Theorical basis: Excellence, Critical and Rhetorical theories in Public Relations

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Information about Theorical basis: Excellence, Critical and Rhetorical theories in Public...
Business & Mgmt

Published on October 13, 2013

Author: StephenTindi



Theories are helpful in understanding and explaining the actions of organizations, PR practitioners and publics. The Excellence, Critical and Rhetorical theories provide useful information on meaning-making between organizations and their publics.


Outline  Brief Note on Theories  Excellence Theory  Generic Principles of PR excellence  Ideals of the Excellence Theory  Relevance and Application of Excellence Theory  Criticisms of Excellence Theory  Rhetoric theory  Rhetoric Ideals  Relevance and Application  Critical theory  Critical Ideals  Relevance and Application  Convergence Between critical and Rhetorical Theories  References

Brief Note on Theories  Theories explain action. They help us to understand and predict what would happen when a certain course is taken and another is not.  Theories are dynamic, so are the rhetorical, critical and excellence theories

Excellence Theory  Basis and development  This is a product of research by a six member team (J. Grunig, L. Grunig, Dozier, Ehling, Repper, and White) funded by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)  The study basically sought answers to How, why, and to what extent communication contributes to the achievement of organizational objectives?  The result is the Excellence theory which is considered as a huge addition to PR practice and scholarship.  The excellence study can be seen as an integration of strategic management theories of public relations into a greater whole.

More on Excellence theory  It sought to explore how public relations could evolve from a tactical craft that broadly focused on publicity and media relations to become a management discipline.  This study reported that, good relationships were of value to organizations because they reduced the costs of litigation, regulation, legislation, and negative publicity caused by poor relationships; reduced the risk of making decisions that affect different stakeholders; or increased revenue by providing products and services needed by stakeholders.

Some Striking Results of excellence theory  CEOs interviewed consented that;  Public relations brings about 184 % return on investment.  Public relations has the greatest value also that it should be practiced essentially as spelled out by the research team's theory of excellence.  P R departments should be characterized by participation in strategic management, symmetrical communication, combined judiciously with two-way asymmetrical communication, and leadership by communication managers rather than technicians.

Achieving Organizational Excellence 3 critical Areas 1. The need for public relations practitioners to equip themselves with adequate public relations knowledge. 2. The goals of both the public relations manager and stakeholders in decision-making. 3. Emphasis on stakeholder involvement founded on the principles of two-way communication. Grunig et al., (1992)

Generic Principles of PR excellence  Involvement of public relations in strategic management  Empowerment of public relations in the dominant coalition or a         direct reporting relationship to senior management. Integrated public relations function. Public relations is a management function separate from other functions. Public relations unit headed by a manager rather than a technician. Two-way symmetrical model of public relations. symmetrical system of internal communication. Knowledge potential for managerial role and symmetrical public relations. Diversity embodied in all roles. Organizational context for excellence.

Ideals of the Excellence Theory  For an organization to be effective it must behave in ways that solve the problems and satisfy the goals of stakeholders as well as of management.  To behave in socially acceptable ways, organizations must scan their environment to identify publics who are affected by potential organizational decisions or who want organizations to make decisions to solve problems that are important to them. And then the organization must communicate symmetrically with its publics.

Relevance and Application of Excellence Theory  The “Excellence Theory” is in a position from which public relations can be practiced ethically ; it also offers a launching point for collaboration within larger social democratic structures  It stresses the economic importance of building and maintaining healthy relationship between an organization and its publics  Provides useful touchstone for measuring and ensuring excellence in organizational communication and PR practice.  Emphasis the need for PR practitioners to be involved or have access to decision makers at the top of the organizational ladder.

Criticisms of Excellence Theory  Public Relations scholars and practitioners argue that excellence theory simply provides a theoretical and unrealistic ideal for practitioners to strive to achieve.  Grunig’s et al.’s belief that only two-way symmetrical public relations is excellent communication is limiting in its theoretical analysis and does not allow for differences in publics, messages, scenario or indeed type of organization.  It could equally be argued that to be excellent public relations, the practitioner adjusts their communication methods for each situation and for each public.

