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How The Commissioner Used Public Relations To Promote The NFL
Manuscript submitted to
Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication
2006 National Convention, San Francisco, CA
William B. Anderson
University of Scranton
Department of Communication
University of Scranton
St. Thomas Hall
Scranton, PA 18510-4592
Office phone: 570.941.4131
Office fax: 570.941.7873
E-mail: [log in to unmask]
This study on former National Football League Commissioner Pete
Rozelle presents a unique opportunity to examine how an
organizational leader with PR work experience managed a business
operation. Rozelle used his public relations background to help make
the NFL America's number one sport (in terms of revenue and in fan
polling). Rozelle's work was analyzed with a methodology developed by
Irwin, Zwick & Sutton (1999), which offered a multidimensional
approach to help measure organizational performance.
Alvin Ray ("Pete") Rozelle became commissioner of the National
Football League (NFL) in 1960, when the league was "still mostly a
ragtag collection of motley entrepreneurs with no common aspiration
and no real national following" (Kindred, 1999). The fragmented
owners also faced external pressure in the form of the newly
developed American Football League (AFL), bankrolled by one of the
richest men in America, Lamar Hunt. By 1966, Rozelle had put an end
to unprofitable competition by brokering a merger with the AFL and by
convincing the NFL owners to share television revenue equally.
Rozelle's moves helped create a cartel that saw the league's revenues
climb from less than $20 million in 1960 (Lewis, 1998) to $5.2
billion in revenues by the end of the 2004 season (Maske & Heath, 2005, A1).
Rozelle's machinations are important to the field of public relations
because before becoming NFL commissioner, he was a sports public
relations professional. At the collegiate level he was athletic news
director at University of San Francisco, at the NFL level he was the
Los Angeles Ram's publicity director, and at the international level
he was a partner in the public relations firm P.K. Macker and Co. At
Macker and Co., Rozelle did public relations work for the 1956
Olympic Games in Melbourne on behalf of the Victoria Promotion
Committee, the Australian government body overseeing the Games. Few
public relations practitioners rise to the level of head of an
organization or trade association such as the NFL; therefore, this
study presents a unique opportunity to examine how an organizational
leader with public relations work experience managed a business
operation. This study demonstrated how Rozelle used his public
relations background to help make the NFL America's number one sport
(in terms of revenue and in fan polling). Rozelle's work was analyzed
with a methodology developed by Irwin, Zwick & Sutton (1999), which
offered a multidimensional approach to help measure organizational
Researchers have primarily concentrated on the one-dimensional
identification of marketing efforts to determine their effectiveness
for sports organizations in a specific environment (see, e.g., Hansen
& Gauthier, 1989; Mawson & Coan, 1994; Wakefield & Sloan, 1995;
Zygmont & Leadley, 2005). Irwin et al. (1999) argued for a
multidimensional methodology to identify the criteria which
contribute to successful or "excellent" marketing management. The
authors relied on the Peters & Waterman (1982) study, which found
that "excellent" enterprises possessed eight common attributes. Then,
they applied the EXCEL instrument, developed by Sharma et. al. (1990)
to operationalize the Peters & Waterman attributes, to sports
marketing performance. Following are the eight common attributes of
"excellent" organizations and the corresponding statements from the
* Productivity through people
o The firm's top level management believes that its people are of
utmost importance to the company.
o The firm truly believes in its people.
* Autonomy and entrepreneurship
o The firm encourages employees to develop new ideas.
o The firm's top management creates an atmosphere that encourages
creativity and innovativeness.
o The firm believes in experimenting with new products and ideas.
* Hands on value driven
o The firm instills a value system in all its employees.
o The company's values are the driving force behind its operation.
* Stick to knitting
o The company concentrates in product areas where it has a high level
of skill and expertise.
o The company develops products that are natural extensions of its
* Close to customer
o The firm provides personalized attention to all its customers.
o The firm considers after-the-sale service just as important as
making the sale itself.
