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Phase One

FORMATIVE RESEARCH
Step 1
Analyzing the Situation
Step 2
Analyzing the Organization
Step 3
Analyzing the Publics

Public Relations Situation


Issues Management

Phase One

Step 1
Analyzing the Situation

Step
1

Step 1: Analyzing the Situation

1. What is the situation facing the organization?


2. What is the background of the situation?
3. What is the significance or importance of the situation?

Phase One

Basic Planning Questions

Step
1

Step 1: Analyzing the Situation

A. Existing Information
Background on the Issue
1. Is this the first time your organization has dealt with this situation or are you
setting
out to modify an existing communication program? If the latter, is this a minor
modification or a major one?
2. What is the cause of this situation?
3. Is there any dispute that this is the cause?
4. What is the history of this situation?
5. What are the important facts related to this situation?
6. Does this situation involve the organizations relationship with another group?
7. If yes, what group(s)?

Phase One

Expanded Planning Questions

Step
1

Step 1: Analyzing the Situation

1. How important is this situation to the organizations mission?


2. How consistent is this situation with the mission statement or vision statement?
3. How serious of a response is warranted to this situation?
4. What is the likely duration of this situation: one-time, limited/short-term or
ongoing/long-term?
5. Who or what is affected by this situation?
6. What predictions or trends are associated with this situation? (These can be
organizational, industry-related, community relations, nation-related, etc.)
7. What potential impact can this situation make on the organizations mission or
bottom line?
8. Do you consider this situation to be an opportunity (positive) or an obstacle
(negative)
for your organization? Why? If you consider this an obstacle, how might you
turn it into an opportunity?

Phase One

Consequences of the Situation

Step
1

Step 1: Analyzing the Situation

1. Might information (quality or quantity) affect how this situation is resolved?


2. How can this situation be resolved to the mutual benefit of everyone involved?
3. What priority does this situation hold for the public relations/communications staff
and for the organizations top management?
4. How strong is the organizations commitment to resolving this situation?

Phase One

Resolution of the Situation

Step
1

Step 1: Analyzing the Situation

1. What is the basis for the existing information noted above: previous formal
research, informal or anecdotal feedback, organizational experience, personal
observation, presumption/supposition by planner(s) and/or something else?
2. How accurate is this existing information?
3. How appropriate is it to conduct additional research?
4. What information remains to be obtained?
5. If the existing information is not highly reliable, consider additional research, such
as the following:
Interviews with key people within the organization
Review of organizational literature/information
Additional personal observation
Interviews with external experts or opinion leaders
Surveys with representative publics
6. What research methods will you use to obtain the needed information?

Phase One

B. Research Program

Step
1

Step 2
Analyzing the Organization
Internal Environment
Structure
Performance
Niche
Internal Impediments
Public Perception
Reputation
Visibility
External Environment
Supporters
Opposition
Competition
External Impediments

Phase One

Public Relations Audit

Step
2

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Analyzing Internal Environment


A. Existing Information
Performance
1. What service/product do you provide related to the issue identified in the Strategic
Planning Exercise in Step 1?
2. What are the criteria for determining its quality?
3. What is its quality?
4. Within the last three years, has the quality improved, remained unchanged or
deteriorated?
5. How satisfied is organizational leadership with this quality?
6. What benefit or advantage does the product/service offer?
7. What problems or disadvantages are associated with this product/service?
8. What is the niche or specialty that sets you apart from competitors?
9. How has the service/product changed within the last three years?
10. How is the service/product likely to change within the next two years?
11. Should changes be introduced to improve the service/product?
12. Are organizational leaders willing to make such changes?

Phase One

Expanded Planning Questions

Step
2

Structure
1. What is the purpose/mission of your organization related to this issue?
2. How does this issue fit into the organizational vision?
3. Is this expressed in a strategic business plan for your organization?
4. What communication resources are available for potential public
relations/marketing
communication activity: personnel, equipment, time, money and/or something
else?
5. Within the next three years, are these resources likely to increase, remain
unchanged
or decrease?
6. How strong is the public relations/communication staffs role in the organizations
decision-making process?

Phase One

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Step
2

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

1. How supportive is the internal environment for public relations activities?


2. Are there any impediments or obstacles to success that come from within your
organization:
Among top management?
Are these impediments caused by policy/procedure?
Are these impediments deliberate?
Among public relations/marketing staff?
Are these impediments caused by policy/procedure?
Are these impediments deliberate?
Among other internal publics?
Are these impediments caused by policy/procedure?
Are these impediments deliberate?
3. If you have identified impediments, how can you overcome them?