Rhetorical Theories; Historical Development  Rhetoric has roots in ancient Greek society which governed itself through public debate and persuasion, rather like our present court and parliamentary processes, reducing the need for oppression and violence. (Slaves, women and many others in ancient Greece of course did not share in this democracy).  Rhetoric addresses the ways evaluations are confirmed or challenged. Rhetoric is inherently dialogic a contest among multiple voices.

Ideals of Rhetorical theories  Rhetorical theory has to do with relationships--how they are shaped--typically between organizations and individuals. Sometimes these relationships are constructive, based on fact, trust, and cooperation. Sometimes they are destructive, resulting in a clash of base interests and narrow perspectives.  This theory reflects the role information, fact plays in shaping knowledge and opinions as well as being convincing and motivating others.

More on Rhetorical theories  The rhetorical perspective offers an epistemic advisory and an invitational rational for public relations.  They use a humanistic approach and consider the organization as a rhetor who seeks influence  Rhetorical scholars believe that symbolic behaviour creates and influences relationships between organizations and publics through what Burke and Heath call the wrangle in the market place (the use of words, actions and visuals to share and evaluate information.  The unit of analysis for rhetoric scholars is 'public record‘ (newspapers, magazines, websites and mobile.

Criticisms of Rhetorical Theory  A situation of a typical dialogic and symmetric relationship in which the best ideas win the contest is utopian, idealistic and has little praxis. Mackey, S. (2003)

Critical Theory  Critical theory explores the deficits of systems theory and rhetoric by invoking ethical standards, ideological underpinnings, through discourse analysis steeped in the ethics of social democracy.  Critical theory addresses the mistaken view of rhetoric as a mere play of words 'mere rhetoric' as is often said in debates'. This suggests that if we make heartfelt and sincere statements with sharp words and pointed facts then we somehow distort the way dialogue, debate and advocacy should occur.

Critical Ideals  The purpose of critical perspective is to be confrontational and proactive.  Rather than looking at the way communication works, the critical scholar is intent on answering such questions as whose interests are served by organizational goals? What role do they play in creating and maintaining structures of power and domination?  These scholars argue against the idea of a unit of analysis. They however consider retrievable texts from annual reports, speeches and blogs.

Relevance and Application of Critical Theory  Recognition of 'participatory planning in Public relations 'this refers to bringing into the process the voices of previously ignored or suppressed publics as respects the place and locale (context and culture) in which PR is carried out.  The driving focus of critical theory and those that practice it is to understand and change the same social institutions (business and commerce, government, entertainment, or education, etc.) that oppress one group of people or class in favour of another.  The correlation between the ethical goals of public relations and critical theory are evident

Criticism of Critical theory  Critical theory constructs an idea as an agenda, and is normative.

Convergence Between critical and Rhetorical Theories  Some lines of critical interrogation grow from rhetorical heritage.  Rhetorical and critical scholars focus on explaining the meaning-making between organizations and publics as they develop, co-create, negotiate and maintain their relationship with one another.

References        Ahmad M. & Bidin (2013). Public Relations Practice: A Study on Excellence, Public Relations Practice and Cultural Values among Public Listed Companies in Malaysia. Proceedings of Annual Paris Business and Social Science Research Conference Crowne Plaza Hotel, Republique, Paris, Gruni, J. E. (n.d.) Excellence Theory in Public Relations Mackey, S. (2003) Changing Vistas in Public Relations Theory Rhee, Y. (2004). The employee-public-organization chain in relationship management: a case study of a government organization. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park. IABC, (1992) Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management: Executive summary/Initial Data Report, September 1991 Tyma A. W. (2008) Public Relations Through a New Lens —Critical Praxis via the “Excellence Theory” International Journal of Communication 1932-8036 Waddington, S (n.d.) A critical review of the Four Models of Public Relations and the Excellence Theory in an era of digital communication. CIPR Chartered Practitioner Paper .

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