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Public Relations Review 27 (2001) 373387

On the denition of public relations: a European view

Dejan Verc ic *, Betteke van Ruler, Gerhard Bu tschi, Bertil Flodin
Pristop Communications, Trubarjeva 79, SVN-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia Received 1 April 2000; received in revised form 1 May 2001; accepted 1 July 2001

Abstract The article confronts a U.S.-based denition of public relations as relationship management with a European view that besides a relational, argues also for a reective paradigm that is concerned with publics and the public sphere; not only with relational (which can in principle be private), but also with public consequences of organizational behavior. The article is based on a three year research project on the European Public Relations Body of Knowledge and it reects on the consequence of that project for denitional activities in the US practitioner and academic communities. 2001 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction In a recent article Hutton1 reopened a debate on the denition of public relations with the purpose to propose a denition of public relations; explore some of the implications of that denition, in terms of the domain of public relations; propose a three-dimensional framework by which to analyze public relations theories and practice; and encourage the process of integration, rather than disintegration, of the eld.2 We nd his endeavor commendable, yet a bit awed: as many authors before him Hutton approached the eld of public relations as being a solely North American theory and practice. By reading his article a reader gets the impression that the conceptual issues Hutton discussed using solely sources from the U.S. equally apply around the globe and that the denition based solely on U.S. theory and practice has a global validity. In this article we would like to question this based on our three-year research program on public relations in Europe. At least from a European perspective we nd Huttons denition, dimensions and the domain of public relations being
* Corresponding author. Tel.: 386-1-23-91-200; fax: 386-1-23-91-210. E-mail address: (D. Verc ic ).
0363-8111/01/$ see front matter 2001 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 3 6 3 - 8 1 1 1 ( 0 1 ) 0 0 0 9 5 - 9


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inadequate; yet we dont claim that our proposals have a global reachwe think that further work still needs to be done in Europe, but we also need a better understanding of the current situations in public relations theory and practice on other continents. It is only after we are able to take into consideration the full richness of the present state of thinking and practicing public relations around the globe that we will be able to draw conclusions towards what the public relations profession is in the world at the beginning of the 21st century. In what follows we rst introduce the reader into our project on the European public relations body of knowledge (EBOK). This is the fourth part of a still incomplete presentation of the results of that study.3 Then we review Huttons proposals on the denition, dimensions, and domain of public relations. These will be confronted with the ndings from our research. After that we present some ideas on how we could bridge the differences we encounter. In the nal section we propose the areas for further investigation and explain where we intend to lead our research next.

2. The Delphi research in public relations in 25 European countries 2.1. Background Twentieth century public relations was dominated by North American scholars and practitioners. By its end, the U.S. had more than 3,000 universities teaching public relationsmore than the rest of the world. The two U.S.-based practitioner organizations (PRSAPublic Relations Society of America, and IABCInternational Public Relations Association) each had more members than the International Public Relations Association (IPRA). The major textbooks from both the practitioner and academic press originated in the U.S. The global marketplace for public relations services was served primarily by U.S. agencies/networks.4 While all the above is witnessing the strength and vitality of U.S. academia and practice as compared to the rest of the world it seemed to have produced a lack of interest on the part of U.S. scholars and practitioners for any theoretical and practical work in public relations on other continents. This attitude sometimes turned into arrogance. Between 1988 and 1995 the Public Relations Society of America was publishing a bibliography for public relations professionals entitled Public Relations Body of Knowledgewithout noticing non American authors and publications. Even the authors of the chapter on Europe in a major book on International Public Relations were Americans.5 Partly as a reaction to this ignorance in 1998 the European Association of Public Relations Education and Research (CERP Education and Research; in January 2001 the organization changed its name to EUPRERAEuropean Public Relations Education and Research Association) mandated a task force to produce the European Public Relations Body of KnowledgeEBOK (with the authors of this article being its members). The EBOK was originally conceived as an electronic database accessible via the Internet. Its purpose was to codify the existing body of public relations literature in Europe and to enable its fuller use and afrmation. This bibliography was to include all public relations