* Bias for action
o The firm is flexible and quick to respond to problems.
* Simple form and lean staff
o The firm has a small staff that delegates authority efficiently.
o The firm has a small but efficient management team.
* Loose-tight properties
o The firm is flexible with employees but administers discipline when
Irwin et al. (1999) saw "excellence or effectiveness" as a "continuum
rather than a dichotomous classification which divides working units
into either 'excellent' or 'non-excellent'" (p.317); therefore, they
asked survey respondents to react to the EXCEL instrument statements
using a five-point Likert scale. Responses were matched to
performance standards such as attendance, ticket sales, renewal
rates, sponsorship and/or advertising sales to assess the
relationship between measures of excellence and performance.
Although Irwin et al. used these variables to create a quantitative
measure, this study will apply these principles to guide the study of
a historical case. One of the criticisms of the Peters & Waterman
(1982) study is that while some of the companies defined as excellent
in their work, such as Intel and Johnson & Johnson, were still strong
decades later, others, such as Atari and Digitial Equipment, had
"flamed out" (Gimein, 2000); a historical case study approach avoids
praise for a temporary success story. Although a case study cannot be
generalized beyond the single case, this approach shows how the Irwin
methodology could be used to measure public relations performance.
The case study method allows the perspective of time to determine how
Rozelle and the NFL did or did not exhibit excellent characteristics
and to determine how the league performed against concrete measures.
The author reviewed the archives of the National Pro Football Hall of
Fame Library (PFHFL) for primary and secondary sources on Pete
Rozelle and the league's business, marketing and public relations
operations to identify and analyze the NFL's "excellence."
Normally, a public relations study using the word "excellence" would
refer to Grunig's (1992) work. Grunig (1992) suggested that most
organizations with reputations of excellent communication practices
used the two-way symmetric approach; however, later research
acknowledged that many of today's most effective and most highly
regarded public relations practitioners rely heavily on two-way
asymmetric techniques (Dozier, Grunig & Grunig, 1995). Thus, Dozier,
Grunig & Grunig (1995) discussed a mixed motive model that combined
asymmetrical practices with the two-way symmetrical model. Other
authors have discussed the problems with associating "excellent"
public relations with symmetrical principles (see, e.g., Cancel,
Cameron, Sallot, & Mitrook, 1997; Leichty, 1997; Murphy, 1991). This
study, on the other hand, is not an attack on the excellence theory;
rather, it is simply designed to examine how marketing measures could
be applied to public relations using a multidimensional approach.
While the Irwin methodology matched Peters & Waterman's "excellence"
attributes against performance standards, Grunig's excellence theory
focused on a single dimension, namely the concept of symmetry (even
the "mixed motive" model hinges on symmetry). This study, then,
concentrated on how Rozelle did or did not incorporate Peters &
Waterman's "excellence" attributes as operationalized in the Irwin
methodology to succeed in concrete measures such as attendance,
broadcast contracts and ratings, and fan polling.
Upon taking office, Rozelle began to immediately revamp the NFL's
relationship with the media. With his background in public relations,
he, MacCambridge (2004) said, "understood the inner workings of mass
communication with a level of sophistication that his predecessor
could not have matched" (p. 156). In the spring of 1960, he called
the first meeting of the league's publicity directors, and reached an
agreement with the league's aging public relations director Joe
Labrum that he would serve in his capacity for one more year and then retire.
Productivity through people
Peters & Waterman (1982) found that excellent companies "trust its
people" and see employees as the primary source of productivity gains
(p. 237). Rozelle understood that part of his job was to put the
right people in the right place. This was especially true in the
public relations department where he replaced Labrum with Jim Kensil.
Kensil was an Associated Press correspondent who wrote a weekly
sports media column called "the Sports Dial." By 1961, the column had
grown in influence, especially in the sports television industry.
