Public Relations - Strategically important?

Term Paper, 2009

9 Pages, Grade: 1





Relationships, Strategy and Tactics

Corporate Identity and Corporate Social Responsibility

Issue Management

Marketing and Public Relations

Budget and Calculations



To what extent is “Public Relations” a strategically important function?


“A communication concept which is systematically planned and optimised may not offer a guarantee for success, however, it minimises the risk of failure.” (Mast 2006, 123)[1]

Mast (2006), in her book “Unternehmenskommunikation”, identifies the importance of strategy, planning and control mechanisms within corporate communication and the field of Public Relations. She highlights the growing importance of research processes, strategic thinking and procedural continuity as vitally important factors for the successful establishment and preservation of a company’s vision, mission, identity and reputation. Mast does not only emphasise the importance of such fundamental factors for the company or organisation as such, but recognises their effect on the flexibility and efficiency of internal procedures and accomplishments of external communication processes for communications departments in particular. Strategy and strategic behaviour are identified as “indispensible”, while short term models are solely to be utilised when the possibility for the introduction into long term strategies persists. (Mast 2006, 123) Communications departments within companies as well as external PR agencies hired to construct, establish and protect the image and reputation of an organisation are required to comply with the overarching company strategy and its mission and vision and communicate it to the previously identified and analysed target audience also referred to as ‘publics’. It appears proven that Public Relations has become a field dependent on long term strategy and thinking, which is required to plan ahead in order to ensure success. The same can be said for the management of an organisation as a whole of which Public Relations is an important function. However, the effect and importance of tactical decisions and consequential strategic alterations should not be underestimated. Such effects of tactics on an existing strategy will be analysed in the following, while changes in the field of Public Relations, its role within an organisation, aims and responsibilities and its perception in and consequences for the publics will be identified and interpreted. The strategic position and long-term efficiency of Public Relations itself will be highlighted, which will identify PR as a strategically important function for the organisation as an entirety.


“The term strategy is itself derived from the Greek ‘strategos’ meaning a general set of manoeuvres carried out to overcome an enemy.” (Cornelissen, Communications Strategy 2004, 97)

Cornelissen, in the quote above, defines ‘strategy’ as a “general set of manoeuvres” (Cornelissen, Communications Strategy 2004). This definition does not only appear to imply the importance of activeness, but activity carefully planned in consideration of circumstances and competitors as well as in accordance with long-term vision. Long-term perspectives are not exclusively essential for the successful leading of a firm, but in its individual departments in order to enable the implementation of overarching strategies and the setting of aims and objectives which correlate closely with the organisation’s vision and mission. One of these divisions, which may be outsourced, but will be largely treated as an integrated department for the matter of this analysis, is the Public Relations Department. According to the IPR (1987), “Public Relations is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and understanding between an organisation and its publics.” (IPR (1987) in Fawkes, Johanna 2001, 4) Thus, applying Cornelissen’s definition of strategy to the field of Public Relations, the latter is treated as a continuous process, which is planned, activated and executed with long-term consequences, competitors and possible changes in circumstance in mind.

Johanna Fawkes (2001) described Public Relations as a long term process when she explained that “Public relations work exists in time – it is not a series of unrelated events.” (Fawkes 2001, 5) Strategy is this process which is planned in advance in order to ensure a desired result. Mast (2006), quoted in the Introduction to this piece, highlighted the importance and effectiveness of strategic thinking and acting in Public Relations. The question arises, however, why strategic behaviour is essential for this particular field of work and how it can affect the reputation, vision and mission of an organisation.

Relationships, Strategy and Tactics

Strategies involve actions and communications that are linked to objectives and are often specified in terms of specific organizational functions (e.g. finance, operations, human resources, etc.).” (Cornelissen, Communications Strategy 2004, 24)

Organisations rely on the fruitful and considerate interaction between individual departments, whose work is based on the firm’s aims, objectives, mission and vision and the strategy developed on grounds of the latter. In order to ensure the presence and visibility of the organisation and a good and solid reputation Public Relations professionals are needed. Public Relations itself is a field highly dependent on the correspondence and cooperation with other departments, partners and the publics and thus reliant on relationships. Every relationship’s heart and soul is trust. Without trust, relationships do not exist, as incomplete images are presented and information withheld. PR involves a variety of actors, who are required to actively participate in this relationship and the image building and sustainment process. Trust does not have to be planned, but it needs time to evolve which makes consistency in behaviour and mutual contentment necessities to achieve it. Need analyses of the publics become vital, which have to be catered for accordingly. A plan is designed for the potential attainment of contentment and interest, thus an overarching company strategy and strategies within individual departments, such as PR, are created to lead the organisation to success.


[1] Own translation, original in German: „Ein systematisch geplantes und optimisiertes Kommunikationskonzept bildet zwar keine Garantie für den Erfolg, minimiert jedoch das Risiko des Fehlschlags.“ (Mast, 2006)

Excerpt out of 9 pages


Public Relations - Strategically important?
Robert Gordon University Aberdeen
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Public Relations, PR, Strategy, Management, Corporate Communication
Quote paper
Victoria Friederike Joy Feitsch (Author), 2009, Public Relations - Strategically important?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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