Cutlip et al.’s 4 Step PR Process

Primer of Public Relations Research - Don W. Stacks, our primary textbook for PR Research at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Primer of Public Relations Research – Don W. Stacks, our primary textbook for PR Research at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

I’ve gotten quite into my courses here at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. I’m pretty busy doing coursework but every now and then I’d like to share some observations/class notes/etc. from class to let prospective students know what the curriculum here entails. This semester is really the ‘meat and potatoes of Newhouse’s take on Public Relations.

The content from our cumulative exam we take in April (a requirement to graduate) is taken from our Research, Theory, Management and Campaigns courses.

Here’s our course syllabus

and here’s what we discussed in class on Tuesday:

4 Step Public Relations Process

RACE: Research, Action, Communication, and Evaluation

Keys: Situation Analysis, Strategy, Implementation, and Assessment

Step 1: Defining the Public Relations Problem 

A problem statement represents a concise description of the situation.

-often written in a sentence or short paragraph

-useful problem statement summarizes what was learned about the problem situation

-written in present tense, describes a situation in specific and measurable terms dealing with knowledge predisposition and behavior

-who what where when why how

Problem Statements deal with:

What is the source of concern?

Where is this a problem?

When is it a problem?

Who is involved or affected?

Why is this a concern to the organization and its publics?

The classic example of an overused problem statement that has an implied solution is:

“What we have here is a communication problem”

Communication is part of the solution, not the problem!

A real problem statement:

“Only 5% of new graduates join the alumni association during the 1st year following graduation, compared with 21% of all graduates, resulting in lost contact and reduced support for the university”

Situation Analysis

“An unabridged collection of all that is known about the situation, its history, forces operating on it, and those involved or affected internally and externally”

-A situation analysis contains the background information needed to illustrate in detail the meaning of a problem statement.

-Doing a situation analysis helps you clearly and specifically define and refine the problem statement.

-Situation analysis research gives practitioners the timely, complete, and accurate information needed to understand the problem and to serve as a basis for decision-making.

S.W.O.T. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

Detailed analysis of the internal and external factors allows one to assess organizational strengths (S) and weaknesses (W) and to identify the opportunities (O) and threats (T) in the environment.

About Geoffrey Campbell


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