Rozelle was convinced that Kensil could help orchestrate the more
sophisticated and aggressive approach he wanted for the league's
press relations. Kensil beat him to the punch, saying, "What you need
there is somebody like me. I'd like to run your show" (Felser, 1989).
As Kensil wrote in a letter to a friend, "I couldn't do public
relations for garden tools, cosmetics or garbage disposals, but pro
football is another matter. I can believe in it" (Kensil, 1961).
In the years ahead, Kensil became Rozelle's most trusted office
adviser, confidant, and sounding board. In 1965, Rozelle promoted
Kensil to executive director, the second in command to the
commissioner (NFL release, n.d.), demonstrating with this promotion
how much the commissioner trusted Kensil's counsel. Kensil had the
opportunity to earn Rozelle's trust and respect because the
commissioner granted him autonomy over the public relations
department. The next section details how Kensil responded to this
autonomy with entrepreneurship.
Autonomy and entrepreneurship
Peters & Waterman (1982) argued that excellent companies "encourage
the entrepreneurial spirit among their people" (p. 201). Kensil
showed this spirit in how he increased the quality of information the
NFL distributed to all media outlets. He used new breakthroughs in
Teletype capability at the major wire services (distributing news
stories would no longer require a typesetter to retype them for use
in a local paper), sending extensive weekly NFL statistics to
hundreds of newspapers instead of a handful. To capitalize on the
heightened interest in the game, he started giving newspapers editors
a steady diet of NFL preview and statistical features and beginning
in 1961 ran a weekly "capsule preview" of each game played in the
Before the 1961 season began, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Jack Sell
noted that Kensil had "started a long-needed flow of information
about the various players, accenting personalities rather than
statistics" (Sell, 1961). Kensil's "handouts," as he called them, not
only provided the media with more to write about, but also did so in
a professionally written format without any obvious boosterism. This
entrepreneurship led to increased media coverage, with some
newspapers simply running Kensil's press releases verbatim
(MacCambridge, 2004, p. 158). Newspapers were not alone in covering
the game. According to the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature,
seven articles related to professional football appeared in
periodicals in 1960; that number had risen to 94 by 1989.
The public relations department thrived in media relations because
Rozelle gave it the environment and financial resources to do so.
"Pete [Rozelle] is the reason we are successful," said Don Weiss,
Kensil's successor to the public relations director position. "He
gives us the money we need" ("NFL publicists rank no.1," 1971).
Hands on value driven
The NFL public relations department was also successful because its
practitioners were clear on the organization's goals, and how they
could help the league accomplish those goals. An excellent company,
Peters & Waterman (1982) said, is "clear what it stands for, and
takes the process of value shaping seriously" (p. 280). Rozelle's
goal for the NFL – besides making money – was to position the game as
an escape valve. Rozelle said, "Football is a game; it should be
something to enjoy and to keep in the proper perspective. All it does
is temporarily keep our minds off the serious problems of the day"
In promoting this game, the public relations department's
responsibility was to work effectively with the sporting press.
Rozelle (1990) said, "Coming from a public relations background, one
of my greatest pleasures in professional football was dealing with
the media" (p. 12). With this in mind, Don Weiss summed up his job in
one sentence, "We are here to answer [media] questions and to give a
straight answer. Some owners and commissioners are different about
the truth. Pete isn't. He wants us to level with the press" ("NFL
publicists rank no.1," 1971). The NFL public relations person's job
was to make sure the sporting press could do their jobs – endorse
professional football with their coverage of the game. With this in
mind, NFL public relations personnel had to live by the "Press Box
1. THOU SHALT NOT ENTER: The press box is for working press. Every
effort should be made to bar unauthorized persons.
2. THOU SHALT NOT LEAVE: The home team public relations director, or
his assistant, should be available at all times. He should be first
to enter and last to leave. The visiting team PR director should
offer his services and be available when necessary.
3. THOU SHALT NOT BEND: The home team public relations director
should have authority and complete control over all facets of
operation and all facilities of the press box.
