Public relations and strategic management: Institutionalizing organization–public relationships in contemporary society
Public relations is a critical profession in contemporary society, which is characterized by global interaction, relationships, and responsibility. Unfortunately, public relations has been institutionalized as a symbolic-interpretive activity that organizations use to exert their power over publics and to disguise the consequences of their behaviors from publics, governments, and the media. This article discusses an alternative role for public relations as a strategic management rather than a messaging activity. It presents a model of public relations in strategic management and examines research that elaborates segments of the model: environmental scanning, stakeholders and publics, issues and crises, scenario building, cultivating and evaluating relationships, tracing the effect of relationships on reputation, planning and evaluating communication programs strategically, and how digital media can be used to further the strategic management process. It concludes that research is needed on how public relations can be empowered and institutionalized as a strategic management activity.