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Castelli, Joelle Wiley.
Government public relations :
b a quantitative assessment of government public relations practitioner roles and public relations model usage
h [electronic resource] /
by Joelle Wiley Castelli.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
ABSTRACT: This study attempts to identify how public relations are practiced in local governments. Traditional literature has stated that the public information model of public relations is the model of public relations practiced in local governments. This study also attempts to determine which roles are most common for lead communicators in municipal organizations governments. Based on Internet survey research methods, research findings indicated that while most practitioners stated they practiced a two-way communications model, they had the most expertise in the public information and press agentry models. The researcher also found that the role most often held by the highest ranking communicator was that of public relations manager, although they stated there was the most expertise in their department to do the things typical of public relations technicians. Low total population and response rates prevent confident generalization of the results of this study to the entire local government communicator population. The research contributes to the field of public relations in local government.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2007.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
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Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 120 pages.
Advisor: Ken Killebrew, Ph.D.
Public relations roles.
Public relations models.
Government public relations.
x Mass Communications
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Government Public Relations: A Quantita tive Assessment of Government Public Relations Practitioner Roles and Public Relations Model Usage by Joelle Wiley Castelli A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Mass Communications College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Ken Killebrew, Ph.D. Derina Holtzhausen, Ph.D. Joanne Pynes, Ph.D. Date of Approval: April 2, 2007 Keywords: Public Relations Roles, Public Relations Models, Government Communication, Government Public Relations Copyright 2007, Joelle Wiley Castelli
Dedication I would like to dedicate this thesis to my family, friends, coworkers, and professors. Without my friends I would ha ve never started the program or had the support to keep going when the days were long and tiresome, I am grateful for the push. To my husband who made it a pr iority to help me get to class, watch our beautiful daughter, and do the housework so I could have the free time to focus on my thesis, my deepest thanks. To my beautif ul daughter Aida who was an inspiration, I kept going to show you what a strong, smart woman can do. To the rest of my family who kept a watchful eye on my progress and reminded me of the reward at the end of the journey, I am grateful. To my coworkers and friends at the City of Clearwate r with whom I have the pleasure of working; without their support, accomplishing this degree would not have been possible. Their financial, professional, and emotional support was a necessity. I would also like to extend my gr atitude to the Mass Communications professors at USF with whom I have worked, especially Dr. Killebrew, Dr. Holtzhausen and Dr. Petersen. Every class I t ook inspired me to be a better professional and student. I have learned to question the truth, search for answers and strive to become the best student and professional I can be. To my thesis committee; thanks for your time and dedication. Thanks to each of you for encouraging a nd inspiring me in a great way. For all your guidance, I will be forever grateful.
i Table of Contents List of Tables .................................................................................................................iii Abstract....................................................................................................................... .....iv Chapter One: Introduction................................................................................................1 Chapter Two: Literature Review......................................................................................4 Public Relations Models.......................................................................................4 Public Relations Practice......................................................................................6 Public Relations Roles..........................................................................................8 Public Relations and Activist Groups.................................................................10 Public Confidence and Trust in Local Government...........................................13 History of Government Public Relations...........................................................18 Government Public Relations.............................................................................22 Private vs. Public Organizations.........................................................................43 Public Administration Communications Future................................................47 Hypotheses and Research Questions..................................................................51 Chapter Three: Methodology.........................................................................................53 Local Government Assessment..........................................................................53 Data Collection Process......................................................................................54 Instrumentation...................................................................................................57 Public Relations Models Items...............................................................57 Public Relations Roles Items..................................................................58 Public Relations Models and Roles Expertise Items..............................58 Demographics.........................................................................................59 Response Rate Evaluation..................................................................................59 Analytical Method..............................................................................................61 Chapter Four: Results.....................................................................................................62 Reporting Relationship.......................................................................................63 Strategic Planning and Decision Making...........................................................63 Information Gathering and Research..................................................................64 Organizational Support.......................................................................................65 Public Relations Models.....................................................................................66 Public Relations Roles........................................................................................68 Departmental Expertise......................................................................................71 Activist Groups...................................................................................................74 Demographics.....................................................................................................76
ii Naming Names...................................................................................................77 Transforming Data..............................................................................................77 Analysis of Variance..........................................................................................78 Chapter Five: Conclusion...............................................................................................86 Conclusions........................................................................................................86 Public Relations Models.........................................................................86 Public Relations Roles............................................................................87 Organizational Importance.....................................................................88 Activist Pressure.....................................................................................90 Demographics.........................................................................................93 Departmental Title..................................................................................94 Limitations..........................................................................................................94 Small Total Population...........................................................................94 Survey Fatigue........................................................................................94 Online Survey Administration................................................................95 Self-Reporting........................................................................................95 Interpretations.........................................................................................96 Reliability Statistics................................................................................96 Future Research..................................................................................................97 References....................................................................................................................100 Appendices...................................................................................................................106 Appendix A: Cities in the Target Population...................................................106 Appendix B: Participant Emails.......................................................................111 Appendix C: Questionnaire..............................................................................114
iii List of Tables Table 1 Survey Response Statistics...........................................................................60 Table 2 Descriptive Statistics for Departmental Contribution to Strategic Planning and Decision Making.....................................................64 Table 3 Descriptive Statistics fo r Departmental Contribution to Strategic Planning through Various Types of Research...............................65 Table 4 Descriptive Statistics for Public Relations Models......................................67 Table 5 Descriptive Statistics for Public Relations Roles.........................................70 Table 6 Descriptive Statistics for Departmental Expertise........................................72 Table 7 Descriptive Statistics for Activist Group Involvement................................75 Table 8 Gender Frequencies......................................................................................76 Table 9 Analysis of Variance for 2way Symmetrical Model Expertise as Independent Variable...............................................................................79 Table 10 Analysis of Variance for 2way Asymmetrical Model Expertise as Independent Variable...............................................................................80 Table 11 Analysis of Variance for Technician Role Expertise as Independent Variable...............................................................................81 Table 12 Analysis of Variance for Manager Role Expertise as Independent Variable...............................................................................82 Table 13 Analysis of Variance for Public Affairs Model Expertise as Independent Variable...............................................................................83 Table 14 Analysis of Variance for P ublic Information Model Expertise as Independent Variable...............................................................................84
iv Government Public Relations: A Quantita tive Assessment of Government Public Relations Practitioner Roles and Public Relations Model Usage Joelle Wiley Castelli ABSTRACT This study attempts to identify how pub lic relations are pr acticed in local governments. Traditional literature has stated that the public information model of public relations is the model of public rela tions practiced in local governments. This study also attempts to determine which ro les are most common fo r lead communicators in municipal organizations governments. Based on Internet survey research methods, research findings indicated that while most practitioners stated they pract iced a two-way communications model, they had the most expertise in the public in formation and press agentry models. The researcher also found that the role most of ten held by the highest ranking communicator was that of public relations manager, although they stated there was the most expertise in their department to do the things typi cal of public relatio ns technicians. Low total population and response rates pr event confident generalization of the results of this study to the entire lo cal government communicator population. The research contributes to the field of public relations in local government.
1 Chapter 1: Introduction Introduction Little research has been conducted on the way public relations is practiced in public organizations. In order to furthe r our understanding of government public relations, we must first determine what type of public relations models are used in government organizations and what role the head public relations practitioner plays. There have historically b een four models of public re lations used to define the variations in the way public relations is practiced. Grunig and H unt generally defined the four models in their 1984 book as press agentry/publicity, public information, twoway symmetrical and two-way asymmetri cal (J. Grunig, 2001). J. Grunig points out that the press agentry/publicity and public information are both one-way models. Press agentry seeks attention for the organizati on in almost any way possible and public information practitioners are journalists in residence who disseminate accurate, but usually only favorable, information a bout their organization. In the two-way asymmetrical model, practitione rs conduct scientific research to determine how best to persuade publics to behave in the way th eir organizations wish. With the two-way symmetrical model, practitioners bring about symbiotic changes in the ideas, attitude and behaviors of both their organizations and publics thr ough research and dialogue. In most literature, government public relations practice has typically been described as following the public informati on model. I hypothesize that more recently local government organizations have become mo re interested in the cares and concerns
2 of those they represent and therefore, public affairs communicators are tending to practice more of a two-way communications model instead of a one-way model. Whether they are practicing the two-way symmetrical or the two-way asymmetrical, more often than not, they are moving away from the public information officer model. Since very little research has been done in this ar ea of public relations study, other questions were asked to determine the current state of the field. The public relations roles that are filled by the head of the communications department are also examined. Governments were created to represen t their citizens. More and more, local governments are trying to engage their publics to find out what they want and what they are thinking about. Governments need to enga ge in a two-way dialogue with those they represent in order to be most eff ective in this all-important task. Governments engage their citizens by doing traditional market research, including surveys and focus groups. There ha s also been a recent trend toward using other methods to engage citizen publics, such as town hall meetings, the Internet, and planning charettes to gauge citizen feedback. I also hypothesize that due to the le gal requirements forbidding governments from spending money on publicity, the existi ng stigmas of the term public relations, and the lack of understanding of the fiel d, very few communications departments will have titles that reflect the field. Departme nts will have any name other than public relations. By researching local governments, we are examining the level of government closest to the people it repres ents. Cities in the large category, with populations of
3 between 100,000 and 299,999 residents were surveyed. The following research questions were asked: RQ1 What models of public relations are practiced most often in local governments? RQ2 What roles to public relations pract itioners most often fill within local governments? RQ3 How much importance do local gov ernmental organizations place on the communication or public relations role? RQ4 Does the level of activist pressu re on a local government organization affect which public relations models or roles are used? H1 Because of the stigmas associated with the term public relations, very few government communications department s will be titled in such a manner.
4 Chapter 2: Literature Review Public Relations Models There have historically been four models of public rela tions that have been used to define the variations in the way public relations is practiced. Grunig and Hunt (1984) generally defined the four public relations m odels based upon whether they used oneway or two-way communication between the organization and its publics. The two-way communication models are further broken dow n into whether or not the relationship was symmetrical, with both the organizati on and its publics sharing equal amounts of the power in the relationship, or whether it is asymmetrical with the organization having and exerting more power in the relationship. These models are defined as the press agentry/publicity, public information, two-way symmetrical and two-way asymmetrical (J. Grunig, 2001). Grunig (2001) points out that the press agentry/publicity and public informati on are both one-way communication models. Press agentry seek attention for their or ganization in almost any way possible and public information practitioners are journalists in residence who disseminate accurate, but usually only favorable, information a bout their organization (J. Grunig, 2001). In the two-way asymmetrical model, practitioners conduct scientific research to determine how best to persuade publics to behave in the way their organizat ions wish. With the two-way symmetrical model, practitioners br ing about symbiotic changes in the ideas, attitude and behaviors of both their orga nizations and publics through research and dialogue.
5 Grunig and Hunt researched and found th at most organizations could practice each of the models under different cond itions and contribute to organizational effectiveness. These researchers proposed that by alternating between the two-way symmetrical and two-way asymmetrical ( called the mixed-motive model) almost always could increase the contribution of public relations to organizational effectiveness (J. Grunig, 2001). J. Grunig also pointed out that public relations is asymmetrical by nature. Persuasion is still relevant in the symmetri cal model. Public relations professionals sometimes persuade the public and other times they must persuade senior management. Leichty and Springston were among the firs t to point out that most organizations practice a combination of the four models (as cited in J. Grunig, 2001). Sometimes one model will be more effective than another. The knowledge of the practitioners (which models they know how to use) and shared understanding with senior management were the two strongest pred ictors of models practiced. Culture provided a context for excellent public relations, but without a knowledgeable senior practitioner and supportive top management, culture could not produce an excellent model of public relations. The Excellence study also found that excellent public relations departments do not seem to avoid the press agentry or public information models and the most excellent communication functions seem to practice all form s of public relations more extensively than do the less exce llent functions (J. Grunig, 2001). Plowman, Briggs, and Huang (2001) looked at the model used when organizations experienced conflict and dete rmined that most used a mixed-motive version. Using the mixed-motive model, each side in the stakeholder relationship
6 retains a strong sense of its own self-interes ts, yet each can attain some level of the resolution of the conflict. Th e two may be on opposite sides of the issue, but in both of their best interests, both stakeholders try to cooperate with each other. They do not necessarily trust one another or what th ey are communicating, but they trust one another enough to believe that each will abide by a reached agreement (Plowman, Briggs, and Huang, 2001). Public Relations Practice L. Grunig, J. Grunig and Dozier (2002) define 14 characteristics that m ake up an excellent communications department ba sed on the characteristics used in the Excellence model of public relations According to the researchers: the function must be managed strategi cally; there must be one single or integrated public relations departme nt; a separate function for marketing should exist; the public relations depart ment should have a direct reporting relationship to senior management; there should be use of the two-way symmetrical model, which involves giving messages, receiving messages and a balanced power between the two groups; there is potential for excellent public relations because th ere is knowledge of the symmetrical model, knowledge of the managerial role, academic training in public relations, and professiona lism; the worldview for public relations in the organization reflects the two-way symme trical model; the public relations director has power in the dominant coalition or power elite of the organization; there must be a partic ipatory rather than authoritarian organizational culture; a symmetrical system of internal communication
7 must exist for internal communication; the organizational structure should be organic rather than mechanical; a nd there will be a turbulent, complex environment with pressure from activist groups. (p. 13) When excellent public relations is practiced the programs meet the communication objectives, reduces cost of regulation, pressure, and litigation and employees have a high job satisfaction (Grunig et al., 2002). In a series of studies in the late 1980s, referred to as th e Excellence study, the researcher s interviewed the CEOs or top leaders of more than 300 private, pub lic and nonprofit organizations about their organizations public relations efforts. The researchers compared scores on the overall index of excellence and the individual variab les that make up the index by type of organization for the four types of organi zations--corporations, government agencies, associations, and not-for-profits. Govern ment agencies had average scores on participation in strategic management. Am ong the organizations that Grunig et al. (2002) researched that had excellent communication departments, the senior government public relations person was more li kely to report being in a technical or media relations role than in the other types of organizations, especially when compared to corporations. They found: However, he or she is about average fo r the managerial role, participation in strategic management and being in the dominant coalition. Such a combination of roles suggests that the historical public information or public affairs definition lives on in governmentof di sseminating information to the general population directly or through the media. At the same time, the data suggest that
8 government agencies are moving toward a more managerial and strategic role. (Grunig et al., 2002, p. 86) In the Excellence study, the researchers also f ound that CEOs of corporations were less likely to prefer the press agentry and public information model than were those in other types of organizations. They found that govern ments and corporations were more likely to have asymmetrical internal communicat ions. Grunig et al. ( 2002) summarize their comparison of organizational type to the Excellence model by stating that government agencies seem to be moving toward a strategic, managerial and symmetrical role, but they are not quite there yet. Public Relations Roles This section of the literature examines the role the public re lations practitioner plays within his or he r public relations department. Res earch on public rela tions roles is one of the most frequently addressed topics in public relations research literature (Pasadeos, Renfro, & Hanily, 1999). Res earch on the roles of public relations practitioners has been important to th e body of knowledge in public relations for several reasons (Toth, Serini, Wright, & Em ig, 1998). One main reas on public relations roles research is important is because research on roles ma de it possible to link public relations work to a broader investigation of how excellent public relations departments were structured in organizations (Doz ier, L.A. Grunig, & J.E. Grunig, 1995). Public relations roles are abstractions of behavior patterns of individuals in organizations when practicing public relatio ns (Dozier, 1992). In his study Dozier argued that public relations role s set apart individuals in orga nizations as well as define the expectations organizations have of th eir employees. Dozier stated that public
9 relations roles are the key to understa nding the function of public relations. Holtzhausen, Petersen, and Tindall (2003) defi ned roles as repetitive actions that are performed to set forth a system of practice, or model. Individual practitioner roles would, therefore, facilitate models of public relations practice. Research on public relations roles began in 1979 with Broom and Smiths exploratory study of clients perceptions of practitioner job tasks. In this study, Broom and Smith proposed the existence of four public relations roles. The four roles identified were the expert prescriber, problem-solving process facilitator, communication process facilitator, and communication technician. The expert prescriber is the role wh ere the practitioner is responsible for describing and solving public relations problems independent ly. The expert prescriber acts as the authority on both public relations problems and their solutions. Broom (1982) acknowledged that practitioners often perform multiple roles, but he argued that a practitioner can be classified according to the role he or she plays more frequently. Grunig, Toth and Hon (2001) argue however, th at the two major role s that have been identified are not mutually exclusive. Gr unig, Toth, and Hon (2001) argued that public relations practitioners tend to carry out both managerial and technical tasks. Research conducted by Dozier (1984) stated the communications manager served as the problem solver, decision-maker and planner. Practitioners serving as the public relations manager within an organi zation are expected to be knowledgeable about innovations in public re lations and are expected to de monstrate leadership in new approaches to old problems (Dozier, 1984).
