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John R. Luecke, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, USA
Люк Дж. Р., доцент, Университет штата Висконсин, США

Статья опубликована : Социальная коммуникация в современном мире. Modern Social Communication / Сборник материалов российско-американской научной школы-семинара, 14-18 июня, 2004. - М.:ООО "Принт-Медиа", 2004. - 58 с. - С. 9-14

    Американское направление PR существует уже около ста лет, и за этот период развития были исследованы изменения в обществе, потребностях клиентов и организаций.
    Практическая работа в американском PR четко обусловлена базовыми американскими ценностями. Последние включают: индивидуализм, конкуренцию, достижения и материальный успех, прогресс и изменения, высокую степень риска (позитивное отношение в культуре к наличию риска в новых делах), полихронность (строгий учет времени повсеместно), низкий уровень контекста взаимодействия (предпочтительно через письменный текст, где большое внимание уделяют выбору слов). Для сравнения: культуры высокого контекста уделяют большое внимание в общении обстановке и месту, меньше словам.
    В определении PR должны присутствовать следующие характеристики: PR - это планируемое действие, второе, PR всегда работает на интересы своего клиента, и третье, воздействие PR всегда направлено на определенный сектор населения, который взаимодействует с клиентом. Модели PR следующие: модель публичности, ключевым подходом которой является пропаганда в интересах клиента, модель правдивого информирования общественности от "источника к потребителю", двусторонняя асимметричная модель, где используется метод научного убеждения потребителя, двусторонняя симметричная модель, где идет поиск взаимопонимания и др.

American public relations is approximately 100 years old and over that time has evolved to reflect changes in society and the changing needs of its clients or organizations. In this paper the term "client" is used to represent the organization that uses public relations services. In some cases these services will be provided by an outside PR agency; in others they will be provided by a PR practitioner who works exclusively for the organization.

Public Relations and American Core Values

As it has evolved, the practice of American PR clearly reflects numerous core American values. These include:

  • Individualism. The United States is considered the most individualistic culture on earth. While PR practitioners may think of themselves as part of a team, they clearly see PR as making an individual contribution to the team effort, and not part of a collective.
  • Competition. A great deal of the work done by American PR practitioners supports the competitive drive of organizations to persuade someone to buy their product or service, support their cause of electing their candidate. American PR practitioners also compete with one another for jobs and for clients.
  • Achievement/Success Driven. In American society PR practitioners who achieve the most in terms of material success tend to be viewed as the most successful.
  • Change and Progress. Much of the work of American PR practitioners is dedicated to promoting change and progress, whether it's a new product, service, or idea.
  • Low uncertainty avoidance. This concept has to do with the extent to which a culture promotes risk taking and trying new things. American culture is all about risk taking, whether it is in business, in sports or in an individual's life. To practice PR in America, practitioners need to be comfortable with risk.
  • Polychronic. The anthropologist E. T. Hall describes American culture as one in which time is valued and managed, often at the expense of relationships. American PR totally reflects this value. PR practitioners are obsessed with deadlines and tracking their work time, sometimes in six-minute increments. This allows them to accurately charge their clients for the time they spend on a client project.
  • Low context. Hall also describes American society as low context, by which he means that we rely on language to communicate, preferably written language. By contrast, high context societies derived meaning from people in an interaction and the setting, and place less emphasis on the words. American PR practitioners are obsessed with words. They value finding the exact word to express the idea they wish to convey.

Definitions of Public Relations

In the mid-1970s, R. Harlow, a public relations educator, collected definitions of public relations. He found approximately 450 definitions, but there was little agreement among any of them. This problem is further compounded by the use of over 70 job titles in the public relations field.

Perhaps the broadest definition of public relations was offered by J. E. Grunig and T. Hunt in 1984 when they wrote: "Public relations is the management of communication between an organization and its publics." Their definition captures several key components of effective PR. First, it establishes that PR is managed or planned communication. It is not haphazard or random. Second, PR represents an organization, or client, and it should always be used to address the client's problems or opportunities. And third, PR needs to be targeted to specific "publics". By the term "publics" American PR practitioners are referring to a definable group of people who have a relationship with the client. They could be customers, potential customers, employees, shareholders, residents of communities in which the client operates, government officials and the media. Some PR practitioners continue to cling to the notion of a "general public," but that concept is broad to plan and execute successful PR programs effectively.