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publications in all European languages published since 1990, with abstracts and their translations in as many European languages as possible. By December 1998, national coordinators (members of CERP Education and Research) were identied in 25 countries, but this task proved to be more complicated than initially thought because the task force found itself confronted with the question: What qualies as a public relations literature item? It became clear that coordinators in different countries had different views on what is public relations and that before a bibliography could be produced common ground on which to build it was needed. For that reason the EBOK project got a second component: a Delphi study on public relations in Europe. 2.2. Method A Delphi study is a research method used in social sciences, including public relations, for assessing future, complex and ambiguous subjects.6 It is based on the techniques of iterative and anonymous group interviewing. A group of respondents is typically composed of experts who are asked to clarify muddled issues descriptively (e.g., What is public relations?) and/or normatively (e.g., What ought to be public relations?). The premise of the method is that iterative questioning will either cause the range of answers to converge on the midrange of the distribution or will show a clear and reasoned dichotomy. The essence of the method is to use participants answers in the following rounds. The usual iteration number is three rounds or waves. The critical element of a Delphi study is the quality of the respondents. The research team based its selection of the respondents on the following criteria: (1) respondents should represent as many European countries as possible, (2) from each country there should be one academic and one practitioner, and (3) respondents should be knowledgeable in public relations in their country. In reality, 37 participants from 25 countries7 were involved in the realization of the study and the majority of the countries were represented only by an academic. Questionnaires were distributed and answers received electronically (via e-mail) in three rounds between January 1999 and March 2000. The correspondence was carried out in English. The rst questionnaire had open and quite general questions on the public relations situation in the respondents country. The answers to it alerted researchers to the issue of languages: it seemed that the respondents mother tongues and the labeling of public relations (since the study was done in English, the original term was used in the questionnaire) were affecting responses. For that reason the second questionnaire was accompanied with a small supplemental questionnaire researchers called Country Cards in which questions on the original terminology were explored. Responses to these Country Cards revealed that all included languages (except the original, English, used in the United Kingdom and Ireland) have tremendous problems with the translation of the English term public relations: terms used as a translation of the English term public relations on the whole European continent (except the British Isles) simply mean something signicantly different than in the original.


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2.3. Meanings of public relations Names for public relations in Germanic and Slavonic languages mean relations with the public where the public itself denotes a slightly different phenomenon to the one it is generally assumed to mean in the public relations discipline in English. Here we take the German term for public relations as an example, but similar explanations apply to other Germanic and Slavonic languages (thus covering the whole of Northern, Central and Eastern Europe)with the exception of the Slovenian language.8 The German term for public ffentlichkeitsarbeit, which literally means public work and is explained as relations is O working in public, with the public and for the public.9 This denomination contradicts the mainstream (U.S.) understanding of public relations as management of relationships between an organization and its publics.10 Yet, it also needs to be recognized that at least one British author dened public relations as relations with the public11 and that Olasky12 proposed an alternative approach to the history of public relations as being differentiated from private relations (thus giving us also an alternative current meaning of public relations as something different from just relations with publics). Ever since these Germanic and Slavonic translations of the term public relations had been introduced to these languages it was obvious to the native speakers of those languages that their terms mean something different than the original (U.S. English) term.13 One consequence of this terminological discrimination is a parallel use of the original term in English and its translation in all Germanic and Slavonic languages. But as we have learned through our Country Cards there was a strong reaction in many countries against the use of the American expression which together with a recognition of the inadequacy of its translation caused several European public relations associations to rename themselves in their languages into some kind of communication associations (although they still dene themselves as public relations associations in English). This has, so far, happened in Denmark, The Netherlands, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. While Hutton14 sees derogatory connotations of the term public relations causing its decline as the elds guiding descriptive term,15 in Europe problems with its translation seem to be guiding the same process. However, it would be wrong to just stop here with the recognition of this terminological problem as being a matter of language(s) only. There is also a deeper-rooted cultural issue ffentlichkeit does not mean publicit means public sphere17 and by at stake here.16 O ffentlichkeit an analytic dimension is lost, namely that an equating public with O essential aspect of public relations is that it is concerned with issues and values that are considered publicly relevant which means relating to the public sphere.18 This line of thought was developed in Germany by Oeckl19 and in the Netherlands by Van der Meiden.20 Their reasoning was that public relations is not only about relations with the public, but it is relations in the public (sphere) and for the public (sphere). Furthermore, as Ronneberger and Ru hl theoretically argued, public relations is to be measured by quality and quantity of the public sphere (it coproduces through its activities).21 Quality and quantity of the public (sphere) have to do with o ffentliche Meinungwhich is to be translated as public opinion. But this public opinion is not an aggregation of individual opinions as conceived in public opinion polling.22 This public opinion as a benchmark for public relations is a type of political authority that developed in the nineteenth century in opposition to monarchic