10 Public relations managers tend to par ticipate in the orga nizational decisionmaking process. Broom and Dozier (1986) argued that participation in the organizational decision-making process is characterized as the extent to which practitioners participate in meetings with management about adopting new policies, discussing major problems, adopting new pr ocedures, implementing new programs, and evaluating the results of programs. The role of communication technician refe rs to the practitioner as a technical services provider, generating the collateral materials needed to implement a communication or public relations program planned through another communication role (Grunig, Grunig, & Dozier, 2002). Do zier (1984) argued th at the communication technician would be conceptualized as the beginning professional expected to undertake basic research in the preparation of public relations materials. The public relations technician is the practitioner w ho writes the news release or designs the brochure, handling graphics a nd the production of materials. Strategic management and planning ar e high-level organizational functions tightly linked to excellence in public relations and communication management (Dozier, Grunig & Grunig, 1995). Higgins (1979) defined strategic management as the process of managing the pursuit of the accomplishment of organizational mission coincident with managing the relationship of the organization to its environment (p. 49). Public Relations and Activist Groups Pressure from activist groups is such a pa rt of public relatio ns that it has been suggested that public relati ons practitioners gain legitimacy and increase their
11 usefulness to their organization when activist pressure is present. J. Grunig and L. Grunig (1997) claim that activist pressure stimulates an organization to develop excellent public relations departments (p. 25). Defining activist groups is not an easy task. According to Smith (1996), organized groups who have a deep-seeded interested in how an organization run are referred to as special in terest groups, pressure gr oups, issue groups, grassroots organizations, or social movement groups (a s cited in Heath, 2001). Various definitions exist, but all seem to point out that activis ts are organized and they strategically use communication to achieve their goals. Smith and Ferguson (2001) point out th at interacting with activist groups is something that many organizations try to resi st and that activists are often viewed and treated as threats to the organization. Although ther e are a number of normative frameworks that suggest organizations ha ve a variety of response options, most scholars suggest that responding to activis ts requires strategic planning, with consideration given to the de sired outcomes and implications of a confrontation. It is also stated that several factors may infl uence an organizations choice of strategy (Smith & Ferguson, 2001). Factors include th e reason for activist pressure, the number and nature of constituents demanding change, the content of the requests, the means by which the pressure is being exerted, and th e context in which the demands are being made. J. Grunig and L. Grunig (1997) claimed that the expertise of the public relations practitioners determines the type of organi zational response. Thei r viewpoint was that greater expertise was required to engage in dialogue or negotiations with activists as
12 opposed to one-way attacks or avoidance. They also stated that the dominant coalitions commitment to corporate social responsibil ity is the most important indicator of an organizations response (Grunig & Grunig, 1997). Three approaches to public relations have addressed this concern with social responsibility: rhetorical, symmetrical and humanistic. These three share an emphasis on collaboration, trust, and mutual responsibility between parties. In summarizing their Excellence stu dy, Grunig and Grunig (1997) advocated for the following normative response to activist groups: 1) Listening to all strategic constituencies is an important way in wh ich to learn the consequences that an organization has on those publics. 2) Di sclosing information and telling the organizations story helps to establish tr ust and credibility. 3) Communicating with activists should be continuous. 4) Recognizing the legitimacy of a ll groups, large and small is important because of the potential that even small activist groups have for engaging an organization. 5) Enacting twoway symmetrical respons es requires skilled practitioners. 6) Determining long-term eff ectiveness is importan t in helping both the organization and the activists to remain patient during the extended time it takes to reach agreement. 7) Public relations practiti oners who are close to the center of power in the organization are better ab le to shape the organizationa l response to the activists. Most recently, Holtzhausen (2007) review ed the activist liter ature and assessed how the Excellence model and activism are intertwined. She states that, If public relations practitioners have the ability to scan the environment, perform a boundaryspanning function, and practice two-way co mmunication with activ ist publics, top management will value public relations (p. 361). Recent research has shown that
13 although two-way communications was originally thought to be the most effective way to deal with activist groups, recent res earch results have shown either two-way symmetrical or two-way asymmetrical communi cations serve as indicators of excellent public relations. Public Confidence and Trust in Local Government Governm ental organizations have a n eed for a good public relations campaign because they suffer from a lack of confid ence from the public. Only 42% of Americans trust the government to do what is ri ght (National Civic Review, 2003). Local government agencies enjoy the most trust a nd confidence when compared to state and federal levels (Illinois Municipal Review, 1992). Only 6% of the public expresses a great deal of trust and conf idence in local government, 10 percentage points less than they had in 1987 and 54% have a fair am ount of trust and confidence in local government (Illinois Municipal Review, 1992) In 1997, only 60% of respondents in a Gallup poll indicated they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in their local government to carry out their responsib ilities, a 10% drop from 10 years earlier (Shaw, 2001). Periodically since 1972, Gallup has asked, How much trust and confidence do you have in local government in the area you live when it comes to handling local problems? Those who have either a fair am ount or a great amount has held steady over the years: 63% in 1972, 71% in 1974, 65% in 1976, 69% in 1997, 77% in 1998, 69% in 2001, and 68% in 2003. During the past fe w years, trust in state government has slightly fallen and is dependent upon the pol itical party of the stat e leader (Jones, 2003) and trust in the federal government has signi ficantly fallen with events like 9/11 and the
14 war in Iraq. Trust in local government has been tied to where those surveyed live. There is less of a tendency to trust local governme nt for those living in an urban environment (58%) than those living in a suburban area (71%) or rural area (73%) (Jones, 2003). According to Lawton (2003), declining trust in government and a continuing downward spiral in voter turnout are two wide ly cited symptoms of this public trust. Electoral cynicism, which is the result of this distrust, can significantly affect the health of our democracy (Lawton, 2003). In the artic le Can Communities Take Control of Campaigns? Lawton points out that the primar y purpose of campaigns is to give the citizens enough information to reasonably sel ect their representatives. When the system varies from this role, Lawton states that the citizens have the res ponsibility to bring the system back on track. He states they have the power to do this through their two most powerful tools: the checkbook and the ballot. Goodsell (2004) points out that alth ough people continually report being untrusting of government, they repeatedly report satisfacti on with level of service. Goodsell states that the bureaucracy is repor ted as providing the le vel of service that citizens demand very often and most of the time, this level of service lives up to acceptable standards of efficiency, courtesy, and fairness. But, Goodsell points out, this satisfactory treatment as the norm rather then the exception is the counter to what most of the literature on the subj ect states. The commonly accepted notion that government never performs as well as business is also shown to be a falsehood. Goodsell attributes this contradiction between the literatu re and public opinion on the unrealistic expectations that citizens tend to have for American bureaucratic performance.
15 Goodsell (1994) states that public administrators should plan events for citizens to have input and a dialogue with them rather wait for a citizens group to initiate the conversation. He states, if a policy issue is emerging in your program that is not yet defined, organize a public dialogue on the to pic--without controlling the issue (p.182). The press should not be treated with arrogance but with panache. If a bureaucratic horror story is printed, call th e reporter immediately and as k for an opportunity to come over to the paper and give your side ( p.182). If something good happens, the public administrator should invite the media in to tell the positive story. Goodsell points out that bureaucrats should overcome their f ear of the media. Most recently, Goodsell (2004) puts media in the same role as activis t groups. He states, Still another watchdog is the press, ready at a moments notice to submit a Freedom of Information request and find scandal in the results (p. 61). Although a dialogue with resident s is seen as beneficial, there are hurdles to that involvement. Callahan (2002) discusses the challenges of involving citizens in the decision making process that have faced public administrators for the last 30 years. Citizen participation is seen as burdensom e, costly and time consuming and there is conflict between the structure of government and the values of citizen participation. Tangible benefits of citizen participation includ e increasing the effectiveness of public managers and the decisions they make. I nvolved citizens are a pa rt of the decisionmaking process and are therefore more s upportive of the outcome. They are more informed, thus making them better equipped to give suggestions and insightful input. The traditional top-down hierarchical model of public administration tends to limit the role of citizens in the decision-making process.
16 Callahan (2002) lists the obstacl es to meaningful citizen participation as lack of trust on the part of elected officials, lack of communication between governing body and advisory committee, poorly defined goals and expectations for advisory committees, lack of citizen expertise, lack of municipal resources to support advisory committee activities, desire of department h eads to control their own programs, citizens who promote their own agenda rather than the committees and desire of elected officials to control the agenda. To improve citizen participation and a lleviate these obstacles, Callahan (2002) recommended the following: improving th e level and quality of communication between citizens, elected offi cials and administrators; enc ouraging greater involvement by the governing body; providing educati on and training on consensus building, communication and facilitati on skills and citizen adviso ry committees; establishing clear goals and strategies for all stakeholders; ensu ring a democratic appointment process; elevating advisory committees to commission or council status; providing incentives for citizens such as tax breaks, stipends, respect and public acknowledgement; and providing staff support. In summary, Callahan states, there is no question that active and engaged citizens create civically engaged communities which powerfully influence the quality of life and performance of social institutes (p. 318). In addition to continued positive actions from local governments, building and fostering relationships may help build better confidence in todays local municipalities. In other words, local governments can be nefit from a good public relations program.
17 There is a growing body of literature that states that public administrators are responsible for creating an informed and active citizenry. The public employee has to go out of his or her way to educate, info rm, mobilize and empower an audience that may not be an active audience otherwise. Sembor (1993) states that the education system, local government and other social in stitutions all play a vital role in this process. He states that the local level, for most Americans the level where government is the most real, is a logical place where the principles of democracy can be taught. Early theorists, including de Tocqueville, had these same theories. Certain conditions are necessary for the democratic process to remain stable. The level of the participation of the majority should not rise above the minimum necessary to keep the democratic method working. Low involvement has been viewed as symptomatic of a serious democratic deficiency on the part of the citiz enry. It has also been seen as an indicator of a low level of confidence in the electoral process and elected leaders. Sembor (1993) states that local officials can and should act as leaders in the process of citizenship development. He states that public administrators at the local level can take a leadership role in promoti ng civic responsibilities, teaching civic skills and in building civic institutions. They mu st infuse individual citizens with the character of citizenship and to provide the citizen with an ethical sense of purpose in the democratic system of government. Three areas where Sembor states they can get involved in this process are citizen participation in the policy making process, building local government/school partnerships a nd providing public places for community discussion. The areas for development in clude mechanisms for open lines of communication between citizens and public officials; creating new places for
18 discussion in the tradition of the Town Meetin g; and building an iden tity away from the us versus them attitude prevalent between the government and its citizens. Local government must attempt to empower more people by providing forums for public debate and discussion, capitalizing on the su ccess of government in the community to increase voter confidence in the ability of government to solve societys problems. History of Government Public Relations Dissem ination of government information wa s first started by the Department of Agriculture, when Congress ordered the depa rtment to diffuse ag riculture knowledge (Morgan, 1986). Agriculture has long sin ce been the pace se tter for putting out information. Wartime government communica tion has also been important to the history of government communication effort s. World War I proved to be seminal in demonstrating the power of government pers uasion when all societal resources were mobilized. Throughout the countrys history, legislati on has been enacted to either control or manage governmental communication efforts. The 1913 Gillett Amendment is a U.S. federal directive forbidding any government agency to spend money for publicity without the specific approval of the U.S. Congress (DeSanto, 2001). In 1972, Congress reviewed this amendment and rewrote it into Public Law 91-351, s. 608 (a) which expressly prohibits government spending on publicity or propaganda purposes designed to support or defeat legislation pending before Congress (i bid) (DeSanto, 2001). DeSanto points out that: The events of unions and public activists the political climate of the country, and the desire of citizen groups to participate in decisions they felt strongly
19 about, could not stop the communication strategy and process today known as public affairs. (p. 39) DeSanto (2001) points out that the key r eason Congress forbid publicity was that the word publicity meant, and still means, public relations. The intent of the Gillett Amendment was to prevent powerful incumben t politicians from us ing their power and position to influence pending legislation. Th is thought though was in direct conflict with the underlying principle that democr acy relies on a relatively free communication structure, which provides information and meth ods of discussing issues to its citizens so they can make informed decisions. The 1930s changed the political landscap e irrevocably, and with the change came legitimated government public relations. The New Deal had to be sold to the electorate. By the time World War II came, the public relations dimension was a small but accepted part of U.S. government operations. The 1960s broke up the happy marriage that had developed between the government and media. The civil rights movement and the Vietnam War caused quest ioning of governmental motives from the citizenry and electo rate (Morgan, 1986). The Watergate revelations stimulated de mands for protection of individual privacy. Congress enacted the Privacy Act in 1974. A year later, du e to criticism that government processes at all levels continued to be inaccessible to the public, Congress passed the Sunshine Act, which mandated ope n meetings at the federal level. This pressure for increased openness has ultimately increased the number of PIOs employed by the government. Because of the Sunshine Act, PIOs roles changed from giving out information to giving out information about information availability (DeSanto, 2001).
20 Throughout our history, while the U.S. Congress forbids publicity, government officials and agencies were busil y engaged in all type s of communications and public relations activities. George Cr eels World War I Committee was to advise President Woodrow Wilson a bout communication strategy, and to produce and place materials selectively, persua ding the American people to support the war effort (DeSanto, 2001). Franklin D. Roosevelt used public information st rategies and tactics to earn an unprecedented four terms in o ffice and during that time established the Office of War Information. Many learned th rough the mismanagement of information during the Vietnam War, that communicati on was essential to ear ning citizen support. During Desert Storm, the legacy of Vietnam was one of the most important foundations of the US military public information policy: controlling and selectively presenting and releasing information. The Public Affairs Council, origin ally called the Effective Citizens Organization, was established in 1954 to help get business people involved in, and trained to communicate effectively with govern ment officials and le gislators. DeSanto (2001) points out that: Over the next 40 years, the field expa nded into community relations with the wake of the 1960s riots; the 1970s distrust of big business and call for heavier government regulation; and the 1980s fede ral cutbacks in sp ending for social programs. (p. 40) During this same period, the U.S. government was under criticism from it citizens who wanted it to expand and provide social services and play more public policy roles. Many new agencies formed, like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer
21 Product Safety Commission, and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, and in turn the government needed to not onl y answer to the citizen concerns, but also to get the agencys message out (DeSant o, 2001). In the 1990s, the public information role expanded to include public policy a dvisors, developing communication strategies and tactics to position issues, resulting in th e relatively new field of issues management. From 1985 to 2000, nearly 15,000 federal government employees were classified as working in some public re lations-related jobs and U.S. government spending in the area totaled more than $1.9 billion (DeSanto, 2001). Morgan (1986) points out that there is some dispute to the number of public information officers employed by the federal government. He also notes that the growth of public information rights and legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act have increased the number of public information officers. The federal government has been consid ered one of the worlds greatest disseminators of information but trying to determine the exact si ze of the effort, is nearly impossible. One reason for this is the lack of consensus on what constitutes public affairs activities. The General Acc ounting Office once estimated that $2.3 billion was spent by federal agencies each year on public relations activ ities (Wilcox et al., 2005). Within every White House staff, ther e are experts in co mmunications strategy, media relations, speech writing a nd staging the perfect event. A 1996 Public Affairs Council study found ne w major trends in the field would be fewer practitioners and executives traine d in public affairs roles due to smaller management staffs; a consolidation of pub lic affairs functions under one person; a greater emphasis on issues management which indicates a trend toward being proactive
22 rather than being reactive; more attempts to define community relations and philanthropy opportunities so that organiza tions understand and suppor t each other; and more work with Political Action Committees (DeSanto, 2001). New challenges will also include the needs of t odays worldwide and continuous coverage media outlets and the pressure and tactics of ever-present activist groups. Government Public Relations Almost thirty years ago, Steiner (1978) began writing about the importance of communication between government and citizen and asked the fundamental question: Was this an open or closed book? He stat es that the feeling that government is inadequate is so wide spread that the public sector can no longer treat critics in an offhand manner as if they were crackpots or isolated malcontents who abhor giveaways. He contemplates why government is in this state and hypothesizes that it could be due to the fact that government is in a survival mode and not a service mode. He states that the survival of a public or ganization must be base d on the following: (a) Accepting the obligations of responsiv eness and responsibility; (b) developing productive mechanisms for service provisions; (c) admitting the necessity of being held accountable for failure as well as success; a nd (d) finding ways of integrating services into communities instead of dominati ng their destinies (Steiner, 1978, p. 543). Instead of focusing on productivity, Stei ner (1978) chose to focus on public sector accountability. He used two communi cations behavior and indicators of organizational responsiveness: (a) the level of acceptance and processing of information from the outside environmen t and (b) the organizations ability and willingness to transmit adequate and accurate information back into the environment.
23 In his research, Steiner found that not all governments researched were responsive to requests for information, and there was a different level of response dependent upon who sent the letter: a housewife or an activist group. Steiner (1978) stated four main point s. First, an overriding communication objective should be in place to ensure that every request for information is honored in as timely and complete a manner as possible. Second, a routine mechanism should be created for handling inquiries. Third, government should strongly resist the idea that it is safer to withhold information than to ha ve a policy of full disclosure. Information should not be provided at the convenience of government, but rather in reaction to the publics right to know. Fourth, governments role should be more than responding to direct inquiries. There should be an aggr essive information program that should be truthful, informative, complete, timely a nd not over-promising (Steiner, 1978). Steiner summarizes his research by stating: The role of government should not be that of a passive communicant responding only to directed inquiries. To th e contrary, the best wayis through establishment of aggressive but realistic information programs. This implies that communication should be truthful, inform ative, complete, timely, and not overpromising. Communication openness betw een government and citizen should not be a question but a definitive stat ement. Anything less than complete openness and responsiveness represents poor organizational management and worse yet, disregard for the welfare of the public. (p. 560) Public administration texts and research ha s focused little attention to this area. Heise (1985) points out that most public admi nistration texts fail to adequately deal
24 with the topic, and those that do only look at the topic in limited detail. Those that deal with the issue limit themselves to the role media, public opinion polls, elections, and interest groups play in th e relationship between government and its citizens. Heise further points out that: Even those writers who acknowledge th at informing the public is a vital function of democratic government, usually emphasize the informationdispensing role of government, showing little sensitivity to the fact that effective public communication is, at a minimum, a two-way process. (p. 199) Lee (2002) focused on the duty of public repor ting in public administration because of the democratic context in which government exists. Government agencies contribute to an informed citizenry by public reporting on ag ency activities. A lack of data on the field of government public relations exists. Federal, state and local levels have no costs of how much they spend on public relations. Heise (1985) states that the reasons for this may be is because there are so many thi ngs that can be defined as public relations or the persistent notion that government public relations is not an entirely proper or legitimate activity, that it is real ly just a form of propaganda. DeSanto (2001) points out that there ar e a myriad of definitions for public affairs including external affairs, governm ent relations, and cor porate communications. Lesly (as cited in DeSanto, 2001) defines pub lic affairs as the management function responsible for interpreting the corpor ations non-commercial environment and managing the corporations response to that environment. Regardless of the definition used DeSanto defines the five universal key concepts for all public affairs practice: todays practice is centered on uses that involv e some type of public activity; it is not
25 just a government occupation; it is not limited to federal government levels of practice; effective public affairs practice requires orga nizational executives to participate in the communication and relationship-building act ivities along with the communicators; interpersonal and small-group communication methods are mostly used to target opinion leaders, but communicating with larg e specialized groups is also necessary. Wilcox, Cameron, Ault, and Agee (2005) included a chapter in their public relations textbook on Politics and Government. They state that since the time of the Egyptians 5,000 years ago, governments have al ways engaged in what is known today as public relations, public information, and pubi c affairs. There has always been a need for government communications, if for no other reason than: to inform citizens of the services available and the manner in which they may be used. In a democracy, public informati on is crucial if citizens are to make intelligent judgments about the policies and activities of their elected representatives. Through information it is hoped that citizens will have the necessary information to participate fully in the formation of government policies. (p. 361) William Ragan, (as cited in Wilcox et al ., 2005) states that the objectives of government information efforts should be to inform the public about the publics business; improve the effectiveness of ag ency operations through appropriate public information techniques; provide feedback to government administrators so that programs and policies can be modified, ame nded or continued; advise management on how best to communicate a decision or a pr ogram to the widest number of citizens; serve as an ombudsman by representing the public and listeni ng to representatives; and
26 educate administrators and bureaucrats abou t the role of the mass media and how to work with them. Wilcox et al. (2005) point out that although the objectives of government communication is appropriate in almost any of the public relations fields, in government such activities are never refe rred to as public relations. Other euphemisms are used, such as public info rmation, public affairs, press secretary, administrative aid, and government program analyst. Although most citizens would agree that the government should not use tax dol lars to persuade the public, there is a thin line between merely providing information and using information as a lobbying tool (Wilcox et al., 2005). Some campaigns are clearl y teetering on that line. Government campaigns are regularly conducted to educate, instruct a nd appeal to citizens. Examples include campaigns to promote safety and reduce the amount of traffic accidents, inform on the dangers of sunburn and skin cancer, promot e states as tourist attractions, and the availability of new products or programs from which citizen s can benefit. Government informs citizens through various resources in cluding distribution of press releases, direct mail, brochures and placement of advertisements and public service announcements in the mass media (Wilcox et al., 2005). Pennsylvania spends between $8 and $12 million annually promoting touris m and Illinois spends approximately $2 million to promote it as a good state to locat e a manufacturing plant and other kinds of businesses. Cities employ information specia lists to disseminate news and important information from various municipal departments. Communication campaigns
27 conducted for municipalities all have the goa l of informing citizens and helping them take full advantage of opportunities. Cities also promote themselves for econo mic development reasons. Millions of dollars are spent to attract new development and businesses. Some cities operate news bureaus to inform local and national media of their success stories. Cities promote themselves in order to create tourism and th ey are continually looking to improve their overall image (Wilcox et al., 2005). Gary, I ndiana spent $1.2 million to host the Miss U.S.A. contest in an effort to bring some prestige to the city. Wilcox et al. (2005) state that cities ha ve a necessity for dealing with public relations as an inherent and continuing element in the managerial process. The administrator must be aware of public relati ons considerations at every stage of the administrative process, from making the deci sion to the final poin t of its execution. Although there is a general public sentiment that governments should not spend money or staff time to do public relations or marketing, one study by L. Walters and T. Walters (as cited in Wilcox et al., 2005) f ound that 86% of a state governments news releases were used by daily and weekly ne wspapers. The Department of Agriculture responds to approximately 350,000 public reque sts for information a year and twothirds of those requests are responded to by sending a pre-produced publication. Communications campaigns th at are preventative in na ture can usually bring savings to an agency. California usually spends about $7 billion a nnually to deal with the costs of teenage pregnancy. The $5.7 m illion spent on a successful campaign could save the state considerable amounts in reduced welfare costs (Wilcox et al., 2005).
