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Running head: Intro to Technical Writing of PR 1

The Novice Practitioners Introduction to the Technical Writing of Public Relations: An

Exploration of the Recondite Principles Exhibited by Superfluous Scholastical Argot and

Ostentatious Academia in the Composition of a Prolegomena

Sean Alphin

Radford University
Intro to Technical Writing of PR 2

There are a considerable amount of varied definitions relating to public relations. The

issue itself is one which is regularly debated on every side by authorities within the field due to

their abundance. Nearly every notable figure in the field of public relations has published their

own definition of public relations; which they believe most accurately exemplifies the primary

focus of the discipline. According to the textbook, which was assigned concerning this course;

the exemplar working definition of public relations is stated as being:

A leadership management function that helps achieve organizational objectives, define

philosophy, and facilitate organizational changes. Public relations practitioners

communicate with all relevant internal and external publics to develop positive

relationships and to create consistency between organizational goals and societal

expectations. Public relations practitioners develop, execute, and evaluate organizational

programs that promote the exchange of influence and understanding among an

organization’s constituent parts and publics. (Lattimore, Baskin, Heiman, & Toth, 2012,

p.4)

However, this definition is by no means a clear and concise representation of public relations.

Albeit a thorough definition, and besides that it does in-fact describe many of the various aspects

involved in public relations. The following example demonstrates a much clearer, more concise,

and easily understood definition of public relations. Public relations involves the realization of an

organizations goals and objectives in congruence with proper application of the leadership

management function. Now with that stated, let’s take a closer look at the component parts of

this definition of public relations. The goals of an organization are the general direction in which

the organization is headed. The organizations goal is the mission of the organization as outlined

in its mission statement. The objectives of an organization are closely linked to the goals of the
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organization with the exception that objectives are much more specific and determinable than

goals (Lattimore et al., 2012). The leadership management function component of this definition

involves cooperation with both internal and external publics. Furthermore, the leadership

management function especially emphasizes the foundation of effective relationships and the

maintenance of consistency between organizational goals and societal expectations (Lattimore et

al., 2012).

Before we can even start our discussion of the paradigms involved in public relations

though. We first have to begin with defining what a paradigm actually is. According to the

Oxford English Dictionary, a paradigm is defined as, “A pattern or model, an exemplar; (also) a

typical instance of something, an example;” additionally, in the case of rhetoric specifically,

paradigm is defined as, “A figure of speech in which a comparison is made by resemblance”.

The rhetorical paradigm as it relates to public relations is not often thought very highly of by

external publics. The typical response to mention of rhetoric that is in propinquity to public

relations is often to worry about spin, misdirection, or misinformation being communicated one-

way by the corporation. In 2000, Heath pointed out this problem with rhetoric in public relations

when he stated; “From its birth, public relations has been seen as a tool used largely by corporate

managements to get their way, even if they have to lie and manipulate truth and motive” (pg. 70).

What can be done by the practitioner of public relations to separate this highly stigmatizing and

negative association regarding the rhetorical paradigm? In what way can we attempt to alter the

external publics’ pre-existing negative perceptions and try to create a positive shift away from

this current view? The rhetorical paradigm of public relations relates to how we are able to go

about ethically persuading someone of something. Being able to do this is one of the

fundamental basis’ of public relations. Heath provides a possible solution to the problem when
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he stated, “What corrects the bad use of rhetoric? The good use of rhetoric. Note, that I said the

good use of rhetoric, not the use of good rhetoric. That distinction is crucial, because rhetoric is a

process of suasory discourse that can be used for good or bad ends” (Heath, 2000, pg. 72). It

rests in the hands of the professional practitioner regarding the proper exercise of the rhetorical

perspective in public relations. Only through the consistently good practice of rhetoric will it be

possible to slowly alter the publics’ perception about public relations and the rhetorical

perspective. Through professionalism and ethical practice this negative perception can be

changed. The rhetorical perspective is a very valuable tool when it is properly used and is not

something we should just give up.

