Internal
Communication, External Communication, and Coordination of Internal and External
Communications. Section Four of the document discusses means for implementing the
Accords; it highlights key topics: Objective, evaluation and measurement and a
challenge to participants to consider how to implement the plan. Section Five offers a
glossary. All of this is a call to action. What follows is a brief recap of the sections and
their conclusions/recommendations.
PR/CM personnel are to be part of the governance teams needed to decide and
implement stakeholder relationship policies. This challenge combines, in very board
13
scope, the need for effective relationship management, knowledge of how to foster
stakeholder participation, and ability to monitor relevant to relationship quality,
stakeholder participation, and CSR standards. If done well, governance can help each
organization “to promptly identify and deal with the opportunities and risks that can
impact the organization’s direction, action and communication” (p. 3). Such SWOT
analysis presumes the need for nimble and vigilant management.
The Accords requires businesses to operate under “the stakeholder governance model.”
PR/CM practitioners are expected to help organizations’ governance to be reflective by
understanding the challenge of stakeholder relationships, as well as “defining
organizational values, principles, strategies, policies and processes” (p. 3). Planning
must be sensitive to “stakeholders’ and society’s expectations as a basis for decisions”
(p. 3). Practitioners are expected to foster high quality relationships “by enhancing
transparency, trustworthy behaviour, authentic and verifiable representation, thus
sustaining the organization’s ‘license to operate’” (p. 3).
Thus, the Accords prescribes the standard SIM requirement that organizations need the
matrixed ability to monitor issues and scout the terrain where they operate (see Heath
and Palenchar, 2009). The objective of surveillance is “to promptly identify and deal
with the opportunities and risks that can impact the organization’s direction, action and
communication” (p. 3). Each organization’s governance is to have solid issue
monitoring functions and structures to be able to read and adapt to changing
sociopolitical conditions that define its operating environment. Each organization is
expected to listen, adapt, and adjust.
This governance principle captures the essence of reflective management theory, but
does so with a bias toward a view of management as cybernetic change management.
Thus, this theoretical foundation supports the challenge to create and manage
infrastructural systems needed for monitoring, assimilating, and adapting to external
pressures that define the resource allocations on which each organization depends. The
outcome of stakeholder empowerment is each organization’s ability to hold and use
resources in exchange for progress toward sustainability.
Management: These guidelines are essential for fostering sound management.
Management’s efforts and obligations are best met with having and using timely
information, and in operating in a communicative manner. To do so, it “acts on the
principle that it is in the organization’s interest to be sensitive to the legitimate concerns
of stakeholders, as well as balanced with wider societal expectations” (p. 4).
What does this challenge ask of PR/CM professionals? A partial answer is the now
stock, but highly simplistic, call for two-way communication. In addition, the CO is
expected to “communicate the value of the organization’s products/services and
relationships with stakeholders thereby creating, consolidating and developing its
financial, legal, relational and operational capital” (p. 4). PR/CM is called on to help
solve organizational issues, especially those specific to stakeholder relationships.
Part of that challenge calls for integrated or marketing communication, in support of
products and services. One of the problematic themes in public relations theory is
whether public relations includes marketing communication and, if so, in what manner.
It also seems that the Accords’ management requirement calls for efforts to make the
14
organization more effective as an organization as a precondition to its being able to
focus on stakeholder relationships.
The Accords challenges the communicative organization (CO) to engage in strategic
Internal and External Communication. Effective internal communication is needed to
enhance “recruitment, retention, development of common interests, and commitment to
organizational goals by an increasingly diverse, extended and segmented set of
‘internal’ publics” (p. 5). Without explicitly using the term, this requirement calls for
PR/CM to be central in the efforts to make each organization effective through its
culture. The CO exhibits a constructive culture. It depends on shared knowledge and
policy. It needs processes and structures that are constantly refined and refocused. It
assumes a collaborative, participative management style. Not only does this make the
organization smarter and more nibble, but also enhances its reputation.
Under the external communication challenge, PR/CM is expected to understand the
relevant network, infrastructural, opportunities and threats. This requires the ability to
“review and adjust” “policies, actions and communicative behavior to improve their
relationships with increasingly influential stakeholders, as well as with society at large”
(p. 6). Externally, the challenge is to nurture relationships with all stakeholders. Thus,
PR/CM professionals are called on to:
Bring the organization’s “voice” into stakeholder deliberations and decisions.
Assist all organizational functions in crafting and delivering effective
communication.
Contribute to the development and promotion of products, services or processes
that strengthen brand loyalty and equity.
Such prescriptions seem to mix various theoretical approaches and strategic
options. These prescriptions include marketing communication that could be
more fully integrated theoretically into the communicative challenges discussed.
The balance is to engage—listen, appreciate, and incorporate others ideas into
each organization’s mission/vision and strategic planning. Although more
implied than explicitly stated, engaged stakeholder participation opens the door
for CO’s to employ a full range of communication tools and strategies that lead
to collaboration, joint decision making, co-created meaning, shared visions,
informed decisions, and enlightened conclusions based on appropriate attitudes,
shared decision premises and evaluations.
Thus, coordinating internal and external communication sets as a major requirement of
the CO’s ability to be a “multi-faceted, multi-stakeholder, inter-relational enterprise,
concurrently engaging several value networks concurrently and often involving diverse
legal frameworks” (p. 7).
Managements, through communication practitioners, are advised to coordinate internal
and external communications, to achieve value networks, and to do so within diverse
legal frameworks. In this regard, the CO is expected to use a narrativist perspective to
ensure full consistency of its storytelling by balancing global transparency, finite
resources, and time sensitive demands dealing with fast moving inside/outside changes
and new conflicts of interests that emerge from multiple stakeholder participation.
Communication with internal, boundary, and external stakeholders is coherent and
coordinated with the organization’s mission, vision, values as well as its actions and
behavior.
15
Four actions were called on in this regard:
Oversee the development and implementation of internal and external
communications to assure consistency of content and accurate presentation of
the organization’s identity.
Research, develop, monitor and adjust the organization’s communicative
behavior.
Create and nurture a knowledge base that includes social and psychological
sciences.
Manage and apply research to implement evaluation and measurement programs
for continued improvement.
Section Five of the Accords provides a glossary of key terms. How these terms are
defined sheds light onto the philosophy and theory of PR/CM expressed elsewhere in
the document. Much of what is a gloss in other parts of the Accords becomes clearer
and more available for assessment in the glossary. As such, the document takes an
agentic view of the CO. To wit, it defines stakeholder governance as pressing
executives, “in the case of conflicts between contrasting stakeholder group
expectancies,” to decide “which of them needs to be taken more into account, on the
basis of a thorough listening of their diverse expectations” (p. 12). As a companion to
this, the glossary defines stakeholders as “those active publics that are aware and
interested in dialogue with the organization because its activities bear consequences on
them and/or whose activities bear consequences on the organization” (p. 13). Critical of
such advice is the reasoning by Leitch and Neilson (2001) that publics need to speak for
themselves. The organization is likely to fail if it presumes a commanding approach to
determining discourse conditions.
It is significant to note the requirements of the CO, the PR/CM personnel in that regard,
under the definition and explanation of boundary spanning and/or issue management.
This function entails identifying and defining “direct and indirect relationships with
active or potential stakeholder groups.” This requirement acknowledges the need for the
organization “to identify and analyse those economic, political, social, technological
issues whose dynamics impact on the achievement of its strategic and tactical
objectives.” Central to this analysis is the task of “prioritizing those issues through a
careful importance/possibility-to-influence analysis.” The challenge is to “identify those
subjects who either directly or indirectly impact on those dynamics and dialogue with
them to convince them to either reduce their hostility or increase their support for the
organization’s objectives” (p. 13). As such, the requirement is to use traditional SIM
tools and techniques to make the organization agentic, but it does not suggest, let alone,
specify how this is not reactive, how it is proactive, and how support and opposition is
community-oriented (fully functioning society) rather than merely an agentic CO
response. Reflective management presumes that organizations have a lot to learn from
external publics and therefore should avoid a philosopher king approach to adjustment
and change management.
Measurement of the role and value of communication in the value chain features
“source credibility, content familiarity and content credibility.” It also entails “the
satisfaction, commitment, trust and power balance of each relationship” (p. 13). Beyond
these quite ordinary conditions of communication, other definitions focus on leadership
requirements, knowledge sharing, decision-making processes, processes and structures
16
as well as a relationship approach to stakeholder groups. Processes and structures need
to respond to the requirement for change management. This “mostly relies on sound and
realistic objectives and effective relationships, which in turn are driven by good
communication involving both internal and external partners of the organization” (p.
14).
The value networks become the nexus for stakeholder engagement. The glossary
discussion of stakeholders focuses more on their process nature than on the dialogic,
collaborative means for engagement with them to a mutual end. The CO is responsive if
it seeks, but does not depend on favorable relationships. It acknowledges the agentic
nature of stakeholders. This line, however, suggests that stakeholder relationship
building, as approached by the Accords CO, is more of an end than means to
sustainability. The glossary observes, “It is clearly up to the organization to decide on
acknowledging them and to responsibly involve and/or engage with them” (p. 14). The
ambiguity of this requirement arises from the ambiguity of the phrase, “clearly up to.”
Does that offer more of an agentic status to the CO and less of an agentic status to the
community than is probably required to achieve sustainability? It is also important to
note that brand loyalty and brand equity are important measures and outcomes of the
CO. These are agentic to the voice of companies and other organizations, but primarily
private sector matters.
Earlier sections of the Accords suggest the importance of dialogue, participation. The
glossary reasons that a CO’s “stakeholder relationships may be differently segmented
according to their acknowledgement, involvement, engagement, separation, and divorce
programs.” Each relationship, the glossary reasons, “begins with the two subjects
acknowledging each other; them proceeds when the organization stimulates its
stakeholder groups to access the information they believe stakeholder groups require to
keep abreast on their relationship and are enabled to provide feedback (involvement)”
(p. 13). This observation treats feedback and involvement in ways quite typical of
situational theory. The analysis also suggests the selective and strategic need for “direct
communication” including conversation with some stakeholders, but not all. And it
suggests that a period of “divorce” may strategically give both sides the opportunity for
cooling off. It is revealing to note how the logic of the engagement seems to focus on
one organization, the CO, engaging one at a time with each stakeholder group, to the
extent that the stakeholder group seems agreeable to the overtures of the CO. This
paradigm is extraordinarily limiting to efforts to achieve a fully functioning society. It
can be seen as manipulative whereby strong organizations negotiate individually and
privately with ostensibly weaker organizations or poorly organized stakeholder publics.
That posture seems at odds with a later statement that features how issues become
multifaceted (offering different perspectives and angles) according to the mix and
nature of an array of stakeholders. This section suggests that in a multi-voice
community that conflicting interests and relationships become a daunting undertaking.
But the glossary and the rest of the document does not offer much insight into this
complexity.
How the CO operates and engages is likely to be driven by its mission, vision, values,
and strategies. “The strategy is the path the organization decides to pursue in its
migration from mission to vision; while the business plan defines the operative steps the
organization plans to implement to pursue that strategy” (p. 16).
17
In these ways, the Accords brings PR/CM best practices, literature, theory and research
to bear on the daunting problem of working with organizations of all kinds, as well as
identifiable populations, to achieve sustainability. The document seems biased to a
systems approach to PR/CM, one that is also driven by relationship development and
responding to stakeholder information needs. It does little to focus on the processes of
collective problem recognition and collaborative decision making.
Thus, the CO is agentic insofar as it can build relationships, share information, advance
brand loyalty and equity as well as be credible, trustworthy, engage in two-way
communication, and be strategic in its selection and engagement with stakeholders. It
engages in dialogue to keep abreast of the thinking by key stakeholders and to seek
mutually beneficial outcomes. Assuming the accuracy of this synthesis, reason exists, as
noted in this section, that a larger sense of PR/CM is needed to help CO’s achieve
sustainability.
The challenge: situational analysis
To achieve the goal set by Vision 2050, the Accords need to help organizations make
society more fully functioning. This requires appreciation of how multiple stakeholders
voice views on key issues, the resolution of which by joined engagement can achieve
sustainability that is only possible through societal change. Rather than yielding to a
bias toward systems theory, communication processes, and relationship quality, PR/CM
leadership must be discourse centered, fostering the infrastructural processes and shared
meaning outcomes of deliberative democracy as co-created meaning.
PR/CM must offer advice needed by strategic management and sound science that
fosters voices (internally and externally) to examine ideas, contest positions, vet
information, change evaluative principles and premises, foster the wisest policies which
may require private sector adjustments to community preferences and vice versa, and
achieve an identification that brings voices together even though they engage
contentiously. This rhetorical and critical scope of activities goes well beyond
relationship development and information sharing to center on debate, contentious
discourse in the public arena, whereby voices of support and opposition contest and
challenge one another, a dialogic paradigm.
Meaning which achieves a new sense society and resource use is inseparable from
innovation and change management. In this way, sustainability is not a private sector
challenge, but a sociological revolution. In that pursuit, the strategic adjustment
paradigm can be insufficient to understand the dynamics of social change and
innovation, a macro-level analysis, which moves beyond the status quo that often can be
defended rather than changed through accommodation and behavioral adjustment.
An approach that elevates relationships to decision-making infrastructures posits the
communicative requirements of the public arena where voice depends on merit not
position or power. As meaning, we posit the communicative requirements needed to
achieve through dialogue a common vision, identification with that vision, and
commitment to its success (Heath et al., 2004). In sum, PR/CM needs insights drawn
18
from principles of stakeholder participation, risk management and communication, and
from an approach to CSR-based management whereby organizations earn their license
to operate by serving society rather than assuming that society serves them.
As such, the CO must be committed to and capable of achieving process and content
legitimacy, as well as being willing and able to reduce the legitimacy gap: Its, the
private sector’s, the public sector’s and that of key stakeholders. The legitimacy
challenge has to shift away from the agentic organization, to the organization made
agentic through an agentic society. It must be willing and able to engage in
collaborative decision making for, with, and by multiple voices in a coherent public
arena. To achieve sustainability, the community must co-create a definition of what it is
and what it requires. Only then can they achieve it.
With these summary ideas in mind, we challenge current and the developing public
relations literature and practice to aspire toward a new normal by adopting, researching,
and employing the following principles.
PR/CM must be prepared to engage in socially constructive discourse in a
manner that joins and aligns the views of clients/employers and other voices.
Discourse is a means by which voices pit ideas against one another, as statement
and counter statement. Through discourse, ideas are publicly advanced and
weighed leading optimally to enlightened choice. This ideal of the rhetorical
heritage seeks to understand how discourse achieves positive and socially
responsible advances, as well as a kind of narrative (mythos) of continual and
collaborative change. This discourse centers on issues. PR/CM must be able to
work with a variety of voices to help to the following:
o frame issues,
o generate supporting facts,
o bring appropriate evaluations to bear on the facts,
o advocate public and private sector policies that lead to transformational
change,
o foster identifications that support and advance sustainability by aligning
interests and identities.