28 Looking at the existing pub lic relations models, one is primarily named for government and modeled after its one-way information-providing rolethe public information model. Heise (1985) develope d another model, the public communication model. There has been little research as to this models use in the governmental entities. According to Heise, the corporate public relations model does not currently provide a framework for public relations in a governme ntal entity. Both the public administration and public relations fields have given the public communication model scant attention. Aspects of its fundamental theories stress that government officials: should make available publicly all le gally reasonable informationwhether they consider it positive or negative in a accurate, timely, balanced and unequivocal manner; would not only seek to communicate to the public through the mass media, but would be equally as concerned to reach various specialized publics and individual citizens through alternative communication channels; would seek to facilitate accurate sy stematic and timely feedback on public policy issues from the entire community wh ich they serve, rather than from the partial feedback from the well-organized and politically active individuals in their jurisdiction; should employ public communications channels and resources in the government policy-making, implementation, and evaluation process without being involved in the electoral politics (p. 209). The public communication model is the respon sibility of top management and not the responsibility of a centralized public relations department. Each manager and in turn each employee of various departments and leadership levels carry out the role (Heise, 1985).
29 To carry these out, Heise points out that there are a number of assumptions for this model. There must be participation ei ther in decision maki ng or in control of leaders, there must be a quick and un manipulated release of both good and bad information, that advocacy and persuasion are facts of political administrative life, a vigorous free and independent press is vital to the process, and that it is legitimate for executive branch officials to use public communication channels to help in determination, acceptance, implementation and evaluation of public policy (Heise, 1985). Mass media channels cannot be the onl y form of communication, Heise (1985) points out, because many of governments communication problems involve a multitude of small, specific publics or indi vidual citizens. But, mass media will still continue in its historically adversarial ro le with the American political system. Mass media will not be adequate for deali ng with specialized audiences. Narrower, more focused communication channels will have to be used to reach such specialized audiences as community organizations or ne ighborhood groups, to stay in touch with leaders of all segments of the community, a nd to cope effectivel y with the flow of routine inquiries about governmental serv ices from individual citizens (p. 212). The public communications model calls for a senior public communication officer that is an expert communicator w ho is comfortable with the news media not by being the omniscient spokesperson but by bringing th e appropriate officials face-to-face. The officer must be well informed on the day-to -day business and be well respected by the organizations leaders.
30 The public communication model assumes th at to communicate with the public means more than to disseminate informati on. Both public information and public affairs have connotations of only diss eminating information, only conducting a oneway process. Especially at the local level, th is has been the type of public relations with little effort on measuring effectiveness or of receiving fee dback (Heise, 1985). Kruckeberg and Stark (as cited in Ledi ngham, 2001) state that when people are aware of and interested in common ends and regulate their activity in view of those ends, then community is achieved. They furt her state that public relations is best defined and practiced as the active attemp t to restore and maintain a sense of community. The researchers community pers pective is summarized best by the notion that public relations can function as a vehi cle for accommodating different perspectives and reducing conflict. Ledingham (2001) researched this theory a nd tested the thesis that when public relations is viewed as the management func tion of organization-publ ic relationships, the effectiveness of that management can be m easured in terms of re lationship building and that, further, ratings of those relationships can act as a predictor of public behavior. Ledingham tested this theory in relation to the context of th e government-citizen relationship. Scholars have found that public members not only expect organization-public exchange to be mutually beneficial, they also expect that mutuality to extend for the life of the relationship. It has al so been suggested that orga nizations that attempt to manipulate publics solely for their own bene fit cannot expect to develop long-term organization-public relations hips (Ledingham, 2001).
31 Ledingham found that overall his research supported the notion of relationship management as a paradigm for public rela tions and that the organizational-public relationships can serve as a predictor of public choice behavior. Lastly, Ledingham found that loyalty to a municipa lity, as measured by deciding to stay in a city, can be determined by citizen ratings of the orga nizational-public relationship (Ledingham, 2001). Lee (2001) researched the image portrayed by public relations professionals in public administration in current pop culture Of the 20 films featuring government public relations professionals, se veral attributes were consiste nt in most of the movies. The characters were mostly men, they worked for the federal government and especially in the military, and they primar ily did media relations. This presence in movies was more prominent in the 1990s th an in earlier decades. The character was portrayed as a serious character in half th e movies and as a comedic characters in the other half. The majority, 18 of 20, of the government public relations characters had minor roles, appearing in only one or two scenes. Lee concluded that popular culture perpetuates the negative images of both public relations and government bureaucrats. Lee points out that popular media often portray s that the bureaucracy is out of control and gives a negative portrayal of the people who staff it. Re porters often refer to public relations professionals as flacks. Hess (1984) points out that journalists use a certain tone in their writing about government communicators and criticize what th ey view as the persistent incompetence of government press officers. Journalists ha ve written about the government flacks who try to control the press, of governme nts instinct to manage and manipulate
32 information, or of a shadowy government public relations machine that specializes in misinformation (Hess, 1984). Public relations is the means by which an administrator interacts with the citizenry and is held accountable (Lee, 1999) Public reporting, wh ich entails post hoc reporting from the agency to the general public, is one aspect of this responsibility. Lee points out that public reporting is different from administrative efforts to increase citizen participation in the decision-maki ng process and is different from improving service to the client-customer. Lee (1999) points out that early theorists focused on the public reporting duty, especially through direct re porting, primarily through municipal annual reports. These theorists have documented the changes in how these reports are distributed and their usefulness for accountability to the public. A decline of the emphasis on direct public reporting was replaced with a focus on press relations as the main public relations tool for administrative accountability in a demo cracy. The most critical observer of public administration is the press and the most important channel of communication between any public administrator and his clientele is the press. Lee states, A public agency has a duty to maintain a public information ope ration whose mission is media relations (p. 453). In turn, policy makers believe that the most obviou s responsibility of the press is to inform the public about events and activities of the government. Lee (1999) examines what the public admi nistrator is to do if the news media fails to function as an instrument of democr acy. A content analysis of local TV news in eight markets found that coverage of governme nt affairs, now occupies less than 15 percent of the news during an average program. A 1998 study of 102 local television
33 stations documented that government news amou nted to almost 10% of all stories, as compared to 39% dedicated to crime and disaster. The tone of media coverage of the gove rnment has shifted from the traditional adversarial model to one of cynicism. Skepticism has been replaced by negativity. Reporters rely on exposing government inco mpetence or government waste in series often titled, Its your Money or Government Waste, or Uncaring Bureaucracy. Lee (1999) points out that te levision seeks victims and heavies who can convert a public policy story into little guy fights city hall. Bur eaucrats are usually in the losing position in these stories. Other stories feature the bureaucrats as creating more bureaucracy in order to fix a problem a nd insinuate bureaucratic incompetence. Lee (1999) offers public relations strate gies for dealing with these types of stories, which often portray the governme nt manager as the bad guy. Public administrators need to approach their comm unications needs, both internal and external from a strategic point of view. The responses need to focus on three areas: enhancing the policy entrepreneurship role of the public administrator, updating the media skills of public managers to adapt to continually ch anging media realities, and reviving direct reporting. Policy entrepreneursh ip is defined as the abil ity to promote ones policy agenda in the public realm. Government managers need to go outside their domain to obtain public recognition for the issues and responses for which they are advocating according to Lee. Researchers in the 1980s suggested that efforts by government public information officers have minimal impact on influencing the agenda of salient issues within the realm of the public policy debate. Luke (as cite d in Lee, 1999) suggests that current practitioners need to be more proactive as policy entrepreneurs by using the
34 media. He states, As catalyst, effectiv e public leaders do not necessarily promote solutions; they promote problems. Thus th ey are advocated for issue emergence. Public managers need to become more sophisticated by being prepared and trained with skills to deal with the curren t coverage of public administration and the bureaucracy (Lee, 1999). Practitioners suggest public managers should: have a condensed message of 10 words or less; give public policy stories a human face; make the story easy to understand and cover; communicate in multiple ways by using a variety of media; le arn how to deal with the emergence of public journalism; and enhance the stature of the agencys PIO. Hess (1986) suggested enhancing the stature of the agencys PIO by assuring the PIO access to the top levels of the agency, enhancing the PIOs credibilit y, providing professional trai ning for PIOs and being as responsive as possible to media inquiries. Lee (1999) also points out that the current focus on accountability in government has tended to ignore direct publ ic reporting. Lee suggests that public administrators should reformat government accounting reports so they are more comprehensible to lay people. They should also explain to the public in general, not just their key stakeholders, what they are atte mpting to accomplish, why they are attempting to do so, and what they have actually achie ved. Public reporting, L ee points out, can be done directly with the pub lic and shouldnt depend on the media as an intermediary. Local governments should produce documents like annual reports and deliver them directly to the citizens. In Grabers 2003 book The Power of Communication, she focuses an entire chapter on the topic of refocusing on servi ng the public. She stat es that contacts
35 between citizens and public ag encies are the human side of public administration. A well-functioning modern democracy requires that bureaucracies listen sympathetically and respectfully to citizens and vise versa. Contacts between them are the most frequent form of citizen participation. During these interactions, bureaucra ts learn about the impact of policies on individua l citizens, inequities in se rvice and the adequacy of government routines. Citizens benefit from the opportunity to learn about government services, to question officials, and to form impressions about how well their government functions. Graber states that the most important part of these encounters is that they are a way to keep bureaucrats, who are appointed rather than elected, moderately accountable and responsiv e to the publics they serve. As part of refocusing on serving th e public, Graber ( 2003) looks at the information transmission difficulties. When trying to communicate to large numbers of diverse people, the communication message is highly complex, and routine problems tend to happen. Language barriers and tran slation problems increase these problems. Graber states that public administrators need reliable and adequate channels of communication. Mass media, which can serve as a major channel, cannot be the only tool used to reach residents. Direct channels that reach most members of the relevant citizen group are almost nonexistent. Graber st ates that the effectiv e use of Web sites is easing the problem substantia lly (Graber, 2003). Graber poi nts out that when direct channels do exist, they are often not us er friendly enough for citizens and are the responsibility of poorly trained staff. Graber (2003) states that the most intractable communication problems faced by public agencies is expressing complex rules and procedures in simple language that
36 average people can understand. Putting complicated messages in plain English may not always be possible. Graber states that there are vast differences in the type of citizen communication used. Graber hypothesizes that when citizens have no choice in the services they receive, less effort is given to catering to citizens. When citizens have a choice in services they receive, in recreation services for example, citizens are seen as clients and more attention is focused on catering to their communication needs. A person not speaking the same language is also a problem. Even if documents are translated into various needed languages, there can be transla tion problems, which make communication difficult. Citizens language skill deficiencies can also have an effect on communication. Graber points out that there has been an increased attention to public satisfaction with public agencies, partly becau se of the work of agencies dealing with welfare rights and civil rights. Clients demands for participation in public agency decision making have become more stride nt, and political forces supporting these demands have become more organized. Ne w political norms have emerged that emphasize the publics right to receive more respectful treatment, to be consulted about services, and to be kept informed ab out agency performance (Graber, 2003). Graber (2003) points out the importance of external relationships and public information campaigns by stating that the abil ity to generate suppor t from key external constituents is crucial to public administ rations success. Extern al communications is the key to gaining this external support. Transmitting information across organizational boundaries is crucial Graber states. This boundary-spanning communication is essential to avoid undue overlap and policy incoherence. Among the most difficult tasks facing
37 public relations staff, Graber states is th e need to explain oversights, misdeeds, and other untoward events without destroying confidence in the agency (p. 227). Two public relations strategies Graber (2003) describes are wielding political rhetoric and external message paths. Wieldi ng political rhetoric involves using positive language about programs and positive messa ge framing while staying honest and ethical. External communication is a twoway street for both in ternal and external communication. There is little agreement for how public re lations departments in public agencies should be structured (Graber, 2003). Pr eference depends on the goals for the department. Sometimes agencies will be stru ctured based on intern al versus external communications responsibilities geographical responsibilities, or communication tool expertise. Large organizations may have different branch offices when they cover a large territory and other offices may ha ve different people responsible for each communication tool. Tools used for image building include withholding information, the formal release of information, stagi ng special events, and using various marketing techniques (Graber, 2003). The tools used for message dissemination are varied. Public agencies are increasingly using social science research tools such as surveys, focus groups, interviews, and ethnographic obser vations to target audiences they want to receive their messages. Graber (2003) points out that although public relations activities have been and are routinely criticized, when public relati ons image building practices are put into place, public administrators become responsive instead of manipulative. Public
38 relations professionals should be primarily concerned with keeping the public informed and serving the public effectiv ely, efficiently and responsiv ely. Graber states that unfortunately this ideal is not practiced often enough and that leads to citizens mistrust of government messages. Graber states that although there is disdain for outright propaganda, public administrations have partaken in all t ypes of public information campaigns since wartime. Some campaigns are for controversial issues such as affirmative action, abortion rights and foreign aid. Others suppor t conservative issues such as preventing forest fires (Graber, 2003). The term social marketing is often used for campaigns designed to foster the publics welfare. Graber states that although much more is known about persuasion and there is more sophist icated technology available, success rates remain limited because efforts to change pe oples attitudes and behaviors face multiple obstacles. They range from the inability to attr act the target audience, to the audiences inability to decipher the message to the inability to produce or maintain the desire to change the attitude or behaviors. Graber (2003) points out that ther e is little agreement on how the public relations office in a government office should be structured but that it tends to reflect how to best maximize the departments goal. The variety of channels used to communicate with the desired audience va ry in governmental agencies including personal contacts, mass-media channels videocassettes, government-operated television stations, direct mail, email, conf erences, public exhibits, speeches before key organizations, and public meeting presentations.
39 Government agencies decide the info rmation for their target audiences by socials science research t ools such as surveys, focus groups, interviews and ethnographic observations. In her earlier work, Graber (1992) states that: Public relations professionals should rese arch what their various clients want prompted chiefly by the kind of concer n with public opinion that democracy prizes. Then they should advise their agen cy to strive to implement these goals so that the imagethe beliefs, ideas, and impressions conveyed by the agencymatches the reality. When that happens, public relations activities become an exercise in responsiveness rather than manipul ation. Unfortunately, this ideal in not prac ticed often enough. (p. 257) Graber (2003) states that public informati on and public relations activities are essential to American governments succe ss and that the disdain in wh ich they are often held is totally unwarranted and harm ful. This disdain promotes hypocrisy and subterfuges when public relations activitie s are undertaken. The time is ripe to mount concerted efforts to put proper public relations activities into proper perspective. J. Grunig (1992) relates his research on public relations and the Excellence Model to the role of government communicat ors. First, Grunig points out that the confusion between public rela tions and marketing is an important difference for governments and nonprofit agencies. Austin and Pinkelton (2001) point out that the difference between public relations and mark eting has to do with their differing goals. Advertising and marketing focus on selling a product to consumer s through controlled placement of paid media messages. The marketing role focuses on consumers rather than on all the key publics of an organizati on. They point out that public relations, on
40 the other hand, strives to help organizati ons develop and preserve the variety of relationships that ensure long-term success. P ublic relations has a broader role than that of marketing or a dvertising. Public relations t echniques are sometimes used by marketers, but only with the narrow focus of increasing sales. Hu tton (2001) points out that there is an attitudinal difference be tween those practicing marketing and public relations. Marketing tend to demand a more aggressive, competitive, selling mind-set, whereas public relations often demands more of a diplomatic, peacemaking approach. Because the person receiving the communication has no choice from which governmental agency they rece ive information, they cannot be seen as customers. Because audiences are most likely segmented in to publics, J. Grunig (1992) states that governments communication function is more likely to be public relations than marketing communication. The concept of public is more important for governments because citizens in a democracy are supposed to involve themselves in the process. The concept of a public descri bes well the symmetrical rela tionship between government agencies and citizen publics assumed in demo cracies. Grunig points out that if either the public or the government agencies uses too much power to achieve their personal interests and is unable to bargain to come up with a balance of interests, then they are not practicing symmetrical publ ic relations, which is ideal in a democracy. A benefit from these types of relationships is that a government agency that responds well to pressures from its constituents will be more likely to gain support from those publics as it competes for public funding (Grunig, 1997). Government needs personnel skilled in media relations. Morgan (1986) points out that some have questioned whether gove rnment communicators can be both loyal to
41 their organization and disseminators of unbiased information. He states that elitist of various kinds believe that governments terms are terms dictated by others, they have no problem carrying out the wishes of those they represent. Pluralists, however, are deeply concerned that in a political universe of groups of various strengths, there is the potential for misuse of governments power to persuade. Most recently, Pandey and Garnett (2006) developed and tested an exploratory model of public sector communication perf ormance that is synthesized from the literature on public-private differences a nd organizational comm unication. Their study looks at the effects of red tape, goal ambiguity, organizational culture and organizational size on interpersonal, ex ternal and internal communications. Although Pandey and Garnett (2006) state th at various researchers and theorists have defined red tape, the definition they pref er is that it is the, impression on the part of managers that formalization in the fo rm of burdensome rules and regulations is detrimental to the organization. They stat e that red tape can affect organizational communication in two ways, by restricting th e number and capac ity of communication channels and by negatively infl uencing individual motivation to seek or provide needed information. Goal ambiguity is defined by Rainey as having multiple goals, conflict among the goals and vagueness of organizational goa ls (as cited in Pandy & Garnett, 2006). They stated that goal clar ity, the opposite of goal ambi guity, can provide compounded benefits for other aspects of the communication process su ch as information sharing, influencing attitudes, promoting understa nding, and persuading people to act in a certain manner.