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rulers and was the foundation on which democracies were built.23 Here public relations serves a democratic function like journalism and they are both contributing to a free ow of information and to the development of the public sphere both in size (How many people are involved in public life?) and in level (What is the level at which we are discussing public matters?). In this respect public and public relations in Europe can mean something different to that in the United States. This concern with the public sphere highlights the issue of legitimacy and legitimation as one of the central concepts of public relations in Europe24 and in the Delphi study emerged as a specic dimension and/or role of European public relationsa reective dimension of public relations.25 Here we can see that attention to linguistic and cultural idiosyncrasies has direct relevance for the denition, dimensions and domain of public relations. As long as the U.S. English language, U.S. practice and U.S. theory are the sole sources of conceptual work in the eld public relations will be short of global inclusiveness and the validity it needs to become a true academic discipline and profession.26 This attention to non-U.S. sources of public relations thinking and practice is needed not only to enable non-U.S.-based practitioners and academics who are a part of the same eld of theory and practice, but also for U.S.-based public relations as well. Globalization as the frontier of multinationalism and cultural diversity27 is not something going on out there beyond a countrys border, but is a complex of inter-related processes of globalizing forces that are at work not only abroad, but equally affect also ones home.28 A global approach to the denition, dimensions and domain of public relations is needed because wherever one lives his home base is globalizing and for that reason localized (even if U.S.-based) approaches to public relations are simply inadequate and out-of-synch with the times we live in. But before we confront our European perspective to the denition, dimensions and domain of public relations based on our three-year research project we need to clarify why we selected Huttons article29 as our reference point and present his position. Huttons article is only the most recent expression of the U.S. public relations concern with the identity of the eld. It is very valuable because it gives a broad exposition of the problems involved and different positions articulated in both the past and the present. We take it, therefore, as a paradigmatical explanation of what public relations (in the U.S.) is and how it should (or ought to) understand itself. We also want to refer to the new book of Ledingham and Bruning, which was edited last year in the United States and seen by many as a new paradigm for public relations.30 So, although we refer in the rest of our article to Hutton, we discuss (through him) the general mainstream understanding of US. public relations.

3. Huttons denition, dimensions, and domain of public relations In this section we briey summarize Huttons denition, dimensions and domain of public relations. In the next section we confront the theses from this section with the ndings from our own research in Europe. Then we propose how we could approach bridging the identied differences. Hutton proposed public relations to be dened as managing strategic relationships: If


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the eld of public relations wishes to be master of its own destiny, it must settle on a denition. Each of the alternative metaphorspublic relations as (1) persuader, (2) advocate, (3) educator or dispenser of information, (4) crusader, (5) image-maker or reputation manager, or (6) relationship builder/manager has strengths, proponents, and practitioners. Only one, however, has the power to both dene and serve as a paradigm (organizing philosophy or model) for the eld: relationship management.31 He presented a hypothesis that there are three dimensions which are most likely to explain substantive differences among the various orientations or denitions of public relations. For the sake of simplicity and memorability the dimensions may be referred to as the 3 Is: interest, initiative, and image.32 The rst dimension answers the question: To what degree is the public relations function focused on client interests versus the public interest? The second dimension answers the question: To what extent is the public relations function reactive versus pro-active? And the third dimension answers the question: To what extent is the organization focused on perception versus reality (or image vs. substance)? Hutton in the article does not specify what he meant with the term domain, but it can be deduced that he presented its content with a hierarchy of public relations primary roles, functions and tactics:33 Denition managing strategic relationships Situational roles persuader, advocate, educator, crusader, information provider, reputation manager Primary functions performed research, image making, counseling, managing, early warning, interpreting, communicating, negotiating Tactics/tools used publicity, product placement, news releases, speeches, interpersonal communication, web sites, publications, trade shows, corporate identity programs, corporate advertising programs, etc. There are several contradictions in the use of concepts and in relations among them in Huttons scheme. The most obvious one is that he did not propose a single situational role that would t his denition of public relations. Next, he rst denes persuader, advocate, educator or dispenser of information, crusader, image-maker or reputation manager and relationship-builder/manager as metaphors (of which the last one becomes a paradigm),34 but later these same become situational roles (with relationship builder/manager mysteriously disappearing).35 Primary functions performed are described at the different levels of abstraction (research and image making are not the terms of the same level of analysis, since research can well be a part of image making)36 and it is far from clear what could make them primary functions (of public relations?). Furthermore, tactics/tools utilized as listed in Huttons hierarchy all belong to the toolbox of publicity and symbolic (not behavioral) relationship managementwhich again violates the content of the denition proposed. Notwithstanding the above contradictions (which may or may not be paradigmatic to the