PR/CM must understand that its discipline is meaning centric, especially on
matters of dramatic change management, as is the case for sustainability.
Shared meaning is required to co-create a socially constructed sense of reality
that knows what sustainability is, what attitudinal and behavioral changes it
requires of individuals and organizations, and how it advances standards of
living through the deployment of physical resources. However much shared
information is important, even more essential is the development and use of
shared premises and principles which can be used collectively and constructively
to make sense of facts needed to achieve sustainability.
Following the rhetorical heritage, PR/CM will be challenged to respond to a
variety of rhetorical problems as society moves to define and innovate on behalf
of sustainability. Sustainability is a rhetorical problem, fraught with related
rhetorical problems. As such, it is both a problem created by the conditions of
the voices pitted against one another, and by the confines and constraints of the
fixed limits of physical resources vis-a-vis population needs.
Credibility and trust, as manifestation of legitimacy and a condition of discourse
influence, rests on demonstrations of reflective management and demonstrated
19
commitment to CSR standards that are elevated above license to operate to
responsibility to change and innovate, as well as to adapt, follow, and lead. As
the essence of the rhetorical condition, individual and organizational credibility
as well as identity, as the authors of the Accords reasoned, is a crucial variable.
As such, trust and legitimacy depend on the values to which each voice aspires,
the interests that it champions, and the quality of ideas it puts into play.
Innovation to achieve sustainability is multidisciplinary, which requires PR/CM
to partner with and augment the voices of other disciplines. Thus, PR/CM must
be prepared to work for sustainable platforms of fact, evaluation, policy position,
and identification. Such efforts necessarily presume the willingness and ability
to engage in advocacy as well as accommodation based on the merit of ideas and
relationships in play.
PR/CM must be as committed to the need for multiple interests to simultaneously
enact power engagement and resource distribution as reasoned by resource
dependency theory. As critical theorists reason, the public arena can be distorted
by power plays with companion strategies and outcomes of empowerment and
marginalization. The ethos of sustainable PR/CM champions power resources
that result from and continue to foster collective empowerment. Organizations
and individuals acquire social capital by the means and meaning they contribute
to the dialogue for sustainability. Preconditions for power resource management
presume infrastructures of power engagement as well as discourse and social
construction (Tsetsura, 2010; Gordon and Pellegrin, 2008) of power through co-
created meaning. To that end, power resources result from discourse relevant to
reality (what minds understand and conceive), self/identity, and
society/relationships.
PR/CM plays an important discourse-based role through its ability to engage in
situational analysis, including issue monitoring and the identification and
understanding of rhetorical problems. Situational analysis suggests that how
organizations and individuals make resource dependent decisions to solve
problems has to be predicated on a change and innovation paradigm. That
paradigm presumes that previous approaches to problem solving, the use of the
cognitive tools needed to solve problems properly, is dysfunctional in key ways.
What those key ways are is likely to be societal as well as individual. That
conclusion is derived from the logic that not achieving sustainability is the status
quo, therefore the current approach to problem solving must be indicted as a first
step to change management. So, all of the voices are needed to achieve a new
future and develop new perspectives which depend on and advance individual
self-efficacy, technical/expert efficacy, and societal/community efficacy. A
precursor to change management is the conceptualization of change and the
sense of efficacy needed to achieve that end.
PR/CM must adopt the scope and purpose of risk management and
communication. To achieve sustainability, new understandings and approaches
to risk management must be innovated and brought into organizations’ and
individuals’ lifespaces. Central to that objective, science will need to be
balanced against cultural interpretations of risk, brought to fruition through
infrastructures of dynamic change through collective problem solving.
PR/CM must balance the agentic nature of organizations with the decision-
making agency of society to create a community where sustainability can thrive
as a concept and obtainable goal. Sustainability presumes advances in
organizational planning, operations, and policies through reflective management
20
that shifts focus from the agentic organization to the agentic community. The
Accords presume and applaud a commitment to reflective management as means
by which executives and managers think from the outside in considering not
narrowly what is in the best interest of the organization but how societal
interests can be advanced through innovative and change oriented
(entrepreneurial management). The agentic nature of organizations must
contribute to the agency of society as the means and rationale for collective
change through civil society.
PR/CM needs an approach to engagement that empowers publics and other
stakeholders rather than one that instrumentalizes them to the narrow interest of
one or more organization, especially businesses, governments, and NGO’s. The
concepts of civil society and social capital presume that voices are encouraged
rather than co-opted.
As the next section will indicate, these principles and guidelines agree with and draw on
research and best practices. The goal of such research, applied in the context of
achieving sustainability, is to help define and support the CO to go beyond the status
quo to be part of dynamic change collectively and collaboratively conceived and
implemented. The challenge to theory is to explain the conditions and offer guidelines
for organic change which is managed through the leadership of innovative companies,
change oriented governments, and NGO’s who add value to such change. In that effort,
however, one cannot discount the likelihood that advocacy will occur more often than
accommodation. Accommodation and compromise may follow long and sustained
efforts to justify and motivate changes in individual and collective behavior and policy.
Public relations theories: meeting the challenges of sustainability
No current theory may be entirely sufficient to the task posed by the goal of
sustainability; some may lead in the wrong direction. As such, any discussion of public
relations theory necessarily embraces theory relevant to and growing from public
relations, issues management, public affairs, marketing/integrated communication, risk
and crisis management and communication, identity management, corporate social
responsibility, stakeholder participation and relationship quality.
These lines of inquiry are challenged and complemented by chaos theory, social
construction of reality, and other approaches to science, society, and co-created
enactable meaning. An undercurrent to theory must examine how we know (and how
well) reality, how we conceptualize ourselves (identification), and how we organize into
society (between) as aligned and competing interests and identities. These themes can
never be separated from challenges of sound science and reflective management—as
keys to a genuine public interest embraced by the goal of sustainability.
This paper addresses the competing identities of organizations, public relations
professionals, and stakeholding publics as they weigh the definitions, challenges, and
expectations of sustainability as the new standard of corporate social responsibility as a
management challenge in collaboration with other voices. To readers familiar with the
development and growth/refinement of strategic issues management (SIM), the Accords
hits many traditional themes and echoes principles and strategies that have been under
refinement since the 1970s. Whereas SIM started as a means for businesses to counter
21
an activist critique of the private sector and its place in society, it matured into a
comprehensive, responsive and collaborative management approach to public and
private policy formulation and implementation. Also, as Lawnicazak (2005) reasoned,
change is not accomplished by shifting from one public relations style to another, for
instance from asymmetry to symmetry, but “as the necessary adjustments of
institutional forms and ways of thinking” (p. xxi).
The analysis provided below reasons that for new age public relations theory, a shift
should reorient us from working to understand how to make organizations effective to
featuring efforts to help organizations become effective by making society more fully
functioning (Heath, 2006), through deliberative democracy (Palazzo and Scherer, 2006;
Scherer and Palazzo, 2007) and stakeholder participation (De Bussey, 2005, 2008,
2010). Such change is likely to depend more on discourse and co-created meaning than
of the advantages of relationship development, information sharing, and cybernetic
adaptation. This challenge centers on the question of what makes any organization and
idea legitimate in the pursuit of sustainability; that burden requires specific attention to
the role of power in society, as power resource management.
Tracking the evolution of corporate legitimacy as a work in progress not some fixed
(and even platitudinous) theme, Palazzo and Scherer (2006) worked to move corporate
legitimacy with its roots in corporate social responsibility from the stage of cognitive
and pragmatic legitimacy beyond moral legitimacy to a new order. As they contended,
what is needed is “a step towards the politicization of the corporation and attempt to re-
embed the debate on corporate legitimacy into its broader context of political theory,
while reflecting the recent turn from a liberal to a deliberative concept of democracy”
(p. 71).
Fully Functioning Society Theory (FFST)
In 2006, Heath reasoned that organizations need to be reflective to accomplish their
ends by serving society. In this way, FFST reasons that society is a complex of many
collectivities, each of which has its own, but interdependent and variously aligned
interests. The role of public relations is to help create and advance the infrastructures
and co-create meanings that bring these interests into alignment. This rationale matures
into one of the key premises of the theory:
To help society to become more fully functioning, managements of organizations (for
profit, nonprofit, and governmental) must demonstrate the characteristics that foster
legitimacy, such as being reflective; being willing to consider and instrumentally
advance others’ interests; being collaborative in decision making; being proactive and
responsive to others’ communication and opinion needs; and working to meet or exceed
the requirements of relationship management, including being a good corporate citizen.
(p. 100).
Legitimacy is needed in resource distribution because only through functional
infrastructures and socially constructed meaning can resources be generated and used
for social responsibility. These premises meld into a commitment to the agency of
community. Here interests are advanced, assessed collectively, and allocated
systemically. In this effort, relationships are fostered through the ability of
organizations, especially businesses, to advance community interests to achieve and
maximize company interests.
22
Especially relevant to the pursuit of sustainability, we note another premise of FFST:
“Society is a complex of collectivities engaged in variously constructive dialogue and
power resource distribution through meeting socially constructed and shared norm-
based expectations whereby individuals seek to make enlightened choices in the face of
risk, uncertainty, and reward/cost ambiguity” (Heath, 2006: p. 107). Organizations,
especially those which wish to lead in innovative change needed to achieve
sustainability, must be willing and able to engage in responsible advocacy. This dialogic
approach requires the collective vetting of facts/information, evaluations,
identifications, and policy choice so they each idea has full potential for responsible and
reflective review.
Such discourse occurs in what can be understood as socially constructed and enacted
narratives that facilitate enlightened choice. This premise is featured in FFST: in
addition to advocacy, other forms of discourse can account for how people in society
co-create meaning that guides their activities leading to coordination. Enactment theory
reasons that people create a sense of culture that defines what actions are allowable and
expected for civil society. Such analysis acknowledges that even the behavior that
violates these expectations does so knowing that it is non normative (Heath, 2006: p.
109).
As such, this theory features SIM principles of reflective strategic management,
willingness and ability to know and meet CSR standards, engage in issue monitoring to
keep abreast of discourse in the life spaces of advocates whose various interests and
engagement in issue communication leads to enlightened choices.
Excellence Theory, coupled to Situational Theory of Publics and Problem Solving
Grunig (1992) scoped the purpose of his research project to investigate “how public
relations makes organizations more effective, how it is organized and managed when it
contributes most to organizational effectiveness (i.e., when it is excellent), the
conditions in organizations and their environments that make organizations more
effective, and how the monetary {value} of excellent public relations can be
determined” (p. 27; see also Kim and Ni, 2010, Kim and Grunig, 2011). To that end,
excellence theory and its companion situational theory of publics feature information
sharing as a key paradigm, the logics of compatible problem solving, and the
advantages of relationship management. The argument is that individual relationships
lead to community effectiveness by understanding and responding to key publics
information needs and decision-making cognitions.
Contingent accommodation and advocacy
The paradigm of contingency arose from studies of leadership, management, and
resource dependency. This approach to management, similar to that advanced by
rhetorical theory, reasons that in contingent matters of organizational leadership there is
no single best way to perform a function; external or situational factors affect strategic
actions and outcomes. As part of management, communication professionals, therefore,
must be part of management assessment of the relevant contingencies and the most
constructive response options in light of those contingencies, in a range from pure
advocacy to pure accommodation. Such adjustment is required for resilience and
adaptation which can lead to growth, change, and transformation. To reach a state of
coordination that is amenable to each party requires clear and effective communications,
which is often facilitated by a public relations professional who understands
23
situationally relevant contingencies (Cancel, Cameron, Sallot, and Mitrook, 1997;
Cameron, Wilcox, Reber, and Shin, 2007; Pang, Jin, and Cameron, 2008, 2009).
Rhetorical theory
As do excellence theory and contingency theory, the rhetorical approach to public
relations presumes an important role for functions and structures and contingent
responses. However, it stresses the essential role socially constructed meaning plays in
the lives of sentient beings. The contingent context results from discourse positions
advanced by interested parties more than factors relevant to the nature of organizations
per se or some fixed preference for symmetry. Especially important for the sorts of
change management essential to sustainability, the rhetorical approach is intimately
associated with strategic issues management, crisis management and communication, as
well as risk management and communication. Infrastructures are essential for the
locations and structures needed to bring voices together for collaborative decision
making. All voices have to be present in the public sphere.
Discourse presumes that societal engagement is necessary to solve society’s problem—
the agency of the community in common and aligned interest. Since the origins of the
rhetorical heritage in ancient Greece, the nature of the forum has been essential to
understanding discourse quality and its ability to achieve enlightened choice not as an
individual matter but a collective one. This is the spirit and functioning of democratic
deliberation founded on principles of stakeholder participatory engagement.
In discourse, each voice is agent; the collective dialogue is an agency through which
decisions can be collectively made for and in each community of public interest. For
that reason, professional practice relies on theories of civil society and
community/communitarianism (Taylor, 2009, 2010).
If rhetoric is the process of pitting statement against statement, with the intent (but not
always the outcome), of reaching decisions collaboratively, advocacy is a constructive
aspect of suasory discourse. One consideration is whether the positions advocated,
however firmly, follow the paradigm of the good organization communicating well—a
parallel to source credibility. Such a stance requires that the organization be reflective,
carefully considering the alignment of interests, rather than merely advocating a
position supporting its own interests. Hallahan (2004) concluded, “Indeed, healthy
conflict is possible only within the context of a supportive community” (p. 263).
A society—people and organizations—learns from mistakes. As a profession, public
relations can serve society by solving these mistakes, understanding problems, and
offering solutions that invite thoughtfulness and willingness to overcome restraints to
corrective actions. Public relations can serve organizations by helping them be good as a
prerequisite for their being articulate. Thus, public relations can assist organizations’
narrative enactments.
Critical theory
Motion and Weaver (2005) reasoned that a critical approach to discourse involves
posing questions, including awkward and unpopular ones. It means not merely taking
information for granted, at face value, but asking how and why these things come to be,
why they have the shape and organization they do, how they work and for whose
benefit” (p. xx). Noting the narrowness of analysis on such matters, McKie (2001) was
24
especially concerned that “the so-called discursive, or linguistic, turn in knowledge
remains underexplored in public relations” (p. 76). Critical theorists have championed
the role of meaning in society, in part by emphasizing that language is never neutral and
always political. It also examines the nature of management, organizations, and the
public arena.
Drawing on a critical perspective, Cheney and Christensen (2001) reasoned that
effective organizational behavior and communication begins by acknowledging that
“most traditional and contemporary formulations of public relations” are “parochial,
utilitarian, and insufficiently self-reflective” (p. 179). Such critique focuses on several
challenges, including “to become even more intellectually expansive, more critically
reflective, and more cognizant of the diverse forms of organizational activity in today’s
world” (pp. 179–180). This search requires having less “imperialistic pretensions” by
avoiding three biases: “the illusion of symmetrical dialogue, explicit and implicit
corporatism, and Western managerial rationalism” (p. 180).