42 In their research, Pandy and Garnett (2006) found that culture was a significant predictor of external comm unications and that goal clarity facilitated external communications. They state that, goal cl arity and supportive organizational culture can reduce the perception of threats and ch allenges, thereby facilitating external communication performance (Pandy & Garnett, 2006). Their findings have two implications for public managers. First, the constraints of red tape on communication performan ce can be overcome if key performanceenhancing conditions, goal clarity and a cu lture that supports communication, exist. Second, they note that of the three types of communications, exte rnal communications poses more challenges and may require addi tional effort. In discussing the limitations of their study, Pandy and Garnett (2006) st ate that communications performance is understudies and poorly understood. Stating th at it is, destined to be forever a bridesmaid and never the bride, they st ress the need for more in depth studying. Pandey and Garnett (2006) also state that: Because of the greater complexity and uncertainty involved in communication with multiple stakeholders in increasingly turbulent environments, external communications appears to require other conditions and even greater effort on the part of public officials, executives, and managers. This extraordinary effort with external communications in an era of inter-organizational networks, service-delivery sets, and hyper-interes t advocacy are crucial to overcome the tendency of administrators to focus more on internal communication than external (p.45).
43 Private vs. Public Organizations Lee (1999) points out that public manage rs are inherently different from business administrators because of the c ontext of democratic and representative government within which they operate. One major difference is the accountability of government officials to elected institutions and to the ultimate source of power in a democracy, the citizens. Alt hough there is this difference, Lee points out that most research focuses on the interaction betw een the media and the elected side of government. Less attention is paid to the public administration side and how its representatives interact with the media a nd perform public relations activities. Lee states, the effects of media coverage on the non-elected side of government has not received sufficient parallel attention (p.452). Graber (2003) generalizes th is lack of focus on public re lations to include a lack of focus on government communication, despite the fact that public organizations have a large impact on Americans lives. Heise al so states that there should be a focus on government communication because of the vast differences between public and private organizations (Graber, 2003). Graber organizes these differences into environmental factors including the degree of market exposur e, the legal and formal constraints, and political influences. Public organizations is defined by Grab er as primarily, but not exclusively, administrative departments and agencies, such as the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency at the federa l level, the insurance department or the auto license division at the st ate level or the police departme nt or the clerks office at the local level (Graber, 2003). She tends not to focus on the federal level but does
44 address some of their issues in her books. Gr aber states that rese archers, despite the tremendous impact on every American, have largely ignored communication in public sector agencies. She states that this ov ersight is troubling be cause the communication problems of public bodies diffe r from the private sector in many important ways. The similarities she states are that they both live in the same political universe and share the same problems of large organizations. Graber points out that the magnitude of the shared problems varies so dramatically that the resemblances fade. According to Graber, a toy poodle and a St. Bernard are both dogs, but feeding and grooming them are hardly comparable chores. Graber points out that some researchers make a distinction between political communication and administrative communicati on but she thinks this distinction is artificial because the political aspects and administrative performance aspects of communication are so intertwined that the clear separations are impossible (Graber, 2003). Much literature has been dedicated to the differences in communication needs between the public sector organizations and private. Graber (2003) divided the differences between public and private organizations into three categories environmental, organization-environment and in ternal structures and processes. Public agencies are more focused on immediate succes s, which may lead to neglect of longrange programs. Public agencies are far more vulnerable to having unwanted communications tasks thrust upon them, often prescribed by outside government or political entities. The absence of a wi dely accepted yardstick for gauging and publicizing an agencys success is another major difference between private and public
45 agencies that has an effect on communicat ions. The fact that public organizations operate in an atmosphere of openness also changes the communications dynamics. Internal and external communi cations of public agencies, unlike private agencies, are almost always subject to public scrutiny. Grab er points out that in order to avoid the risks of potentially danger ous adverse publicity, public managers tend to adopt cautious, conservative operating styles. Th ere may also be a dual decision-making process with the formal decisions made out in the open and the informal decisions taking place behind closed doors. Public mana gers have far less control over their organizations than do private organization leaders due to th e checks and balances of the institutions. Superior-subordi nate relations are vastly more complex in the public agencies, and top personnel do not have the strong control over organizational communication flows enjoyed by their private sector counterparts. Graber (2003) states that the inability to shield the organization from damaging information increases the public organizati ons need to engage in effective public relations activities. Graber also states th at external communication should be a twoway street with messages emanating from the environment reaching the agency and vice versa. In this external communicati on, Graber states that messages should be designated to a variety of nongovernmental agencies, but warns that constructing persuasive messages to gain support for c ontroversial governmental programs can be extraordinarily difficult. A tactic that may make this type of communication easier is by making a transmission of difficult messages to opinion leaders within the community. It is theorized that the general public will turn to these leaders fo r advice and opinions, and thus the message will be more persuasive.
46 Another difference between corporate and government public relations is the nature of the relationship with the media. The role model favored by the American media casts them as the government watchdogs Hence, there are strong pressures for the media to produce negativ e coverage (Graber, 2003). In stating the differences between corporate public affairs and governmental public affairs, Knox and Najera (as cited in Lee, 2002) identified three activities that are unique to governmental public affairs: legislative liaison, the assumption that documents are open for public inspection and le gal restrictions on certain public affairs activities. Lee states that this obligation of accountability is the source for qualitative difference between public affairs in pub lic administration and business. Nongovernmental organizations only have to be marginally responsible to the citizenry. Their customers and stakeholders are we ll defined and there are no mandatory open documentation rules. Governments, on the other hand, have to be responsive and open to the citizens, media, public institutions, regulatory agen cies, other levels of government, and community values and standards. Public repor ting is not only nece ssary for positive but also for negative information. As early as 1919, Crooke stated the purpose of public reporting in government agencies was defined as intended to stimulate public interest and discussion and lead to a more intellig ent public opinion about matters in which the people were interested and for which public funds were expended (as cited in Lee, 2002). Government officials must comply with all public reporti ng and open records laws and requests and do not have the discretion of the non-governmental agencies to
47 censor the information that is released. There are two type s of public reporting, direct and indirect. Lee points out that the news media plays an important role in the indirect reporting responsibilities but that that role ha s been diminishing in democratic societies (Lee, 2002). Thus, public affairs practitioners need to increase thei r reliance on direct reporting. As early as 1928, pub lic administration theory po inted out this fundamental principle. Direct public reporti ng is varied. Lee points out that in addition to increasing the visual attractiveness and readability of print reports, there have been many new techniques for direct public re porting that have been create d by advances in technology. These additional tools for dire ct reporting include slides, movies, tapes, Web sites, public access channels, government-produced in teractive television, radio, and e-mail, information kiosks, speakers bureaus, annual reports on video cassettes, broad distribution of computer disk s, video streamer, electronic chat rooms, performance evaluation information, and quarterly or year-end reports. Many governments have increased their proactive information dist ribution. New technol ogy has increased the attractiveness and speed with whic h information delivery can happen. Heise (1985) points out that the corporate public rela tions model should not be transferred to the public setting, where there typically is no competition, a tight centralized public relations f unction, and senior officials who do not feel obligated to inform the public. When this happens, he states that major problems are likely to occur in the communication process betwee n the agency and its publics. Public Administration Communications Future Graber (2003) states that although there have been advances in communication technology and the information gathering and transmission methods, the major features
48 of information management in the public s ector is likely to remain on a steadfast course. The reason is this: The main communication challenges f acing the public sector are bound to continue in the future. Human frailties cultural barriers and the inherent weakness of all organizational designs w ill continue into the future. (p. 261) When looking to the future, Graber states that public agencies should prioritize communication with their public s over intraorganizationa l communication issues. She states that an integrative model will require identifying which aspects of each agencys work that (a) benefit most from close interaction with clients and (b) those where openness and responsiveness are most likely to impair operational control and costeffectiveness. Graber points out that there will be some benefit from these increases in technology, but because of many things, incl uding human behavior characteristics, institutional characteristics, and cultural le gacies, there will be minimal change (Graber, 2003). Characteristics of human behavior that shape organizational r eality in the public sector are ingrained. These behaviors include reluctance to change, and the various psychological barriers to altering established behaviors th at hamper information use and produce poor decisions. The pressure to cl ing to standard operating procedures and the lack of incentive for developing and a pplying new approaches to communication are also barriers to change. Change, Graber states, is most likely to occur when new claimants enter the public arena such as public interest groups who have been able to enter the political arena now that th e Internet is so prevalent.
49 Institutional characteristics of public organizations such as the balance of power and checks and balances lead to fragmented governmental authority. This fragmented authority forces public agencies to sp end considerable time and effort in communicating with diverse institutional levels and integrating conf licting policies and procedures, rather than carrying out mission -related activities. Politicians are also continually going to have to balance the need for professionalism and the necessity for political adaptation. Graber ( 2003) states, they must say th ings they do not mean and disguise what they mean to pass political muster (p. 264). Effective management of public agency departments is continually hampered by prescribed structures, lim ited control over personnel, incessant demands for public reports on their activities, and the inability to plan for long-range projects because of lack of future funding information. Graber poi nts out that some of these challenges are present in the public sector, but that the magnitude of the problems and their effect on organizational communication and operations is considerably less. Private sector has the laws of basic economics, which easily tr umps political concerns. The large size of the public sector, the vast array of its activities and the intertwining of these activities make long range planning on all fronts nearly impossible. Also, things ingrained in the public agencies culture make change a difficult task (Graber, 2003). The requirement for open communication, which constitutes a mixed bag of benefits and disadvantages, is an example of this permanent cultural constraint. Top officials feel they are liv ing in a fish bowl and are hounded by reporters. Openness tends to stifle innovation because of the fear of criticism and tends to increase the number of public in terest groups monitoring the agency.
50 For moving into the future, Graber (2003) states that public agencies need to loosen structural rigidity, harness new t echnology, adapt climate and culture, overcome negative image burdens and es tablish goals and priorities Graber points out that research needs to be advanced for this communication area. Grab er points out that public agency communication issues and pr oblems are very rarely researched and examined although we are in the communicatio n age. She states th at public agency external communication, image formation, a nd public relations should be a research priority. This will assist public agencies in conveying a more accurate image of their strengths and weaknesses while retaining the loyalty and support of their employees and clients. New research findings by cognitive psychologists a nd communication scholars need to be added to the public managers tool kit. The impact of new communication technologies on various aspects of orga nizational communication needs to be researched more fully than has happened to date (Graber, 2003). American public agencies need to be compared to those in other societies and agency comparisons need to happen between highand low-tec hnology organizations, state and local organizations, and large and small organizations Grabers hope is that public sector communication studies and experiments will be a research priority for social scientists. Lee (1999) states that administrators should use new on-line technologies for things like virtual town hall meetings, elec tronic newsletters, citizen chat rooms, and email. Lee points out that overall there ha s been an increase in the proactive dissemination of information to the pub lic. Lee (1999) conclu des by stating:
51 In a democracy there is no change in the public relations obligation of the public administrator to keep the public inform ed. Public administration practitioners and practice-oriented academics have begun to identify public relations counterstrategies that permit mana gers to adapt to these me dia developments and to continue pursuing their democratic responsibilities. (p. 42) Because of the noticed changes in the field, this research attempts to determine the current public relations efforts being made at the local government level. Hypotheses and Research Questions The International Association of Bu siness Communicators Excellence study looked at the relationship of excellent public relations to the strategic management function and showed that government agencies were somewhat more likely to integrate public relations and strategic management than were corporations. The researchers found that integration of the two functions made both functio ns more effective (Grunig, 1997). In the Excellence study, Grunig et al (2002) surveyed public relations professionals, CEOs, and members of the public relations departments about the 14 characteristics that create an Excellent public relations department. This research looks to find out what public relations mode ls are being practiced most often in local governments, if senior communications profe ssionals are part of the dominant coalition, the level of importance the organization put s on public relations or communications and if public relations titles exist in governme nt communications departments. Since very little research has been done in this field, a descriptive look will be taken at the field to look at various areas of interest. Use of res earch for strategic planning and the level of
52 involvement with activist groups will also be examined. The primary research questions posed are: RQ1 What models of public relations are practiced most often in local governments? RQ2 What roles do public relations pract itioners most often fill within local governments? RQ3 How much importance do local gov ernmental organizations place on the communication or public relations role? RQ4 Does the level of activist pressu re on a local government organization affect which public relations models or roles are used? H1 Because of the stigmas associated with the term public relations, very few government communications departments will be titled in such a manner.
53 Chapter 3: Methodology Various researchers (Heise 1985, Lee, 1999, and Graber, 2003) point out that public adm inistration texts and research has focused little attention to the area of government communications or public relations. Most researchers also note that this field is starting to change based on the incr eased need for external public information campaigns, government accountability and customer satisfaction. This research attempts to answer some basic questions about the field and to identify: (1) what roles todays governm e nt communicators fill; (2) which public relations models are most often used; (3) the level of importan ce local governmental organizations place on the public relations functi on; (4) if the level of activist pressure affects the public rela tions models or roles used (5) th e departmental expertise of public relations models and roles. Local Government Assessment To examine how public relations is currently practiced by local governments, the researcher examined cities w ith populations with between 100,000 and 299,999 citizens based on the 2000 U.S. Census. Th is larger cities category was chosen because they would more than likely ha ve a communications department or an individual responsible for this role. This provides a larger sample for comparison to determine if there were significant differences in the public relations models and roles practiced in each city. Those U.S. cities with a population greater than 299,999, of which there are 57, are consisten tly considered largest citie s and are not compared to
54 cities with populations between 100, 000 and 299,999 by professional communications or public administration organi zations. They have significan tly different organizational structures, larger budgets, different communication issues and their populations are often very different from the target gr oup. Because of these significant differences, cities with populations greater than 299,999 were not include in this study. The researcher was able to confirm th at there are 183 cities whose populations are between 100,000 and 299,999 residents. One city was a city-county merger. The list of cities, which can be found in Appendix A, was obtained from the International City/County Management Association web s ite (ICMA Web site, November, 2005) and was cross referenced for accuracy with the information found on the 2000 Census Web site (www.census.gov). ICMA is the prem ier local government leadership and management organization. The sampling population for this st udy included the highest-ranked communicator at each of the 183 cities. Contact information for the communicator, including email address, was located thr ough a variety of resources. Information was found through the City County Communications and Marketing Association (3CMA) membership list, the Florida Government Communicators (FGCA) membership list, by researching the municipalitys Web site and by calling individual municipalities. Data Collection Process The target audience was surveyed using an online mode of administration. In order to ensure anonymity and confidentialit y, online survey responses were not linked to e-mail addresses in any way. This was done in order to avoid ethica l issues related to collecting information from unknown respondents.
55 The researcher designed the online survey with a survey service called SurveyMonkey. According to Stacks (2002), In ternet surveys have both advantages and disadvantages similar to other types of survey methods. Depending on the population being surveyed, Internet surveys can make da ta collection faster and easier. However, there are concerns all researchers must address when us ing Internet survey methods. One concern with Internet surveys is a lack of confidentiality. Stacks (2002) stated that it is very important for researchers to hire a re liable company to create the Internet surveys website because there is no guarantee of anonymity or confidentiality that can be provided to survey respondents. Stacks stated it is important to note that most MIS departments have the capability of tracing e-mails and site visitors (p. 183). An additional disadvantage stems from the sophistication it takes to answer an Internet survey. Although there are additional concerns that not all memb ers of the population have access to a computer, this researcher no ted that this population would have access to computers. Stacks also stated that as people become more adept with technology and using the computer, several disadvantages of the methodology would disappear. This researcher noted that this population is more adept with tech nology and has a higher level of education than the general public. Although there are disadvantages, Internet surveys do offer certain advantages to the researcher. Advantages lie in the sp eed in which surveys are returned and that they allow the researcher to automatically import survey responses into statistical analysis software. Precautions were taken by the researcher to reduce sources of error when surveying the population. Dillman, Tortora, and Bowker (1998) suggest that researchers strive to design respondent-frien dly Internet surveys. The authors define
56 respondent-friendly design as the constructi on of Web questionnaires in a manner that increases the likelihood that sampled individu als will respond to the survey request, and that they will do so accurately, i.e., by answering each question in the manner intended by the surveyor. Design features that are di fficult to understand, take excessive time for people to figure out, embarrass people, and ar e uninteresting to complete, are expected to decrease peoples like lihood of responding to Inte rnet questionnaires. Practitioners were contacted three times. The words Government Public Relations Survey were contained in the subject line of each subsequent e-mail message. An initial questionnaire invitation was e-mailed (March 31, 2006) and a follow-up email was sent (April 13) to remi nd those who hadnt already participated to fill out and return their surveys. After learning of spam filtering software, which prevented the delivery of some emails, an em ail was sent from the researchers offering an alternative means of pa rticipation. The details of the emails are included in Appendix B. Each survey recipient recei ved a blind copy email th at did not disclose the identity of the other responde nts to ensure some level of privacy. The survey service also tracked who responded and did not send them the subsequent invitation emails. The first Web page of the survey served as an introduction page. The text of the entire questionnaire can be found in Appendi x C. The top of the page featured a headline that read Government Public Re lations Survey. This was followed by an explanation of the purpose of the survey, a st atement of appreciation for participating, a statement of confidentiality, and contact info rmation for the researcher. A next button was clearly labeled to lead particip ants to start the questionnaire.