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state of affairs in the U.S. self-understanding of public relationswhich is a question that merits a separate study) we use the presented denition as a benchmark to which we compare the results of our study in Europe. This will enable us to identify the difference between the U.S. and Europe. There is one more point in Huttons conclusions, contributions, and implications section that is worth mentioning. In the concluding paragraphs the proposed denition of public relations (managing strategic relationships) is said to be breaking with some longstanding ideas that communication is the bedrock of public relations and that communication is a necessary but no longer sufcient foundation for public relations; training in social psychology, anthropology, and other social sciences (not to mention new technologies) is necessary, in addition to business, management and perhaps industry-specic training.37 As will become clear in our next paragraph, we believe that it is no use making a distinction between communication and relationships. From our research it is obvious thatat least in Europe even public relations researchers cannot make any clear difference between communication and relationships.38 What one sees as communication is what another used the word relationships for. 4. European dimensions of public relations Before we proceed with our confrontation of a European with the U.S. perspective of public relations we need to qualify what we mean by European. Firstly, it covers the administrative territory of 43 countries.39 It thus relates to the geographic and physical location of public relations within Europe. Secondly, what we are more interested in is the social meaning of the term European which could be seen as pertaining to the whole region of Europe and as differentiating it from other (social) spacesin this article, from the U.S. As we have already identied earlier, language is such a differentiating device. In many European languages there is simply no adequate translation for the U.S. term public relations and for that reason in many European countries the public relations profession denes itself as communication management, corporate communication or as some other denomination of applied communication. The reason public relations identies itself with some form of communication is therefore different to the one presented by Hutton for the U.S.40 When ranking the key concepts for building a denition of public relations the EBOK Delphi study produced the following results:
Communication Relationships Publics Mutual understanding Management Public trust Organization Profession Mutually benecial Building consensus Strategy 21 21 20 20 18 16 15 14 14 12 12 Stakeholders Environment Integrity/ethics Activity Society Information Philosophy Promotion Informing people/society Avoiding conicts Engineering public support 11 11 10 10 9 8 8 7 7 7 5


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To our list the notion of legitimacy was added. In the ranking list communication and relationships have the same number of supporters. When we tried to make our respondents choose between a denition of public relations as managing communication and as managing relationships many of them refused to make a selection as not being substantiated. Communication as a social process is fundamental to any denition of a relationship and vice versa. It is therefore highly questionable if a debatewhether public relations is about management of communication or management of relationsis productive at all. A confrontation of communication with behavior is nonsense in the light of the major part of the European social-scientic tradition communication itself being a form of behavior and at the same time the essence of any kind of relation. An interesting point of discussion seems to be, however, what is meant by behavior. A common approach of European public relations scholars is to talk about communication as a specic kind of behavior, namely behavior with signs and symbols.41 There are two easily identiable differences of the European approach to public relations as compared to the U.S. that we have already mentioned: one is the lack of a conceptual dualism between communication and relationships and the other is demonstrated in various strategies adopted as a solution to the problem of a translation of the U.S. term public relations. A more salient difference, hidden in what we labeled four dimensions or roles of European public relations, we identied as: 1. Managerial: to develop strategies to maintain relations with public groups in order to gain public trust and/or mutual understanding. This role is concerned with the organizational mission and strategy and is aimed at commercial or other (internal and external) public groups. 2. Operational: to prepare a means of communication for the organization (and its members) in order to help the organization formulate its communications. This role is concerned with the communication plans developed by others and is aimed only at the implementation and evaluation of the communication processes. 3. Reective: to analyze changing standards and values in society and discuss these with the members of the organization, in order to adjust the standards and values of the organization regarding social responsibility and legitimacy. This role is concerned with organizational standards and values and aimed at the dominant coalition in the organization. 4. Educational: to help all the members of the organization to become communicatively competent, in order to respond to social demands. This role is concerned with the mentality and behavior of the members of the organization and is aimed at internal public groups. There were four respondents who opposed the above identication of the four roles, while the rest of them agreed. Now, if we confront this with the denition, dimensions and domain of public relations as presented by Hutton, we clearly loose the reective and educational roles (which we use differently than Hutton). Yet, it is precisely these two roles that in some countries, in particularly in Denmark, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands and Sweden, are becoming the core of advanced public relations capability. One of our respondents suggested

