The initial years of the 21st century have shown graphically how critical the practice of public relations is to society.
The tragic terror attacks on America and around the world; the consequent hostilities and ill will provoked by intolerance, jealousy and hatred; the shameful corporate scandals and unscrupulous business executives in the United States casting a pall over the entire free enterprise systemall have underscored the necessity and importance of two-way communications to knock down barriers and build bridges to understanding and mutual respect among people and institutions.
That, in essence, is what the practice of public relations is all aboutbuilding relationships.
Public relations remains at base a personal, relationship-oriented practice, demanding experienced judgment and finely honed interpersonal communications skills. And so, this ninth edition of The Practice of Public Relations has been recast to place its emphasis on the principles, processes, and practices that lead to building positive relationships.
The book's "relationship-building makeover" is manifest in refinements in theory, organization, and application.
New Theoretical Focus
This edition offers a sharpened focus on the theoretical underpinnings of effective communications.
The process of communication to achieve specific goalsinforming, motivating, persuading, building mutual understandingis explored more broadly and emphasized more specifically.
Accordingly, the book's introductory chapters place greater attention on how communications theory and public opinion understanding can be applied to strategic public relations planning and creation of believeable and persuasive messages.
New Organizational Structure
The bolstered theoretical framework serves as a natural departure point for a more logical chapter structure, from evolution and process through publics and applications toward building relationships.
Specifically, this edition is divided into five discrete parts:
- Part 1, "Evolution," looks at the field's antecedents and pioneers and what defines it.
- Part II, "Preparation/Process," deals with the key conceptual framework areas that underpin the fieldcommunication, management, public opinion, ethics, law, and research.
- Part III, "The Publics," discusses the field's most important constituencies, from employees and the media to consumers and the government to investors, international publics, and communities of diversity.
- Part IV, "Execution," reviews the primary technical skills that public relations professionals must possessfrom writing for the eye and ear and working online to integrated marketing communications and crisis management.
- Part V, "The Future," discusses the challenges and opportunities presented to public relations in its "golden age" in the 21st century.
The strength of this book is in its application of theory to real-life practice. This aspect, too, has been fortified in this edition.
- First, the importance of building relationships across national borders has been captured in a new chapter devoted to "International Relations."
- Second, the disconcerting dismantling of trust with investors and stockholders is confronted in a new chapter devoted to "Investor Relations."
- Third, greater attention has been placed on the multicultural diversity of public relations work, particularly through interviews with leading minority practitioners.
- Finally, for the first time, a sampling of "hypothetical student cases"on such issues as sex discrimination, Internet sabotage and surveillance, and organizational positioninghas been added to complement the book's traditional exploration of front-page public relations cases.
At the heart of public relations practice are the real-life contemporary experiencescasesthat alter the communications landscape and redefine how we assess and handle communications challenges, among them:
- New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's handling of the September 11, 2001 horror
- President Bush's campaign to "sell the war effort" overseas
- The violations of trust by the nation's wealthiest executives and biggest companies, from Enron to WorldCom to Tyco
- The self immolation of domestic diva Martha Stewart, Senator Trent Lott, and Congressman Gary Condit
- The Catholic Church's confrontation with the worst crisis in its history
- The unlikely emergence of Donald Rumsfeld as a public relations superstar
Most of these cases involve issues of ethics and propriety. All play a part in public relations lore and learning. And they're all here.
Beyond this, a number of unique elements set this book apart:
- The prominence of ethics in the practice of public relations is highlighted with "A Question of Ethics" box feature in every chapter.
- "Sidebar" features complement the text with provocative examples of what's right, what's wrong, and what's wacky about public relations practice today.
- Chapter Summaries and Discussion Starter Questions highlight the key messages delivered in each chapter.
- Updated Suggested Readings, nourishing Appendices, and "Top of the Shelf" book reviews supplement the text with the field's most current literature.
- "Tips from the Top" interviews air the views of the field's most prominent professionals-from President Bush's first White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer to United Nations public relations chief Shashi Tharoor to the leaders of the field's most prominent trade associationsas well as the CEO newsmakers who presided over the field's most striking moments, from Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura to ValuJet CEO Lewis Jordan to PepsiCo CEO Craig Weatherup to Dow Corning CEO Richard Hazelton to the eminent management guru Dr. Peter Drucker.
All of these elements add to the excitement of this book. So, too, does the full-color format that underscores the liveliness, vitality, and relevance of the field.
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To succeed in public relations, professionals need an innate sense of the power, excitement, and value to society's primary institutions of its practice. This book uses a unique hands-on approach that prompts readers to think critically about the field. Prepares readers to deal with a full range of situations and to arrive at effective, ethical solutions. Offers two new mini-chapters on Investor Relations and International Public Relations. Features new contemporary cases including Rudy Giuliani and 9/11, Gary Condit, Trent Lott, Microsoft public relations, and more. Presents new hypothetical cases including cases on speechwriting, Internet monitoring, and sex discrimination. Features new contemporary interviews with such public figures as Gov. Jesse Ventura, Rudy Giuliani PR Director Sunny Mindell, National Black Public Relations Association President Pat Tobin, and White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. Presents a greater inclusion of minority and female practitioners. Provides Suggested Readings and Suggested Book lists. A handy reference for public relations professionals/public affairs officers, marketing professionals, advertising professionals, and general managers.
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