Reflecting on the power disparity in society, critical theorists “argue that PR
practitioners perpetuate the ability of both corporations and government to maintain a
privileged position in society, usually by dominating the news agenda and excluding
minority voices from public debate” (Tench and Yeomans, 2006: p. 168). “Wherever it
is practiced, the profession of public relations emerges from a specific social hierarchy
or field of power,” Edwards (2010) argued. She reasoned that this set of circumstances
“profoundly marks the nature and identity of public relations through the interests the
profession supports and the share of voice it generates for those on whose behalf it is
employed” (p. 205).
In keeping with these lines of analysis, critical theory features (1) the place, public
sphere, where discourse occurs and (2) the nature and quality of that discourse as
dialogue. Weighing such logics, Roper (2005) observed, “Hegemony can be defined as
domination without physical coercion through the widespread acceptance of particular
ideologies and consent to the practices associated with those ideologies” (p. 69). The
roots of power and its disparity reside in the assumptions made salient through
language, the idioms relevant to the interdependence between organizations and
between them and stakeholder publics. The key to advancing the dialogue toward
productive societal advantages is to achieve legitimacy (Roper, 2005). In such contexts,
the quality of discourse is important; the outcome should be shared or co-created
meaning that reflects multiple interests in varying degree of alignment.
Championing the role of discourse analysis, Fairclough (1989) articulated two means
for examining society through a communication lens. The first is more theoretical: to
help correct a widespread underestimation of the significance of language in the
production, maintenance, and change of social relations of power. The second is more
practical: to help increase consciousness of how language contributes to the domination
of some people by others, because consciousness is the first step towards emancipation
(p. 1). Even the nature of, the dynamics of structures and functions no matter how
seemingly neutral, are not merely “natural” but are the result of meanings created and
brought to bear to define and empower structures and functions.
“Lifeworld organizations grow out of the debates that take place within the sphere”
(Leitch and Neilson, 2001: p. 132; Leitch and Motion, 2010). As such publics exist in
25
and as they voice, construct, and share belief/evaluation/knowledge systems, zones of
meaning.
Conclusion
Practitioners and academics should be thrilled that projects such as Vision 205 and the
Stockholm Accords offer them the opportunity bring their best practices as well as
research and theory to help achieve global sustainability. As such it seems important to
consider, develop, and promulgate the concept of the communicative organization as a
prerequisite to that daunting task. And so, we should work to bring to bear the best of
our analysis to assure that the rationale for the communicative organization is agentic,
fostering the agency of community, and committed to infrastructures for discourse
where meaning of sustainability is co-created. In all of this, we are likely to realize that
the precondition of the communicative organization is the communicative society.
References
Beck, U. (1992). Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage.
Beck, U. (1999). World Risk Society. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Cameron, G.T., Wilcox. D.L., Reber B.H., and Shin. J.H. (2007). Public Relations
Today: Managing Conflict and Competition. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Cancel, A.E., Cameron, G.T., Sallot, L.M., and Mitrook, M.A. (1997). It depends: A
contingency theory of accommodation in public relations. Journal of Public Relations
Research 9(1), 31-63.
Cheney, G., and Christensen. L.T. (2001). Public relations as contested terrain: A
critical response. In: Heath R.L. (ed.) Handbook of Public Relations. Thousand Oaks,
CA: Sage, 167-182.
De Bussy, N. (2005). Applying stakeholder thinking to public relations: An integrated
approach to identifying relationships that matter. In: Ruler, B. van, Vercic, A.T., and
Vercic, D. (eds.) Public Relations Metrics: Research and Evaluation. New York:
Routledge, 282-300.
De Bussy, N. (2008). Stakeholder theory. In: Donsbach, W. (ed.) International
Encyclopedia of Communication. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 4815-4817.
De Bussy, N. (2010) Dialogue as the basis for stakeholder engagement: Defining and
measuring core competencies. In: Heath RL (ed.) SAGE Handbook of Public Relations.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 127-144.
Douglas, M. (1992). Risk and Blame. London: Routledge.
Edwards, L. (2010). “Race” in public relations. In: Heath RL (ed.) SAGE Handbook of
Public Relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 205-221.
26
Fairclough, N. (1989). Language and Power. London: Longman.
Gordon, J., and Pellegrin, P. (2008). Social construction and public relations. In:
Hansen-Horn TL and Neff BD (eds.) Public Relations: From Theory to Practice.
Boston: Pearson, 104-121.
Hallahan, K. (2004). “Community” as a foundation for public relations theory and
practice. In: Kalbfleisch PJ (ed.) Communication Yearbook 28. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates, 232-279.
Heath, R.L. (2006). Onward into more fog: Thoughts on public relations research
directions. Journal of Public Relations Research, 18, 93-114.
Heath, R.L. (2010). Stakeholder participation. In: Cochran JJ (ed.) Wiley Encyclopedia
of Operations Research and Management Science. Boston: John Wiley & Sons.
Heath, R.L., and Palenchar, M.J. (2009). Strategic issues management (2
nd ed.).
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Heath, R.L., Pearce, W.B., Shotter, J., Taylor, J.R., Kersten, A., Zorn, T., Roper, J.,
Motion. J., and Deetz, S. (2006). The processes of dialogue: Participation and
legitimation. Management Communication Quarterly, 19, 341-375.
Kim, J.N., and Grunig, J.E. (2010). Problem solving and communicative action: A
situational theory of problem solving. Journal of Communication, 61, 120-149.
Kim, J.N., and Ni, L. (2010). Seeing the forest through the trees: The behavioral,
strategic management paradigm in public relations and its future. In: Heath RL (ed.)
SAGE Handbook of Public Relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 35-57.
Larson, M.S. (1977). The Rise of Professionalism: A Sociological Analysis. Berkeley:
University of California Press.
Lawniczak, R. (2005). Preface. In: Lawniczak, R. (ed.) Introducing Market Economy
Institutions and Instruments: The Role of Public Relations in Transition Economies.
Pozan: Piar, xi-xiv.
Leitch, S., and Motion, J. (2010). Publics and public relations: Effecting change. In:
Heath RL (ed.) SAGE Handbook of Public Relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 99-
110.
Leitch, S., and Neilson, D. (2001). Bringing publics into public relations: New
theoretical frameworks for practice. In: Heath RL (ed.) Handbook of Public Relations.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 127-138.
McKie, D. (2001). Updating public relations: “New science,” research paradigms, and
uneven developments. In: Heath RL (ed.) Handbook of Public Relations. Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage, 75-91.
27
Motion, J., and Weaver, C.K. (2005). A discourse perspective for critical public
relations research: Life sciences network and the battle for truth. Journal of Public
Relations Research, 17, 49-67.
Palazzo, G., and Scherer, A.G. (2006). Corporate legitimacy as deliberation: A
communicative framework. Journal of Business Ethics, 66, 71-88.
Pang, A., Cropp, F., and Cameron, G.T. (2006). Corporate crisis planning: Tensions,
issues, and contradictions. Journal of Communication Management, 10(4), 82-96.
Pang, A, Jin, Y., and Cameron, G.T. (2010). Strategic management of communication:
Insights from the contingency theory of strategic conflict management. In: Heath RL
(ed.) SAGE Handbook of Public Relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 17-34.
Roper, J. (2005). Symmetrical communication: Excellent public relations or a strategy
for hegemony? Journal of Public Relations Research, 17, 69-86.
Scherer, A.G., and Palazzo, G. (2007). Toward a political conceptualization of corporate
responsibility: Business and society seen from a habermasian perspective. Academic of
Management Review, 31, 1096-1120.
Taylor, M. (2009). Civil society as a rhetorical public relations process. In: Heath RL,
Toth EL and Waymer D (eds) Rhetorical and Critical Approaches to Public Relations
II. New York: Routledge, 76-91.
Taylor, M. (2010). Public relations in the enactment of civil society. In: Heath RL (ed.)
SAGE Handbook of Public Relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 5-16.
Tench, R., and Yeomans, L. (2006). Exploring Public Relations. Essex, England:
Pearson Education limited.
The Stockholm Accords (2010, June). Stockholm, SE: World Public Relations Forum.
Tsetsura, K. (2010). Social construction and public relations. In: Heath RL (ed.) SAGE
Handbook of Public Relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 163-176.
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (2010). Vision 2050: The New
Agenda for Business. Washington DC and Brussels, Belgium: WBCSD.
28
29
Communicating with national stakeholders: Lessons for public
relations from advertising in two different nations
Fabrice Desmarais (University of Waikato, fabrice@mail.waikato.ac.nz), and David
McKie (University of Waikato, dmckie@waikato.ac.nz)
Abstract
This paper argues that, in approaching specific stakeholder differences in nations, public
relations might learn useful lessons from interdisciplinary studies of advertising. Such
studies also confirm how communication plays a constitutive role in shaping
perceptions and so support arguments that strategic communicators, such as public
relations practitioners, are too important to be unrepresented in the dominant coalition.
The paper illustrates these points through research into gender roles and behaviour in
New Zealand and French television advertising. The representation of advertising
characters acts as a useful “barometer” of current cultural values and is therefore
important to grasp for practitioners in fields other than advertising. This is because such
representations propose – if not partially impose – potent models of connection between
people and products, services or brands.
The paper further argues that public relations practitioners can and should learn from
advertising character representations in order to make better strategic communication
choices. Methodologically, the research codes the portrayal of advertising characters in
the two nations and interprets the differences using both content and semiotic analysis.
The findings reveal cultural differences that have strategic implications, illustrated
through gender, for framing and addressing messages to different national
constituencies. The paper concludes that the possibilities for strategic communication
with key stakeholders in different countries are restricted and can be extended by
learning from representation research in advertising.
Surveying the field: Advertising and gender
Little work has been done on connecting gender issues to national issues in public
relations. This is despite the existence of restrictively stereotypical portrayals of gender
in advertising by many empirical studies in countries such as the U.S. (Bretl and Cantor,
1988; McArthur and Resko, 1975), Portugal (Neto and Pinto, 1998), the United
Kingdom (Furnham and Bitar 1993; Furnham and Skae, 1997), Italy (Furnham and
Voli, 1989), and Australia (Mazzella et al., 1992). Studies of gender in advertising are
obviously not restricted to the study of a single country. Some studies have dealt with
more than one country; for instance Gilly (1988) compared the role of women in
television advertising in Australia, Mexico, and the U.S. Also dealing with several
countries, but with more geographical relevance to the present study, Whitelock and
Jackson (1997) compared the role of women in television advertising in the UK and
France. Furnham, Babitzkow, and Uguccioni (2000) also conducted an investigation of
gender stereotyping in television commercials from France and Denmark, while
Furnham and Farragher (2000) compared television commercials from New Zealand
and France.
30
One recurrent finding that does overlap with empirical public relations research on
gender is that women are numerically underrepresented (Furnham and Voli, 1989;
Mazella, Durkin, Cerini and Buralli, 1992; McArthur and Resko, 1975; Neto and Pinto,
1998). Other recurrent findings have been compiled by Furnham and Mak (1999) whose
study compares the findings from different time periods and countries. Across all
nations, studies relentlessly report that men are more likely than women to act as
authoritative central figures in commercials and then conclude that men act as the
authority of a product more than women who are usually typecast as product users
(McArthur and Resko, 1975; Bretl and Cantor, 1988; Neto and Pinto, 1998; Furnham
and Voli, 1989; Mazzella et al., 1992; Furnham, Babitzkow, and Uguccioni, 2000).
Studies also show that, in commercials, men are often associated with practical or
pleasurable rewards while females are associated more often with social approval or
self-enhancement (Furnham, Babitzkow, and Uguccioni, 2000; Furnham, Mak, and
Tanidjojo, 2000; Neto and Pinto, 1998). Another recurrent observation is that women in
commercials are consistently portrayed as younger than men. Most studies show that
young women and middle-aged men are the main age categories of central characters of
commercials (Furnham, Babitzkow, and Uguccioni, 2000; Furnham and Skae, 1997;
Neto and Pinto, 1998; Whitelock and Jackson, 1997).
Although some studies in the U.S. and Europe have illustrated that women no longer
have the exclusivity of featuring in commercials for domestic products (and are more
present in commercials for non-domestic products), most studies agree that these
features have not clearly evolved since the 1970s (Bartsch, Burnett, Diller, and Rankin-
Williams, 2000; Wolin, 2003). Nevertheless, Weigel and Loomis (1981) and Knill,
Pesch, Pursey, Gilpin, and Perloff (1981) indicated changes toward a broader
representation of female roles with more women given more authoritative roles as
consumers and product representatives. Furnham and Skae (1997), in Britain, and
Whitelock and Jackson (1997), in Britain and France, detected small changes in finding
that women were less dependent on, and less tied to, domestic settings and products
than previously. This paper argues that such findings should help shape gender research
in public relations. To support this we present our findings on gender in advertising
messages in two under-researched nations.
Gender in advertising in France and New Zealand
Few studies on gender role stereotyping in French advertising have been undertaken and
have generated different, and sometimes contradictory, results. Furnham, Babitzkow,
and Uguccioni’s (2000) findings are in line with previous results from the U.S. or the
UK. Furnham et al. (2000) noted that, in French commercials, most female central
figures were product users and men were more likely to be depicted as authorities (see
Whitelock & Jackson, 1997). Also, the percentages of women and men portrayed as
professionals in French commercials were similar but women were more likely than
men to be portrayed as dependent (Furnham et al., 2000). Whitelock and Jackson (1997)
also found that females in France and in the UK were less likely to be portrayed in a
work situation than males.
31
New Zealand has only been the subject of one content analysis study of gender roles in
television commercials. Furnham and Farragher (2000) found that 57% of visually
represented central figures and 81% of voice-overs were male. In terms of age, the
majority of female characters were young (55%) and the majority of males were
middle-aged (57%). Men were significantly more likely than women to be depicted as
autonomous, in an occupational setting, or at leisure than women. Women were
significantly more likely to be depicted in a domestic setting and portrayed in familial
roles than men.
Clearly the research shows that advertising messages formulate and disseminate certain
knowledge about the nature of men and women’s roles. They have culturally embedded
assumptions with material consequences for gender roles. The fact that females are
more likely to be portrayed in a domestic situation than males would reinforce the idea,
for example, that women have a life based at home and dominated by family, and that
marriage and parenthood are more important to a woman than to a man. Similarly, the
fact that women are portrayed as younger than men perpetuates the idea that women
must remain youthful in appearance whereas men are allowed to show signs of aging.
As social attitudes change communicators who do not change with them run the risk of
failing to engage positively with key stakeholders, such as women. Similarly discourse
technicians need to be aware of these constructions and their national variations and this
study offers a method of exploring them and detailed evidence of discursive
constructions.
Method
A total of 338 commercials containing characters in the New Zealand corpus and 302 in
the French corpus were used in this study. Following other studies (Mazella, Durkin,
Cerini, and Buralli, 1992; Neto and Pinto, 1998), all commercials containing cartoon,
fantasy characters, animals, and other central figures that were not human were omitted.