4. THOU SHALT NOT CHEER
5. THOU SHALT NOT LOSE FAITH: Regardless [of] the halftime
score...the public relations director must smile...be pleasant...and
be positive...and exude enthusiasm. The press box is loaded with
image-makers. Your image is important (Report, 1968).
Rozelle and his public relations department understood the importance
of the media in promoting game to fans. The sports media rewarded
this understanding with increased coverage of the NFL. The amount of
interest in the sport by newspapers can be seen in the coverage of
the Super Bowl. The number of media credentials for writers for the
first Super Bowl in 1967 numbered 338, with more given to
photographers and broadcasters, and rose to about 2,500 for Super
Bowl XXIII in 1989 (Rozelle's last year as NFL commissioner)
Rozelle and his public relations staff also understood the importance
of television broadcasting to the sport's popularity. Former Dallas
Cowboys president and general manager Tex Schramm said, "Pete
understood marketing, publicity – the value of them, the elements
that were going to be major factors as TV grew. We just joined hands
with TV and grew with it" (Gildea, 1995).
Stick to knitting
Peters & Waterman (1982) maintained that companies that "stick close
to their knitting [core competencies] outperform" other firms (p.
293). One of the "core competencies" of the NFL was how well the game
translated to the television set (Helyar, 1995, p. 65). Powers (1984)
said, "Rozelle's intuition told him that football actually read
better on the small, selective videoscreen than it did in the
stadium" (p. 173). Therefore, the commissioner and his public
relations staff developed a symbiotic relationship with the
television networks. Kindred (1999) said, "Before any other sports
leader, Rozelle recognized the benefits of a partnership with
national television networks. And better than anyone since, Rozelle
nurtured that partnership."
Pete Rozelle's early years as commissioner were highlighted by his
negotiation of a package deal that put the NFL exclusively on one
network and brought each team an equal share of TV revenues. By 1960,
CBS held contracts for nine of the 12 NFL teams, each individually
negotiated and ranging from a high of $175,000 for the New York
Giants to a low of $75,000 for the Green Bay Packers. (MacCambridge,
2004, p. 171) The challenge for Rozelle was to convince teams such as
Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore, all earning more money than the
other teams, that the league would be better by splitting the money
equally among all the teams, a move certain to cost some clubs money
in the short run. "The big-city people – Halas, Reeves, the Maras –
went along," said Rozelle. "If Green Bay lost its television money,
they wouldn't have a balanced league. It was an altruistic decision
on their part" (MacCambridge, 2004, p. 172). Lewis (1998) said, "One
morning the three major television networks woke up and found not a
collection of individual teams competing with one another to sell
their broadcast rights, but a single entity with a growing sense of its value."
Rozelle signed a contract between the NFL and CBS in which the league
pooled the television package and shared the revenues. It was quickly
struck down by the federal courts as a violation of anti-trust law.
Rozelle and his public relations staff went to Congress for relief.
Congress responded with the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 allowing
the sale of television rights by the league rather than individual
franchises. After the passage of this bill, Rozelle negotiated a
$4.65 million per year contract with CBS in 1962 and later a $14
million per year contract in 1964. By 1982, those numbers had risen
to a five-year $2 billion contract with the three networks (Powers,
1984, p. 190). In 1987, the NFL announced contracts with ABC, CBS,
and NBC, as well as the first contract with a cable network (ESPN)
that would net the league $440 million a year.
"When the networks put up as much money as they did for the rights,
they felt they had to promote the game," said NFL spokesman Joe
Browne. "And by promoting the game, the game grew" (Lewis, 1998). The
NFL office helped the networks promote professional football and the
broadcasts, including working with CBS to present "Pro Football
Explosion – The Story of the National Football League," an hour-long
network show; developing a national 15-minute show featuring Tom
Brookshier, a defensive back of the Philadelphia Eagles, to be
broadcast before games each week; and producing a half-hour show
featuring outstanding plays in all seven games of the previous Sunday
titled "NFL Highlights" for broadcast on NBC (NFL release, 1962b).