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that managerial, educational and operational roles cannot make a contribution to the organization without the reective role: It therefore follows that the reective role is the only true role, at the very least it is the main one. For our European respondents these four dimensions or roles dene the domain of public relations, with public relations denitions that highlight communication management or relationship management having no substantial distinction. With the differences between the results of our Delphi study on public relations in Europe and Huttons denition, dimensions and domain of public relations (in the U.S.) a question emerges: So what? What does this tell us and what can we do with these differences? In general there are three strategies to overcome the disparity between the two ndings. Firstly, we could start arguing about who is right and who is wrong with the intention for one of the proposed approaches to public relations to win over the other. Secondly, we could try to compromise the two approaches seeking common denominatorswhich would probably make the result void of any meaningful content. And thirdly, we may question our (both the one adopted by us in the EBOK Delphi study and the one adopted by Hutton) approaches to the denition of public relations. In the next section we will explore this third possibility, the reason being that we doubt that the rst two possibilities could give us any mutually acceptable results. And with this article presenting a debate between the U.S. and Europe we need to adopt a strategy that would allow practitioners and academics from other continents to join theorizing on public relations. In the last quarter of the past century a great deal of work on and in public relations was done in Asia (including Australia and New Zealand), Central and South America, and Africathe majority of which is unknown to the mainstream, U.S.-originating theory of public relations.

5. How to start bridging the differences in public relations denitions? All the disciplines and professions we know struggle with the multiplicity of often contradicting denitions. This multiplicity is sometimes explained away as a result of infancy and sometimes as a result of maturity of a eld.42 In that respect, public relations is not different from any other academic social discipline or from any profession in practice. In The New Handbook of Organizational Communication that has just been published, Stanley Deetz43 approached the question What is organizational communication? by explicating three different ways that are available for conceptualization. By transposing his presentation to the question What is public relations? we can do one of the following three things. First, we can focus on the development of public relations as a speciality in public relations departments and public relations associations. As Deetz expects for his eld of interest, we can also expect for public relations that adopting this approach would bring us to a classic complaint that there are as many public relations denitions as there are people practicing and teaching it: It is not surprising that these reviews often contain laments about the disunity of the eld. This may well be an artifact of the organizing principle used.44 A second approach to conceptualizing public relations focuses on a phenomenon that


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exists out there. This was the approach adopted by both Hutton in his article and by us in our EBOK Delphi research. But by confronting our results in the previous section, we have to admit that there is no unied phenomenon out there and that public relations is not one phenomenon with many explanations; each form of explanation may conceptualize and explain different phenomenon. Fixed subdivisions are always a kind of theoretical hegemony.45 Public relations as a phenomenon may indeed differ between social spaces (e.g., continents), so looking for the lowest common denominator is pointless. A third way Deetz proposes is to approach the issue of public relations as a way to describe and explain organization. That is exactly what other managerial disciplines and professions are doing: nanciers describe and explain organizations from a nancial perspective, lawyers from a legal perspective, marketing from a market perspective. What we need to nd for public relations is a distinct mode of explanation or way of thinking about organizations.46 What we need to develop is a public relations theory of organizing and organization. What is the specic characteristic of the public relations approach to organizing and organization? Relationships are not, since they are claimed by general management,47 marketing,48 social49 and organizational50 psychology and many other disciplines. What distinguishes the public relations manager when he sits down at a table with other managers is that he brings to the table a special concern for broader societal issues and approaches to any problem with a concern for implications of organizational behavior towards and in the public sphere. It is precisely this concern that is implicit in denitions of public relations as relationships management and as communication management, in both image management and reputation management, and is fundamental for the understanding of some of the fundamental concepts like stakeholders, public(s) and activists. In Europe this is specially contained in the reective and educational dimensions of public relations (the latter pertaining to the development of social and communicative competence of and in an organization and not to a dissemination of information), but in the U.S. it has special features in situations concerned with nondiscrimination, nonharassment and different kinds of nonisms (like nonageism), which all seem very different to how the underlying similar problems are dealt with in Europe. A bridge that may bring us from different approaches to public relations together is our common approach to organizing and organization. In that respect Olaskys alternative exposition of U.S. public relations history may be a very valuable starting-point by differentiating public from private relations. Public relations practitioners and academics approach organizing and organizations from a public perspective, being concerned with phenomena of reexivity (of organizational behavior) and legitimacy. Seen from this standpoint public relations is not just a phenomenon to be described and dened. It is rst of all a strategic process of viewing an organization from an outside view. Its primary concerns are the organizations inclusiveness and its preservation of the license to operate.51 As marketing is viewing an organization from a market view, public relations is viewing an organization from a public view (meant as public sphere). We therefore like to broaden the relational approach to public relations into a public or a reective approach.