The excellence/ symmetry perspective of public relations focuses on nine key

characteristics of public relations including the levels of programs, departments and

organizations. This model was first postulated by Grunig following a study of his that took place

in 2002, which aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the organization overall. The study in this

journal was done by Andrea Schwarz and Alexander Fritsch and entitled, Communicating on

Behalf of Global Civil Society: Management and Coordination of Public Relations in

International Nongovernmental Organizations. The study attempted to scale up from Grunigs’

previous study to examine the effects that differences in cultural and political landscapes of

various regions and countries had on the organizations effectiveness and accomplishment of

excellence in PR. The basis of the study was to determine how good of public relations

practitioners INGO’s were at both the central and local level. Four-hundred forty communication

managers were surveyed for this study and asked about those nine generic principles of the

excellence/ symmetry perspective. The conclusion of the study showed nearly, “two-thirds of

respondents stated that their organizations cover all elements of strategic planning,
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implementation, and evaluation with respect to their international public relations programs”

(Schwarz and Fritsch, 2014, pg. 20). Additionally, over half of the surveyed communication

managers responded that they, “possessed highly valued and strategically powerful public

relations functions” (Schwarz and Fritsch, 2014, pg. 20). These findings affirm the significant

contributions which public relations makes for the organization and especially demonstrates the

vital role of public relations as a discipline. This conclusion also shows that the organizations

which are the most excellent at performing their designated functions are the ones which

attribute special significance to the role of public relations within their organization as an

independent entity. The relevance of the excellence/ symmetry perspective in public relations is

clearly shown here too. From looking at the results of the conclusion of the study it is apparent

that even twelve years after the original study by Grunig. Most of the previously explained

framework regarding the excellence/ symmetry model still remains true as a valid paradigm of

public relations and is widely applicable.

Tactics are used in the public relations discipline as specific devices which the

practitioner employs in order to work toward the realization of larger organizational strategies

(Burson, 2011). The quintessential tactic employed by the public relations practitioner is the

press release. The press release is a clearly written and concise statement that entails the most

important message which needs to reach the organizations publics. Another tactic would be

sending newsletters out to the organizations publics. A newsletter is a great way to maintain repo

ire with publics. It allows the practitioner to reach a consistent readership of loyal subscribed

members. Also, it provides you an opportunity to explain in detail all recent achievements of the

organization, promote any positive corporate social responsibility, or discuss recent community
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outreach efforts. Lastly, interviews are a great tactic when properly utilized. For instance if the

corporation you work for is holding a customer appreciation BBQ event soon. A well done

interview at just the right time promoting this message could greatly increase the awareness

surrounding the event and make it a huge success for community relations.

When I was doing my research for this paper it didn’t seem like there were very many

good scholarly journals about the paradigms section of the paper to be found. Every time I tried

to search for an article independently of the library database super search function the article

ended up not being available unless I paid to access it for a certain amount of time. But as much

as I don’t enjoy research I actually did end up enjoying writing this assignment. I wish I had

started working on it a bit sooner but that’s irrelevant now, thank monster energy for this one.

Before this assignment I hadn’t ever written about paradigms or actually about the academic

field of public relations. Being able to get an idea of what I’m in for gave me some good

perspective. It can get pretty technical at times, especially a few of those scholarly journals. It

seemed like they were actually trying at times to intentionally make the concepts more difficult

to understand then it needed to be. That actually is what inspired me to make my title as

ridiculous as I did, although, the Calvin and Hobbes comic about academic writing was

inspirational too (It’s hilarious by the way!). The title nearly 5 lines long at one point, and it was

one of my most glorious creations ever, but I decided to spare you that as it didn’t seem very

professional. You did say to have fun with creating an academic title though and not to just call

it, final paper, so I did just that! Lastly, I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed taking your class

this semester and I look forward to future classes. The enthusiasm you have for everything you

teach and the genuine care you display for your students made the class really enjoyable.
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References Page

Baskin, O., Heiman, S. T., Lattimore, D., Toth, E. L., (2012). Public Relations: The profession &

the practice. NY: McGraw-Hill.

Burson, H., (2011). Questions that confuse students: strategy or tactic. Behind the spin,

Retrieved from http://www.behindthespin.com/features/questions-that-confuse-students-

strategy-or-tactics

Fritsch, A., Schwarz, A., (2014). Communicating on Behalf of Global Civil Society:

Management and Coordination of Public Relations in International Nongovernmental

Organizations. Journal of Public Relations Research, 26, 161–183. DOI:

10.1080/1062726X.2013.864242

Heath, R. L., (2000). A Rhetorical Perspective on the Values of Public Relations: Crossroads and

Pathways Toward Concurrence. Journal of Public Relations Research, 12, 69-91.

Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?sid=6a97b1cf-9432-4459-

9410f75540bb992e%40sessionmgr105&vid=0&hid=104&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzL

WxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d&preview=false#db=bth&AN=3171400

Paradigm. (n.d.).In Oxford English Dictionary online. Retrieved from

http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/137329?redirectedFrom=paradigm#eid