Commercials which used crowds were taken into account provided that a prominent
male and female character could be easily identified. Following Gilly (1988) no more
than three central characters were coded in each commercial. If more than three
characters were present in one commercial, the three most prominent figures were
selected for coding. In the final sample of commercials, 451 central characters from the
French corpus and 494 from the New Zealand corpus were coded.
Coding procedure
The coding of commercials was carried out following a specifically designed list of
variables based on previous studies (Furnham and Bitar, 1993; Gilly, 1988; Harris and
Stobbart, 1986; Mazella, Durkin, Cerini, and Buralli, 1992; Neto and Pinto, 1998;
Schneider and Schneider, 1979; Whitelock and Jackson, 1997). All these studies built
on the comprehensive content categories developed by McArthur and Resko’s (1975)
ground breaking study (see Furnham and Mak, 1999). The variables selected for the
present study were simplified and adapted to provide a relevant, and also a workable,
framework for the size of the corpus.
32
Two coders, one male and one female, included to provide gender balance, both fluent
in English and French were involved in the coding process of this part of the study.
Reliability of coding was ensured by each coding 30 commercials independently and
subsequently discussing their findings. The rest of the commercials were coded by both
coders simultaneously. As in studies by Schneider and Schneider (1979), and Gilly
(1988), disagreement between the coders was resolved via discussion and consensus.
A complementary second step in the analysis of gender roles and behaviours involved
conducting a semiotic analysis of the characters’ behaviours and interactions. This
process, carried out by one of the authors, considered how commercials marked out
character roles through denoted and connoted signs, and how advertising characters
interacted with each other through visual and aural signs such as gestures and language.
It also studied how characters were used as signs directed to subject viewers with a view
to make them consume brands or products. Of course the previous content analysis
coding by both coders helped considerably in the process of identifying recurring
patterns of interaction or behaviours of male and female characters.
Results (1): Gender and frequency
The frequency of use of male and female characters in commercials was calculated to
see if there was a pattern in the use of gender in each particular advertising environment
(see table 1). Firstly, following Al-Olayan and Karande (2000), a calculation was made
of commercials in which only males appeared, secondly, one of commercials in which
only females appeared, and thirdly, one of commercials in which both males and
females appeared.
The majority of the French commercials used situations involving both males and
females (58.95% or n=178), the next largest group was that in which only females were
represented, (22.85% or n=69), and the smallest one (18.21% or n=55) involved only
males. Quantitatively, in line with the findings of similar research (Whitelock and
Jackson, 1997; Furnham, Babitzkow, and Ugguccioni, 1999), the results indicate that
French advertising discourse represents both genders quite evenly.
New Zealand commercials revealed a different pattern. New Zealand television
advertising used a lot of commercials in which only male characters were featured
(41.12% or n=139). Commercials which used situations involving both genders were
the next important group with 133 commercials (39.34%) using both males and females.
Commercials in which only females were used amounted to a total of 66 (19.52%), less
than half the number of commercials solely using males.
The striking difference between the two advertising discourses resided in the fact that,
in New Zealand television advertising, there were twice as many commercials featuring
only males than in French television advertising. This finding can be paralleled with
findings that revealed that voice-overs in New Zealand were mostly male whereas in
France the vocal environment was more balanced (Desmarais, 2001). This study also
revealed that French television advertising tended to use more commercials in which
characters of both genders were used.
33
Results (2): Central characters
The distribution of central characters according to gender and product type also
produced contrasting findings (see table 2’s distribution of central characters according
to product types). In French television advertising, men and women central characters
were used equally for most product categories (9 out of 13 product categories). In other
words, as many men as women were found to be central characters in commercials for
food and drinks, entertainment, clothing, electronic/household appliances, do-it
yourself, services, and even automobiles and accessories. The product categories that
revealed a difference were “personal and beauty care products”, and “household and
cleaning products”: French women were more frequently shown with personal and
beauty care products (n=39, 16.4%) than their male counterparts (n=20, 9.3%); French
women were also more often associated with household and cleaning products (n=20,
8.4%) compared to French males (n=11, 5.2%); and were slightly more likely to be used
as central figures in commercials for drugs and medicine (n=16, 6.7%) than males
(n=13, 6.1%).
New Zealand revealed more dramatic differences between the genders. For certain
products the distribution of genders was equitable: as many men as women were found
to be central characters in commercials for clothing; for services; and food and drinks
(29.7% men vs. 29.4% women). Many other product categories were very gender
specific. Men appeared much more than women in commercials for entertainment
(7.9% vs. 2%), for automobiles and accessories (11% vs. 4.4%), for do-it-yourself
products (11.7% vs. 3.4%), for farming products (1.4% vs. 0%), for sporting products
(2.8% vs. 0.5%), and for public services (8.6% vs. 6.8%). On the other hand, women
were more frequently portrayed with: electronic/household appliances (8.3% vs. 3.8%);
personal and beauty care products (7.4% vs. 1%); household and cleaning products
(9.8% vs. 3.1%); and with drugs and medicines (6.9% vs. 3.4%).
Results (3): Product categories and male characters
A comparison of male central characters in French and New Zealand television
advertising revealed striking similarities as well as differences. About the same
proportions of New Zealand males (29.7%) as French males (25.8%) were found to be
central characters in commercials for food/drinks. French male characters were used
much more in personal and beauty care commercials (9.3% vs. 1%). French men were
also more likely to be used as central characters in commercials for automobiles and
accessories (13.7% vs. 11%), household and cleaning products (5.2% vs. 3.4%), drugs
and medicine (6.1% vs. 3.1%), clothing (5.2% vs. 2.4%), electronic/household
appliances (9.3% vs. 3.8%), and services (18.8% vs. 13.1%). Overall, French male
characters were used more in commercials for domestic products.
New Zealand males were more often used in commercials for entertainment products or
services (7.9% vs. 4.7%) and, significantly more, as central characters in the do-it-
yourself category (11.7% vs. 0.9%), farming products (1.4% vs. 0%), sporting products
(2.8% vs. 0.5%), and public services (8.6% vs. 0.5%).
Results (4): Common threads
34
The product type-gender connections illustrate how advertising creates a natural match
between certain gender segments of the population and specific product categories. The
association of male characters in both discourses with entertainment products, with
automobiles and accessories, and in New Zealand especially, with do-it-yourself and
sporting products, reinforce ideas of the male as guardian of the practical, entertaining,
athletic, and physical, world. The association of female characters with beauty products,
or household and cleaning products, similarly reinforces certain associations in both
discourses. The association of female characters with cleaning products clearly suggests
that a woman’s place and responsibility are firmly located within both the French and
New Zealand home environments. This phenomenon was already noted 30 years ago by
Dominick and Rauch (1971) and also validated by subsequent studies (Courtney and
Whipple, 1983; Leigh, Rethans, and Reichenbach, 1987; Lovdal, 1989; McArthur and
Resko, 1975; Schneider and Schneider, 1979).
Similarly, the stereotypical use of women as comforting and caring has been denounced
by feminists as stemming out of a western discursive formation that creates a strong
knowledge on the natural role and qualities of women (Autain, 2001; De Beauvoir,
1976; Friedan, 1965; Lips and Colwill, 1978). What emerged from the research was that
advertising communicators, across two different western cultures, were caught in this
powerful discursive formation. In order to communicate efficiently and quickly to
audiences, they created messages that fitted with the widely accepted regime of truth
that articulates womanhood with caring. Caring and womanhood were mechanically
articulated in both cultural environments. Nevertheless the study found that the
phenomenon of matching product categories with genders was more or less accentuated
depending on the cultural context. French female characters were, for example, much
more frequently portrayed with personal and beauty care products or clothing products
than their New Zealand counterparts.
There were also divergences. French male characters tended to be included in
commercials for traditionally female product categories such as beauty products, or
household and cleaning products. Conversely, in New Zealand television advertising,
female characters were included in traditionally male product categories. The
comparative approach therefore showed that New Zealand female characters, in
participating in traditional male activities such as building and playing sports, were
represented as being drawn into traditionally masculine territory more than their French
counterparts.
Conclusion
This paper reported findings on the use of gender in two national advertising discourses.
Its uncovering of imagery patterns that influence advertising discursive practices has
other practical implications. Not only does it enable a better grasp of another culture’s
cultural understandings of gender, but, more importantly, it enables strategic positioning
in relation to the understandings that are present in that culture. Knowledge of the main
gendered discursive formations influencing messages provides a framework within
which practitioners and others, can make informed strategic decisions. One of the
largest is to decide whether to design their communication to fit inside dominant gender
discourse, or to challenge established conventions through risk taking. Greater
35
knowledge can stimulate innovation, since things can be done differently elsewhere and
therefore the status quo has options, and security, since other nations already do it in
other ways without abandoning advertising success.
The marked absence of image concerns and gender aspects in public relations in
general, and in public relations’ considerations of nations in particular, suggests this
area needs research. We concur and hope to have shown that studies in advertising
research have much to offer the public relations field.
Table 1: Frequency of gender specific commercials in New Zealand and French
television.
Commercials
with only
men.
Commercials
with only
women.
Commercials
with both
men and
women.
Total of
commercials
with
characters
n
%
n
%
n
%
N
New
Zealand
139
41.12
66
19.52
133
39.34
338
France
55
18.21
69
22.85
178
58.95
302
Table 2. Distribution of central characters according to gender and product type.
Services: Banks, insurances, real estate agents, travel agents,
telecommunication/telephone companies.
Public services: Drink driving campaigns, ACC campaigns, army commercials, and
retirement planning.
France
New Zealand
Men
Women
Men
Women
Types of goods and services
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
Food/drinks
55
25.8
55
23.1
86
29.7
60
29.4
Entertainment
10
4.7
9
3.8
23
7.9
4
2
Personal and beauty care
20
9.3
39
16.4
3
1
16
7.4
Automobiles/accessories/oil
companies
29
13.7
27
11.3
32
11
9
4.4
Household/cleaning products
11
5.2
20
8.4
9
3.1
20
9.8
Clothing
11
5.2
10
4.3
7
2.4
6
2.9
Do-it-yourself
2
0.9
2
0.8
34
11.7
7
3.4
Drugs and medicine
13
6.1
16
6.7
10
3.4
14
6.9
Electronic/household appliances
20
9.3
18
7.6
11
3.8
17
8.3
Farming products
0
0
0
0
4
1.4
0
0
Sporting products
1
0.5
2
0.8
8
2.8
1
0.5
Services
40
18.8
39
16.4
38
13.1
36
17.6
Public services
1
0.5
1
0.4
25
8.6
14
6.8
Total
213
100
238
100
290
100
204
100
36
References
Al-Olayan, F. S., and Karande, K. (2000). A content analysis of magazine
advertisements from the United States and the Arab world. Journal of Advertising,
29(3), 69-82.
Autain, C. (2001). Alter égaux: Invitation au féminisme. Paris: Editions Robert Laffont.
Bartsch, R.A., Burnett, T., Diller, T.R., and Rankin-Williams, E. (2000). Gender
representation in television commercials: Updating an update. Sex Roles, 43, 735-743.
Bretl, D., and Cantor, J. (1988). The portrayal of men and women in U.S. television
commercials: A recent content analysis and trends over 15 Years. Sex Roles, 18(9/10),
595-609.
Courtney, A. E., and Whipple, T. W. (1983). Sex stereotyping in advertising. Lexington,
MA: Lexington Books.
De Beauvoir, S. (1976). Le deuxième sexe 1: Les faits et les mythes. Paris: Gallimard.
Desmarais, F. (2001). Authority versus seduction: The use of voice-overs in New
Zealand and French television advertising. In J. Farnsworth and I. Hutchinson (Eds.),
New Zealand television: A reader. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.
Dominick, J., and Rauch, G. (1971), The image of women in network TV commercials.
Journal of Broadcasting, 16, 257-265.
Friedan, B. (1965). The feminine mystique. London: Victor Golancz Ltd.
Furnham, A., Babitzkow, M., and Uguccioni, S. (2000). Gender stereotyping in
television advertisements: A comparative study of French and Danish television.
Genetic, Social and General Psychology Monography, 126(1), 79-104.
Furnham, A., and Bitar, N. (1993). The stereotyped portrayal of men and women in
British television advertisements, Sex Roles, 29(3/4), 297-310.
Furnham, A., and Farragher, E. (2000). A cross-cultural content analysis of sex-role
stereotyping in television advertisements: A comparison between Great Britain and New
Zealand. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 44(3), 415-436.
Furnham, A., and Mak, T. (1999). Sex-role stereotyping in television commercials: A
review and comparison of fourteen studies done on five continents over 25 years. Sex
Roles, 41(5/6), 413-437.
Furnham, A., Mak, T., and Tanidjojo, L. (2000). An Asian perspective on the portrayal
of men and women in television advertisements: Studies from Hong Kong and
Indonesian television. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30(11), 2341-2364.
Furnham, A., and Skae, E. (1997). Portrayals of men and women in British television
advertisements. European Psychologist, 2, 44-51.
37
Furnham, A., and Voli, V. (1997). Gender stereotypes in Italian television
advertisements. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 33, 175-185.
Gilly, M. (1988). Sex roles in advertising: A comparison of television advertisements in
Australia, Mexico, and the United States. Journal of Marketing, 52, 75-85.
Goffman, E. (1979). Gender advertisements. Cambridge, England: Harvard University
Press.
Gunter, B. (1995). Television and gender representation. London: John Libby.
Harris, P. R., and Stobbart, J. (1986). Sex-role stereotyping in British television
advertisements at different times of the day: An extension and refinement of Manstead
and McCulloch, British Journal of Social Psychology, 25, 155-164.
Knill, B. J., Pesch, M., Pursey, G., Gilpin, P., and Perloff, R.M. (1981). Still typecast
after all these years? Sex role portrayals in television advertising. International Journal
of Women’s Studies, 4, 497-506.
Leigh, T. W., Rethans, A. J., and Reichenbach Whitney, T. (1987). Role portrayals of
women in advertising: Cognitive responses and advertising effectiveness. Journal of
Advertising Research, 27, 54-63.
Leiss, W., Kline, S., and Jhally, S. (1986). Social communication in advertising:
Persons, products, and images of well-being. New York: Methuen.
Lips, H. M., and Colwill, N. L. (1978). The psychology of sex differences. Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Lovdal, L. T. (1989). Sex role messages in television commercials: An update. Sex
Roles, 21, 715-724.
Malcolm, S. B., McDaniel, H. C., and Langett, J. (2008). Philosophical bridges for
IMC: Grounding the practice. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 2, 19-
30.
Mazella, C., Durkin, K., Cerini, E., and Buralli, P. (1992). Sex role stereotyping in
Australian television advertisements. Sex Roles, 26(7/8), 243-259.
McArthur, L. Z., and Resko, B. G. (1975). The portrayal of men and women in
American television commercials. Journal of Social Psychology, 97, 209-220.
