Empowering publics

Lane, Anne B. (2006) Empowering publics. In Australia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) annual conference, 4-7 July, Adelaide, Australia.

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In the field of public relations, one of the most challenging and controversial concepts of the 20th century – that of two-way symmetric public relations – remains a hot topic. Over the last 20 years, there has been considerable debate about the feasibility of this type of public relations. The main focus of criticism has been on the model’s reliance on the notion that organisations might respond positively to feedback from their publics, incorporating external wants and needs into their operations even though these may result in change to their original plans. Critics view such an outcome as highly unlikely and unrealistic, especially in the context of public relations as practised in the commercial sector.

As a contribution to the on-going debate around two way symmetric public relations, this paper reflects on an Australian case study from the property development industry to illustrate some of the practical benefits of conducting this type of communication in the commercial sector. It suggests that a key to making this form of public relations work successfully is to approach communication with management as if they were a target public in their own right. Using Marston’s (1979) RACE (Research, Action, Communication, and Evaluation) framework as a guide, the paper then suggests ideas that might be most often used in reaching, persuading and influencing publics generally to see how these could be made relevant to the conduct of ‘balanced’ communication with management. How can 21st century organisational public relations practitioners present stakeholder arguments in a positive way; and ultimately perhaps even get management to incorporate elements of these arguments in organisational attitudes and behaviour? And what are the implications of these ideas for the future development of public relations theory?

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ID Code: 10320
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the conference website (see hypertext link) or contact the author.
Additional URLs:
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > MARKETING (150500) > Marketing Communications (150502)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 23 Oct 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2011 13:33

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