Graduation Year

2004

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Holtzhausen, Derina R.

Keywords

external stakeholder, public relations measurement, communication, organization-public relationship, email survey

Abstract

This study explores the most current theories surrounding organization-public relationship measurement, which is one approach used to verify the effectiveness of public relations programs. The study attempted to define and test two new factors that may affect organization-public relationships, which are identified as public image and public trust. Existing factors used to test such relationships, such as trust, satisfaction, commitment, and control mutuality, focus on testing the perceptions stakeholders have about an organization based upon their interpersonal relationship with that organization.

However, in organizations where the dominant coalition still does not view public relations as a management function, use of the existing scales to measure the long-term effectiveness of public relations programs can be dangerous and inaccurate, especially when public relations practitioners are not responsible for creating, maintaining, or managing those organization-public relationships. A 65-item questionnaire was administered via email to a convenience sample of 5,799 stakeholders. A total of 1,193 completed questionnaires were received; however, a response rate could not be reported because the questionnaire was posted to a popular Internet site. The survey instrument tested new items for public image and public trust, as well as the existing relationship items of trust, satisfaction, commitment, and control mutuality defined by Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999).

Factor analysis defined two new indices for public image and public trust and Cronbach's alpha further supported the reliability of these measures. Also, Cronbach's alphas tested reliable for trust, satisfaction, commitment, and control mutuality. However, when all items for public image, public trust, trust, satisfaction, commitment, and control mutuality were subject to factor analysis, all but four items weighted into one factor. This suggests the need to further explore new measurement tools for assessing the long-term effectiveness of public relations programs beyond the organization-public relationship.

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