Merlant, P. (1983). Naissance d’une critique. In Barthelemy, and Tilliette, B. (Eds.), La
pub: Son théatre, ses divas, l’argent de la séduction (pp. 136-142). Paris: Editions
Autrement.
Neto, F., and Pinto, I. (1998). Gender stereotypes in Portuguese television
advertisements. Sex Roles, 39(1/2), 153-164.
38
Schneider, K. C., and Schneider, S. B. (1979). Trends in sex roles in television
commercials. Journal of Marketing, 43, 79-84.
Weigel, R.H., and Loomis, J.W. (1981). Television models of female achievement
revisited: Some progress. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 11, 58-63.
Whitelock, J., and Jackson, D. (1997). Women in TV advertising: A comparison
between the UK and France. European Business Review, 97(6), 294-305.
Wolin, L. D. (2003). Gender issues in advertising - an oversight synthesis of research:
1970-2002. Journal of Advertising Research, 43, 111-129.
39
Working woman/PR professional: The multi-faceted identities of
women working in public relations
Christine Daymon (Murdoch University, c.daymon@murdoch.edu.au), and Anne Surma
Murdoch University, a.surma@murdoch.edu.au)
Abstract
One symptom of the knowledge economy characterising contemporary, developed
society is the blurring of the once-clear demarcations between work and home, labour
and leisure, and economic and cultural value. Individuals increasingly cross borders that
are not only physical and technological but also emotional, psychological, relational and
temporal. We are interested in understanding the ways in which public relations
practitioners, as knowledge workers, are positioned as individual, gendered subjects
responding to the pressures induced by this shifting, complex relational landscape.
Therefore, in this study we explore the ways in which public relations practitioners
improvise, communicate and negotiate their personal–professional identities and the
tensions inherent in the encounter between self and other, private and public, economic
and cultural.
We interviewed women of different ages, in various stages of family life, and at
different levels in their professional careers: unmarried, married, with and without
children, in junior and senior roles, working in consultancy and in-house. The rich
descriptions we gained of the ways in which the women invest their professional and
personal experiences with meaning reveal how they constitute the work–life
interrelationship discursively; how they navigate these tensions and make sense of them
reflexively; and their impact on the practice of public relations. We posit that public
relations is a profession whose resources and focus resemble those with which the
notion of identity and the negotiation of work–life balance are themselves preoccupied:
the relationships between people, time, space and communication technologies. Thus,
recognising the importance of personal–professional identities coupled with the notion
of who does public relations work, what it involves, and how it is accomplished
becomes central to any understanding of knowledge production and individual
wellbeing in the contemporary knowledge economy.
Introduction
Over thirty years ago, Rosabeth Moss Kanter refuted the notion that the public and
private are separate spheres, arguing that it is untenable to ignore the intrinsic
connection between individuals‘ work lives and their home or family lives because each
has an influence upon the other with consequences for how work is carried out (Kanter,
1977). Since then, researchers have noted that the linkage between work and home has
been accentuated by the increasing dependence of western economies on knowledge as
the key factor of production and wealth generation, and technology as the key resource
for production (Castells, 2010). This has motivated changes to work patterns, modes of
employment and occupational structures. Wireless connections and mobile devices, for
example, have led to the emergence of the boundaryless organisation, the virtual office
40
and the flexible workforce with its non-standard forms of employment (e.g. flexible
hours, part-time, self-employment). New communication technologies enable constant
communication between work and home, encouraging disciplines from the work realm
such as planning and control to invade non-work lives. At the same time, the once clear
demarcations between work and home, labour and leisure, and economic and cultural
value have become blurred. Individuals increasingly cross and coexist simultaneously
across borders that are not only physical and technological but also emotional,
psychological, relational, spatial and temporal.
We are interested in exploring the implications of these interconnected spheres for the
construction of identity in public relations. We posit that in the present knowledge
economy, the negotiation of professional and non-work identities is a complex process
which, as Nyström (2009) has argued, is shaped by both personal and social
imperatives, including, we suggest, the professional. Wenger has drawn attention to the
notion of identity as a pivot between the social and the individual (1998, p. 145).
He rejects the notion that the two are dichotomous; rather, he draws attention to the
centrality of lived experience within particular social milieux. The term
multimembership designates individuals‘ identities as belonging to and realised
through different communities of practice which he defines as the specific formal or
informal grouping with which we are involved and the various practices, routines,
rituals, artifacts, symbols, conventions, stories and histories that characterise them
(Wenger, 1998, p.6). In turn, multimembership also constitutes the living experience
of boundaries (Wenger, 1998, p. 161).
Hence, taking Wenger‘s cue, it appears that individuals weave their way within and
across the various spheres of their lives which those boundaries (however tenuously or
porously) demarcate. Identities and the landscape of practice (the different
communities in which people participate) both reflect and shape one another, as part of
an ongoing process of identity (as becoming). For Wenger, none of this is to suggest the
view that individuals have multiple identities, since this would elide the ways in
which participation in different communities of practice (from individuals‘ perspective,
as workers, mothers, partners, etc.) interact, influence each other, and require
coordination (1998, p.159).
Our study aligns with the views of Wenger in defining identity not as a static,
monolithic whole or something we turn on and off (Wenger, 1998, p. 159), but as
the nexus of multiple identifications with a range of different spheres which individuals
may perceive and articulate as relatively discrete, blurred or flexible. The negotiation
among the spheres of social and personally derived imperatives shape professional and
personal identities which may be multi-faceted rather than separable.
We posit that this is accentuated in so-called knowledge work, such as public relations.
Public relations is a profession whose resources and focus share a resemblance to those
with which the notion of identity and the negotiation of work–life balance are
themselves preoccupied: the relationships between people, time, space and
communication technologies. We are interested in understanding the ways in which
public relations practitioners, as knowledge workers, are positioned as individual,
gendered subjects, and how they are called to respond to the pressures induced by this
shifting, complex relational landscape, in both their home and work lives. Therefore, in
this study we explore the ways in which public relations practitioners improvise,
41
communicate and negotiate their personal–professional identities and the tensions
inherent in encounters between self and other, private and public, economic and
cultural. The importance of personal–professional identities coupled with the notion of
who does public relations work, the approaches that people take to their work, and the
implications for how public relations work is accomplished is central to any
understanding of knowledge production and individual wellbeing in a knowledge
economy.
Methodology
We explore these questions through consideration of female public relations
practitioners’ various articulations of how they perceive and experience the relationship
between the professional and private spheres of their lives. To do this, we focus on how
and why women describe how they put together (whether self-consciously or apparently
intuitively) certain aspects of their lives into one or more spaces and the extent to which
they perceive boundaries around or borders between these spaces.
We chose to focus solely on women in this study on the basis that, firstly, public
relations is a feminized industry where women as practitioners outnumber men, for
example in Australia: (de Bussey and Wolf, 2009), and in the USA(Cline et al, 1986),
and secondly because, despite assuming a greater role in the labour force, women
continue to maintain their primary caregiving and domestic work roles in the home
(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009; Crompton & Lyonette, 2006).
We employed an interpretive approach to the investigation, collecting and analysing
data iteratively through five stages based on a purposive sample of 35 public relations
practitioners based in Western Australia, all women of different ages, in various stages
of family life, and at different levels in their professional careers: unmarried, married,
with and without children, in junior and senior roles, working in consultancy and in-
house. Although not all participants were mothers, almost all defined themselves, at
least in part, in relation to the choices they had made or hoped to make about having
children as well as a professional life. We began collecting the data by conducting two
interviews with senior women, both working in-house, to help us identify some of the
key issues related to the interaction of their working life and other aspects of their lives,
and to focus our research questions. We then carried out two focus groups with women
in their twenties and early thirties. These findings suggested that the issues might differ
according to women‘s age, seniority and family life-stage. Consequently, we conducted
a further focus group with women in their forties and then, because we considered that
our discussions with senior women (mostly in their fifties) might reveal some
potentially sensitive information as they reflected on their experiences with both young
and now grown-up children, we opted for one-to-one interviews rather than group
interviews. We completed data collection by presenting our findings and nascent
interpretations to participants in an informal, social setting, encouraging women to
discuss freely their further opinions. This forum acted not only as a member check but
also allowed further ideas and explanations to emerge. Some of our hunches and
emergent propositions were confirmed through this process.
We analysed the data thematically according to notions of how identities emerge in the
navigation of borders, boundaries and perceptions of life balance as revealed in the
42
literature, and from the emergent themes in the primary data, such as generational
differences, and family or professional aspirations.
Challenges in the relationship between professional and home life spheres
The public relations industry in Western Australia could be described as thriving, with
multiple consultancies, freelance operators, and large in-house departments servicing a
range of sectors. Most lucrative is the booming resources sector which feeds a global
market increasingly dominated by the demands of a fast-growing Chinese economy.
Unlike most other countries, Australia has been affected only relatively lightly by the
global economic crisis. Therefore, in Western Australia, the employment opportunities
for public relations practitioners are plentiful and secure.
However, there are multiple challenges affecting the professional and home spheres of
those employed in public relations. The multi-national companies involved in mining
for minerals and natural gas, for example, require practitioners to work in both local and
global time zones. Even at a regional level, there are time differences, with up to three
hours between the zones in the west and those in the more populated eastern states. This
can result in work concerns intruding into the hours allocated by practitioners for non-
work such as home or leisure activities. Such intrusions are accentuated by the type of
role in which practitioners engage such as media relations or corporate spokesperson,
when the deadlines and agenda of the media may determine the proportion of time
available for work or personal life. Further, it is easier now for work to permeate home
life because of the uptake of communication technologies. While challenges such as
these affect men as well as women, the repercussions are arguably greater for women
because of their role in the private sphere as primary homemaker, caregiver and in many
cases that of mother.
Negotiating time
Many women in public relations described the demands on their lives as
overwhelming because of a lack of time in which to do the various tasks properly or
in-depth. The unpredictable nature and flow of work, including bursts of activity
coupled with tight deadlines, meant that daily routines comprised a range of competing
and often irreconcilable demands which necessitated a constant juggling by practitioners
of the relationship between work and home: When the press calls, I drop everything and
this is affecting me, like all the other stuff that I have that is deliverable stops and I deal
with the press and all that entails.
In order to cope, some manoeuvred bits of time by choreographing various public
and private tasks. For example, if a tight deadline for submission of a report required
extended, after-hours work, a mother might create a chunk of time with [the]
children by going home early in order to have an early meal with them, and then
continuing to write from home when the children had gone to bed. Alternatively,
strategic or creative thinking might be done during leisure activities, such as on the
treadmill in the gym or in the shower. In reflecting on work in her own consultancy, a
practitioner noted that I‘d work like a trooper for ten months of the year [then would
43
take two months off to go and help look after grandchildren] ... I‘ve had to try and
manoeuvre bits of time in and around my other work.
Such time shifting involves not only the moving and acceptance of work-related
activities into the private sphere (or vice versa), but also the incursion of the
professional into the psychological or personal realm. In order to more effectively
negotiate and manage the different life spheres, others traded time by exchanging
extended periods of hard work and long hours for leisure. A participant responsible for
the annual report noted that during its production life was manic but when the
work gets a little bit lighter ... then you‘re able to spend more time at home. Others
stated that they might work until very late—sometimes 10 or 11 pm—in order to enable
them to take time off. One participant stated: I was just very conscious of working hard
so that I could earn the time off when I needed it ... you just want to earn the respect [of
your colleagues] so if you say I really need to go down to the childcare or I really need
to do this and be in a bit late today, there’s no formality about it, they just let you do it.
Those who traded time, therefore, did so on the basis that this gave them licence to
achieve some form of flexibility in their professional life. One senior practitioner
working long hours in-house described that she coped by:
Mak[ing] sure you never start a job by sitting there at the desk between eight and five
consistently, because then the minute you don‘t do it, someone will notice. ... Always
make sure you are out and about [saying to your colleagues] Oh yes, I‘ve got to be
going here, going there‘. It‘s amazing what [personal things] you can get done.
Such impression management enabled this practitioner to introduce the home into the
workplace by undertaking personal chores such as family shopping during work time.
A third strategy for managing time was to draw a line around certain activities, in
other words, to create boundaries that either defined the public and private spheres, or
which separated the psychological from the material. For example, major forthcoming
professional activities would be entered into the diary in order to highlight spaces
available for holidays, thus using work to determine the extent and timing of leisure
periods. One participant used her iPod to prevent distractions while thinking and
writing, and others chose not to use their telephones or look at emails while on holiday
or at home, although the nature of public relations work, global time zones and the
strong identification of many practitioners with notions of professionalism, meant that
this was often difficult to do:
Eastern states’ times mean you have to keep checking the Blackberry even at home. But
sometimes you don‘t have to do it, but you still are in the habit of doing it … so it‘s just
a matter of trying to be disciplined and going. You know what? These other tasks can
wait. I don‘t have to do this right now. How practitioners’ relationship with time is
negotiated, however, is dependent not only on personal imperatives such as career or
family ambitions and commitments, but also the role, type of organisation and sector in
which practitioners are employed. Most women make active choices about the type of
work that will best enable them to manage their time. It is not uncommon for those with
young children or dependent parents, for example, to reject the roles of media relations
or events management. Some women with families elect to leave the private sector,
especially consultancy, for the public sector in the belief that employing organisations
44
will offer better work–life balance. Others set up their own businesses or opt for
freelance or short term contract work in the belief that this will give them more control
and flexibility, although not all agree that this does occur. For example, a solo operator
who chose to work from home to enable her to spend more time with her children
highlighted the tensions involved in balancing the demands of family and profession
when she related the story of how she took her daughter to swimming lessons during a
working day. While she was in the pool, the regional newspaper called twice for
comment by her client. By the time she picked up the message and called back, the
newspaper had found another source, thus depriving her client of valuable media
coverage.
Practitioners therefore negotiate different temporalities as they cross the psychological,
relational and physical borders between the different, socially constructed spheres of
their lives. Women perceive the professional sphere as a space that includes their work
and professional practice, and their identifications with this. The private sphere
comprises home life, leisure activities, relationships with friends and family, and their
relationship to this. It also comprises the personal or internal self, including women‘s
reflections on themselves. The interconnectedness between the spheres is driven to
some extent by professional notions of time related to the planning, controlling and
scheduling of public relations work, especially that involving media relations and the
servicing of clients, as well as notions concerning the value of communication
technologies in the public relations role. Woven together with the social or cultural
imperatives associated with the professional community are the personal values and
motivations related to practitioners’ membership of the home or non-work community,
such as family.
Negotiating the boundaries of different life spheres
Three different categories of identity emerge from the data to illustrate the emphasis
that women give as they endeavour to juggle with and cross the borders of the inter-
related spheres: segmented, overlapping and merged. The categories themselves do not
pre-exist women‘s practices, and neither do they reify their experiences. Instead, they
describe how women improvise, communicate and negotiate their personal–professional
identities in specific situations and the tensions inherent in their encounters among self
and other, private and public, economic and cultural.