Rozelle also developed other broadcast tools to promote the game,
such as NFL Films. This unit began when Rozelle had to sell
filmmaking rights to the league's 1962 championship game. The usual
half-hour films had press box views of big plays, presented in
chronological order, accompanied by marching band music, and a voice
over. Ed Sabol won the rights to film the game and used eight cameras
instead of four, zoom lenses and slow motion to provide more
intimacy, more dramatic music, and more sharply defined narration.
Rozelle called it the "best football film I've ever seen"
(MacCambridge, 2004, p. 183). After also shooting the 1963 and 1964
championship games, Sabol proposed the NFL bring his motion picture
company (called Blair Motion Pictures) in house as a promotional
vehicle. Rozelle agreed and convinced the owners agreed to pay
$20,000 each to buy the company and rename it NFL Films. In 1965 NFL
Films sent two camera crews to each game and many CBS affiliates
bought a weekly syndicated feature called the NFL Game of the Week.
Close to customer
One of the reasons why the NFL "stuck to its knitting" was because it
understood its customer base. Peters & Waterman (1982) said that
excellent companies do not just talk about getting to know the
customer – they do it (p. 157). Rozelle knew his customer base. He
said, "People are interested in pro football because it provides them
with an emotional oasis … [We are a] popular escape valve"
(Linderman, 1973). The sports media coverage and broadcasts of the
game facilitated, MacCambridge (2004) said, "the profligate
documentation that would bring about the self-mythologizing of pro
football" (p. 183).
In addition to the sports media, Rozelle used the National Football
League Properties, Inc. (NFL Properties), founded in 1963, as a
vehicle to expand the prestige and profile of the league. NFL
Properties was the licensing arm of the league, ensuring the quality
and distribution of NFL team paraphernalia such as bobble head dolls
and seat cushions with team logos. It also sponsored youth sports
competitions and leagues to immerse the sport into local communities.
Until the 1960s, MacCambridge (2004) said, "sports had been something
to do, something to read about, or something to watch. … With NFL
Properties it became a kind of extended lifestyle choice" (p. 185).
The NFL also showed its community commitment and involvement in 1973
when it created NFL Charities, which took monies generated from NFL
Properties' licensing of NFL trademarks and team names. NFL Charities
was set up to support education and charitable activities and to
supply economic support to persons formerly associated with
professional football who were no longer able to support themselves.
Bias for action
A few years into Rozelle's tenure as commissioner the NFL had become
a marketing machine, recognizing the importance of the sports media
and ingratiating itself into the local community. The growing size of
the league held one danger, according to Peters & Waterman (1982),
the possibility of inertia. The NFL under Rozelle avoided this
apathy, even after the league merged with the AFL in 1966 – creating
a professional football monopoly in the United States. Once the two
leagues merged, Rozelle recognized a new opportunity – the potential
marketing bonanza that would become the Super Bowl. In 1967, the
winners of the NFL and the AFL championship games (the Green Bay
Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs respectively) met in the first
World Championship Game (it would not be called the Super Bowl into
the third meeting between the two leagues). Rozelle envisioned the
Super Bowl growing into more than a three-hour game. "Pete believed
it should be an event, an experience," Tex Schramm said. "He went for
the spectacular" (Horn, 1997).
One way Rozelle did this was by scheduling the Super Bowl two weeks,
instead of one week, after the league championship games. He did
this, Crepeau (1996) said, "to manipulate the press, lobby the
politicians, and stroke the fat cats of American business." For the
first Super Bowl, Rozelle gave his public relations staff $250,000 to
entertain the media, including outings to Santa Anita Racetrack and
Disneyland the day before the game. Public relations staffer Mickey
Herskowitz said, "Pete said, when the press left the first world
championship game he wanted to hear them saying, 'Man, this is a lot
better than the World Series'" (MacCambridge, 2004, p. 240). By the
sixth Super Bowl, the NFL had developed Media Day, when during a
four-hour period the Tuesday before the game, the media (now nearly
1,000) had access to all the players and coaches on both teams
participating in the game (MacCambridge, 2004, p. 303). By creating a
"super" game and by catering to the media in its coverage of that
game, Rozelle helped create a financial windfall for the league, with
the 2005 Super Bowl generating $140 million in television advertising
revenue from and an additional $40 million in ticket sales ("NFL
Owners' Greed…," 2005).
