Lesson 3a: Theoretical Basis

Report
Introduction to Public Relations
Chapter 3:
A Theoretical Basis for Public Relations
McGraw-Hill/Irwin
Copyright © 2012 McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights Reserved.
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
WHY UNDERSTAND THEORY?

Theories help practitioners explain and predict human
behavior and guide organizational decision making.
3-2
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
CONNECTING THEORIES WITH PUBLIC RELATIONS

What is theory?
 A theory is a prediction of how the world will work
under certain circumstances.

How do theories help the PR practitioner?
 Applying theories correctly can help campaigns and
messages be more effective (i.e. more supportive of
accomplishing organizational goals).
3-3
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
THEORIES OF RELATIONSHIPS

Cause-effect principles or theories can guide you in
understanding how organizations relate to their publics.
 Systems theory
 Situational theory
3-4
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
SYSTEMS THEORY

Definition: The attitudes and actions of an organization
or public contribute to a cause-effect chain reaction
within their environment.

Organizations and publics exist in relationship to each
other, meaning the actions of one affects the actions and
reactions of the others.
3-5
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
APPLYING SYSTEMS THEORY TO PR
Helps the practitioner manage the organization’s
relationships.
 Emphasizes interdependence between an organization and
its internal and external environments.


Two types of systems
 Open
 Closed
3-6
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
OPEN SYSTEMS

Focuses on input from external publics and the
organization’s external environment.

Allows for the two-way flow of information between an
organization and its environment
3-7
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
CLOSED SYSTEM

Focuses on the history of the organization and makes
decisions based on past experiences.
3-8
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
SITUATIONAL THEORY

Definition: People will act on an issue or
situation when they believe it affects them
personally and their actions can make a
difference.

Three variables:
 Problem recognition: People must be able
to see the potential of an issue to affect
them personally.
 Constraint recognition: People must see
that they can do something about the
issue.
 Level of involvement: People must care
about resolving the issue.
3-9
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
TWO BENEFITS OF SITUATIONAL THEORY
Helps the practitioner predict when groups will become
active or remain apathetic.
 Helps the practitioner create communication strategies for
specific publics.

Determine status with respect to each of the three variables
 Determine potential strategies to address “deficient” variables
 Choose final strategy

3-10
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
PUBLIC OPINION THEORIES
What are attitudes?
 What are opinions?
 Is there any interaction between attitudes and opinions?
 What is cognitive dissonance?
 Are we influenced by rational or irrational reasoning?

3-11
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
SHAPING PUBLIC OPINION
What are attitudes?
 Predispositions to respond in a given way to an issue
or situation
 What are opinions?
 Can be an expression of an attitude on a controversial
issue.
 Can be a more “temporary” (i.e. state-driven) reaction
to an issue

3-12
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
PR OBJECTIVES FOR SHAPING OPINION
Conserve Favorable Opinion
 Crystallize uninformed, or latent opinion
 Change/neutralize hostile opinion

3-13
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
COGNITION AND BEHAVIOR
Cognitive theories deal with thought processes while
behavioral theories deal with action.
 Cognitive Theories
 Words and actions are given personalized meanings by
receivers, and sometimes that meaning is not what was
intended by the sender.
 Practitioners seek to influence the publics’
interpretations to accurately reflect the original intent.


Example: Company expansion and growth (may be perceived as
negative)
3-14
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
THEORIES OF PERSUASION & SOCIAL INFLUENCE

Explain how humans think and behave in relation to one
another

Three common theories include
 Social exchange theory
 Diffusion theory
 Social learning theory
3-15
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
SOCIAL EXCHANGE THEORY

Uses the economic metaphor of costs and benefits to
predict behavior

In general people want their costs to be low and rewards
to be high (is this logical?)