Segmented identity
This identity is characterised by its internal composition by defined boundaries and a
separation between the professional and non-work spheres. This implies that women
make a choice in different situations to prioritise either their professional role or their
home role, depending on the situation, thus making a conscious effort to create a
separation between the two. While a segmented identity is discernible in all age groups
and levels of seniority, it is most pronounced among some young women in the early
stages of their careers, or when mothers have young children and have made choices to
work part-time for minimal hours, or when senior women have reflected on their careers
and opted for a more balanced lifestyle. The segmented identity is (with greater or lesser
ease) able to release its attachment to the professional sphere in order to concentrate on
the private, and vice versa.
45
How women define and use psychological and socio-physical boundaries in order to
distinguish the different spheres of their lives is exemplified in the following quotations:
While you are away [travelling for work], you can completely focus on work.
[Travelling home from work is] a transition ... I try to do like this little mini-meditation
before I pick up my daughter ... so I‘m not all angsted up.
Women in this category tend to prioritise home over work, emphasising their quality of
life. One woman who had been employed at the most senior level, internationally,
stated: I‘ve done the big corporate jobs, I‘ve done the big consultancy jobs, I‘ve worked
the fifteen-hour days and I‘ve come to the conclusion that I don‘t need to do that
anymore ... My health was more important than the hours and the contribution that I was
putting in at work, over the balance of health and life at home.
She chose instead to write a book and undertake a variety of freelance projects, some in
public relations, others within the arts and entertainment fields. Wellbeing and work-life
balance, then, were major influences on the decision to segment lives, including not
only reducing the hours of work, or the energy put into building careers, but also in
planning extended periods of time out of the profession in order to concentrate on home
responsibilities.
The instrumental compartmentalising of professional and home spheres by public
relations practitioners with segmented identities results in their experiencing less
conflict between the demands and different temporalities of the public and private
spheres. Identification with one sphere or another was determined by the situation as
well as women‘s self-conscious attempts to retain distinct facets of their identity.
Overlapping identity
Overlapping identity is characterised by boundaries that are blurred, with spheres that
are separate in some situations while overlapping in others. As with the previous
category, women‘s strong identification with both the professional and non-work
spheres indicates their attachment to the expectations, motivations and values of the
public relations community, as well as the home or non-work realm and its related roles,
for example, mother, wife, partner, and friend. Although the majority of women who
participated in this study are described as having overlapping identities, certain groups
were more active in the process of communicating different aspects of their identity
simultaneously. These included women who chose freelance work or who set up
businesses from home, working as sole operators, in order to spend more time with
family.
At work, I am very organised. But ... I‘m more spontaneous outside of work and free-
flowing and I actually prefer that... I‘m just two different people... [But] I am always
thinking about work... The reality is that work and home have an impact on each other.
You make it work, you just juggle – I don‘t get stressed about it. If you let people
[clients] know you‘ve got a sick child or whatever, they are understanding. It‘s all about
communication.
This public relations consultant and small business owner constructed a border between
the professional and the home through the mechanism of discipline at work and
relaxation or spontaneity at home. However, she recognised the impossibility of
46
disentangling the spheres. At the same time as her identity was segmented, it also
overlapped to some extent. A woman working in-house illustrated the constant
oscillation that occurred when the boundaries between work-home spheres became
blurred, allowing learning from the home sphere to contribute to learning in the
professional, and vice versa.
I always say to people “You have to be like an elastic band, and you have to be able to
stretch, and then you have to be able to come back in. But don‘t snap. But you have to
be flexible and you have to be mutable. Because if you come in with black and white
and go. This is what I‘m going to get done today, you just set yourself up for failure…
Just like you have in your household. Things will come out, kids will get sick or
something will come out of the blue. You just go with it... I just find if you are flexible,
it‘s a lot easier”.
The flexibility associated with an overlapping identity extends to choices about when
and how to work, in a similar way to the segmented identity. In their 30s and early 40s,
many women choose to work from home to facilitate their mothering role, but this does
require certain pre-determined tactics to ensure that the home sphere does not intrude
into the hours set aside for work. One woman employed a child minder for her young
child in order that she could work undisturbed in the next room.
This separation of spheres and the situational overlapping of aspects of both the
professional and non-work spheres is not always by choice, however. Therefore, while
there are positive aspects to negotiating an overlapping identity, in many cases this is
not always the case, as one senior practitioner working in the public sector reported: PR
isn‘t a nine-to-five job. For most of the time that I have worked, I have been on call
24/7, so I have taken phone calls at 11 o‘clock at night, and gone out and picked up
newspapers to find out what the news headlines is at 11 o‘clock at night when the first
edition comes out. I‘ve taken calls —mostly around the crisis in media stuff, media calls
on weekends— while I‘ve been painting the kitchen, and all those kinds of things. So
it‘s been fairly intrusive on my family life.
The overlapping identity, then, is continually redefined and reproduced as different
imperatives are emphasised according to factors such as location, life stage, and strength
of identification with one or other sphere. While flexibility is ingrained in the
overlapping identity, this characteristic may be less benign than it at first appears.
Merged identity
In this category of identity, the professional and non-work spheres are integrated
because the boundaries between them have been, either willingly or reluctantly,
dissolved. Women may identify with either sphere equally and simultaneously blending
the two, or, in contrast, they may privilege or foreground one, so that the other gives
way. This orientation towards non-differentiation of the spheres is necessary in order to
handle their responsibilities with the rest of their lives. This is discernible in young
women intent on establishing their professional credentials before having a family, also
in many senior women at the peak of their careers, and also single women without
family obligations or women without children.
The data indicated that young women who chose not to segment their lives did so
because of personal career ambitions. Many worked very long hours at the expense of
47
having a social life, or in some case partners, so that when they chose to start a family,
their financial position and professional reputation in the industry would allow them to
step down for a few years. In five years I‘d like to have had a baby and work part-time
in PR. I‘d like to set myself up financially before then so I can have a few years off with
my child.
Older practitioners in the industry laughed at what they considered the naivety of such
aspirations but nevertheless were admiring of such determination, recognising
themselves at that life-stage when they too had had integrated identities.
[When I was younger] I wanted to be in a position where I could call the shots and work
my own hours, so to speak. But when you do that, because you want to be successful
and you‘re driven, you end up working incredibly long hours.
Where a merged identity was seen positively, women appeared confident about
themselves as both professionals and as mothers.
I‘m the same person I am at work as I am at [home]. We always talk [in the office]
about what we‘re doing, if one of the children is sick, or you‘ve got to go [home]
because … a parent has to go because a child is sick … sometimes the kids will come in
[to the office].
It appears that the boundary dissolution that leads to a merged identity is the outcome of
a subtle interplay of both the personal and social/professional. Certain expectations
about the role of public relations and the perception of how it should be conducted
influence the manner in which women integrate the professional and home spheres.
However, while the term integration‘ implies some ease of reconciling or merging
different aspects of identity, in fact the women whose identities could be thus described
were acutely aware of the way in which they feel disempowered or overwhelmed by this
orientation when the professional is foregrounded.
You can‘t set boundaries in PR. That doesn‘t work in our profession. It just doesn‘t
work. But I wonder to what extent that is my capacity not to be able to let go and see if
that actually might work.
There is an awful lot of responsibility as you get further along so that the time that
you‘re thinking about your work away from work is more stressful than creative. It‘s
more the sense of anxiety about keeping all the balls in the air constantly. The physical,
emotional and psychological impact that may be an outcome of a merged identity can
drive some to make conscious efforts to segment their lives or even, in the case of one
participant, of retiring from public relations altogether:
When I was younger ... I was who I was because of my work not because of me. .. now I
don‘t particularly need to be good at anything, except being happy each day.
In summary, all women working in public relations face the challenge of juggling roles
as worker, mother, partner, parent or grandparent. The manner in which they construct,
communicate and negotiate their identities depends on their life- and career-stage,
situation including organisation culture, and the personal and socially-derived
imperatives associated with their multi-membership of different communities (in this
48
case, the professional and home or non-work). Their identification with different
spheres determines the nature of their identity: segmented, overlapping or merged which
is continually renegotiated and redefined.
Discussion and conclusion
Thus, as our research has found, some women do make a concerted effort to keep their
work and home lives separate. This suggests that they attempt to live the different
aspects of their identities in sequence rather than concurrently (Wenger 1998: 159). For
Wenger, however, because individuals’ identities are not separable, not processes that
can be turned on and off, such an effort to enact identities in sequence can, on the one
hand, result in women privileging one sphere over another or, on the other, lead to their
sense of the disconnectedness between the different aspects of their lives.
By contrast, and in relation to those women for whom the boundaries of home and work
life are blurred or overlapping, it would appear that the different aspects of their
identities are active simultaneously (albeit by favouring one or the other in different
contexts). Nonetheless, as we found, this flexibility’ of identity does require women‘s
ongoing juggling and negotiating of their different roles and responsibilities in the
various spheres of their lives.
Finally, for those PR women whose lives and identities are characterised by dissolved or
non-differentiated boundaries (whether because these are solo women, women without
dependent children or women who choose to privilege work over home lives), the
pervasiveness of the 24/7 knowledge economy, produced and sustained by various
communication technologies makes it much harder to resist work as an all-
encompassing activity and as the marker of a meaningful identity.
The communicative, relational, temporal- and context-sensitive demands of the
professional environment in which women are involved as part of the knowledge
economy reinforce (or extend) precisely those pressures they may feel when negotiating
their identities and activities across different the (variously permeable) boundaries of
work and home life. It seems that PR women‘s personal investment in the industry is
significant if they are to regard themselves and be regarded by others as competent and
valuable workers. However, because such investment is impossible to quantify, it is
often not articulated in the public domain and therefore remains invisible or
unrecognised by either employers, clients, or, indeed, prospective PR women
professionals.
We suggest that further research might consider the negotiation of relationships and
identity as those are pertinent to public relations education, and might re-imagine the
approaches and practices of the public relations industry itself.
References
Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009). Australian Social Trends, March. Retrieved from
www.abs.gov.au [Accessed 13 August 2009].
49
Castells, M. (2010). The Rise of the Network Society in the Information Age: Economy,
Society and Culture Vol 1. 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell.
Cline, C., Toth, E., Turk, J., Walters, L., Johnson, N., and Smith, H. (1986). The velvet
ghetto: The impact of the increasing percentage of women in public relations and
business communication. USA: IABC Foundation.
Crompton, R., and Lyonette, C. (2006). Work-life balance in Europe. Acta Sociologica,
49(4), 379-393.
De Bussy, N., and Wolf, K. (2009). The state of Australian public relations:
professionalization and paradox. Public Relations Review, 35(4), 376-381.
Kanter, R.M. (1977). Men and Women of the Corporation. New York: Basic Books.
Nyström, S. (2009). The dynamics of professional identity formation: Graduates‘
transitions from higher education to working life. Vocations and Learning, 2, 1-18
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
50
51
Effective media-monitoring reports: Framing, measurement and
evaluation
Mariam Gersamia (Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University,
Mariam.gersamia@tsu.ge)
Abstract
Producing proper media-monitoring reports are essential for PR specialists as well as
for media-researchers. As for Journalists and associates, they can apply this research-
based knowledge to become more result-oriented.
Research Question: what are the elements that exist in the story or event and cause
positive or negative media reflection, framing of the news?
Hypothesis 1: The elements that influence on media tone are in correlation with each
other and the more elements/symbols exist in the story, the more influence they have on
media-coverage. Hypothesis 2: These elements might be used during event-planning,
agenda-setting for adjusting the media stance of the relevant organization and framing
the positive or negative media-positioning. Hypothesis 3: There could be some
correlation between the relevant organization’s pro activeness, which shapes the
organization’s niche in the media, and the negative news niche about the organization.
The goal of the research: identify the indicators/elements, that cause the positive or
negative make up of the media content. Also, provide the recommendations for media-
researchers, as well as for PR specialists and journalists.
Methods: using quantitative and content-based analysis, more than 10,000 news stories
covering the fields of Education and Science, in broadcast media have been analyzed.
Findings: based on the research the main elements that cause positive and/or negative
coverage in the media have been identified. According to the findings of the survey 12
positive and 12 indicators/element had been detected. These elements in the study have
the unique name: “Magic 12”.
Research limitations: the research observes the only branch education and science,
and shows the particles of event-planning, which might be suitable or not for any other
context, branch and environment.
Future research context: conduct the survey to determine major and minor elements,
that are more or less significant for the public.
With the additional help of a custom-made pattern and coding system it becomes easier
to analyze the relevant organization’s stance in particular news network and efficiency
of media-relations, as well as assessing the media-product itself (accuracy of coverage)
and the company’s result vector (in setting the agenda). Efficiency of the above
mentioned media-monitoring reports were tested and applied in Georgia’s Ministry of
Education and Science in 2007-09.
52
Research
Producing proper media-monitoring reports are essential for the PR specialists as well
as for the media-researchers. As for Journalists and associates, they can apply this
research based knowledge to become more result-oriented.
During the ambitious reform (2005-07) of the Education and Science system in Georgia,
which was designed by the Minister Alexander Lomaia and his team after the Rose
Revolution, the vital goal was to raise people’s awareness about the ongoing reform,
evaluate the outcome and correct the PR approach if needed. Preliminary goals and
objectives of the research have been conducted on a commission from the minister in
May, 2007, when I was an adviser on public relations. Media-monitoring reports
appeared to become the additional effective measurement instruments in agenda-setting.
Preliminary hypothesis was that analytical-research organizations and consulting
agencies in Georgia, while producing media-monitoring accounts and data-bases, used
inaccurate and/or insufficient indicators for determining if the news stories were
positive, negative or neutral. On the first stage, more than 1, 000 news stories have been
analyzed and preliminary findings of the survey proved that hypothesis. It also became
clear that during PR-planning, practitioners were not familiar with specific positive
elements and were planning the event without considering the input. Further analysis
made it clearer that several elements have shown the object’s full make-up, and it was
preferable to consider them in future PR-planning.
The study shows that special elements do exist within the story and they have their point
of destination in the media-coverage: positive, negative or neutral. Being aware of the
abovementioned indicators can assist media researchers in looking deeper into the
media-text and its make-up, as well as enabling them to be more productive.
First of all, were determined the RQ (Research Question) and Hs (Hypothesis).
RQ: what are the elements that exist in the story/event and cause positive or negative
media reflection, framing of the news?
H1: The elements that influence on media tone are in correlation with each other and
the more elements exist in the story, the more influence they have on media-coverage.
H2: These elements might be used during event-planning, agenda-setting for adjusting
the media-stance of the relevant organization and framing the positive or negative
media-stance.
Hypothesis 3: There could be some correlation/interaction between the relevant
organization’s pro activeness, which shapes the organization’s niche in the media, and
the negative news niche about the organization.
Using quantitative and content-based analysis, more than 10,000 news stories covering
the fields of Education and Science, in broadcast media have been analyzed during
2007-09.
53
As for the goal of weekly basis reports, it was essential to: 1. Report in a timely manner
about organization’s current media-stance; 2. Analyze the media-coverage; 3.