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6. Implications and conclusions In this article we have confronted a U.S.-based denition of public relations with the results from a three-year research project on the European Public Relations Body of Knowledge. Both approached the denition of public relations by trying to identify the domain of public relations and looking for a phenomenon to be described and dened as public relations. But they arrived at different denitions. For that reason we asked a question on how we could build a bridge to overcome the differences. We found such a bridge in Deetzs suggestion that a social discipline should rather than search for a phenomenon to legitimize its existence, search for a special view it brings to our understanding of the world. We therefore propose that further work on the denition of public relations be done in questioning what viewing organizations from a public relations perspective adds to other disciplinary approaches. We have briey reported some problems we encountered when exploring public relations in Europe with a Delphi method using English as the language of our correspondence, which caused us to become attentive to the issue of how ones mother tongue affects ones understanding of what public relations is and what it does. For that reason we decided to add in 2001 the third component to the EBOK project by beginning an ethnographic study on public relations in Europe, exploring its emergence, histories and interrelation through time and space. A new task force was formed and it is already preparing a list of correspondents that will help it collect ethnographic information on public relations in 28 European countries.52 Dejan Verc ic is a founding Partner of Pristop Communications and teaches communication management and public relations at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Betteke van Ruler is an associate professor in communication science and communication management at the Free University Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Gerhard Bu tschi works as a management consultant in Basel, Switzerland, and is an adjunct member of the Graduate Faculty in the Department of Journalism at The University of Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.

Bertil Flodin is an associate professor in Journalism and Mass Communication and a founding partner of Con Brio Communications in Sweden.

[1] James G. Hutton, The Denition, Dimensions, and Domain of Public Relations, Public Relations Review, 2 (1999), pp. 199 214.


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[2] Ibid., p. 200. [3] The rst three are: Dejan Verc ic , The European Public Relations Body of Knowledge, Journal of Communication Management, 4 (2000), pp. 341354; Betteke van Ruler, Future Research and Practice of Public Relations, a European Approach, in Dejan Verc ic , Jon White and Danny Moss (eds.), Public Relations, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications in the New Millennium: The Future. Proceedings of the 7th International Public Relations Research Symposium, 7th 8th July 2000, Lake Bled, Slovenia (Ljubljana: Pristop Communications, 2000), pp. 157163; Betteke van Ruler, Dejan Verc ic , Bertil Flodin and Gerhard Bu tschi, Public Relations: What is the Matter in Europe? Analysis of a Delphi Research Project, paper presented at the 51st Annual conference of the International Communication Association, May 24 28, 2001, Washington, DC. lenc, International Public Relations and the [4] Dejan Verc ic , Ales Razpet, Samo Dekleva and Mitja S Internet: Diffusion and Linkages, Journal of Communication Management, 2 (2000), pp.125137. [5] Vincent Hazleton and Dean Kruckeberg, European Public Relation Practice: An Evolving Paradigm, in Hugh M. Culbertson and Ni Chen (eds.), International Public Relations: A Comparative Analysis (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996), pp. 367377. [6] As examples of the previous use of the Delphi method in public relations research, see Jon White and John Blamphin, Priorities for research into public relations practice in the United Kingdom: A report from a Delphi study carried out among UK practitioners and public relations academics in May, June and July 1994, unpublished paper, City University, London; Betteke van Ruler, Communication: Magical Mystery or Scientic Concept? Professional Views of Public Relations Practitioners in the Netherlands, in Danny Moss, Toby MacManus and Dejan Verc ic (eds.), Public Relations Research: An International Prespective (London: International Thomson Business Press, 1997), pp. 247263; Robert I. Wakeeld, Preliminary Delphi Research on International Public Relations Programming: Initial Data Supports Application of Certain Generic/Specic Concepts, in Danny Moss, Dejan Verc ic and Gary Warnaby (eds.), Perspectives on Public Relations Research (London and New York: Routledge), pp. 179 208. [7] Countries represented in the Delphi study are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Yugoslavia. [8] Until the 1990s, the Slovenian term for public relations was stiki z javnostjoliterally meaning contacts with the public. In the early 1990s Dejan Verc ic proposed a new termodnosi z javnostmi (literally meaning relations with publics), causing a public outcry from the side of Slovenian language purists who argued that the term public cannot form a plural in Slavic languages. The term odnosi z javnostmi received its legitimacy when Dejan Verc ic completed a Masters Thesis on public relations at the University of Ljubljana in which he successfully defended the term: Dejan Verc ic , Odnosi z javnostmi: nastanek, zgodovina in teorije [Public Relations: Origins, History and Theories] (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, Faculty of Social Sciences, unpublished Masters Thesis, May 26, 1995). [9] Karl Nessmann, The Origins and Development of Public Relations in Germany and Austria, in Danny Moss, Dejan Verc ic and Gary Warnaby (eds.), Perspectives on Public Relations Research (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), pp. 212225. [10] Which is the basis for the denition offered by James G. Hutton, op. cit.; see also Edward L. Bernays, The Late Years: Public Relations Insight 1956 1986 (Rhineback, NY: H&M Publishers, 1986), p. 35; George Cheney and George N. Dionispoulos, Public Relations? No, Relations with Publics: A Rhetorical-Organizational Approach to Contemporary Corporate Communications, in Carl Botan and Vincent Hazleton, Jr. (eds.), Public Relations Theory (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1987), pp. 135157; Robert S. Cole, The Practical Handbook of Public Relations (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1981), p. 4; James E. Grunig, A Situational Theory of Publics: Conceptual History, Recent Challenges and New Research, in Danny Moss, Toby MacManus and Dejan Verc ic (eds.), Public Relations Research: An International Perspective (London: International Thomson Business

