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Responding to Activism: An Experimental Analysis of Public Relations Strategy Influence on Beliefs, Attitudes, and Behavioral Intentions
Unformatted Document Text:  Responding to Activism (ICA-15-11621) 4 According to Hazleton and Long (1988), it is possible to analyze messages as symbolic communication that contain unique physical, psychological, and social properties. “Physically, messages are tangible stimuli that can be perceived. Psychologically, meanings attributed to messages by receivers can be specified. Socially, significant others influence individual message evaluation processes” (p. 85). Drawing from social change literature by Zaltman and Duncan (1977), Hazleton identified six functions of messages at the psychological level that reflect public relations strategies used by organizations when they communicate with publics. These functions represent the goals of public relations in terms of the impact messages have on audiences and the meanings audiences attribute to messages. Hazleton (1992) used these six functions to develop a taxonomy of public relations strategies that organizations typically use when communicating with publics. The taxonomy includes seven strategies that are labeled: informative, facilitative, persuasive, promise and reward, threat and punishment, bargaining, and cooperative problem-solving. An informative strategy is based on the presentation of unbiased facts. Informative messages do not draw conclusions, but instead presume the public will infer appropriate conclusions from accurate data. Informative messages may suggest a variety of alternative solutions to problems. In addition, they are characterized by the use of neutral language and organic, or natural, patterns of organization to create greater ease of comprehension. Because research indicates that time-on-task and frequency of exposure to messages are positively related to learning, informative strategies are most effective when behavioral change within a target public does not have to occur quickly. Zaltman and Duncan (1977) stated that informative strategies can be effective in enhancing problem recognition; therefore, they may be used to build a foundation for future learning. However, it may not be desirable to mention a specific solution, especially a controversial one, until a clear need has been established. Informative strategies can be effective in creating awareness of a problem and establishing that a known problem can be resolved in a specific way. In addition, when an organization does not possess the resources to sustain a needed long-term involvement, an informative strategy alone will not be effective (p. 132). A facilitative strategy is accomplished by making resources available to a public that allow it to act in ways that it is already predisposed to act. Resources may be tangible artifacts, such as tools or money, or they may be directions for accomplishing specific tasks. According to Zaltman and Duncan (1977), facilitative strategies are useful when the public recognizes a problem, agrees remedial action is needed, is open to external assistance, and is willing to engage in self-help. Facilitative strategies are most effective when used with a program that creates awareness among the public of the availability of assistance. In addition, an organization using a facilitative strategy must determine if the continuation of the strategy will require continued resource expenditures after initial implementation.

Authors: Page, Kelly.
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Responding to Activism (ICA-15-11621)
4
According to Hazleton and Long (1988), it is possible to analyze messages as symbolic
communication that contain unique physical, psychological, and social properties. “Physically, messages
are tangible stimuli that can be perceived. Psychologically, meanings attributed to messages by receivers
can be specified. Socially, significant others influence individual message evaluation processes” (p. 85).
Drawing from social change literature by Zaltman and Duncan (1977), Hazleton identified six
functions of messages at the psychological level that reflect public relations strategies used by
organizations when they communicate with publics. These functions represent the goals of public
relations in terms of the impact messages have on audiences and the meanings audiences attribute to
messages. Hazleton (1992) used these six functions to develop a taxonomy of public relations strategies
that organizations typically use when communicating with publics. The taxonomy includes seven
strategies that are labeled: informative, facilitative, persuasive, promise and reward, threat and
punishment, bargaining, and cooperative problem-solving.
An informative strategy is based on the presentation of unbiased facts. Informative messages do not
draw conclusions, but instead presume the public will infer appropriate conclusions from accurate data.
Informative messages may suggest a variety of alternative solutions to problems. In addition, they are
characterized by the use of neutral language and organic, or natural, patterns of organization to create
greater ease of comprehension.
Because research indicates that time-on-task and frequency of exposure to messages are positively
related to learning, informative strategies are most effective when behavioral change within a target
public does not have to occur quickly. Zaltman and Duncan (1977) stated that informative strategies can
be effective in enhancing problem recognition; therefore, they may be used to build a foundation for
future learning. However, it may not be desirable to mention a specific solution, especially a controversial
one, until a clear need has been established. Informative strategies can be effective in creating awareness
of a problem and establishing that a known problem can be resolved in a specific way. In addition, when
an organization does not possess the resources to sustain a needed long-term involvement, an informative
strategy alone will not be effective (p. 132).
A facilitative strategy is accomplished by making resources available to a public that allow it to act in
ways that it is already predisposed to act. Resources may be tangible artifacts, such as tools or money, or
they may be directions for accomplishing specific tasks. According to Zaltman and Duncan (1977),
facilitative strategies are useful when the public recognizes a problem, agrees remedial action is needed,
is open to external assistance, and is willing to engage in self-help. Facilitative strategies are most
effective when used with a program that creates awareness among the public of the availability of
assistance. In addition, an organization using a facilitative strategy must determine if the continuation of
the strategy will require continued resource expenditures after initial implementation.


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