Models of Public Relations

As American public relations developed over the past 100-plus years, it has evolved to meet the changing needs of clients and to reflect changes in society. J. E. Grunig and T. Hunt have articulated four models that represent the practice of contemporary American public relations, and which also depict its evolution.

Press Agentry Model

The earliest PR model to appear was press agentry or publicity. It emerged in the late 19th century and was characterized as one-way, source-to-receiver communication. Its purpose was largely propagandistic and the truth was sometimes expendable. Press agents did little research aside from monitoring the media in which they sought to place favorable articles about their clients. The prototype practitioner of this model was the American impresario P. T. Barnum. He promoted circuses and other entertainment venues such as the singer Jenny Lind. Publicity continues to be a component of contemporary American PR and is used in sports, entertainment and product publicity, although today's practitioners are less likely to take liberties with the truth.

Public Information Model

By the early 1920s the press agentry model lost credibility with journalists, largely because they had been deceived by press agents too many times. Ivy Lee, a former journalist turned PR practitioner, recognized this problem and sought to address it by sending his Declaration of Principles to journalists. He stated that they could expect no less than factual and accurate information from his PR agency. This practice gave rise to the public information model. It continues to characterize communication as one-way, source-to-receiver, but now adhering to the truth is important. The purpose of this model is dissemination of information, and it is predicated on the idea that if the public has sufficient information and that information is truthful, then the public will believe and behave in ways that are helpful to the client. PR practitioners operating in this model conduct some research, but it is generally limited to readability analyses and readership studies. Today, the public information model can be found in government agencies, NGOs and in some businesses.

Two-Way Asymmetric Model

One of the limitations of the public information model is that sometimes the public failed to believe or behave in the desired fashion, even after they had been given all of the accurate and truthful information they might need about a particular topic. The model failed to take the attitudes and motivations of the public into account.

By the late 1920s and early 1930s a new model began to emerge. It took advantage of advances in psychology and public opinion polling to understand the attitudes of the public. E. L. Bernays was the leading PR practitioner to apply this model. Bernays had worked as a press agent, but began to encounter problems that could not simply be solved by providing more information to the public. As the nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays may have had some additional insights into the operation of the human mind, which allowed him to practice "scientific persuasion."

The two-way asymmetric model relies on two-way communication: from source to receiver and back to source. Grunig and Hunt use the term "asymmetric" to describe the effects of the communication. By this they mean that the client is seeking to change the beliefs or behavior of the target public, but is not willing to change its own beliefs or behaviors. Unlike its predecessor models, the two-way asymmetric model of PR relies heavily on research about the target publics. Such research is frequently conducted through attitude surveys and focus groups. This model is practiced extensively today by many businesses and public relations agencies.

Two-Way Symmetric Model

In the 1970s America was awash in a variety of social and political movements; all were arguing for changes to the way the country conducted itself nationally and internationally. The earlier models proved ineffective as organizations sought to counter these movements and the changes they sought. Out of these failures, the two-way symmetric model of public relations arose.

This model argued that the over-riding purpose of public relations was not persuasion, as suggested by earlier models. Instead, it posited the notion of creating mutual understanding and accommodation between organizations and their publics as the goal of public relations. The communication in this model is two-way, and the effects are balanced. That is, both the organization and its publics need to find ways of changing to accommodate one another. This model places greater emphasis on the use of dialogue and negotiation between organizations and their publics. It also requires far more research to understand the issues that are creating contention and the publics that are affected by these issues. This model was initially practiced by businesses that were heavily regulated by the government, e.g., utilities, energy companies, etc., because they needed the approval of various publics to carry out their business activities. Today, many PR practitioners consider this model to be "emergent" and yet fully developed. There are, however, PR agencies that specialize in its practice, and clients who clearly can benefit from the practice of two-way symmetric public relations.

The Contingency Approach

So what model does the typical American PR practitioner practice when he or she shows up at the office in the morning? It all depends on the client and the nature of the client's problem or opportunity. Some practitioners are adept at moving from one model to another, others limit their practice to a specific model.

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    About author:

    John R. Luecke,
    APR, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
    800 W. Main Street, Whitewater, WI 53190, USA.
    Telephone: 262-472-1063,

    Информация об авторе:

    Люк Дж. Р.
    доцент, Университет штата Висконсин, США

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