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[11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16]



[19] [20]

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Press, 1997), pp. 3 48; Jon White, How to Understand and Manage Public Relations: A Jargon-Free Guide to Public Relations Management (London: Random, 1991), p. ix. Frank Jeffkins, Planned Press and Public Relations (London: International Textbook Company, 1977), p. 3. Marvin N. Olasky, Corporate Public Relations: A New Historical Perspective (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1987). Karl Nessmann, op. cit., p. 220. James G. Hutton, op. cit. pp. 199 203. For a similar argument from the UK, see: Kevin Moloney, Rethinking Public Relations: Spin and Substance (London and New York: Routledge, 2000). Toby MacManus, Public Relations: The Cultural Dimension, in Danny Moss, Dejan Verc ic and Gary Warnaby (eds.), Perspectives on Public Relations Research (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), pp. 159 178. Inger Jensen, Public Relations and the Public Sphere in the Future, in Dejan Verc ic , Jon White and Danny Moss (eds.), Public Relations, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications in the New Millennium: The Future. Proceedings of the 7th International Public Relations Research Symposium, 7th-8th July 2000, Lake Bled, Slovenia (Ljubljana: Pristop Communications, 2000), pp. 64 71. Ibid, p. 66; Inger Jensen in the quoted passage confronts the notion of the public sphere to the U.S.-based arguments on the logical impossibility of the public or the general public as in James E. Grunig and Todd Hunt, Managing Public Relations (New York: Holt, Rinehard and Winston, 1984), p.138. ffentlichtkeitarbeit in DeutAlbert Oeckl, Handbuch der Public Relations: Theorie und Praxis der O schland und der Welt. (Mu nchen: Su ddeutscher Verlag, 1976), p.19. See: Anne van der Meiden in his inaugural speech about views on public in the development of public relations in the Netherlands: Anne van der Meiden, Wat zullen de mensen ervan zeggen? Enkele visies op het publiek in de ontwikkelingsgang van de public relations (Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht, 1978). Franz Ronneberger and Manfred Ru hl, Theorie der Public Relations: Ein Entwurf. (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag 1992), p.58. See Vincent Price, Public Opinion. (Newsbury Park: Sage, 1992). ffentlichkeit. (Darmstadt: Hermann Luchterhand Verlag, See Ju rgen Habermas, Strukturwandel der O 1962). See Inger Jensen, Legitimacy and Strategy of Different Companies: A Perspective of External and Internal Public Relations, in Danny Moss, Toby MacManus and Dejan Verc ic (eds.), Public Relations Research: An International Perspective (London: International Thomson Business Press, 1997), pp. 225246. Susanne Holmstro m, The Reective Paradigm Turning into Ceremony? Three Phases for Public RelationsStrategic, Normative and Cognitivein the Institutionalisation of New Business Paradigm Leading to Three Scenarios, in Dejan Verc ic , Jon White and Danny Moss (eds.), Public Relations, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications in the New Millennium: The Future. Proceedings of the 7th International Public Relations Research Symposium, 7th-8th July 2000, Lake Bled, Slovenia (Ljubljana: Pristop Communications, 2000), pp. 41 63; for theoretical foundations of the reective approach to public relations and its linkages to the fundamental streams of European social sciences, see: Susanne Holmstro m, An Intersubjective and Social Systemic Public Relations Paradigm: Public Relations Interpreted from Systems Theory (Niklas Luhmann) in Opposition to the Critical Tradition (Jurgen Habermas) (University of Roskilde, Denmark, Public Relations dissertation, 1996; the author received for this dissertation the European Public Relations Educational Award in October 1998). For a similar line of reasoning from New Zealand, see: Judy Motion and Shirley Leitch, Against Grand Narratives: Localized Knowledges of Public Relations, Asia Pacic Public Relations Journal, 1 (1999), pp.2738; also: Judy Motion and Shirley Leitch, New Zealand Perspectives on Public


