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Why are excellent communication departments actually outstanding? The purpose of this paper is to address this question from a multidisciplinary perspective and identify…
Why are excellent communication departments actually outstanding? The purpose of this paper is to address this question from a multidisciplinary perspective and identify two different strands of the excellence debate, one from general management and the other from public relations and communication management. Insights from both perspectives are combined in a new approach – the comparative excellence framework (CEF). This framework has been applied in two studies among 3,691 communication departments across Europe. Characteristics of excellence identified in this empirical exercise are described. The results are then matched with insights from the excellence literature to test the plausibility of the new approach.
A literature survey has been used to identify current excellence approaches and to build the comparative framework. In the empirical part, two subsequent editions of an annual online survey of communication professionals across Europe were used to test the approach. Excellent departments were identified across four dimensions: advisory influence, executive influence, success and competence. Approximately one-fifth of each sample was identified as excellent.
The study shows that excellent communication departments are not simply better at communication; they are different. The characteristics identified are in line with popular organizational excellence models from management theory. Excellent departments employ different people (more experienced, with higher positions and in more strategic roles); they partner and collaborate more closely with the executive board and other departments in the organization; they base their work on different processes with more listening and research; and they produce more products at the strategic level, like overall communication and messaging strategies. There is also a strong congruence with excellence theory in communication management.
The CEF uses a limited number of variables to distinguish excellent from other communication departments. This is typical for excellence approaches based on benchmarking and self-assessments. It helps to apply such approaches in practice. The empirical testing is based on data collected on one continent (Europe). Further research should employ data from other regions of the world and test whether results vary.
In its pragmatic simplicity, the CEF is a viable tool for practitioners for the assessment of communication department and for establishing a quality control system. It can also guide the development of training and education in communication management.
The paper demonstrates that communication management research fits into a larger stream of research in the field of quality management.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the status quo of communication evaluation and measurement practices in communication departments of companies, non-profits, and…
The purpose of this paper is to examine the status quo of communication evaluation and measurement practices in communication departments of companies, non-profits, and other organizations across Europe.
The study argues that the challenge to conduct reliable measurement is threefold: first, communication professionals have to understand and develop skills how to conduct evaluation; second, they have to evaluate whether communication activities have reached those goals in practice; and finally, they have to use those insights to advance and manage their future activities. These aspects are elaborated in the literature review. A quantitative survey of 1,601 professionals from 40 European countries was conducted to research prerequisites, implementation and benefits of communication measurement and compare practices across types of organizations.
Although robust knowledge of empirical research methods and their application for measuring communication effects is indispensable, many practitioners lack the necessary expertise to conduct reliable evaluation and measurement. Communication departments seldom measure communication effects on stakeholders and organizational goals. Many remain focused on media and channels. Last but not least, organizations do not fully exploit the potential of measurement data for strategically planning future communication activities.
The findings highlight the need to reconsider current education and training in communication research methods and their application in corporate practice. Knowledge about conducting applied research is as important as asking meaningful questions and using insights for management decisions in a corporate environment. Evaluation methods are often discussed, but individual skills and the organizational use of insights are important as well. This might be tackled through additional training in social science research techniques, sophisticated valuation methods, and decision making.
The large-scale study shows that communication measurement practices are still in a nascent stage. Joint efforts of academics and professional associations have not really changed the situation until now. The three dimensions used in this research (skills, practices, and utilization) can be used to assess the measurement readiness of individual organizations, to conduct further research in other regions, and to identify future challenges for advancing the field.
The World Wide Web may be worldwide in its potential consumption, but hardly in its production. It demonstrates that globalisation is not a general state of affairs of the…
The World Wide Web may be worldwide in its potential consumption, but hardly in its production. It demonstrates that globalisation is not a general state of affairs of the world, but a process of uneven development even, or maybe even more so, in the field of new technologies. The same can be said of public relations – its supply and demand are unevenly distributed around the world. This exploratory study investigates the global supply of public relations industry services and the supply of Internet services for public relations purposes in the USA, Austria and Slovenia.