57 Instrumentation The 97-item survey was created by u si ng sections of questions asked by L. Grunig, J. Grunig, and Dozier (2002) in th eir IABC Excellence Study. The extensive quantitative survey instrument allowed for an analysis of public relations practice of local governments. The language used in the su rvey was slightly adju sted to address the nuances of government organizations. Where the term public rela tions was used in the Grunig et al. survey, it was often replaced by the term communi cations to address the target audiences nega tive connotations and limitati ons of the term public relations. The main goal of the questionnaire wa s to determine public relations model usage, public relations practitioner roles in local government, and to examine role and model expertise. A secondary goal was to ask basic research que stions about public relations practice in the organization includ ing reporting relationship, involvement with strategic planning, and the use of resear ch for strategic planning. In addition, membership in the dominant coalition was examined and the dominant coalitions perception of the communications functi on was evaluated. Finally, the level of involvement with and reaction to activist groups was examined. Public Relations Models Items The questionnaire tested the four models of public relations with 16 questions, all of which were replicated from previous studies of the four historical models of public relations practice (i.e press agentry, public inform ation, two-way symmetrical, two-way asymmetrical). Res pondents were asked to, Describe how public relations is conducted in your organi zation as a whole.
58 Each of the 16 public relations model quest ions used a 5-point Likert scale to better discriminate among responses, where 1 meant strongly disagree and 5 represented strongly agree. Four opinion questions made a construct for each public relations model, with no overlap occurri ng. (See questions 19-34 in Appendix C) Public Relations Roles Items The questionnaire tested the four traditio nal public relations practitioner roles with 15 questions, all of which were de veloped by Broom (Broom, 1982; Broom & Smith, 1979) to measured different role activit ies of public relations practitioners (i.e. technician, media relations, communications liaison, and manager). Respondents were asked to answer the questions based upon, your role in the communications department and the kind of expertise your department has, rate how often you do each of the following items. Do not score items hi ghly if others in the department do them, but you do not. Each of the 15 public relations roles ques tions used a 5-point Likert scale to better discriminate among responses, where 1 meant never and 5 represented almost always. Three or four opinion questions made a construct for each public relations role, with no overlap occurring. (See questions 35-49 in Appendix C) Public Relations Models and Roles Expertise Items Next, the questionnaire tested the departments expertise of th e four models of public relations and the trad itional roles. Respondents were asked to rank their departments expertise of various functi ons with 31 questions, all of which were replicated from previous studies of the four historical models of public relations practice (i.e. press agentry, public inform ation, two-way symmetrical, and two-way
59 asymmetrical) and the traditional public relati ons roles (i.e. technician, media relations, communications liaison, and manager). Each of the 31 public relations model and role questions used a 5-point Like rt scale to better discrimi nate among responses, where 1 meant no experience and 5 represented highly experienced. Respondents were asked to rate from an organizational st andpoint, The level of expertise your department has in each of the following ar eas. When sub-divided, the questions made constructs for each of the public relations models and roles. (See questions 50-79 in Appendix C) Demographics In addition to the primary variables of interest, the study also examined demographic variables of the government communicators sampled. Respondents were asked six demographic questions measuring bo th categorical and c ontinuous variables. Categorical items included departmental title, position title, gender and education. Continuous variables included number of peopl e in department and age. (See questions 92-97 in Appendix C) Response Rate Evaluation Prior to data analysis response statis tics were calculated to determine the gereralizability of the results to the la rger population. Of the total sample of 183 practitioners for the online survey, 25 had i nvalid e-mail addresses by the final wave of survey administration. This resulted in a va lid sample of 158 practit ioners. Of these, 57 substantially completed the questionnaire, yielding a re sponse rate of 36%. Seven practitioners refused to participate in the study, resulting in a refu sal rate of 4%. The survey response statistics for this study are provid ed in Table 1.
60 The survey was conducted in three wave s. Each successive wave reduced the number of undeliverable surveys because of exhaustive efforts to get accurate contact information for the undeliverable surveys. The researcher was able to reduce undeliverable surveys from 40 at Survey Wave I to 25 at Survey Wave III. Those who refused to participate in the study and those who responded to the survey were eliminated from receiving the questionnaire in subsequent waves of the survey distribution, thus explaining w hy the valid sample decreases in each subsequent wave as shown in Table 1. Table 1. Survey Response Statistics Variable Survey Wave I Survey Wave II Survey Wave III Total Total Population 183 183 Undeliverable -40 -30 -25 -25 Valid Sample 143 122 110 158 Refusals -2 -3 -2 -7 Non-responses -112 -105 -85 -85 Responses 23 14 26 63 Auto Replies 23 14 23 60 Other Replies 0 0 3 3 Spoiled Surveys -6 0 0 -6 Total Responses (N) 17 14 26 57 The total N was 57 at the beginning of the survey and 46 at the end of the survey. Some respondents (six) dropped out ve ry early in the study (question 5 of 97) and were considered spoiled. These six re spondents were eliminated from the data analysis. Other respondents dropped out throug hout the survey but were not eliminated from the data analysis, which explains why the N changes throughout the Results. Survey fatigue will be discussed in Chapter 5.
61 Analytical Method SPSS for W indows Release 15 (January 2007) was used to analyze the 57 completed questionnaires. Data analysis be gan with obtaining desc riptive statistics for the data set. After analyzing the descrip tive statistics, the researcher tested for Cronbachs alpha. To ensure th e reliability of the measures designed, Cronbachs alpha was used to determine how the variab les under study formed constructs among themselves, and whether or not, or to what extent the variables belong together. A Cronbachs alpha of .70 is considered very reliable (Stacks, 2002) and .625 and above was accepted by this researcher. When a Cronbach s alpha did not meet the threshold of .625, either the variable that tested the lowest was eliminated to increase the alpha or the items were tested individually without fold ing the questions into a construct. All but 2 of the 14 constructs met the higher-level Cronbachs alpha test. The reliability statistics are presented in the fre quency tables in the Results section. Finally, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to determine differences among groups rela ted to reaction to activist groups. Some grouping indexes were created to assist in this evaluatio n. A significance of .05 was determined to be acceptable. The next chapter discusses th e results of this study.
62 Chapter 4: Results The purpose of this study is to contribute to the public relations literature as it relates to local governments, which is signi ficantly lacking. The re search contributes by identifying: (1) the roles filled by today s lead government communicators; (2) the public relations models used by todays l ead government communicators; (3) the level of importance local governmental organizati ons place on the public relations function; and (4) the title of todays government communications departments. To meet this objective, the following research questions were asked and hypothesis was tested: RQ1 What models of public relations are practiced most often in local governments? RQ2 What roles do public relations pract itioners most often fill within local governments? RQ3 How much importance do local gov ernmental organizations place on the communication or public relations role? RQ4 Does the level of activist pressu re on a local government organization affect which public relations models or roles are used? H1 Because of the stigmas associated with the term public relations, very few government communications department s will be titled in such a manner. Additional questions were asked to find our about this specialized area of public relations practice. Questions focused on the organizational reporting relationship, involvement with strategic planning, and the use of research in strategic planning. In
63 addition, membership in the dominant coal ition was examined and the dominant coalitions perception of the communicati ons function was evaluated. The level of involvement with and reaction to activi st groups was also examined. Finally, demographics were obtained. Reporting Relationship A significant majority of respondents (75.4%, n=43) answered the question, Does the highest ranking person in your de partment reported directly to the most senior manager in the organization? with a yes. Among those who did not report directly to the most senior manager in the organization (n=15), all (100%) of them said that, an indirect reporting relationship exis tin which the department reports directly on some matters but not on all. Additionally, almost all of those who didnt report to the most senior manager (92.9%) said they re ported to, A senior manager who in turn reports to the most senior manager. Only one respondent stated they reported to, a more junior level of management. Strategic Planning and Decision Making Respondents were next aske d about their departments level of involvement with strategic planning and d ecision making. The descriptive statistics for department contribution to strategic planning and deci sion making are presented in Table 2. All five strategic planning questions ranked a bove a rating of 4.0. Res pondents stated they were most involved in, crises communi cation planning and response (m=4.67), routine operations (m=4.56), and respons e to major social issues (m=4.30). Although they still ra nked above a 4.0 on a 1 to 5 scale, respondents were least involved in strategic planning (m= 4.02) and major initiatives (m=4.18). A
64 significant majority (86%, n=49) said their de partment made a contribution to strategic planning and decision making. Table 2. Descriptive Statistics for Depa rtmental Contribution to Strategic Planning and Decision Making Departmental Contribution N Mean Standard Deviation Strategic planning 57 4.02 1.094 Response to major social issue 57 4.30 .886 Major initiatives 57 4.18 .848 Routine operations 57 4.56 .567 Crises communications planning and response 57 4.67 .564 Information Gathering and Research Those who reported they contributed at some level to strategic planning, where then asked additional questions about thei r departmental contribution to strategic planning and decision making through various types of researc h. The descriptive statistics for the level of involvement with various types of research are presented in Table 3. When asked about the types of research performed, a slight majority (52.1%) stated they were only sometimes involve d in conducting routine research. When asked about conducting speci fic research to find speci fic answers to specific questions, approximately one third of res pondents (31.3%) said they were, sometimes involved and another third (33.3%) said they were, m ostly involved. When asked about, formal information gathering for decision making purposes, a majority (60.4%) stated they were either mostly involved or always involved. Respondents were less involved in, informal informati on gathering. While one third (33.3%) said they were mostly involved, another 43.8% sa id they were only sometimes involved in informal research. When asked about, m aking contact with opinion leaders outside
65 the organization, slightly more than one third (39.6%) stated they were only sometimes involved and anot her third (33.3%) stated they were, mostly involved. The type of research the respondents had the most involvement with was, conducting formal information gathering for use in d ecision making other than research (m=3.60), and the type of research they had the least amount of involvement with was, conducting routine research (m=3.23). Table 3. Descriptive Statistics for Depa rtmental Contribution to Strategic Planning through Various Types of Research Involvement in Research N Mean Standard Deviation Conducting routine research 48 3.23 1.036 Conducting specific research to answer specific questions 48 3.46 1.148 Conducting formal information gathering for use in decision making other than research 48 3.60 .939 Conducting informal information gathering 48 3.46 .898 Making contact with opinion leaders outside the organization 48 3.54 .944 Organizational Support A significant majority of respondents (91.7%) said they either strongly agree or somewhat agree with the statement, My organization gives us all the support needed for our department to be successf ul. The mean for this statement was 4.23. A significant majority (80.2%) also stated they either strongly agree or somewhat agree with the statement, In my opinion, my department is among the most valuable departments in our organization. The mean for this statement was 4.38. Most (77.1%) also either strongly agree or somew hat agree with the statement, My organizations dominant coalition thinks my department is among the most valuable departments in our organization. Th e mean for this statement was 4.02.
66 Public Relations Models The descriptive statistics for the public relations models are presented in Table 4. The highest mean score (m=3.38) for the press agentry (PA) model was obtained by PA4, we determine how successful our co mmunication campaign is by the number of people who attend an event or use a new serv ice. The lowest mean score (m=3.00) was for PA2, the purpose of public relations is to get publicity for our organization. The average mean for the press agentry items was m=3.22. After condensing three of the four press agentry items into a single item, the average mean was m=3.16. The highest mean score (m=2.94) for the public information (PI) model was obtained by PI2, in public relations, we disseminate accurate information but we do not volunteer unfavorable information and PI4, in our workplace, nearly everyone is so busy writing news stories or producing publications that th ere is no time to do research. The lowest mean score (m=2.08) was for Keeping a news clipping is about the only way we have to determine the success of our programs. The average mean for the public information items was m=2.67. B ecause of low reliability testing ( =.250) the four public information items could not be condensed in to a single item. The highest mean score (m=4.15) for th e two-way symmetrical (2S) model was obtained by 2S4, The purpose of public relatio ns is to develop mu tual understanding between our management and th e publics they affect. The lowest mean score (m=2.65) was for before starting a public relations program, we look at attitude surveys to make sure we describe our organization and our policies in ways our publics are most likely to accept. The average mean for the two-way symmetrical item s was m=3.28. Because of low reliability testing ( =.446) the four two-way symmetrical items could
67 Table 4. Descriptive Statistics for Public Relations Models (Press Agentry (PA), Public Information (PI), 2-Way Symmetric al (2S), 2-way Asymmetrical (2A)) Model Item N Mean Standard Deviation Press Agentry Items =.625 48 3.16 .899 PA1: In our organization, public relations and publicity mean essentially the same thing 48 3.27 1.25 PA2: The purpose of public relations is to get publicity for our organization 48 3.00 1.203 PA3: In public relations, we mostly attempt to get favorable publicity into the mass media and to keep unfavorable publicity out 48 3.21 1.11 PA4: We determine how successful our communication campaign is by the number of people who attend an event or use a new service** 48 3.38 1.064 Public Information Items =.250* PI1: In our work, public relations is more of a neutral disseminator of information than an advocate for the organization 48 2.71 1.184 PI2: In public relations, we disseminate accurate information but we do not volunteer unfavorable information 48 2.94 1.08 PI3: Keeping a news clipping is about the only way we have to determine the success of our programs 48 2.08 1.028 PI4: In our workplace, nearly ev eryone is so busy writing news stories or producing publications that there is no time to do research 48 2.94 1.137 2-way Symmetrical Items =.446* 2S1: Before starting a public relations program, we look at attitude surveys to make sure we describe our organization and our policies in ways our pub lics are most likely to accept 48 2.65 1.00 2S2: In our work, public relations provides mediation to help our managers and their publics negotiate conflicts 48 3.13 1.024 2S3: The purpose of public relations is to change the attitudes and behaviors of our management as much as it is to change the attitudes of the publics they affect 48 3.17 1.136 2S4: The purpose of public relations is to develop mutual understanding between our management and the publics they affect 48 4.15 .825 2-way Asymmetrical Items =.819 48 2.67 .867 2A1: Before beginning a public relations program, we conduct research to determine public attitude toward our organization and how those attitudes might be changed 48 2.75 1.062 2A2: After completing a public relations program, we conduct research to determine how effective the program has been in changing peoples attitudes 48 2.85 1.052 2A3: Before starting a public relations program, we conduct surveys or informal research to find out how much our management and their publics understand each other 48 2.40 .917 2A4: In public relations, our broad goal is to persuade publics to behave as our organization wants them to behave** 48 2.27 .869 Did not meet the Cronbachs Alpha test of high reliability. Construct could not be built. ** Did not meet the reliability test and was eliminated from further analysis.
68 not be condensed into a single item. The highest mean score (m=2.85) for th e two-way asymmetrical (2A) model was obtained by 2A2, after completing a public relations program, we conduct research to determine how effective the program has been in changing peoples attitudes. The lowest mean score (m=2.27) was for in public relations, our broad goal is to persuade publics to behave as our organization wants them to behave. The average mean for the two-way asymmetrical items was m=2.57. After condensing three of the four two-way asymmetrical items into a single item, the average mean was m=2.67. Cronbachs alpha was calculated for each model construct to determine the instruments reliability for measuring rela tionships. The research supported two of the models and organizational expertise portions of the instrument created by J.E. Grunig and Hon (1999), as the reliability alphas are high. The alphas for the two models that showed low reliability will be discusse d in detail in the Results section. Descriptive statistics on the condensed model items are presented in Table 4. The two-way asymmetrical model alpha increased from =.673 to =.819 after eliminating TA4 from the construct. The press agentry model alpha increased from =.487 to =.625 after eliminating PA4 from the c onstruct. Constructs were only able to be built for the two-way asymmetrical model and the press agentry models. The remainder of the model questions was analyzed individually. Public Relations Roles The descriptive statistics for the public relations roles are presented in Table 5. The highest mean score (m=3.73) for the techni cian (T) role was obtained by T4 I edit
69 or review grammar and spelling in material s written by other departments. The lowest mean score (m=2.98) was for I do photogr aphy and graphics for communications materials. The average mean for the t echnician items was m=3.47. After condensing the four technician items into a single item, the average mean was m=3.47. The highest mean score (m=4.25) for the communications liaison (CL) role was obtained by CL3 I am a senior counsel to top decision makers when communication or public relations issues are i nvolved. The lowest mean scor e (m=3.69) was for I create opportunities for management to hear the view s of internal and ex ternal publics. The average mean for the comm unications liaison items was m=4.03. After condensing the four communications liaison items into a single item, the average mean was m=4.03. The highest mean score (m=4.27) for the manager (M) role was obtained by M4 Because of my experience and training, others consider me the organizations expert in solving communication or public relati ons problems. The lowest mean score (m=3.90) was for I make communication po licy decisions for my organization. The average mean for the manager items was m=4.11. After condensing the four manager items into a single item, the average mean was m=4.11. The highest mean score (m=4.31) for the media relations (MR) role was obtained by MR4 I use my journalistic skills to figure out what the media will consider newsworthy about our organization. The lowe st mean score (m=3.83) was for I am responsible for placing news releases. The average mean for the media relations items was m=4.02. After condensing the four media relations items into a single item, the average mean was m=4.02.
