Excellence Theory in Public Relations

Date: 2 September 2017

Subject: Excellence Theory in Public Relations

MLA Citation: Grunig, James E. “Excellence Theory in Public Relations:” 1-3. Web.


Research Assessment #1

This article details one specific theory, called “Excellence Theory,” and how its fundamentals relate to the success of public relations inside organizations. I learned a great deal about the role of public relations from this article, as well as how organizations can best function and relate to their public.

The first main point that I took away from this article is that the main function of public relations specialists within an organization is to address and solve problems in a way that serves both the interests of management and the public (AKA stakeholders). In this way, PR specialists serve a kind of dual purpose, responsible for knowing thoroughly the wants and needs of two different groups simultaneously. Many people often think of PR specialists as professionals that deal solely with creating relationships with customers and/or consumers; while that is partially true, it is most definitely not the case. In fact, stakeholders can cost the organization money by either opposing or pressuring the organization to change if approached incorrectly; this is why PR is so crucial. While PR professionals must identify affected publics and form high-quality relationships with them, they must also make compromises in order to put their company’s best interests first (What do those compromises look like? This could potentially be an informational interview question of mine). This is called symmetrical communication, another vocabulary term I learned from Grunig; it means taking the interests of both the organization and the publics into account when making decisions. Symmetrical communication does not only serve both audiences, but it also increases employee satisfaction, an aspect of communication that I believe can make a world of difference in the workplace. However, research showed that symmetrical communication was practiced in only organic, less centralized organizations. One thought I had—why? Why is symmetrical communication so difficult in highly structured corporations, and what can be done to implement it and thus increase productivity in the workplace? Answering this question and developing this idea could potentially be food for thought for my original work or final product.

The second main point I learned is that involvement of PR in strategic management (the formulation and implementation of the major goals and initiatives taken by a company's top management on behalf of owners) is the critical characteristic of excellent public relations. Public relations executives must, again, take on dual roles, acting as a manager in order to achieve excellence in their organization by ensuring that the entire management team is on the same page. I can further implement this into my learning by remembering it well past high school; should I ever secure a job in PR, I will ensure that I remain actively involved in strategic management, constantly informing executives of the public’s concerns/needs and ensuring that the PR department has access to key organizational decisions.

Lastly, I learned that public relations serves a unique role, not to be confused with marketing or overlooked by other management functions. Overlooking PR and focusing solely on marketing has resulted in asymmetrical communication in the past, resulting in a less-than-perfect public relationship for many organizations. Instead, public relations must work collaboratively with management functions to help them build relationships with relevant stakeholders. This idea sparks another question in my mind; what does this look like in the workplace, and what is an example?

Overall, this article has lit a fire in me and created an urgency to learn more about this increasingly diverse industry. I now have many questions about public relations that I would love answers to, and I have a better baseline to go off of when studying exactly what it is that PR specialists do.

Annotated Article: