Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Personal Influence Model of Public Relations

Every country has its own style of practicing public relations.We practice public relations in India using the personal influence model of public relations (Grunig et al., 1995, Huang, 2000, Jo and Kim, 2004, Park, 2002, Rhee, 2002, Sriramesh,1992).

Researchers found that in this model public relations practitioners try to establish personal relationships, friendships, if possible with key individuals in the media, government or political and activist groups.These relationships with key people were known as contacts from whom favours could be taken.There are other countries like ours where this model is also applicable and they are Greece, and Taiwan.

Sriramesh (1991) identified a technique which led to the further development of the personal influence model, it was called hospitality relations.The main idea behind hospitality relations was to build a strong bond with journalists or other individuals which could later help in important decision making situations.Huang (1990) also termed personal influence model of public relations as carrot public relations.

In many countries the practice of this model can be considered unethical.This is essentially an asymmetrical model and its asymmetrical practice can be successful in in meeting the goals of an institution, especially in a society that is bound by rigid cultures and authoritarian political systems.Thus an important point that emerges here is that effect of a country or society's culture influences the way they work.

In media relations, which is a vital function of public relations, practitioners use contacts to get journalists to write stories about the institutions represented by them.According to (Sriramesh, 1991 , p. 191), a public relations practitioner working in India said that 60% of the reason a news release gets published is because it has its roots in personal influence and only 40% has news value.

Media relations practiced according to the personal influence model, resembles the press agentry model as proposed by Grunig. A point to be noted here is that the press agentry model usually uses set of methods such as staged events, puffery, or photo opportunities to grab attention, whereas the personal influence model focuses on personal relationships with journalists.

Read more on this in (Models of Public Relations in an International Setting by James E. Grunig and Larissa A. Grunig, K. Sriramesh,Yi-Hui Huan,Anastasia Lyra)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Why study theory in public relations?

Is studying theory important in public relations? I say it is as crucial as a doctor or an engineer studying theories in their courses.Studying public relations theories help in constructing a base to "think" as public relations professionals later.Your first job could be to either to be part of a public relations agency as an executive or maybe even a part of a team to start a corporate communications department in an organisation which doesnt have one! How and where do you begin? There are times when theories are being applied without having the knowledge that it is being applied.Let there be awareness that it is being applied and the point where it is facing its limitations.

To know the nuances of this profession one needs to know theories that help one understand the reasons why an organsiation needs public relations in the first place.As rightly put by noted public relations theorist James E. Grunig in his article "Teaching Public Relations Theory" he explains why one needs to understand theories at various stages in the process of public relations.They are the ones as mentioned below:-
  • Why Organizations Need Public Relations?
  • Strategic Management of Public Relations
  • Public Relations Roles
  • Models of Public Relations
  • The Stakeholder Stage
  • Publics stage
  • The Issues stage
  • The Program stage
There are theories at each stage that has been mentioned above as they serve as guides to novices as well as professionals working in this field.As Grunig aptly says "If I can get students to understand theory, I believe firmly, I will have done my part to move public relations from a craft to a profession." His works can be read on sites such as www.questia.com,www.prsa.org, to name a few.