70 Table 5. Descriptive Statistics for Pub lic Relations Roles (Technician (T), Communications Liaison (CL), Manager (M), and Media Relations (MR)) Roles Item N Mean Standard Deviation Technician Items =.851 48 3.47 1.02 T1: I produce brochures, pamphlets and other publications 48 3.52 1.238 T2: I am the person who wr ites communication materials 48 3.65 1.00 T3: I do photography and graphics for communications materials 48 2.98 1.480 T4: I edit or review grammar and spelling in materials written by other departments. 48 3.73 1.125 Communications Liaison Items =.723 48 4.03 .76 CL1: I create opportunities for management to hear the views of internal and external publics 48 3.69 .993 CL 2: Although I dont make communication policy decisions, I provide decision makers with suggestions, recommendation, and plans 48 4.15 .825 CL3: I am a senior counsel to top decision makers when communication or public relations issues are involved 48 4.25 1.021 Manager Items =.804 48 4.11 .68 M1: I take responsibility for th e success or failure of my organizations communication or public relations programs 48 4.15 .799 M2: I make communication policy decisions for my organization 48 3.90 1.016 M3: I observe that others in the organization hold me accountable for the success or failure of communication or public relations programs 48 4.13 .761 M4: Because of my experience and training, others consider me the organizations expert in solving communication or public relations problems 48 4.27 .818 Media Relations Items =.814 48 4.02 .92 MR1: I maintain media contacts for my organization 48 3.98 1.263 MR2: I keep others in the organization informed of what the media reports about our city and important industry issues 48 3.94 1.060 MR3: I am responsible for placing news releases 48 3.83 1.243 MR4: I use my journalistic skills to figure out what the media will consider newsworthy about our organization 48 4.31 1.014 Cronbachs alpha was calculated for each role construct to determine the instruments reliability for measuring rela tionships. The research supported the roles portions of the instrument created by Grunig, Grunig and Dozier (1999), as the reliability alphas are high. Descriptive st atistics on the condens ed role items are
71 presented in Table 5. Because reliability statis tics for all four roles presented alphas of more than .70, constructs we re built for all four roles. Departmental Expertise The descriptive statistics for the departme ntal expertise of public relations roles and models are presented in Table 6. The highest mean score (m=4.62) for the technician (T) role was obtained by T1 producing publications And T6 writing news releases and feature articles. The lowest mean score (m=3.53) was for creating and managing a speakers bureau. The average mean for the technician items was m=4.24. After condensing the seven technician items into a single item, the average mean was m=4.24. The highest mean score (m=4.46) for the manager (M) role was obtained by M6 developing strategies for solving public relations and communication problems. The lowest mean score (m=2.46) was for performing environmental scanning. The average mean for the manager items was m=3.72. After condensing the eight manager items into a single item, the average mean was m=3.72. The highest mean score (m=4.61) for the press agentry (PA) model was obtained by PA2 getting your organizations name into the media. The lowest mean score (m=3.65) was for keeping bad publicity from a staged event. The average mean for the press agentry items was m=4.20. Afte r condensing the four press agentry items into a single item, the average mean was m=4.20. The highest mean score (m=4.52) for the public information (PI) model was obtained by PI2 understanding the news values of journalism. The lowest mean score
72 Table 6. Descriptive Statistics for Depar tmental Expertise (Technician Role (T), Manager Role (M), Press Agentry (PA), Public Information (PI), 2-Way Symmetrical (2S), 2-way Asymmetrical (2A)) Roles and Model Expertise Items N Mean Standard Deviation Technician Expertise Items =.820 45 4.24 .69 T1: Producing publications 45 4.62 .684 T2: Writing an advertisement 45 4.13 1.036 T3: Taking photography 45 4.09 1.062 T4: Writing speeches 45 4.33 .929 T5: Producing audio/visuals 45 4.36 1.004 T6: Writing news releases and feature articles 45 4.62 .936 T7: Creating and managing a speakers bureau 45 3.53 1.254 Manager Expertise Items =.764 46 3.72 .59 M1 Managing people 46 3.78 .814 M2: Conducting evaluation research 46 3.24 1.037 M3: Developing goals and objectives for your department 46 4.26 .828 M4: Preparing a departmental budget 46 4.33 .871 M5: Performing environmental scanning 46 2.46 1.187 M6: Developing strategies for solving public relations and communication problems 46 4.46 .721 M7: Using research to segment publics 46 2.83 1.270 M8: Managing the organizations response to issues 46 4.41 .884 Press Agentry Expertise Items =.770 46 4.20 .78 PA1: Convincing a reporter to publicize your organization 46 4.41 .858 PA2: Getting your organizations name into the media 46 4.61 .745 PA3: Keeping bad publicity from a staged event 46 3.65 1.140 PA4: Getting maximum publicity from a staged event 46 4.13 1.222 Public Information Expertise Items =.879 46 4.39 .79 PI1: Providing objective information about your organization 46 4.17 .973 PI2: Understanding the news values of journalism 46 4.52 .913 PI3: Preparing news stories th at reporters will use 46 4.48 .863 PI4: Performing as journalists inside your organization 46 4.39 .930 2-Way Symmetrical Expertise Items =.712 45 3.51 .71 2S1: Determining how publics react to the organi zation 46 3.87 .919 2S2: Negotiating with activist groups 46 2.98 .941 2S3: Using theories of conflict resolution in dealing with publics 46 3.24 1.004 2S4: Helping management to understand the opinion of particular publics 46 3.93 1.009 2-Way Asymmetrical Expertise Items =.688 46 3.07 .76 2A1: Getting publics to behave as your organization wants 46 3.35 1.059 2A2: Using attitude theory in a campaign 46 2.70 1.245 2A3: Manipulating publics scientifically 46 2.15 1.115 2A4: Persuading a public that your organization is right on an issue** 46 4.09 .939 ** Did not meet the reliability test and was eliminated from further analysis.
73 (m=4.17) was for providing objective information about your organization. The average mean for the public information items was m=4.39. After condensing the four public information items into a single item, the average mean was m=4.39. The highest mean score (m=3.93) for th e two-way symmetrical (2S) model was obtained by 2S4 helping management to unde rstand the opinion of particular publics. The lowest mean score (m=2.98) was for negotiating with activist groups. The average mean for the two-way symmetrical items was m=3.51. After condensing the four two-way symmetrical items into a single item, the average mean was m=3.51. The highest mean score (m=4.09) for the two-way asymmetrical (2A) model was obtained by 2A4 persuading a public that your organization is right on an issue. The lowest mean score (m=2.15) was for m anipulating publics scientifically. The average mean for the two-way asymmetrical items was m=3.07. After condensing three of the four two-way asymmetrical items into a single item, the average mean was m=3.07. Cronbachs alpha was calculated for each role and model expertise construct to determine the instruments reliability fo r measuring relations hips. The research supported the roles and model expertise portions of the instrument created by Grunig, Grunig and Dozier (2002), as the reliability alphas were high All the items had high reliability ( >.70) except for the two-way asymmetrical index. Chronbachs alpha was =.634 with all four of the two-way asymmetrical questions included. Question 2A4 was dele ted from the reliability testing and Chronbachs alpha increased to =.688. Question 2A4 was dele ted from further data
74 analysis. Descriptive statis tics on the condensed models and roles expertise are presented in Table 6. Activist Groups The next set of questions asked about involvement and response to activist groups. The descriptive statistics for these questions are presented in Table 7. When asked about involvement with activist groups, 68.9% of participants (n=45) said that they either agree (53.3%) or strongly agree (15.6%) with the statement, My organization has experienced tremendous pressure from outside activist groups. No one strongly disagreed with the statement a nd only 28.9% disagreed with the statement. The mean for the question was m=3.56. When asked who was successful at reachi ng their goal, a significant majority, 90.9%, of respondents said the organization was successful at reaching its goal. While most said their organization was successful a majority (65.9%) al so agreed that the activist group was successful at reaching their goal. Overall more respondents said the organization was successful, m=3.89, than those that said the activist group was successful, m=3.30. When asked about organizational involvement with activ ist groups, 79.6% of participants (n=44) said that they e ither agree (61.4%) or strongly agree (18.2%) with the statement, the entire organiza tion, including senior management and other employees, was involved in the response to the activist group. Only 20.5% disagreed with the statement. The m ean for the question was m=3.75. A majority, 70.4%, stated that they researched the activist group in order to prepare a response to them. A majority, 65.9%, also stated they developed a special
75 program to respond to the activ ist group. A majority, 59.1%, also stated that the activist group did not have involvement in the organizations response to them. When asked if the organization always ev aluates its response to activist groups, results were mixed. While 52.2% said they ag reed with the statement, 44.4% said they disagreed with the statement. When asked about where communications professionals tend to find out about activist pressure on their organization, resu lts were varied. The most common response (n=39) was, the activist group itself. The second most common response (n=30) was through, media coverage. The answer, o thers in the organization, was given 24 times and four people wrote in electroni c media, email or internet search. Respondents were allowed to give more than one answer. Table 7. Descriptive Statistics for Activist Group Involvement Activist Group Items N Mean Standard Deviation My organization has recei ved tremendous pressure from outside activist groups 45 3.56 1.078 The activist group was successful at reaching their goal 44 3.30 1.091 My organization was successful at reaching its goal 44 3.89 .579 The entire organization was involved in the response to the activist group 44 3.75 1.037 My organization researched the activist group in our response to their pressure 44 3.52 1.151 A special program was developed to respond to the activist group 44 3.45 1.190 The activist group had direct involvement in planning our organizations response to them 44 2.73 1.169 My organization always evaluates its response to activist groups 44 3.05 1.160 Almost all the respondents, 95.5%, said their organization does not have a standing committee to d eal with activist groups. Only one respondent stated they had a special committee to deal with activist group s. When asked who most frequently is
76 responsible for dealing with them, the mo st common answer (n=22) was the city manager/chief appointed officer. The ne xt most common response (n=9) was the mayor/chief elected official. Only three respondents stated that the head of public relations, public affairs or communications responded to the activist group. No one stated that the attorneys were responsible. Six people wrote in th e open-ended response, depends on the issue. Respondents were allowed to give more than one answer. When asked about involving the acti vist group, the most common answer (n=38) was through, informal conversation. Fo rty percent (n=23) stated they involved the activist in the organization by having them be, part of a special committee. Nine respondents stated they invol ved activists by, inclusion on a board. Four people wrote in the open-ended response, outreach or community meetings. Respondents were allowed to give more than one answer. Demographics The frequencies for the nom inal demogra phic were also obtained. Frequencies for gender are reported in Table 8. Of the respondents who answered the demographic questions, n=45, 68.7% were women (n=35), and 31.1% were men (n=14). Next, the age and education level of practitioners was examined. The majority of respondents (70.5%) were over 40. Less than 10% were under 30. A total of 66.7% (n=30) of practitioners reported they had obtained bachelors degree, 26.7% (n=12) of Table 8. Gender Frequencies Gender Respondents Percent Male 14 31.1 Female 35 68.7
77 practitioners reported they had obtained a masters degree, making a significant majority, 94.3%, having a bachel ors degree or higher. Finally respondents were asked to repor t the number of staff members within the communications department. The majo rity of respondents (68.2%) who answered this question (n=44) stated they had between one and ten employees with most of those having one to five employees (43.2%). Only eight respondents (18.1%) said they had more than 16 employees. Naming Names The title of the department and the title of the highest-ranking communicator were also asked. The list of responses vari ed for both questions. Because these were open-ended questions, answers were grouped in to the following categories: 1) Media, Communications, Public Affairs, Public Information or Community Relations; 2) Management Services, City Managers Office, or Chief Elected Officials Office; 3) Marketing; and 4) Other. A si gnificant majority (75.6%) were the head of a department whose title was in the firs t category and was consider ed a communications function. Almost all the remaining (17.8%) respondent s were included in the city managers office or chief elected officials office. No one had a title that included the words, public relations, supporting H1. Transforming Data Transforming data from one scale to another is considered an acceptable application when the expecta tion of the research is to find scientific "value." Determining that value means that one must und erstand that scales are not, at least in
78 common statistical packages, fixed at one level. Velleman and Wilkinson (1993) point out that the notion that scales are fixed is flawed. "The point of these examples, of cour se, is that the a ssertion, common to many traditional statistics texts, that "data values are nominal, ordinal, interval, or ratio" simplifies the matter so far as to be false. Scale type, as defined by Stevens, is not an attr ibute of the data, but rather depends upon the questions we intend to ask of the data and upon any additional information we may have. It may change due to transformation of the data, it may change with the addition of new information that helps us to interpret the data differently, or it may change simply because of the questions we choose to ask." (Velleman and Wilkinson, p. 69) Tukey (1961, p. 247) also noted that scal es are imprecise and may need to be evaluated saying: "An oversimplified and overp urified view of what measurements are like can not be allowed to dictate how data is to be analyzed." For these reasons, this study transforms what were interval data items (when they represented a single scale) into nominal data indices which allow us to examine the data from our small sample in a richer analytical approach. Analysis of Variance ANOVAs were conducted to evaluate the relationship between respondent use of public relations models and roles and i nvolvement with activist groups. A one-way ANOVA test was conducted on the role and model expertise items (those presented in Table 6) since they had the highest level of reliability. Using the public relations role
79 and models expertise items as independent variables and interaction with activist groups as dependent variables, some of the results proved to be significant. The ANOVA was used to test for significant difference between the variable two-way symmetrical expertise and the inter action with activist it ems. The items that were significant in this ANOVA, which can be found in Table 9, is organization Table 9. Analysis of Variance for 2-way Symmetrical Model Expertise Index as Independent Variable Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig. tremendous pressure from activist groups Between Groups 13.864 11 1.260 1.092 .398 Within Groups 36.932 32 1.154 Total 50.795 43 activist group's success Between Groups 5.000 11 .455 .315 .977 Within Groups 46.159 32 1.442 Total 51.159 43 my org reached its goal Between Groups 11.598 11 1.054 11.909 .000 Within Groups 2.833 32 .089 Total 14.432 43 entire org involved in response Between Groups 18.197 11 1.654 1.887 .080 Within Groups 28.053 32 .877 Total 46.250 43 researched the activist group Between Groups 15.735 11 1.430 1.110 .386 Within Groups 41.242 32 1.289 Total 56.977 43 special program developed Between Groups 26.030 11 2.366 2.171 .043 Within Groups 34.879 32 1.090 Total 60.909 43 activist group had involvement in planning Between Groups 29.250 11 2.659 2.887 .009 Within Groups 29.477 32 .921 Total 58.727 43 org evaluates response to activist group Between Groups 15.273 11 1.388 1.042 .435 Within Groups 42.636 32 1.332 Total 57.909 43
80 reached its goal (F = 11.909, p < .001), special progr am developed ( F = 2.171, p = .043) and activist group had involvement in planning ( F = 2.887, p = .009). The ANOVA was used to test for significant difference between the variable way asymmetrical expertise and the inter action with activist items. The items that were significant in this ANOVA, which can be found in Table 10, is pressure from Table 10. Analysis of Variance for 2-way Asymmetrical Model Expertise Index as Independent Variable Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig. tremendous pressure from activist groups Between Groups 32.744 12 2.729 4.754 .000 Within Groups 18.367 32 .574 Total 51.111 44 activist group's success Between Groups 7.359 12 .613 .434 .937 Within Groups 43.800 31 1.413 Total 51.159 43 my org reached its goal Between Groups 6.915 12 .576 2.377 .026 Within Groups 7.517 31 .242 Total 14.432 43 entire org involved in response Between Groups 17.567 12 1.464 1.582 .149 Within Groups 28.683 31 .925 Total 46.250 43 researched the activist group Between Groups 26.744 12 2.229 2.285 .032 Within Groups 30.233 31 .975 Total 56.977 43 special program developed Between Groups 25.342 12 2.112 1.841 .085 Within Groups 35.567 31 1.147 Total 60.909 43 activist group had involvement in planning Between Groups 16.844 12 1.404 1.039 .440 Within Groups 41.883 31 1.351 Total 58.727 43 org evaluates response to activist group Between Groups 16.459 12 1.372 1.026 .451 Within Groups 41.450 31 1.337 Total 57.909 43
81 activist groups ( F = 4.754, p < .001), organization reached its goal (F = 2.377, p = .026) and researched the activist group ( F = 2.285, p = .032). The ANOVA was used to test for significant difference between the variable technician role and the in teraction with activist item s. The only item that was significant in this ANOVA, which can be found in Table 11, is my organization reached its goal (F = 2.582, p = .016). Table 11. Analysis of Variance for T echnician Role Expertise Index as Independent Variable Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig. tremendous pressure from activist groups Between Groups 15.203 13 1.169 1.049 .435 Within Groups 33.433 30 1.114 Total 48.636 43 activist group's success Between Groups 11.253 13 .866 .630 .809 Within Groups 39.817 29 1.373 Total 51.070 42 my org reached its goal Between Groups 7.311 13 .562 2.582 .016 Within Groups 6.317 29 .218 Total 13.628 42 entire org involved in response Between Groups 17.619 13 1.355 1.376 .230 Within Groups 28.567 29 .985 Total 46.186 42 researched the activist group Between Groups 23.598 13 1.815 1.590 .145 Within Groups 33.100 29 1.141 Total 56.698 42 special program developed Between Groups 25.828 13 1.987 1.750 .103 Within Groups 32.917 29 1.135 Total 58.744 42 activist group had involvement in planning Between Groups 21.603 13 1.662 1.317 .259 Within Groups 36.583 29 1.261 Total 58.186 42 org evaluates response to activist group Between Groups 14.490 13 1.115 .745 .707 Within Groups 43.417 29 1.497 Total 57.907 42
82 The ANOVA was used to test for significant difference between the variable manager role and the interaction with activist items. The two items that were significant in this ANOVA, which can be found in Table 12, are the tremendous pressure from activist groups (F = 2.025, p = .050) and researched the activist group ( F = 2.129, p = .041). Table 12. Analysis of Variance for Man ager Role Expertise as Independent Variable Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig. tremendous pressure from activist groups Between Groups 26.144 15 1.743 2.025 .050 Within Groups 24.967 29 .861 Total 51.111 44 activist group's success Between Groups 16.951 15 1.130 .925 .549 Within Groups 34.208 28 1.222 Total 51.159 43 my org reached its goal Between Groups 5.723 15 .382 1.227 .310 Within Groups 8.708 28 .311 Total 14.432 43 entire org involved in response Between Groups 21.825 15 1.455 1.668 .118 Within Groups 24.425 28 .872 Total 46.250 43 researched the activist group Between Groups 30.361 15 2.024 2.129 .041 Within Groups 26.617 28 .951 Total 56.977 43 special program developed Between Groups 26.117 15 1.741 1.401 .214 Within Groups 34.792 28 1.243 Total 60.909 43 activist group had involvement in planning Between Groups 24.386 15 1.626 1.325 .252 Within Groups 34.342 28 1.226 Total 58.727 43 org evaluates response to activist group Between Groups 14.034 15 .936 .597 .852 Within Groups 43.875 28 1.567 Total 57.909 43
83 The ANOVA was used to test for significant difference between the variable press agentry model and the interaction with activist items. The two items that were significant in this ANOVA, which can be found in Table 13, is the tremendous pressure from activist group (F = 3.228, p = .005) and organization reached its goal ( F = 3.194, p = .006). Table 13. Analysis of Variance for the Press Agentry Model Expertise as Independent Variable Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig. tremendous pressure from activist groups Between Groups 24.891 10 2.489 3.228 .005 Within Groups 26.220 34 .771 Total 51.111 44 activist group's success Between Groups 10.897 10 1.090 .893 .549 Within Groups 40.262 33 1.220 Total 51.159 43 my org reached its goal Between Groups 7.098 10 .710 3.194 .006 Within Groups 7.333 33 .222 Total 14.432 43 entire org involved in response Between Groups 14.685 10 1.468 1.535 .171 Within Groups 31.565 33 .957 Total 46.250 43 researched the activist group Between Groups 15.555 10 1.555 1.239 .304 Within Groups 41.423 33 1.255 Total 56.977 43 special program developed Between Groups 23.344 10 2.334 2.051 .059 Within Groups 37.565 33 1.138 Total 60.909 43 activist group had involvement in planning Between Groups 15.138 10 1.514 1.146 .360 Within Groups 43.589 33 1.321 Total 58.727 43 org evaluates response to activist group Between Groups 13.302 10 1.330 .984 .476 Within Groups 44.607 33 1.352 Total 57.909 43
84 The ANOVA was used to test for significant difference between the variable public information model and the interact ion with activist items. Three of the items were significant in this ANOVA, which can be found in Table 14. The items are entire organization involved in response ( F = 2.721, p = .017), researched the activist group ( F = 2.263, p = .041) and activist group had involvement in planning our response ( F = 2.214, p = .046). Table 14. Analysis of Variance for the P ublic Information Model Expertise as Independent Variable Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig. tremendous pressure from activist groups Between Groups 16.263 9 1.807 1.815 .100 Within Groups 34.848 35 .996 Total 51.111 44 activist group's success Between Groups 8.611 9 .957 .765 .649 Within Groups 42.548 34 1.251 Total 51.159 43 my org reached its goal Between Groups 5.075 9 .564 2.049 .064 Within Groups 9.357 34 .275 Total 14.432 43 entire org involved in response Between Groups 19.365 9 2.152 2.721 .017 Within Groups 26.885 34 .791 Total 46.250 43 researched the activist group Between Groups 21.342 9 2.371 2.263 .041 Within Groups 35.635 34 1.048 Total 56.977 43 special program developed Between Groups 21.064 9 2.340 1.997 .071 Within Groups 39.845 34 1.172 Total 60.909 43 activist group had involvement in planning Between Groups 21.699 9 2.411 2.214 .046 Within Groups 37.028 34 1.089 Total 58.727 43 org evaluates response to activist group Between Groups 14.715 9 1.635 1.287 .280 Within Groups 43.194 34 1.270 Total 57.909 43
85 The purpose of this study was to learn more about how public relations are practiced in local governments. This wa s achieved by surveying top communicators and researching public relations duties performed, reporting re lationships that exist, use of research in strategic planni ng, and public relations practice. The study posited that government communicators would most likely be shifting toward practicing two-way co mmunications as opposed to the public information model historically referred to in government organizati ons. It also posited that communications departments would rare ly be called public relations departments due to connotations and governme nt restrictions. This study al so examined if there were any links between activist pressure and involvement with activist groups and the public relations models used and the roles the lead communicators fill. The survey population, consisting of lead communications professionals for local governments, was asked to respond to a set of questions on a 5-point scale to indicate the extent to which they believed that the indicators in the four indices described their role in the organization and the way public rela tions is practiced in it. The next chapter provides a discussion of th e results presented in this chapter. It draws the conclusions, discusses the limitati ons, and examines the significance of this research. In addition, it proposes avenues for future research in the governmental area of public relations inquiry.