Determine the levels of the PR and media-relation’s efficiency;
What the frame of the report should look like? The media-information, which had been
analyzed, was put together in this particular way (see the table 1, p. 6). The template
consisted of: 1. Targeted media-sources (airtime-code, frequency of coverage); 2.
Events initiated by the organization; 3. Assessment indicators: elements that are used to
evaluate the news story, etc.
The template the report was updated on a daily basis. Mandatory items for the report
were: 1. Main findings; 2. Content and data-analysis of the media-coverage; 3.The
recommendations.
Using quantitative and content-based analysis, more than 10,000 news stories covering
the fields of Education and Science, in broadcast media have been analyzed.
Using statistic and content-based analysis, more than 10,000 broadcasted news stories1
(period: 2007-09) in the following 7 Television stations about the field of Education and
Science had been analyzed: 1th Channel (GPB) - Georgian Public Broadcaster2
(government funded); Broadcasting Company “Rustavi 2”3 (commercial),
Broadcasting Company “Imedi”4 (commercial), TV Mze5 (commercial), Broadcasting
Company “Alania”6 (commercial), which is called from 2009 The Regional TV,
Maestro TV7 (commercial), TV company “Kavkasia”8 (commercial).
The 38% of news coverage only about the Science stories comes on GPB (according to
analysis during period Feb. 2007 to Aug. 2011). The Georgian Public Broadcaster was
overcoming by 7% other TVs news stories while covering the education and science’s
field, according to 6 month period analysis (Jan. 2007 to Jun. 2007). 48% of stories
using positive tone also come on GPB. The further analysis of media policy had been
carried on monthly-based reports.
As the background of the outcomes, it should be mentioned, that the annual media-
monitoring reports showed that the absolute majority of events, which were scheduled
by the Ministry, were covered in the media:
Throughout 2007, only 65% of press-releases have been reflected in the media. After
some analysis of the abovementioned reports, the data had been improved and in 2008
has reached 99%, in 2009 – 97%.
The assessment indicators, that cause positive or negative stance, hereinafter we name
as positive and negative elements. These elements are so much alike to Elementary
1 News archive of Analytical-consulting group “Primetime”, www.primetime.ge. Accessibility has been
provided from Ministry of Education and Science.
2 1th Channel - Georgian Public Broadcaster, www.gpb.ge
3Broadcasting Company “Rustavi 2, www.rustavi2.com
4 Broadcasting Company “Imedi”, www.imedi.ge
5 TV Mze, www.mze.ge
6 Broadcasting Company “Alania”, www.alania.ge
7 Maestro TV, www.maestro.ge
8 TV company “Kavkasia”, www.kavkasiatv.ge
!
54
Particles, which exist in the Universe and are explored with a great interest by
physicists, all around the World. Of course, the Big Bang has nothing to do with this
survey, but a lot of people have no rest with the question “what the Universe consists
of?” myself included. From professional perspective, Journalism and Communications,
as “technology of informing (gaining, processing, transmitting the information) is an
academic field, that observes and researches the Universe as well. While the field in
many cases is applied, as scientific discipline leaves the tracks of basic studies as well.
During my visit In CERN (The European Organization of Nuclear Research) the
Georgian physicists used to give details indefatigably, that the Universe consists of
Elementary Particles, not all of them are discovered yet and the monitors in CERN are
transmitting the valuable information about them all day and night long. Here came the
issue for discussion: what element does the information consists of?”9
Indeed, there are a lot of Particles around us. We can’t see them, but they do influence
our lives and are in correlation with each other. And then, some Elementary Particles do
exist in information, media-text and in Public Relation Agendas.
Based on the research, elements which caused the positive media-tone have been taken
out of the stories and then, activated in the practice. According to the content analysis
there were detected what I’ve named them MAGIC 12”: 12 positive and 12 negative
elements. They are as follows:
Positive Elements (PE), according to 12 assessment indicators, are:
PE 1: Positive political response;
PE 2: Showing the defending or defender of human rights.
PE 3: Showing the true motive of the story in an attractive way;
PE 4: Properly chosen air-time, message and speakers (celebrities, public figures
included);
PE 5: Positive response to and/or outcome of the event and/or issue - from the
benefiters;
PE 6: Attractive visual environment;
PE 7: Procedure awareness for media conducted via protocols and guidelines;
PE 8: Demonstrate success stories/cases, achieved goals;
PE 9: Self-Initiated issues, that consists of some risk;
PE 10: Context: additional news stories, events that took place the same day/week and
were somehow connected to the story
PE 11: Simultaneous coverage in several media-outlets;
PE 12: Show the satisfied people;
Negative Elements (NE), according to 12 assessment indicators, are:
NE 1: Negative political resonance;
NE 2: Exposing the act of human rights violation and or violator, or ignoring human
rights.
NE 3: Imbalanced or biased information;
NE 4: Incorrectly chosen air-time, message and speakers (celebrities, public figures
included);
NE 5: Negative response to and/or outcome of the event, issue from the benefiters;
NE 6: Poor visual environment;
9 Gersamia, M. (2011). Elementary Particles in Journalism. Tbilisi: Tbilisi State University
55
NE 7: Poorly coordinated media-procedures, lack of media-awareness;
NE 8: Show the environment that demonstrates unachieved goals;
NE 9: Countering/responding to the issues post-factum, after they were released from
other parties;
NE 10: Context: additional news stories, events that took place the same day/week and
were somehow connected to the story;
NE 11: Simultaneous coverage in several media-outlets;
NE 12: Dissatisfied people;
The abovementioned elements were inserted into the template, coding system and was
simply, marked by the researcher in the case if this or that element has been detected
during content-analysis (see table 1, p. 8). Here, the correlation between existed
elements and the frequency of media-coverage the template showed: 1. how
successfully the elements have been activated; 2. how they have been reflected in the
media; 3. how many times they’ve been existed in the media. E.g. if the represented
evaluation depicted data: 2/2 - that meant that only two elements existed in the story and
the news was covered only 2 times. If the represented assessment depicted data: 8/10
that meant that eight elements existed in the story and the news was covered ten times.
There has been also summarized the following figures, such as:
The amount of press releases and it’s coverage in the media;
The amount of news stories, top-news/stories, and stories in nightly news
broadcasts that were put forth through the organization’s pro-activity.
The total amount of beat-stories and targeted news (i.e. around specific field, on
which the organization was focused on). Among targeted news, separately have
been analyzed (case by case): 1. the amount and significance of news stories in
negative niche; 2. the amount and value of news stories in an organization’s
niche.
As the Hypothesis 3 was that there could be some correlation between the relevant
organization’s pro activeness, which shapes the organization’s niche in the media, and
the negative news niche about the organization, the balance between the organization’s
niche and negative niche were properly measured and figured into percentages.
In 2007 Ministry’s Niche was: 15% (out of the whole amount of the field’s media-
coverage), in 2008 it reached 29%, and in 2009: 20%. The average number of stories
about education and science reached 250 stories per month. Among them 30%
(approximately 75 stories per month) were initiated by the Ministry.
Research showed that as soon as an organization’s niche had been reduced, it
simultaneously reflected on the negative niche, which increased, unexpectedly. That is
another reason to recommend that it’s preferable not to drop any organization’s niche
under 20% (out of the whole news-coverage), as well as monitor not to let negative
news niche up to 20%.
The media-monitoring report estimated the amount of negative topics that had been
dominating throughout the year. E.g. in 2007, 13 topics out of 22 (i.e. 60 %) had
dominated throughout the year (correlation data: 22/13). In 2008 this correlation had
been reduced to under 11/2. Negative news stories made up 21% in 2007, only 8% in
2008 and 2009.
56
The findings confirmed that during January-June (2007), in every case, when the
officials hadn’t commented on a topic, news was covered in a negative way. On the
other hand, almost every event, scheduled by the Ministry was covered accurately
(among them 19% - in a positive way, 78% - in a neutral way).
In addition, when positive or negative tone was taken in the news coverage, specific
elements become dominant/major. Some of them were strongly related to each other.
In 2007, most relative negative elements were: 1. Dissatisfied people (NE 12); 2.
Imbalanced or biased information (NE 3); 3. Show the environment that
demonstrates unachieved goals (NE 8); 4. Negative response to and/or outcome
of the event, issue from the benefiters (NE 5); 5. Exposing the act of human
rights violation and or violator, or ignoring human rights (NE 2).
In 2008, the most commonly used positive element was: 1. Showing the motive
of the story in attractive way (PE 3), dominated in 20% of stories; negative
element was: 1. Show the environment that demonstrates unachieved goals (NE
8), dominated in 11% of stories).
In 2009, the most proximate negative elements were: 1. showing the motive of
the story in attractive way (PE 3); 2. Properly chosen air-time, message and
speakers (celebrities, public figures included) (PE 4); 3. Attractive visual
environment (PE 6); negative elements were: 1.Show the environment that
demonstrates unachieved goals (NE 8); 2. Imbalanced or biased information (NE
3); 3. Negative response to and/or outcome of the event, issue from the
benefiters (NE 5).
For countering the negative niche it was essential to break up the story into multiple
pieces and counter every negative element of the story that caused the negative
outcome. With this approach PR managers were aware of every “week point” and tried
to correct them accordingly. The recommendations were drawn up on weekly, monthly
and annual-based reports. They assisted the PR practitioner in drafting the short-term
and long-term strategy. For drawing out the recommendations, positive and negative
symbols were put side by side, to illustrate the contrast and track that should be
followed by the PR practitioners as well as policy-makers.
With the additional help of a custom-made template of the report it becomes easier to
analyze the organization’s stance in particular news network and efficiency of media-
relations, as well as assessing the media-product itself (accuracy of coverage) and the
company’s result vector (in setting the agenda). Analysis illuminates the gaps in media-
coverage, which might be caused by organization’s or even media’s lack of efficiency.
Media-monitoring Reports indicate the outcome of such co-working and co-existing.
There could be some details for discussion or even disagreement, because every
environment sets its unique context for media and PR.
The Research has its limitation: the research observes the only branch – education and
science, and shows the particles of event-planning, which might be suitable or not for
any other context, branch and environment.
57
The Research has the following future context: to analyze other field’s media-coverage
and conduct the surveys to determine which symbols and elements are more or less
significant for the audience.
References
Gersamia, M. (2011). Elementary Particles in Journalism. Tbilisi: Tbilisi State
University.
58
59
Instruments of public diplomacy in the promotion of Poland
Marta Ryniejska-Kiełdanowicz (University of Wrocław, marta.kieldanowicz@uni.wroc.pl)
Abstract
This paper presents the term of Public Diplomacy, which is quite new in the domain of
Polish foreign policy and in the field of international public relations. Although this
term is used increasingly often by political scientists, communications experts as well as
politicians it is still an area, which is relatively little known. The concepts of public and
cultural diplomacy are intertwined with the concept of ‘branding’ or to put it simply
brand management. It may be assumed that the basic principles in building the brand of
a country are the same as in the commercial sphere of identity building. Art and culture
and economy are in the forefront of many countries’ promotional efforts. These
countries recognize that showing their cultural heritage provides them with an
opportunity of showing who they are, creating a positive image, thus helping to achieve
their political aims. This paper analyses also the development of public diplomacy
campaign in Poland, focuses on Polish preparations of EU Council. The main findings
of the analysis suggest that although the need for coherent concept of public diplomacy
in Poland has been acknowledged, the field needs coordination.
Introduction
In embarking on the subject of the instruments of the public instruments of Poland’s
diplomacy it should be noted that Poland has problems in taking up efforts aimed at
promotion abroad. For a number of years now attempts have been made to establish
one strategy of public diplomacy , to coordinate the undertakings of several dozen
different institutions, which function in different sectors. Poland rates badly in global
rankings, when compared with other European countries. The Country Brand Index
2010, which showed how the country is perceived among 3 thousand business and
leisure travellers from 13 countries, placed Poland in 82 place from among the 110 in
the survey. Only Estonia and Romania ranked below Poland from among EU-member
states.
Poland’s efforts to join the European Union became, in a sense, the main goal of the
country’s public diplomacy. It is worth noting that such undertakings were not
embarked on a such a wide scale in the past. In the period leading up to pre-accession
efforts the debate on the subject began. The term ‘public diplomacy’ was not used then,
with promotion of Poland abroad being the preferred label. It is noteworthy that no
promotional activities had been undertaken in the past by states aspiring to EU
accession. According to V.M. Reyes (2000) this was not necessary for two reasons.
First of all, EU extension was viewed as a matter for the political elites thus the citizens
did not see themselves as entitled to take part in this debate. Secondly, the social
distance of the citizens of most EU member states was not as great as in the case of
Poland. The task before us was, therefore, more difficult.
60
Theoretical background
In embarking on the subject of the instruments of public diplomacy it is worth starting
with a definition of this term. B. Ociepka (2011) defines PD as a form of political
international communication aimed at the public abroad. The task of public diplomacy
is to create or reinforce a positive image of the country and its society, and by
influencing public opinion to shape positive attitudes toward the country, and in the
consequence to make the achievement of international policy goals easier. It should be
understood as the long term, symmetrical, dialogical communication of governments
and NGO’s with broad audiences abroad. Public diplomacy may be viewed from the
perspective of international public relations. G. Szondi feels that DP is one of the pillars
of managing the country’s reputation. He understands international PR “is the planned
communication activity of a (multinational) organisation, government or a supra- or
international institution to create a positive and receptive environment through
interactions in the target country which facilitates the organisation (or government) to
achieve its policy or business objectives without harming the interests of the host
publics (Szondi, 2006, 115). Two other researchers into public relations B. Signizer and
T. Coombs, traced the similarities between theories of public relations and theories of
public diplomacy. Traditional diplomacy was based on formal relations between
governments or government communication. Diplomacy was a process of talking over
differences, clarifying aims and exploring alternatives to maintain peace with other
states. It entailed highly skilled communication among trained envoys”. The authors
note that, “the field of diplomacy is shifting from traditional diplomacy toward public
diplomacy”. They define public diplomacy as “the way in which both government and
private individuals and groups influence directly or indirectly those public attitude and
opinions which bear directly on another government’s foreign policy decisions”. Today,
they added, governments speak to other governments but they also speak and listen to
the people (Signizer, Coombs, 137-147).
In discussing aspects of public diplomacy and its connections with international public
relations reference must be made to models of public relations put forward by J. Grunig
and T. Hunt. As the authors note, these models were originally developed to explain the
history of public relations in the United States, but they also describes international
public relations”. The first model of press agency describes PR programs aimed solely
at attaining favorable publicity for an organization in the mass media – often in
misleading way. The second model the public information is similar to press agency
because it too is one –way model that sees public relations only as the dissemination of
information. These two models are one-way models of PR: They describe
communication programs that are not based on research and strategic planning. They
attempt to change the behavior of the public but not of the organization (Gruning 1993,
144). Grunig also describes two more professional models. The first, two-way
asymmetrical uses social sciencies research to identify attitudes and develop messages
that appeal to those attitudes that persuade publics to behave as the organizations wants.