Simple form and lean staff
Despite the growing size of the league (in terms of revenue and
number of teams) and although Rozelle placed a heavy emphasis on
public relations, he kept a simple hierarchical structure in regards
to that department. Peters & Waterman (1982) said that excellent
companies have simple organizational structures that offer
flexibility to respond to changing environments (p. 308). Public
relations in the NFL Office had an almost unobstructed path to the
commissioner's ear. According to a 1968 Rozelle memo, the public
relations department head forwarded all correspondence to the
executive director (former public relations director Jim Kensil), who
decided what information the commissioner needed to see. In the same
memo, the physical location of the public relations offices indicated
their status – the AFL public relations office was located next to
AFL president, and the NFL public relations office was located next
to NFL president (Rozelle, 1968).
The same 1968 Rozelle memo also outlined the responsibilities of the
NFL public relations department, which the commissioner tried to keep
clear and straightforward. According to the memo, the unit:
* was "responsible for issuing statements from Commissioner and for
issuing releases concerning activities conducted by Commissioner's
Office – meetings, draft, World Championship Game, inter-league
functions, et cetera."
* "Prepares background information in areas of pro football policy
and prepares notes on various topics for use of staff members making
talks or speeches."
* "deals with inter-league information and in explanation of policy
and administrative news to media, rather than the dissemination of
news of the playing field." (this to differentiate from the duties
handled by individual team public relations practitioners)
* was "in charge of all credentials and press arrangements for the
World Championship Game…." (Rozelle, 1968, p. 3)
Rozelle gave his public relations staff autonomy but wanted clear
guidelines. Excellent companies, Peters & Waterman (1982) contended,
were "rigidly controlled, yet at the same time allow… autonomy,
entrepreneurship, and innovation from the rank and file" (p. 318).
When NFL and AFL public relations staffs merged along with the
leagues, Rozelle had the practitioners meet to discuss how to
consolidate operations. The AFL and NFL PR directors agreed to
integrate media lists, provide "AFL writers" (those writers in cities
with AFL teams) with NFL stats and vice versa, combine press
directories, and produce an annual guide that covered both leagues
(Report, 1969). The publicity directors also agreed that AFL and NFL
teams would use the same statistical forms supplied to the media, AFL
and NFL teams would exchange press releases, and AFL and NFL teams
would send each other at least five team press guides (Report, 1969).
Kindred (1999) said, "On [Rozelle's] watch, the NFL developed the
most successful marketing strategies and tactics in sports history.
From NFL Films to the Super Bowl, from licensing of team logos to
building of new stadiums, the NFL under Rozelle created concepts that
built brand-name recognition even as they produced immediate
revenues." This study shows how Rozelle used public relations – and
Peters & Waterman's excellent principles – to increase the status and
prestige of the NFL. Rozelle, however, did not want to rely on
opinion when evaluating the league's public relations and marketing
efforts. Rozelle said: "The only clear barometers by which we can
judge [ourselves] are TV ratings and attendance… Another measurement
we use is the public-opinion poll, which we take periodically"
Under Rozelle's leadership, the average attendance at an NFL game
rose from 40,106 in 1960 (his first year as commissioner) to 60,829
in 1989 (his last year as commissioner). Total attendance rose from
3,128,296 in 1960 to 13,625,662 in 1989.