D. Verc ic et al. / Public Relations Review 27 (2001) 373387 Relations, in Robert L. Heath (ed.), Handbook of Public Relations (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001), pp. 659 663. Robert L. Heath, GlobalizationThe Frontier of Multinationalism and Cultural Diversity, in Robert L. Heath (ed.), Handbook of Public Relations (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001), pp. 625 628. Peter Dicken, Global Shift: Transforming the World Economy (London: Paul Chapman Publishing, 1998, 3rd ed.), p. 5; see also Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens and Scott Lash (eds.), Reexive Modernization: Politics, Tradition and Esthetics in the Modern Social Order (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1994). James G. Hutton, op. cit. James G. Hutton, op. cit. James G. Hutton, op. cit, pp. 208. Ibid., p. 204. Ibid., p. 211. Ibid., p. 208. Ibid., p. 211. Ibid. Ibid., p. 212. See Betteke van Ruler, Dejan Verc ic , Gerhard Bu tschi and Bertil Flodin, Dimensions of Public Relations in Europe: The European Body of Knowledge Project, Journal of Public Relations Research, forthcoming. Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarussia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldavia, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). We concentrate here on those European countries that use some other language as their primary language of communication and not English (which means that situation is specic in the UK and Ireland, which we do not analyze here). See Betteke van Ruler, Communicatiemanagement in Nederland (Houten: Bohn Staeu Van Loghum, 1996), p. 69: What makes human behavior communication is that it is behavior or interaction with symbols, and James E. Stappers, Communicatie en Communicatiemodellen (Nijmegen: Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, 1966 dissertation) who on p. 35 refers to the idea that communication is A to B re X instead A to B X. For the same situation in organizational studies, see: Stewart R. Clegg and Cynthia Hardy, Introduction: Organizations, Organization and Organizing, in Stewart R. Clegg, Cynthia Hardy and Walter R. Nord (eds.), Handbook of Organization Studies (London: Sage, 1996), pp.128. Stanley Deetz, Conceptual Foundations, in Fredric M. Jablin and Linda L. Putnam (eds.), The New Handbook of Organizational Communication: Advances in Theory, Research, and Methods (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001), pp. 3 46. Ibid., p. 5. Ibid. Ibid. This was the dening characteristic of the management discipline from its very foundations, see: Chester I. Barnard, The Functions of the Executive (Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard University Press, 1968; orig. 1938); for a recent exposition of the same argument, see: John Kay, Foundations of Corporate Success: How Business Strategies Add Value (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1995). Regis McKenna, Relationship Marketing: Successful Strategies for the Age of the Customer (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1991)public relations academics and practitioners are making a serious mistake when they suppress marketing conceptualizations of their eld as relating to all, not only market-oriented relationships, and see this as encroachmentit is not on us, public relations devotees to dene what some other discipline is to think and do.

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[49] Gardner Lindzey and Elliot Aronson, Handbook of Social Psychology (New York: Random Press, 1985, 3rd ed.). [50] Daniel Katz and Robert L. Kahn, The Social Psychology of Organizations (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1978, 2nd ed.); for even a more relationship-oriented approach to organizational psychology, see: Karl E. Weick, The Social Psychology of Organizing (New York: Mc-Graw-Hill, 1979, 2nd ed.). [51] RSA, Tomorrows Company (London: The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, 1995). [52] After the completion of the EBOK Delphi study, three more countries joined the project: Greece, Malta and Turkey.