The paper reports on the European Public Relations Body of Knowledge project (coordinated by the author for the European Association for Public Relations Research and Education, CERP Education & Research) that investigates the present state of public relations knowledge in Europe. The project consists of two components: an all‐European bibliography of public relations literature published in Europe in the 1990s and a Delphi study of an all‐European group of academics and practitioners on the specifics of public relations in Europe vis‐à‐vis the USA. Since public relations is predominantly a US academic discipline and business practice and it has come from there to Europe, a question arises as to the authenticity of public relations in Europe: are Europeans merely copying and repeating American public relations practice or has anything original developed in Europe? Relying on a multi‐country and multi‐language overview of European public relations, the paper also explores some localised processes within different European countries that could have implications for further development of the public relations profession in Europe
This paper reports research results from a replication of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) ‘Excellence’ study of 30 Slovenian organisations…
This paper reports research results from a replication of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) ‘Excellence’ study of 30 Slovenian organisations. It has been theorised that the Excellence principles are generic throughout the world but that these principles must be applied differently in different cultures, political and economic systems, stages of development, media systems and levels of activism. Results of this quantitative study showed that the principles of Excellence clustered into an identical index for Slovenia and for the Anglo countries. Differences among the four countries emerged, however, which had implications for specific application of the principles in Slovenia. Slovenian organisations had somewhat lower overall Excellence scores. Public relations departments in Slovenia had less support from the dominant coalition and were involved less in strategic management than in the English‐speaking countries. Slovenian public relations departments reported less knowledge of practising four models of public relations and two roles. However, Slovenian CEOs were somewhat more supportive of symmetrical public relations than their English‐speaking counterparts. Slovenian organisations reported equal levels of activism to the Anglo organisations. However, Slovenian organisations reported a less conducive internal context for Excellence — more authoritarian organisational cultures, more asymmetrical internal communication, and lower levels of individual job satisfaction and satisfaction with the organisation.
Public relations practitioners continue to lament the fact that their contribution to management is not taken seriously nor given sufficient weight. This paper examines…
Public relations practitioners continue to lament the fact that their contribution to management is not taken seriously nor given sufficient weight. This paper examines some of the obstacles to management acceptance of public relations’ contribution to important management tasks. The paper focuses on the possibility that managers may not value public relations’ contribution because their preparation for the management role does not give them the perspective that would enable them to see its value. The paper suggests that this perspective is one which enables the complexity of the external world, the world external to the organisation and in which the organisation functions, to be imagined and incorporated into decision making. This perspective has not been developed in the present generation of senior and middle managers. The paper reviews literature relating to this suggestion, before going on to examine programmes aimed at preparing managers for their roles at business and management schools in the USA and Europe. The paper concludes that unless changes are made to the ways in which managers are prepared for their roles, they are unlikely to develop an appreciation of the perspective which underlies public relations practice, or to make full use of the potential contribution of public relations.
As a profession, public relations has become a global enterprise. Public relations education is only now beginning to catch up with the global nature of the profession. It…
As a profession, public relations has become a global enterprise. Public relations education is only now beginning to catch up with the global nature of the profession. It is quite widely acknowledged that as far as public relations education is concerned, the USA is the leader in the number of universities that offer public relations courses as well as in the breadth and depth of the public relations curriculum. In its October 1999 report on the status of education in the USA, the Commission on Public Relations Education constituted by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), called for curricula that prepared students to be effective communicators in the “age of global interdependence”. This paper argues that educators around the world are being hampered by the lack of an established body of knowledge (based on empirical evidence) about public relations practices in different parts of the world. This lack of evidence is preventing educators from preparing their students to become useful professionals who can meet the challenges of the “age of global interdependence”. The paper reviews literature identifying environmental variables that should help one understand public relations practices in different given countries. Based on this review, the paper operationalises these environmental variables as a next step towards cross‐national research. The paper also stresses the need to gather appropriate case studies in international public relations. Future researchers should be able to use this framework for conducting crossnational comparisons of public relations, thereby providing educators with the necessary empirical evidence to prepare the public relations professionals of the future.
This paper is a second report on a Delphi study, which is part of the European Public Relations Body of Knowledge project (EBOK; see also Vol. 4, No. 4 of this journal)…
This paper is a second report on a Delphi study, which is part of the European Public Relations Body of Knowledge project (EBOK; see also Vol. 4, No. 4 of this journal). The EBOK project is led by a European project team. The Delphi research project questions the existence of a European authenticity of public relations. The project suggests that the present state of public relations professionalisation in Europe is far from complete. Nevertheless, the study reviews an enormous diversity of “schools of thought” and possible dimensions of a European approach to public relations. The paper also stresses the need for a European research agenda to learn more about the European identity of the subject internationally known as public relations.