In addition to attending games in increasing numbers, more and more
fans turned on their television sets to see the NFL. In the early
1960s, CBS executives reported 8.7 ratings for NFL games (Rosenblum,
1964). By 1980, all three networks showed NFL games, with CBS, ABC,
and NBC garnering 20.8, 15.3, and 15.0 ratings respectively. In 1981,
ABC and CBS set all-time rating highs: ABC finished with a 21.7
rating and CBS with a 17.5 rating. In 1982, the CBS telecast of Super
Bowl XVI achieved the highest rating of any televised sports event
ever, 49.1 with a 73.0 share; the game was viewed by a record 110.2
million fans. In 1989, NBC's telecast of Super Bowl XXIII was watched
by an estimated 110,780,000 viewers, making it the sixth most-watched
program in television history. The game was seen live or on tape in
60 foreign countries, including an estimated 300 million in China.
Polls conducted by Louis Harris & Associates (Harris) also confirmed
fan support for the NFL. Harris surveyed 3,000 households in October
1965 and found that "football had become America's no. 1 sport. The
previous April, football had finished second to baseball as the
nation's favorite pastime" (Louis Harris, 1965). Throughout Rozelle's
tenure, football maintained its lead on baseball in fan surveys as
America's top sport. When a 1989 Harris poll asked 1,011 adults, "If
you had to choose, which ONE of these sports would you say is your
favorite?" 26 percent said football and 19 percent said baseball.
When asked "Please tell me which of these sports you follow," 62
percent said football and 55 percent said baseball (Taylor, 2003).
The NFL did encounter some image problems on Rozelle's watch – e.g.,
playing games the Sunday after JFK's death and the 1982 labor strike
– however, MacCambridge (2004) said, "The NFL didn't merely sell a
game, it created a full force public relations strategy to bring the
game to America" (p. 181). And, according to concrete measures such
as fan polling, game-day attendance, and television ratings, this
public relations strategy must be considered successful.
Although this study cannot be generalized beyond the boundaries of
this particular case, it does offer a paradigm with which to examine
other historical case studies. Researchers could use the Irwin
methodology to evaluate public relations efforts. Scholars could
examine whether or not a firm's top management believed that its
people were of utmost importance to the company ("productivity
through people") by examining if a firm backed this philosophy by
creating an atmosphere that encouraged creativity and innovativeness
("autonomy and entrepreneurship"), as well as instilling a value
system in all its employees that was the driving force behind its
operation ("hands on value driven"). Public relations staffers would
be in a position to develop and/or implement programs in these areas.
Researchers could also study if an organization concentrated in areas
where it had a high level of skill and expertise ("stick to
knitting"); success would be indicated by concrete measures such as
sales, after-sale and public opinion surveys, or market share
fluctuation. Public relations might be one part of an overall
marketing program, or the function could be used by itself, in an
attempt to meet organizational goals in such concrete measures.
Success in areas of customer satisfaction could be understood by
seeing if a firm provided personalized attention to all its
customers, and if the firm considered after-the-sale service just as
important as making the sale itself ("close to customer"). Public
relations, while not being the sole contributor to customer
satisfaction, would have an impact on an organization's achievement,
or lack thereof, in this matter.
Researchers could study how, or if, an organization avoided inertia
by determining if the firm was flexible and quick to respond to
problems ("bias for action"), and if they were flexible with
employees but administered discipline when necessary ("loose-tight
properties"). How the organization used public relations in an
information-gathering, boundary-spanning role could be enlightening,
as could how the organization used the function to communicate
solutions to its problems.
Scholars could also examine organizations to see if the firm had a
small but efficient management team that delegated authority
efficiently ("simple form and lean staff"). The physical and symbolic
proximity of the public relations team to upper management, as well
as the size of the public relations force, might offer insights into
the unit's efficiency. In short, the principles discussed by Irwin
et al. could help guide studies of organizations to highlight areas
of success and failures, and offer reasons for a particular
Cancel, A.E., Cameron, G.T., Sallot, L.M., & Mitrook, M.A. (1997).
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