As an example of this model Grunig quotes the campaign by Hill & Knowlton entitled
“Citizens for a Free Kuwait”. Grunig’s last model is the two- way symmetrical, which
describes public relations that it based on research and that uses communication to
manage conflict and improve understanding with strategic publics. It is symmetrical
because it assumes that both organization and practitioner may change their behavior as
result of communication program (Gruning 1993, 144). The author of the models notes
that the campaigns conducted within the realm of international public relations
61
(including those on behalf of countries) primarily used the model of press agentry or the
public information model. Gruning, in confirming his thesis quotes A. Albittron and J.
Manheim, who conducted a content analysis of the coverage of five nations in the New
York Times – Argentina, Indonesia, Korea the Philippines and Turkey – after these
countries contracted public relations firms. They found, that the public relations firms
were successful in reducing the amount of coverage, particularly the negative news,
making the valence of coverage more favorable and suggesting that the interest of the
country were compatible with U.S. interest. Manheim and Albiritton argued that the
media are vulnerable to manipulation because they devote limited resources to
international affairs. They also argued that the improvement coverage produced by
public relations firms affects people’s so-called images, or cognitions, of these countries
because, for most , the media are their only source of information about other countries.
This is viewed differently by Kunczik, who notes that “In all countries the great
majority of people are totally disinterested in international affairs and a small group of
people are well informed. It is these opinion leaders and decision makers one has to
reach” (Kunczik 1990, 76)
In describing the notion of public diplomacy it also necessary to make reference to its
dimensions and, what follows, its instruments. M. Leonard (2002) writes about three
dimensions of public diplomacy, i.e. information management, strategic communication
and relationship-building. While the first dimension is seen as a short-term activity and
is most reminiscent of traditional diplomacy, the two successive dimensions are long-
term in their nature. The communications strategy is based on mass-media instruments,
advertising and public relations. It is an active, long-term activity. The last dimension is
that of relation building. This is based on the organization of scientific exchanges,
conferences and presentations of the given country’s culture. Leonard also indicates
three spheres: political/military, economic, and social/cultural; two types of public
diplomacy: cooperation and competition; and five public diplomacy instruments: NGO
diplomacy, Diaspora diplomacy, political party diplomacy, brand diplomacy, and
business diplomacy. E. Gilboa (2008) in the article entitled. ‘Searching for a Theory of
Public Diplomacy’ in a sense completes the tools of public diplomacy ordering them
according to the time-frame of their impact and the level of the government’s
involvement in public diplomacy.
Range
Immediate
Intermediate
Long
Time
Hours/days
Weeks/months
Years
Purpose
Reactive
Proactive
Relationship
Media/public
opinion
News management
Strategic
communication
Building favorable
conditions
Government
Closely linked
Partially linked
Remotely linked
Public diplomacy
instruments
advocacy,
international
broadcasting, cyber
PD
international PR,
corporate diplomacy,
diaspora diplomacy
cultural
diplomacy,
exchanges,
branding.
62
The table indicates that the tools of public diplomacy differ depending on the aims
before them and their time-frame. Every level presents a different stance towards the
media and public opinion, different connections with the government and the
instruments of public policy adjusted to it. At the first level is an immediate reaction to
events, with the aim of minimising the negative impact of the news. Such undertakings
are usually conducted by government officials. The intermediate level allows much
more time for proactive planning and implementation of policies. It is based on
techniques of strategic communication and conducted by a combination of
governmental and nongovernmental agencies during periods lasting between a few
weeks and a few months. The long-term range is the closest to traditional public
diplomacy. It is designed to produce supportive attitudes among publics around the
world. Such initiatives require years of efforts to build mutual trust and favorable
conditions for friendly relations with states and non-state actors (Gilboa 1998, 72-73).
Instruments of public diplomacy: Polish speciality
G. Szondi (2005) in discussing the situation of East and Central European countries
rightly notes that, o „after the fall of the Berlin Wall the CEE countries faced the
challenge of the transforming their poor images into young dynamic and promising
ones”. The process of public diplomacy in Central Europe has become institutionalized
it means that special governmental organizations were set up to develop and
communicate international public relations activities with varying degrees of success.
The process itself has often been more significant than the outcome (Szondi 205-206).
The situation was similar in the case of Poland. The first promotional programme was
adopted by the Council of Ministers in June 2000 and was called ‘The Framework
Programme for the Promotion of RP to the EU abroad (2000, 2001, 2002). This
document outlined a strategy of promotional undertakings in the contaxt of EU
accession and the instruments to facilitate this. In terms of the programme a series of
measures aimed at researching what the image of Poland and Poles is like in EU
countries. The strategy utilized the model of a two-level flow of information and
measures aimed directly at those who shape public opinion. After coordinate the above-
mentioned programme ended in 2002 the Council of Ministers adopted the ‘Programme
for the Promotion of Poland during period of ratification of the Accession Treaty.’ The
aims were similar with the pre-ordinate aim being the reinforcement of Poland and
Poles as future EU members, and stressing the fact of Poland’s presence in the political,
cultural and economic life of Europe over manty centuries with the proces of EU
integration portrayed as a logical step in this process. In implementing the two
programmes the following promotional instruments were used:
study visits for politicians (in particular parliamentarians), journalists, civil
servants and other decision-shapers;
conferences, seminars, lectures and other meetings on the subject of European
integration (with the participation of parliamentarians and other representatives
of institutions which played a key role in the Accession Treaty);
publications and promotional materials for offices (preparation and distribution
of promotional leaflets devoted to Poland);
cultural events used for political and general promotion;
promotion of an economic type
other events in the sphere of publicity and public relations.
63
Both programmes were rather general in their nature and contained no ready solutions
or even methods of reaching their target groups. What is more, they did not contain the
aims of the promotion only defined the instruments which should be used.
The two above-mentioned programmes were not the only ones in the domain of
promoting Poland in the EU. Among the most important ‘The Polish Tourism
Organisation framework programme for 2001-2004’ is noteworthy as well as ‘Poland’s
Cultural Policy Abroad and its priorities between 2001-2003’ which set out the
priorities for Poland’s cultural policy and its aims. As far as culture is concerned the
events under the auspices of ‘Poland Year’ organised in Spain, Austria, Sweden and
France were highly significant. Among the undertakings connected with economic
diplomacy the ‘Programme for the Economic Promotion of Poland until 2005’, which
had set as its aim a programme of promoting the Polish brand, was adopted in
September 2003. One of the more important image-building programmes for Poland
was the National Marketing Programme created by the Poland Promotion Foundation
Institute of Polish Brand in August 2002. The assumptions of the programme, were set
out by the Stratosfera public relations agency, which specializes in brand building
strategies. These assumed increasing the competitiveness of Polish companies and
products be engendering positive associations and and by building knowledge about
Poland and products „made in Poland”. The aim of the national marketing exercise was
to build a strong, competetive, clear and modern Polish brand, which would facilitate
the improvement of the image, reputation and authority of the country, boost the
competetiveness of Polish companies and products and therefore the economy as a
whole, so that the country could advance in terms of civilization to the position close to
its demographic potential (Ryniejska, 2007).
The promotional activities outlined above were characterised by a lack of coordination
as they were dispersed around a number of different institutions between 2000-2003.
What was ignored was the fact that these campaigns can be conducted on the basis of
inter-ministerial cooperation. Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was supposedly
the coordinator, this was not the case in practice. In 2004 an attempt was made to
establish an institution which would coordinate the promotional activities. The Council
for the Promotion of Poland was set up which was presented with the task of
coordinating the activities in the sphere of promotion of the country, charged with
formalizing the cooperation between different institutions. The Council was chaired by
the Minister of Foreign Affairs with the Under-Secretary of State at the Economy
ministry deputising and representatives of the following ministries making up the
numbers: Culture and Heritage, Public Finance, Higher Education, Education, Tourism,
Regional Development, Defence, Agriculture, Rural Development and European
Integration. The establishment of the Council was meant to ensure continuity and
coherence in measures to promote Poland. Unfortunately, this is not the case as the body
does not possess formalised prerogatives in terms of planning projects. What is
symptomatic is the Council only met 3 times between 2004-2006 and passed three
motions, two on organisational matters and one on the ‘Brand for Poland’ project. The
weakness of the Council is its politicization as evidenced by who sits non it and further
by its members lack of experience in the fields of national branding, public diplomacy
and public relations. The majority of the decisions in terms of promotional policy is
taken at the level of particular ministries and agencies subordinate to them. What was
meant to be its main attribute, ie the planning of communication strategies at the inter-
64
ministerial level, coordination of activities and rational planning of expenditure on
promotion is not being implemented at the moment.
In 2004 yet another idea emerged for a strategy to promote Poland. It was to be outlined
by Wally Olins, founder and director of the British marketing consultants Saffron Brand
Consultants. The strategy was that the first part of the Programme was to be based on
meetings that W. Olins was to hold with persons interested in building a good reputation
and attractive image of Poland in the world. These were to include marketing
specialists, entrepreneurs, politicians, representatives of art and culture, intellectuals,
Polish diplomats and the media. The task before the participants of these meetings was
how to promote the country and transform it from an anonymous former Eastern Bloc
country. Conclusions drawn from these meetings served W. Olins and his team to
formulate a programme of action needed to show Poland as a modern, economically
strong country, attractive both for investors and tourists. The strategy was to be based
on a number of assumptions. Firstly, Poland is a bridge between the East and West. The
second is that an important feature of Poland is individualism. The third pillar is that as
a result of the changes and the culmination of energy Poland is in a state of flux, which
may be described as working progress. Another concept that appeared is that of
„polarity”, which spoke of the contradictions in Poland. These signals gave W. Olins the
idea of „creative tension”. Below is a condensed version of a core idea for Poland
proposed by W. Olins:
“Poland draws its personality, power and perpetual motion from a wealth of apparently
opposing characteristics. For example: Poland is part of the West and also understands
the East; Polish people are passionate and idealistic and also practical and resourceful;
the Polish character is ambitious and also down to earth.
These tensions create restlessness unsatisfied with the status quo, and a boisterousness
that is always stimulating and often astonishing. This creative tension is why Poland
produces so many entrepreneurs, artists and sportspeople. It’s why Poland is constantly
changing and evolving, sometimes tumultuously. And it’s why Poles have always tried
to achieve the seemingly impossible – and often succeeded” (Olins 2006).
Unfortunately, although a general idea for the promotion of Poland appeared the details
of its implementation were not taken care of. A lot of debates took place but no final
decisions were taken. In 2007 W. Olins decided to suspend his cooperation with Poland
giving the political situation and J. Kaczyński’s Prawo i Sprawiedliwość coming to
power as well as difficulties in cooperation with Poles. As he said in an interview for
Daily Teleghaph, “Poles find authority offensive and are very good at destroying it, but
not so good at constructing something else in its place. Solidarity is a good example.
They find it difficult to work together to build things”. Olins, despite the announcement
did not end his cooperation with Poland completely. Among other undertakings he took
an active part in the organization of “Polska Year!” in Great Britain in 2009. Among its
assumptions it was to help Britons discover the word “Polska”, hitherto unknown to
them with the idea making reference to earlier ideas centered on the concept of “creative
tension”.
In 2008 a re-organisation of the system of promotion in Poland took place. The above-
mentioned Council for the Promotion of Poland was re-activated. Furthermore the
department of promotion that had hitherto functioned at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
65
was replaced with The Departament of Public and Cultural Diplomacy, which was to
oversee the whole range of image-building activities. The Department defines the
directions of public and cultural diplomacy, oversees the efforts undertaken in that
respect by Polish diplomatic missions abroad, negotiates cultural cooperation
agreements in the area of education, science and information as well as youth
exchanges, cooperates with foreign and domestic institutions and foreign media,
manages MFA’s Internet portal and coordinates operation of Internet sites of Polish
diplomatic missions abroad (www.msz.gov.pl).
Also in 2008, in September a 12-week campaign to promote the Polish economy and
tourism was launched on CNN International. It was an important event in the context of
promoting Poland’s image as it was the first such large undertaking to promote Poland.
Moreover, it is worth noting that it was created thanks to cooperation with the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, Polish Information and Foreign Investments Agency, Polish
Tourism Organisation and LOT Polish Airlines. Its aim was to present Poland as a
modern, dynamic country which is an attractive tourism destination, a credible business
partner and a good place to invest. It should be added that the campaign was
supplemented by a series of programmes prepared by CNN entitled, “Eye of Poland”,
which were broadcast between 6 and 12 October 2008. Their desired effect was to
ensure that when the viewers attention was focused on Poland, the advertising spots
were to reinforce this interest. The campaign cost around 250 thousand euro. According
to research carried out by CNN the aim of the campaign was achieved as 43% of
viewers who watch CNN twice a week and 51% who watch it daily expressed an
interest in coming to visit Poland. About 70% of viewers were convinced that the
promotional campaign improved the position of our country as the potential destination
for tourists and as a country with a significant economic and business potential. It is
worth adding that this cycle of programmes had broadcast programmes on countries
such as Russia, China, India, South Korea, Brazil and the Republic of South Africa.
Often within the context of the term public diplomacy, the concept of historical
diplomacy appears. It can be understood as a series of undertakings aimed at shaping
opinion about the country with the aid of information about its history or promoting it
with the help of history. It is often a sensitive matter, especially when it comes to
promoting the image of Poland in Germany and Russia. As experience shows, however,
a good idea and well chosen promotional tools may help to promote the image of
Poland. In 2009 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started the “es begann in Danzig”
campaign, which was to be a part of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berli Wall.
The campaign was aimed at informing that the overthrow of communism was achieved
jointly by efforts of both countries. Promotional banners were used to communicate this
information, with the first showing the round-table talks and the second with Gary
Cooper as a cowboy. The latter was familiar to Poles as part of the campaign for
Solidarity-backed candidates in the first free elections in 1989. An identical poster was
displayed at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof station. The concept of this campaign was to
intrigue its recipients and give them food for thought in wondering how the process of
overthrowing communism began. The German media acted as a conduit for
information, not only noticing the Polish campaign but also explaining to the German
public the message behind the campaign. This campaign undertaken by Polish
diplomats was supported by the Polish Institute in Berlin. The cultural institution
organized a series of concerts, artistic events and film shows during the
commemorations. On 9 October 2009, 20 years after the events which lead to the re-
66
unification of Germany had taken place Lech Wałęsa pushed the first domino which
toppled 19 others. This event symbolised the fall of communism and the toppling of the
first domino by the Polish president was a symbol of the fact that the breakthrough had
started in Gdańsk. Moreover, many German politicians stressed the fact that the fall of
the Berlin Wall would not have been possible had it not been for the earlier events in
Poland. These statements can be seen as tangible effects of the campaign. The German
jubilee was celebrated jointly, which can be further evidenced by the banner on a
building on Unter den Linden with the slogan “Es gelang zusammen" (“We did it
together") with colourful kites representing the flags of countries freed from under
communist rule, to remind passer-bys about