Phase One

Internal Impediments

Step
2

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

1. What is the basis for the existing information noted above: previous formal
research, informal or anecdotal feedback, organizational experience, personal
observation, presumption/supposition by planner(s) and/or something else?
2. How accurate is this existing information?
3. How appropriate would it be to conduct additional research?
4. What information remains to be obtained?
5. If the existing information is not highly reliable, consider additional research, such
as the following:
Interviews with key people within the organization
Review of organizational literature/information
Additional personal observation
Interviews with external experts or opinion leaders
Surveys with representative publics
6. What research methods will you use to obtain the needed information?

Phase One

B. Research Program

Step
2

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Basic Planning Questions


1. How well known is your organization?
2. What is the reputation of your organization?
3. How do you want to affect this reputation?

Phase One

Analyzing Public Perception

Step
2

Expanded Planning Questions


A. Existing Information
Reputation
1. How visible is your service/product?
2. How widely used is your service/product?
3. How is the product/service generally perceived?
4. How is your organization generally perceived?
5. Is the public perception about your organization correct?
6. What communication already has been done about this situation?
7. Within the last three years, has your organizations reputation improved, remained
unchanged or deteriorated?
8. How satisfied is organizational leadership with this reputation?

Phase One

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Step
2

Image Index
Place an X at the appropriate location in the following listing:
Does your organization consider its product(s) or service(s):
Contemporary -- -- -- -- -- -- Traditional
Fun -- -- -- -- -- -- Tedious
High Tech -- -- -- -- -- -- Low Tech
Ordinary -- -- -- -- -- -- Distinguished
Inexpensive -- -- -- -- -- -- Expensive
Practical -- -- -- -- -- -- Idealistic
Modest -- -- -- -- -- -- Pretentious
Abundant -- -- -- -- -- -- Scarce
Beneficial -- -- -- -- -- -- Worthless
Efficient -- -- -- -- -- -- Inefficient
Routine -- -- -- -- -- -- Innovative
Essential -- -- -- -- -- -- Luxury
Safe -- -- -- -- -- -- Risky
High Quality -- -- -- -- -- -- Low Quality

Phase One

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Step
2

B. Research Program
1. What is the basis for the existing information noted above: previous formal
research, informal or anecdotal feedback, organizational experience, personal
observation, presumption/supposition by planner(s) and/or something else?
2. How reliable is this existing information?
3. How appropriate would it be to conduct additional research?
4. If the existing information is not highly reliable, consider additional research, such
as the following:

Interviews with key people within the organization

Review of organizational literature/information

Additional personal observation

Interviews with external experts or opinion leaders

Surveys with representative publics

Phase One

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Step
2

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Basic Planning Questions


1. What is the major competition for your organization?
2. What significant opposition exists?
3. Is anything happening in the environment that can limit the effectiveness of the
public relations program?

Phase One

Analyzing the External Environment

Step
2

Expanded Planning Questions


A. Existing Information
Competition
1. How competitive is the external environment of your organization?
2. What other organizations compete on this issue?
3. What are their performance levels?
4. What are their reputations?
5. What are their resources?
6. What does the competition offer that you dont?
7. How has the competition changed within the last three years?
8. Within the next three years, is the competition likely to increase, remain unchanged
or decrease?

Phase One

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Step
2

Opposition
1. What groups exist with a mission to resist or hinder your organization?
2. How effective have these groups been in the past?
3. What is their reputation?
4. What are their resources?
5. How have these groups changed within the last three years?
6. How have their tactics changed?
7. Within the next three years, is the opposition likely to increase, remain unchanged
or decrease?

Phase One

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Step
2

Expanded Planning Questions


A. Existing Information
Competition
1. How competitive is the external environment of your organization?
2. What other organizations compete on this issue?
3. What are their performance levels?
4. What are their reputations?
5. What are their resources?
6. What does the competition offer that you dont?
7. How has the competition changed within the last three years?
8. Within the next three years, is the competition likely to increase, remain unchanged
or decrease?

Phase One

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Step
2

External Impediments
1. Is the environment in which you are operating currently growing, stable, declining
or unpredictable?
2. What changes, if any, are projected for this environment?
3. What impediments deal with customers?
4. What impediments deal with regulators?
5. What impediments have financial or economic origins?
6. What impediments have political origins?
7. What impediments originate in society at large?