Practitioners look at how publics evaluate costs and
rewards to demonstrate and maximize the net benefits of
particular action.
Example: Persuading voters or consumers to take a survey
 Example: Product recalls
 Example: Passing a new law

3-16
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
DIFFUSION THEORY
Individuals are influenced to diffuse and adopt an idea in
five stages.
1. Awareness
2. Interest
3. Evaluation
4. Trial
5. Adoption
 Mass media is useful in the first two stages, and personal
influence is needed in the next two before adoption takes
place.
 The “information trap”

3-17
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
THE FIVE STAGES OF ADOPTION
1. Awareness – Topic known but knowledge limited.
•
Stage engages the mass media
2. Interest – Development of interest begins; information sought.
•
Stage engages the mass media
3. Evaluation – Idea applied to individual situations, more information
obtained.
•
Stage engages unbiased third parties
4. Trial – Use begins on a small scale.
•
Stage engages unbiased third parties
5. Adoption – Idea, service or product adopted after being proven
worthwhile.
•
Stage engages personal experience
3-18
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY

Social Psychologist Albert Bandura suggests that we can
learn new behaviors by observing others.

When we see a behavior leading to a reward we value,
we may adopt that behavior for ourselves.

Example: In employee relations we can see that if
inappropriate behavior is rewarded for one employee, others
may adopt this inappropriate behavior pattern.
3-19
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
SUMMARY OF THEORIES ABOUT COGNITION &
BEHAVIOR
Social Exchange Theory: people act in ways that reduce
costs and increase rewards.
 Diffusion Theory: people can be influenced to diffuse
and adopt ideas through five stages.
 Social Learning Theory: people can be influenced by
seeing how others are rewarded for particular actions.

3-20
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
THEORIES OF MASS COMMUNICATION

There are three theories that help us understand the powerful
influence of media.
 Use and Gratification Theory
 Framing Theory
 Agenda Setting Theory
3-21
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
A DEFINITION OF MEDIA


The English word media is a Latin derivative of medius,
meaning middle.
For our purposes we define media as…
 all the means of communication, such as newspapers, radio,
TV, the internet/mobile technologies that provide the public
with news, entertainment, etc., usually along with
advertising (Webster’s New World College Dictionary,
1999).
 Traditional Mass Media vs. New Media
3-22
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
USE AND GRATIFICATIONS THEORY


People are active users of media and choose
how and when to use media based on its
gratification for them.
Reasons for media usage include…
 for entertainment
 to scan the environment for items that are
important to them
 as a diversion
 as a substitute for personal relationships
 as a check on self-identity
Why do you pay attention to the media?
3-23
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
APPLICATION FOR THE PRACTITIONER

The use and gratification theory helps the practitioner
explain media effects, or the absence of effects.

The practitioner must remember that just because a message
is available doesn’t mean that people will pay attention to,
remember or even understand it (or its implications).
3-24
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
FRAMING THEORY

Theory supposes that media messages may carry with
them a pre-existing (implicit) set of meanings and
associations.

People tend to process information in the way in which it
is presented to them (i.e. contextualized).

Catchphrases or visual images
 “The War on Terror” or “Terrorism”
 “Sustainability”
 “Occupy Wall Street”
 “Public Welfare”
3-25
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
AGENDA SETTING THEORY

Agenda Setting is based on the assumption that although
media can’t tell people what to think about an issue, it can
influence what issues people think about.

Media has the potential to increase issue salience.
3-26
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
MODELS OF PUBLIC RELATIONS




Press agentry: oldest form of public relations practice
where propaganda tactics, special events, and “guerilla”
tactics are used. Little regard for research or ethics.
Public Information: intent is to inform through one-way
information such as press releases.
Two-way asymmetrical model: scientific persuasion using
social science methods to increase persuasiveness of
messages.
Two-way symmetrical model: depicts public relations
orientation in which organizations and public adjust to each
other. It focuses on the use of social science methods to
achieve mutual understanding and two-way communication
3-27
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
NEWER MODELS FOR THE PR PRACTICE
Jim Grunig has developed numerous
models that more effectively explain
how public relations works

Personal Influence model: Practitioners develop personal
relationships with key individuals because of their
influence. (as easy as it sounds?)

Cultural Interpreter model: Establishes that to do effective
public relations in another country, the practitioner needs to
work with someone who understands the local language,
culture, customs and politics.
3-28
Introduction to Public Relations
Theoretical Basis
APPROACHES TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Conflicts involve an individual or group actively opposing
another because of differences in values and goals.

Four resolution elements:
 Separate the people from the problem.
 Focus on interests, not positions.
 Invent options for mutual gain.
 Insist on objective criteria: What are the facts?
3-29

similar documents