86 Chapter 5: Conclusion Conclusions Public Relations Models RQ1 asked what models of public relati ons are practiced most often in local governments. The two highest scores for the models were for the two-way symmetrical and the press agentry models. When asked about departmental knowledge or expertise in the model area, the respondents said th ey were most experienced in the public information model and the press agentry mode l. This leads the researcher to believe that they have the expertise to do all the steps necessary for the press agentry and the public information models, but they have more of a two-way philosophy of conducting their day-to-day business for their city. It could also mean that more of their formal training was in public information and in press agentry. From observations in the field, various agencies, including local and federal, offer training for public info rmation officers. Many of these trainings revolve around crises response. Local gove rnment communications heads are either required to or encouraged to attend. Various public relations orga nizations continually offer sessions on how to get publicity for your organization. Attendance at these functions is usually more voluntarily. Rare ly do these types of similar seminars or training opportunities exist for twoway communications functions. These findings also support the recent th eoretical thinking that practitioners are professionals that make professional decisions at the time of negotiations. They do not
87 enter a discussion or negotia tion with one way of thinki ng. They are similar to a medical professional who has a medical bag fu ll of various tools. Each situation may need a different tool, and this research shows that the professionals are practicing public relations and they are gaining the tools to do so. Recent theory discussions have also focused on the fact that either model of two-way symmetrical communications supports the Excellence theory. Whether the communications is symmetrical or asymmetrical tends to have little effect on the overall public relations efforts. The importance is that the communication is two way in nature. Public Relations Roles RQ2 asked about the roles that lead public relations pract itioners fill most often within local governments. When asked about what roles the lead communicator filled, the manager items ranked highest. This is to be expected since this person would most likely be managing a staff, creating co mmunications policies and solving public relations problems. When asked about departmental expert ise, the technician role ranked the highest. The lower-level technician tasks such as producing brochures, writing press release, and creating graphics are all part of formal public relations training. Managing employees, strategic thinking, environmenta l scanning and conducting formal research are all tasks that require higher levels of training and exper tise. In government communications departments, there may be one or two employees with that level of training, but the majority of people will posse s only the training and experience to do the lower-level technician tasks.
88 This research also tells us that wh ile the top communicators may be held accountable for successful communications campa igns, strategic planning, research and environmental scanning, they may not have th e proper training. Just over a quarter of respondents had a Masters Degree, which is where more of these higher-level management tasks would be taught. Recent public relations roles research and theoretical work has focused on the fact that public relations pr actitioners fill neither role exclusively. Practitioners dont walk into the office or approach a task with a technician or manager hat on per se. They are mostly able to do both roles and the mana ger can step in and fill the technician role when needed, and hopefully the technician ha s the training to step up to manager type tasks when needed. Although manager-type tasks require a higher level of training, the recent research shows that most practitioners are able to switch between the roles when needed and this research s upports those same findings. Organizational Importance RQ3 asked about the importance that local governmental organizations place on the communication or public relations role Based on the information given, it is clear that local government organiza tions value the public relations roles and involve them in strategic planning. With the ma jority of respondents stati ng they report to the head public administrator and were involved in strategic planning, one can deduct that organizational support for the communicati ons function is high. The Excellence study states that there should be this support and th at the lead communicator should be part of the dominant coalition and report to the CEO or highest ranking o fficial. Most local governments seem to follow this same philosophy.
89 Not only does the lead communicator feel th ey are supported, but they also feel they are among the most valuable within th e organization, which is to be expected. Respondents tend to rank themselves more im portant than others in the organization would rank them. Others in the organizati on would have to be surveyed or the communications head would have to be observe d in order to find out how they are truly supported. Another way to investigate the level of importance an organization puts on the communications function is to determine th eir level of involvement with strategic planning. Being part of the dominant coal ition means the communicator is usually involved with the strategic planning and d ecision making for the organization. Those who are included in those executive-level deci sions ask their opinions, are influential in the process and as a result, are held in higher regard by others in the organization. Respondents ranked the various types of strategic planning activities highly. As to be expected, being involved with crises communications planni ng and response ranked the highest. While public information officers ar e most associated with this type of strategic planning, it is the responsibility of all communi cations professionals when disasters strike. Government organizations are often dealing with crises, whether they are man-made, acts of nature, human error or other, the government communicators are always called upon during these times. Research, whether formal or inform al, can be used to help create communications plans and to evaluate e fforts of a campaign. Ratings for use of research were much lower than involveme nt with strategic planning. Formal and informal research should be part of strategic planning. Since public relations is
90 sometimes viewed as a non-sc ientific or quantifiable fiel d, it is very important to supplement the daily efforts of the technici ans and the strategist s with quantifiable supporting data. With increasing budget cuts in local governments, the funds may not be available to do research. Customer satisfact ion or communications surveys, which may have previously been conducted yearly, may be cut to every two to three years or could be cut entirely. Scien tifically valid surv eys can run from $15,000 to $30,000 per survey. When budget times come and departments are faced with cutting a part-time employee who can produce steady output in one year or a survey which can have limited benefit, the choice is easy for the person doing the budget. Activist Pressure RQ4 asked if the level of activist pres sure on a local government organization affects which public relations models or roles are used. Grunig and Grunig (1997) claim that activist pressure stimulates an organization to de velop excellent public relations departments (p. 25). The majority of respondents stated they have to deal with tremendous activist pressure and a significant majority stated that their organization was successful while less, but still a majority stated the acti vist group was also successful which would indicate there was some level of nego tiation or symmetrical communications. Because a majority also stated that there was involvement from the entire organization, it leads one to believe that th ere is an organizational approach to the communication. While it was encouraging that they stated they developed a special program, it was expected that they would ha ve also involved the activist group in the
91 response. Involving the group would ha ve indicated a two-way model of communication. Involving both the entire orga nization and the activist group are steps toward a normative model of co mmunications and that is a m ove in the right direction. Although standing committees do not exist, many indicated they had a special team based on the topic. Formation of respons e teams is more than likely due to the nature of the interaction with the activist groups. Because the activist group will try to have contact and get reactions from various members of the organization, a unified and coordinated response is necessary. While tr ying to defeat a referendum, an activist group may interact with the legal department, city clerk, city manager, elected officials and the communications department. When this occurs, a unified response is necessary. While it was encouraging to find that atto rneys were not used in the response to activist groups, it was discouraging to find that so few stated the head of public relations was responsible. The most common response, city manager or highest elected official, is probably due to the fact that those people are usua lly on the receiving end of most of the complaints. If a citizen want s something taken care of, they usually start with city hall. When the organization had an expertis e in the two-way symmetrical model there was a significant relationship with thin gs associated with symmetry. As to be expected, those things that were significant were orga nizational success, special program development and involving the act ivist group. All these things would be associated with a public relations program that was developed to deal with activist group pressure.
92 Similarly, those who had the most expe rtise with the two-way asymmetrical model also had a significant relationship w ith the organization reaching its goal. Where the two groups of respondents differed was in the amount of pressure from the activist group and the strategic step of researching the activist group in order to create a response. Since the goal of th is group is to have two-way communications in order to better reach their own goal, one would expect that they would research the activist group in order to learn how to respond to them. Then, the organization would be more successful at researching its goal. There was also much more of a significance with the level of pressure from the activist group. That could be because this group of respondents is only involving them so they can reach their goal easier. The goal of the negotiations with the activist group and th e organization is not to find some common ground. With those who have the greatest expert ise in the press agentry model, the two items that were significant were tremendous pressure and organization reached its goal. This was the opposite of what was signi ficant for the public information model expertise. The items the latter of the groups had significance with were organizational involvement, research, and activist group invol vement. These things were not expected for these two groups. As expected very little was significant with the activist activities and those who had the greatest expertise in the technician role. Only the organizations level of success was significant with the technician ro le. With the manager role, it was expected that more things that require a manager leve l of expertise would have been significant. Only the tremendous level of activist pressu re and researching the activist group were
93 significant. Research, involvi ng the activist group and th e organizations level of success were expected. Neither role expertis e seemed to make much difference on the activist group interaction. Demographics The gender statistics follow those in the re st of the public rela tions field with the majority of professionals being women and having at least a Bachelors degree. The majority was also in the middle of their career and was over 40. Departmental Title Lastly, H1 hypothesized that because of the stigmas a ssociated with the term public relations, very few government comm unications departments will be titled in such a manner. This hypothesis proved to be true. While departments were named things that were all across the board, they were able to be categorized into similar titles. Some titles reflected function and some titles defined location in an organizational chart. Whatever the departmental title, wh at functions they perform and the way they interact with their publics is of utmost importance. Department title has no impact on the relationship shared between the public re lations practitioner a nd the organization he or she represents. In linking theory to practice it is im portant for local governments to have communications departments with trained pr ofessional communicators in order to build and maintain better relationships with thei r publics and especially with publics whose relationships are antagonistic in nature. Public relations practitioners should investigate the public relations roles and models th ey implement and look for ways for communications to be more symmetrical in nature.
94 By involving both the public relations ma nager and technician in the strategic decision-making process and in interactions with activist groups, using a two-way communication model, it may be predicted that the organization will have more success with activist groups and their key publics. Th is is necessary in order to try and build better relationships with the public relations practitioner. Limitations Small Total Population One limitation of this study was the sma ll total population (N=183) and small number of responses. Because the total population was 183, a low number of responses was inevitable. With the 25 non-deliverable surveys removed from the total population, the valid sample was only 158. At the beginni ng of the survey, th e total number of respondents was 57, which decreased to 44 by the end of the survey instrument. The response rate goes from 36% at the begi nning of the survey, to 27.8% at the end. Because of the small N, it is not advisable to generalize these results to the entire government communicator population. Survey Fatigue Survey fatigue was also present whic h is why the number of respondents decreased throughout the survey. Experts in e-survey administrati on state that online surveys should be no more than 10 to 15 minutes in length because screen fatigue will happen. They also suggest having a toolba r that shows respon dents their progress within the survey instrument. Because of the survey design, respondents were not able to jump ahead to determine how many questions were remaining. Future research with this population should focus on shorter su rveys and including a means by which
95 respondents can monitor their progress. Add itionally, more research-based questions should be included toward the end of the survey since six respondents dropped out when they were asked about strategic planning and the use of research. Since respondents were not able to skip questions, they had to voluntarily withdraw from the survey. Online Survey Administration A third limitation of the study was tec hnical problems w ith online survey administration. Technical problems resulted when the survey recipients were not able to receive emails from the online survey company due to the presence of email or spam filters. As a result, non-participants were indi vidually contacted in order to determine if the survey had been received, which may have affected the non-response rate. Self Reporting Respondents were asked to rate themselves and the communications departments based on a series of questions. Because no direct observation contributed to this research, there is room for bias. Respondents may have known what the correct answers were and tried to answer consistently based on what they were supposed to have answered. These types of concerns are always present with se lf-reporting research and are minimized by building constructs within the research design. By building constructs, you are testing to see if respondents are consis tently answering questions and if the data can be collapsed into one variable. Although self-re porter statis tics could affect the validity of survey results, they should not discount the re sults in this initial descriptive research.
96 Interpretations Terms that are heavily used in the academic and professional world were intertwined throughout this survey, and ther e was no means for defining certain terms, which could have easily been misinterprete d. The term research could have meant simply a phone call to a few people, or it coul d have been a statistically valid telephone pole to a representative sample. The phrase developed a special program to deal with the activist group could have also meant diffe rent things to different people. Even the term activist group could have been better defined because it means different things to different people. Reliability Statistics Note that Cronbach's alpha increases as the number of items in the scale increases, even controlling for the same level of average inter-correlation of items. This assumes, of course, that the added items are not bad items co mpared to the existing set. Increasing the number of items can be a way to push alpha to an acceptable level. This reflects the assumption that scales and inst ruments with a greater number of items are more reliable. It also means that compar ison of alpha levels between scales with differing numbers of items is not appropriate. A Cronbachs alpha of .70 is considered very reliable (Stacks, 2002), and .625 and above was accepted by this researcher. Wh en a Cronbachs alpha did not meet the threshold of .625, either the variable that test ed the lowest was eliminated to increase the alpha or the items were tested indivi dually without folding the questions into a construct. All but two of the 14 constructs met the higher-level Cronbachs alpha test. As these measures have been tested previ ously and were proven reliable numerous
97 times, there may be a problem in the studys methodology. There may have been an internal conflict with in the target populat ion. When asked about their departmental expertise, respondents consisten tly answered the questions, a nd the reliability statistics were at acceptable levels. When asked about how public re lations is practiced within the organization, reliability statistics were below acceptable levels, which may be because respondents did not know how to answer the questions. Although limitations existed, the significance of this study lies in its ability to contribute to public relations theory and practice. This research will enrich our understanding of the importance of building strong relationships between organizations and their publics in the public sector context. This study al so builds on previous public relations studies of public relations roles and models within government organizations in order to further public re lations theory development. Future Research Future research should focus on how the form of government affects the public relations model and role usage and expert ise. Strong Mayor forms of government may differ from a City Manager-City Council form of government, and this research did not ask about forms of government. Another area that could be explored is if the size of the population has an affect on pub lic relations model usage and role implementation. This research did not investigate that area. Citie s with less than 100,000 or with greater than 300,000 residents may have different results than the ones presented here. Building on the research presented here, research could be conducted to co mpare the size of the communications department and budget to th e size of the city. Departmental budget can
98 sometimes be an indicator of departmental importance. This research could be further developed by looking at either of those areas in relation to government public relations. There were a number of cities who when contacted stated they had no communications department or the person who used to fill that role was not being replaced. This is something that should be captured in future research, as it was only captured anecdotally in this research. C ities with greater than 100,000 residents should be involved in reside nt communications and may even have to content with activist groups. If no such communications department exists, this is worth researching. Future research should look at the ty pe of involvement public relations practitioners have with activist groups. Some practitioners st ated that they developed a special program. What type of program was developed s hould be analyzed. Another thing that could be further evaluated is how respondents rated level of success. A majority of respondents stated their organiza tion was successful, but they also stated the activist group was successful. Since there was no construct built for successful, we have no way of knowing exactly what that meant. Since there was also no definition used for activist group, more research needs to be conducted to determine what type of activist groups communications professionals have and to what extent those communications are successful. Qualitative research should be conducted to add richness and texture to the quantitative data provided here. The involve ment with activist groups is an area where it would be beneficial to have more explanatory in-depth data to add to the numbers provided in this research.
99 It is also important for future research to evaluate how other variables such as gender and salary impact the quality of the relationship shared between the public relations practitioner and his or her organization. There is also a great deal of research within the public relations literature on how dominant coalitions view public relations and affect its practice within organizations Now that the current conditions of public relations in local government has been established, one could compare that with the viewpoint of the organizations lead public administrator. The worldview of the public administrator and the social corporate re sponsibility philosophy of the organization may have an effect on the public relations models and roles used within these organizations. Technological advances and access to technology will probably also affect the amount of proactive, two-way communication that governments have with their publics. This is an additiona l area where one could research. The significance of this study lies in its ability to contribute to public relations theory and practice. This study will also bu ild on previous public relations studies of relationship measurement in order to furt her public relations theory development.
