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Exploring the Link Between the Concepts of Organization-Public Relationships and Organizational Reputations
Unformatted Document Text:  Tracking Number: ICA-15-10266 4 relations spending leads to a positive reputation, an “intangible asset” for an organization (“PR Week,” 1999, June 28). The new service also allowed public relations firms with additional offerings to provide client companies seeking novel tactics in the economic expansion of the mid-to late 1990s. As Hutton et al.’s (2001) observed, “major international public relations agencies have embraced the concept of reputation management in varying degrees” (p. 248). Among 31 members of the Reputation Institute, public relations firms make up the majority. The other members include two corporate advertising agencies, one brand consulting service, and four market research firms (Deephouse, 2002, p. 10). Weber Shandwick, an international public relations agency, defined reputation management as one of its specialty area. The firm states that it “offers solutions to managing a client’s reputation across all its key stakeholder audiences, including consumers, employees, communities and public officials” (“Weber Shandwick,” 2001). Fombrun (1996), an editor of Corporate Reputation Review and founder of the Reputation Institute, stressed relationships as a prerequisite for a reputation: “To acquire a reputation that is positive, enduring, and resilient requires managers to invest heavily in building and maintaining good relationships [italics added] with their company’s constituents” (p. 57). Nevertheless, reputation scholars tend to marginalize public relations by subordinating the practice of public relations under a new function often called “corporate reputation management.” Dowling (2001, p. viii), for example, asserted that reputation management is too important to be outsourced to public relations firms. Fombrun (1996, p. 197), in conceptualizing a new executive role for reputation management, located public relations as one of many functions that are handled by a chief reputation officer (CRO). Recognizing that, throughout the history of public relations, defining the discipline in practice is the most critical question asked by scholars and practitioners alike (Harlow, 1976; Heath, 2001; Hutton, 1999; J. Grunig & Hung, 2002; J. Grunig & Hunt, 1984; Kruckeberg & Starck, 1988; Starck & Kruckeberg, 2001; Ver i et al., 2001), the question has morphed into a discussion about which concept, reputation or relationship, is the focal point for measuring and determining the value of public relations. Despite the critical nature of examining this question, until J. Grunig and Hung’s (2002) empirical study on the effects of relationships on reputation and reputation on relationships, there has been minimal research on this topic in the public relations literature. The results of J. Grunig and Hung’s (2002) study suggested: “Public relations activities have

Authors: Yang, SungUn. and Mallabo, Jose.
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Tracking Number: ICA-15-10266
4
relations spending leads to a positive reputation, an “intangible asset” for an organization
(“PR Week,” 1999, June 28). The new service also allowed public relations firms with
additional offerings to provide client companies seeking novel tactics in the economic
expansion of the mid-to late 1990s.
As Hutton et al.’s (2001) observed, “major international public relations agencies
have embraced the concept of reputation management in varying degrees” (p. 248). Among
31 members of the Reputation Institute, public relations firms make up the majority. The
other members include two corporate advertising agencies, one brand consulting service, and
four market research firms (Deephouse, 2002, p. 10). Weber Shandwick, an international
public relations agency, defined reputation management as one of its specialty area. The firm
states that it “offers solutions to managing a client’s reputation across all its key stakeholder
audiences, including consumers, employees, communities and public officials” (“Weber
Shandwick,” 2001).
Fombrun (1996), an editor of Corporate Reputation Review and founder of the
Reputation Institute, stressed relationships as a prerequisite for a reputation: “To acquire a
reputation that is positive, enduring, and resilient requires managers to invest heavily in
building and maintaining good relationships [italics added] with their company’s
constituents” (p. 57). Nevertheless, reputation scholars tend to marginalize public relations by
subordinating the practice of public relations under a new function often called “corporate
reputation management.” Dowling (2001, p. viii), for example, asserted that reputation
management is too important to be outsourced to public relations firms. Fombrun (1996, p.
197), in conceptualizing a new executive role for reputation management, located public
relations as one of many functions that are handled by a chief reputation officer (CRO).
Recognizing that, throughout the history of public relations, defining the discipline in
practice is the most critical question asked by scholars and practitioners alike (Harlow, 1976;
Heath, 2001; Hutton, 1999; J. Grunig & Hung, 2002; J. Grunig & Hunt, 1984; Kruckeberg &
Starck, 1988; Starck & Kruckeberg, 2001; Ver i et al., 2001), the question has morphed into
a discussion about which concept, reputation or relationship, is the focal point for measuring
and determining the value of public relations.
Despite the critical nature of examining this question, until J. Grunig and Hung’s
(2002) empirical study on the effects of relationships on reputation and reputation on
relationships, there has been minimal research on this topic in the public relations literature.
The results of J. Grunig and Hung’s (2002) study suggested: “Public relations activities have


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