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106 Appendix A: Cities in the Target Population
107 Appendix A: Cities in the Target Population Mobile Alabama 198,915 Birmingham Alabama 242,820 Huntsville Alabama 158,216 Montgomery Alabama 201,568 Anchorage Alaska 260,283 Chandler Arizona 176,581 Glendale Arizona 218,812 Tempe Arizona 158,625 Gilbert Arizona 109,697 Peoria Arizona 108,364 Scottsdale Arizona 200,705 Little Rock Arkansas 183,133 Bakersfield California 247,057 Berkeley California 102,743 Burbank California 100,316 Chula Vista California 164,914 Concord California 121,780 Corona California 124,966 Costa Mesa California 108,724 Daly City California stated no one handl es communication in this city 103,621 Downey California 107,323 Escindido California 133,559 Elmonte California 115,965 Fontana California 128,929 Fremont California 203,413 Fullerton California 126,003 Garden Grove California 165,196 Glendale California 185,086 Hayward California PIO office no longer operating--no plans to replace person who retired 140,030 Huntington Beach California 189,594 Inglewood California 112,580 Irvine California 143,072 Lancaster California 118,718 Moreno Valley California 142,381 Modesto California 188,856 Norwalk California 103,298 Oceanside California 161,029 Ontario California 158,007 Orange California 128,821 Oxnard California 170,358 Palmdale California 116,670 Pasadena California 133,936 Pomona California 149,473 Rancho Cucamonga California no one handles communication in this city 127,743 Riverside California 255,166 Salinas California no one handles communication in this city 151,060 San Bernardino California 185,401 San Buenaventura California 100,916 Santa Rosa California 147,595
108 Appendix A (Continued) Santa Clarita California 151,088 Simi Valley California 111,351 Stockton California position is open and may not be replaced 243,771 Sunnyvale California 131,760 Thousand Oaks California 117,005 Torrance California 137,946 West Covina California 105,080 Vallejo California 116,760 Arvada Colorado 102,153 Fort Collins Colorado 118,652 Lakewood Colorado 144,126 Pueblo Colorado 102,121 Westminster Colorado 100,940 Aurora Colorado 276,393 Bridgeport Connecticut 139,529 Hartford Connecticut 121,578 Stamford Connecticut 117,083 New Haven Connecticut 123,626 Waterbury Connecticut 107,271 Cape Coral Florida 102,286 Clearwater Florida 108,787 Coral Springs Florida 117,549 Fort Lauderdale Florida 152,397 Hialeah Florida 226,419 Hollywood Florida 139,357 Orlando Florida 185,951 Pembroke Pines Florida 137,427 St. Petersburg Florida 248,232 Tallahassee Florida 150,624 Athens-Clarke Georgia 100,266 Augusta Georgia 199,775 Columbus Georgia 186,291 Savannah Georgia 131,510 LexingtonFayette Kentucky 260,512 Louisville Kentucky 256,231 Kansas City Kansas 146,866 Overland Park Kansas 155,600 Topeka Kansas 122,377 Baton Rouge Louisiana 227,818 Lafayette Louisiana 110,257 Shreveport Louisiana 200,145 Boise City Idaho 185,787 Cedar Rapids Iowa 120,758 Des Moines Iowa 198,682 Evansville Indiana 121,582 Fort Wayne Indiana 202,904 Gary Indiana 102,746 South Bend Indiana 107,789 Aurora Illinois 142,990 Joliet Illinois 106,221 Naperville Illinois 128,358
109 Appendix A (Continued) Peoria Illinois 112,936 Rockford Illinois 150,115 Cambridge Massachusetts 101,355 Lowell Massachusetts 105,167 Springfield Massachusetts 152,082 Worchester Massachusetts 172,648 Ann Arbor Michigan 114,024 Dearborn Michigan 97,775 Flint Michigan no communications office, mayor's secretary does it if needed 124,943 Grand Rapids Michigan 197,800 Lansing Michigan no communication department, handled through Mayor's office 119,128 Livonia Michigan 100,545 Sterling Heights Michigan 124,471 Warren Michigan 138,247 St. Paul Minnesota 287,151 Jackson Mississippi 184,256 Independence Missouri 113,288 Springfield Missouri 151,580 Lincoln Nebraska 225,581 Henderson Nevada 175,381 Reno Nevada 180,481 North Las Vegas Nevada 115,488 Manchester New Hampshire 107,006 Elizabeth New Jersey 120,568 Newark New Jersey 273,546 Jersey City New Jersey 240,055 Paterson New Jersey 149,222 Buffalo New York 292,648 Rochester New York 219,773 Syracuse New York 146,435 Yonkers New York 196,086 Greensboro North Carolina 223,891 Raleigh North Carolina 276,093 Durham North Carolina 187,035 Fayetteville North Carolina 121,015 Town of Cary North Carolina Winston-Salem North Carolina 185,776 Eugene Oregon 137,893 Salem Oregon 113,240 Akron Ohio 217,074 Dayton Ohio 166,179 Allentown Pennsylvania 106,632 Erie Pennsylvania 103,717 Providence Rhode Island 173,618 Columbia South Carolina 116,278 Sioux Falls South Dakota 123,975 Chattanooga Tennessee 155,554 Clarksville Tennessee 103,455 Knoxville Tennessee 173,890 Abilene Texas 115,930
110 Appendix A (Continued) Amarillo Texas 173,627 Beaumont Texas 113,866 Brownsville Texas 139,722 Carrollton Texas 109,576 Corpus Christi Texas 277,454 Garland Texas 215,768 Grand Prairie Texas 127,427 Irving Texas 191,615 Laredo Texas 176,576 Lubbock Texas 199,564 McAllen Texas 106,414 Mesquite Texas 124,523 Pasadena Texas 141,674 Plano Texas 222,030 Waco Texas 113,726 Wichita Falls Texas 104,197 Provo Utah 105,166 Salt Lake City Utah 181,743 West Valley City Utah 108,896 Alexandria Virginia 128,283 Chesapeake Virginia 199,184 Newport News Virginia 180,150 Richmond Virginia 197,790 Arlington County Virginia 189,453 Hampton Virginia 146,437 Norfolk Virginia 234,403 Portsmouth Virginia 100,565 Bellevue Washington 109,569 Spokane Washington 195,629 Tacoma Washington 193,556 Vancouver Washington 143,560 Green Bay Wisconsin 102,313 Madison Wisconsin 208,054
111 Appendix B: Participant Emails
112 Appendix B: Participant Emails Invitation Email Text Email Title: Government Public Re lations Survey (Sent March 31, 2006) Dear Government Communicator, We are conducting a survey, and your response would be appreciated. Here is a link to the survey: [HTML Survey Link] Thanks for your participation, Joelle Castelli, Univers ity of South Florida, Master's Student Please note: If you do not wish to receive fu rther emails from us please click the link below, and you will be automatically removed from our mailing list. [HTML Remove Link] Reminder Email Text Email Title : Last Request--Please Help (Sent August 31, 2006) Dear Government Communicator, We are conducting a survey on local govern ment and public relations. Your response would be appreciated. Here is a link to the survey: [HTML Survey Link] Thanks for your participation, Joelle Castelli, University of South Florida, Master's Student Please note: If you do not wish to receive fu rther emails from us please click the link below, and you will be automatically removed from our mailing list. [HTML Remove Link]
113 Appendix B (Continued) Spam Blocker/Alternative Means Email Email Title : Government Public Relations Survey (Sent September 12, 2006) Greetings fellow governme nt communicators: I am the Assistant Director of Public Communications for th e City of Clearwater. I am also a Masters student at the University of South Florida. I am completing my thesis and am surveying directors of communicati ons departments for cities with populations between 100,000 to 299,999 residents. I have previously sent you a survey via a research company called surveymonkey.com I understand that many municipalities have spam blockers that do not allow fo r emails from this company. They are a reputable survey company and your privacy is guaranteed. If you have not received any invitations to take my survey and you would be willing to take it, I appreciate your time. You can fill out the attached survey by 1) filling in the blanks and emailing it back, 2) printing the attached word file and faxing it back to me at 727-562-4696 or 3) I can resend you an invi tation to take the survey electronically (please let me know if you want this invitation again). [Attached Microsoft Word file: Government PR Survey 2005.doc] Of the 180 survey requests I have sent, I have had 50 people complete the survey. I have some interesting results that I woul d be happy to share when I am complete. Thanks for your time and consideration. Joelle Castelli City of Clearwater Public Communications Phone (727) 562-4881 Cell (727) 224-7034
114 Appendix C: Questionnaire
115 Appendix C: Questionnaire Joelle Castelli, a University of South Florida School of Mass Communications Masters student, is conducting this study as part of her thesis on Government Public Relations. You are being asked to participate because you are in charge of public relations or communications for a municipality with between 100,000 and 299,999 residents. Your comments are important and your participation is voluntary. You will not be paid for participat ing in this study. This survey should take approximately 20 minutes to complete. By taking part in this research study, you may increase our overall knowledge of how public relations is practiced in local governments. We will not ask you for your name or any personal information other than minor facts (i.e. age and gender). Your privacy and research records will be kept confidential to the extent of the law. Au thorized research personnel, employees of the Department of Health and Human Serv ices, and the USF Institutional Review Board may inspect the records from this rese arch project. Because this is a public study there are no risks to you. Please take a few minutes and fill out the questionnaire and return it to me via email. If you would prefer to return the document by mail, that too is possible. If you have specific questions about the st udy that you would like us to answer before (or after) completing the questionnair e, please feel free to contact me at: email@example.com or (813) 238-8689. If you have questions about your rights as a person taking part in a research study, you may contact the Division of Research Compliance of the Universit y of South Florid a at (813) 974-5638. The first set of questions asks about your relations hip, as the head of a co mmunications or public relations department, to senior management. 1. Does the highest ranking person in your department report directly to the most senior manager in the organization? Yes_____(go to Q4) No_____ (Go to Q2) 2. (If your answer to Q1 was no) Does an indire ct reporting relationship exist, then, from the communications department to the most senior manager (for example, in which the department reports directly on some ma tters but not all) Yes_____(go to Q4) No_____ (Go to Q3) (If your answer to Q2 was no) Does the department then report to: 3. A senior manager who in turn reports to the most senior manager? Yes_____ No_____ 4. A more junior level of management? Yes_____ No_____
116 Appendix C (Continued) Rate your departments contribution to each of the following functions in your organization: Always Involved Mostly Involved Sometimes Involved Rarely Involved Never Involved 5. Strategic planning. 5 4 3 2 1 6. Response to major social issues. 5 4 3 2 1 7. Major initiatives (e.g. new developments, services, and programs). 5 4 3 2 1 8. Routine operations (e.g. development and maintenance of employee communication, community relations, or media relations programs). 5 4 3 2 1 9. Crisis communication pl anning and response. 5 4 3 2 1 10. Does your department makes any contribution to strategic planning and decision making? ___yes ____no (If no, go to Q 15.) Rate how often you feel your department contributes to strategic planning and decision making through each of the following activities: Always Involved Mostly Involved Sometimes Involved Rarely Involved Never Involved 11. Conducting routine research. 5 4 3 2 1 12. Conducting specific res earch to answer specific questions. 5 4 3 2 1 13. Conducting formal information gathering for use in decision making other than research. 5 4 3 2 1 14. Conducting informal information gathering. 5 4 3 2 1 15. Making contact with opinion leaders outside the organization. 5 4 3 2 1 Rate how you feel your organizations most senior executives support the public relations or communication function. These executives, who make most of the policy decisions, are sometimes referred to as the dominant coalition. Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree 16. My organization gives us all the support needed for our department to be successful. 5 4 3 2 1 17. In my opinion, my department is among the most valuable departments in our organization. 5 4 3 2 1 18. My organizations dominant coalition thinks my department is among the most valuable departments in our organization. 5 4 3 2 1 Give your opinion on how the following statements describe how public relations is conducted in your organization as a whole: Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree 19. In our organization, public relations and publicity mean essentially the same thing. PA 5 4 3 2 1 20. In our work, public relations is more of a neutral disseminator of information than an advocate for the organization. PI 5 4 3 2 1 21. Before starting a public relations program, we look at attitude surveys to make sure we describe our organization and our policies in ways our publics are most likely to accept. 2S 5 4 3 2 1 22. In our work, public relati ons provides mediation to help our managers and their publics negotiate conflicts. 2S 5 4 3 2 1
117 Appendix C (Continued) 23. The purpose of public relations is to get publicity for our organization. PA 5 4 3 2 1 24. In public relations, we disseminate accurate information but we do not volunteer unfavorable information. PI 5 4 3 2 1 25. Before beginning a public relations program, we conduct research to determine public attitude toward our organization and how those attitudes might be changed. 2A 5 4 3 2 1 26. The purpose of public relations is to change the attitudes and behaviors of our management as much as it is to change the attitudes of the publics they affect. 2S 5 4 3 2 1 27. In public relations, we mostly attempt to get favorable publicity into the mass media and to keep unfavorable publicity out. PA 5 4 3 2 1 28. Keeping a news clipping is about the only way we have to determine the success of our programs. PI 5 4 3 2 1 29. After completing a public relations program, we conduct research to determine how effective the program has been in changing peoples attitudes. 2A 5 4 3 2 1 30. Before starting a public relations program, we conduct surveys or informal research to find out how much our management and their publics understand each other. 2A 5 4 3 2 1 31. We determine how successful our communication campaign is by the number of people who attend an event or use a new service. PA 5 4 3 2 1 32. In our workplace, nearly everyone is so busy writing news stories or producing publications that there is no time to do research. PI 5 4 3 2 1 33. In public relations, our broad goal is to persuade publics to behave as our organization wants them to behave. 2A 5 4 3 2 1 34. The purpose of public relations is to develop mutual understanding between our management and the publics they affect. 2S 5 4 3 2 1 The next series of questions ask about your role in the communications department and the kind of expertise your department has. Rate how often you do each of the following items. Do not score items highly if others in the department do them, but you do not. Please give your best possible answer to each question. Almost Always Most of the Time Sometime Rarely Never 35. I produce brochures, pamphlets and other publications. T 5 4 3 2 1 36. I create opportunities for management to hear the views of internal and external publics. CL 5 4 3 2 1 37. I take responsibility for the success or failure of my organizations communication or public relations programs. M 5 4 3 2 1 38. I am the person who writes communication materials. T 5 4 3 2 1 39. I maintain media contacts for my organization. MR 5 4 3 2 1 40. I make communication policy decisions for my organization. M 5 4 3 2 1 41. I observe that others in the organization hold me accountable for the success or failure of communication or public relations programs. M 5 4 3 2 1
118 Appendix C (Continued) 42. I keep others in the organization informed of what the media reports about our city and important industry issues. MR 5 4 3 2 1 43. Although I dont make communication policy decisions, I provide decisi on makers with suggestions, recommendation, and plans. CL 5 4 3 2 1 44. I do photography and graphics for communications materials. T 5 4 3 2 1 45. I am responsible fo r placing news releases. MR 5 4 3 2 1 46. I edit or review grammar and spelling in materials written by other departments. T 5 4 3 2 1 47. Because of my experience and training, others consider me the organiza tions expert in solving communication or public relations problems. M 5 4 3 2 1 48. I am a senior counsel to top decision makers when communication or public relations issues are involved. CL 5 4 3 2 1 49. I use my journalistic ski lls to figure out what the media will consider newsworthy about our organization. MR 5 4 3 2 1 From an organizational standpoint, rate the level of expertise your department has in each of the following areas: Highly Experienced Experienced Some Experience Little Experience No Experience 50. Determining how publics react to the organization. 2S 5 4 3 2 1 51. Negotiating with activist groups. 2S 5 4 3 2 1 52. Managing people. M ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 53. Conducting evaluation research. M ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 54. Providing objective information about your organization. PI MODEL 5 4 3 2 1 55. Producing publications. T ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 56. Convincing a reporter to publicize your organization. PA 5 4 3 2 1 57. Using theories of conflict resolution in dealing with publics. 2S 5 4 3 2 1 58. Writing an advertisement. T ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 59. Taking photography. T ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 60. Understanding the news values of journalism. PI 5 4 3 2 1 61. Getting your organizations name into the media. PA 5 4 3 2 1 62. Writing speeches. T ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 63. Keeping bad publicity from a staged event. PA 5 4 3 2 1 64. Developing goals and objectives for your department. M ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 65. Producing audio/vis uals (graphics, slides shows, videos, radio spots). T ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 66. Preparing a departmental budget. M ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 67. Using attitude theory in a campaign. 2A 5 4 3 2 1 68. Manipulating publics scientifically. 2A 5 4 3 2 1 69. Getting maximum publicity from a staged event. PA 5 4 3 2 1
119 Appendix C (Continued) 70. Performing environmental scanning. M ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 71. Writing news releases and feature articles. T ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 72. Developing strategies for solving public relations and communication problems. M ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 73. Preparing news stories that reporters will use. PI 5 4 3 2 1 74. Creating and managing a speakers bureau T ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 75. Helping management to understand the opinion of particular publics. 2S 5 4 3 2 1 76. Using research to segment publics. M ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 77. Managing the organizations response to issues. M ROLE 5 4 3 2 1 78. Performing as journalists inside your organization. PI 5 4 3 2 1 79. Persuading a public that your organization is right on an issue. 2A 5 4 3 2 1 Rate the following statements as they related to your organizations experience with activist groups: Strongly Agree Agree Somewhat Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 80. My organization has received tremendous pressure from outside activist groups. 5 4 3 2 1 Think of a recent or typical case when an activist group pressured your organization. Rate how the following statements describe that situation: Strongly Agree Agree Somewhat Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 81. The activist group was successful at reaching their goal. 5 4 3 2 1 82. My organization was successful at reaching its goal. 5 4 3 2 1 83. The entire organization, including senior management and other employees, was involved in the response to the activist group. 5 4 3 2 1 84. My organization researched the activist group in our response to their pressure. 5 4 3 2 1 85. A special program was developed to respond to the activist group. 5 4 3 2 1 86. The activist group had direct involvement in planning our organizations response to them. 5 4 3 2 1 87. My organization always evaluates its response to activist groups. 5 4 3 2 1 88. Where do you tend to find out about activist pr essure on your organization? (check all that apply) _____ The activist group itself. _____ Media coverage. _____ Others in your organization. _____ Other source ___________________ _____ Other source ___________________ _____ Other source ___________________ 89. Does your organization have a standing committee to deal with issues created by activist groups? _____ Yes _____ No
120 Appendix C (Continued) 90. Who within the organization is responsible for dealing with activist groups? (check all that apply) _____ The City Manager/ Chief Appointed Officer. _____ The Mayor/Elected Official. _____ The head of public relations, public affairs or communication. _____ Attorneys. _____ A special department or committee dedicated to activist affairs. _____ Other __________________ 91. How does your organization typically involv e the activist group? (check all that apply) _____ Informal conversation. _____ Part of a special committee. _____ Inclusion on a Board. _____ Other ____________ _____ Other ____________ Please take a moment to answer the remaining demographic questions. 92. How many people are in your department/division?________________________________ 93. What is the title of your departmen t/division?_____________________________________ 94. What is the title of your position? ______________________________________________ 95. What is the highest level of education you have attained? High School_____ Some college or technical school classes_____ Associates Degree_____ Bachelors Degree_____ Masters Degree_____ 96. Gender: Male _____ Female _____ 97. Age: _____ Thank you for taking the time to part icipate in this important study.