Phase One

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Step
2

B. Research Program
1. What is the basis for the existing information noted above: previous formal
research, informal or anecdotal feedback, organizational experience, personal
observation, presumption/supposition by planner(s) and/or something else?
2. How reliable is this existing information?
3. How appropriate would it be to conduct additional research?
4. What information remains to be obtained?
5. If the existing information is not highly reliable, consider additional research, such
as the following:
Review of organizational literature/information
Review of other published information (books, periodicals, etc.)
Review of electronic information (Internet, CD-ROM, etc.)
Interviews with key people within the organization
Interviews with external experts or opinion leaders
Focus groups with representative publics
Surveys with representative publics
Content analysis of materials
6. What research methods will you use to obtain the needed information?

Phase One

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Step
2

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

Identifying Publics
Identifying Key Publics
Analyzing Key Publics

Phase One

Analyzing the Publics

Step
3

Customers
Occasional/Regular
Current/Potential/Former
Competitive/Loyal
Age, Ethnicity, Spending Potential or another
variable
Members/Casual Customers
Secondary Customers
Shadow Constituencies
Producers
Employees/Volunteers
Veteran/Novice
Volunteers: Leadership/Grassroot
Line/Staff
Management/Nonmanagement
Management: Upper/Mid
Nonmanagement: Supervisory/Staff/
Maintenance/Production/Uniformed
Management/Union
Families/Retirees
Investors/Shareholders
Donors/Foundations/Grantors
Current/Potential/Former
Limiters
Competitors
Opponents
Activists
Hostile Forces

Step 2: Analyzing the Organization

Enablers
Community Leaders:
Governmental/Professional/Business/Union/
Educational/Religious/Ethnic
Organizations: Service/Professional/Religious/
Social/Ethnic/Cultural/Political/Environmental
Industry Association/Regulatory Agencies/
Accreditation Bodies
Professional Experts/Consultants/Analysts
Government Bodies
Town/City/County/State/Federal
Elective/Appointive
Legislative/Executive/Judicial
Staff/Advisory/Committee/Departmental
Military/Civilian
Media: Local/State/Regional/National/
International
Specialized:
Professional/Financial/Consumer/
Religious/Ethnic/Trade/Advocacy/
Academic
Availability: General/Limited/Restricted
Print/Broadcast/Computer
Print: Newspapers/Magazines/Newsletters
Newspapers: Daily/Nondaily
Electronic: Television/Radio
Television: Broadcast/Cable
Radio: AM/FM; Commercial/Public
Computer: News Groups/Web Sites

Phase One

Example of Typology of Publics

Step
2

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

Identifying Publics
Identifying Key Publics
Analyzing Key Publics

Phase One

Analyzing the Publics

Step
3

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

Basic Planning Questions


1. Who are the major publics for your organization?
2. Who are the key publics for this situation?
3. Who are the intercessory publics or major opinion leaders?

Phase One

Identifying Publics

Step
3

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

Expanded Planning Questions


A. Existing Information
Customers
1. Who are your primary customers?
2. Who are your secondary customers (who uses the products or services of your
primary customers)?
3. How have your customers changed within the last three years?
4. How are your customers likely to change within the next three years?
Producers
1. Who produces your service/product?
2. Who provides your organization with services and materials?
3. Who provides money?
4. How have your producers changed within the last three years?
5. How are your producers likely to change within the next three years?

Phase One

Identifying Publics

Step
3

Enablers
1. Who are opinion leaders among your customers?
2. Who are your colleagues?
3. Who are your regulators?
4. How have regulators helped you within the last three years?
5. With whom do you have contracts or agreements?
6. What media are available to you?
7. How have the media helped you in the last three years?
8. How have your enablers changed within the last three years?
9. How are your enablers likely to change within the next three years?
Limiters
1. Who are your competitors?
2. Who are your opponents?
3. What type of opponents are they: advocates, dissidents, activists or zealots?
4. Who can stop you or slow you down?
5. How have your limiters changed within the last three years?
6. How are your limiters likely to change within the next three years?

Phase One

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

Step
3

Intercessory Publics and Opinion Leaders


1. What publics are in a position of influence with your key publics?
2. How likely is it that they will speak for your organizations position?
3. Who are formal opinion leaders for this audience: elected government officials,
appointed government officials or someone else?
4. How likely is it that they will speak for your organizations position?
5. Who are informal opinion leaders for this audience: family leaders, neighborhood
leaders, occupational leaders, religious leaders, ethnic leaders and/or community
leaders?
6. How likely is it that they will speak for your organizations position?
7. Who are vocal activists on this issue?
8. How close is their position on this issue vis--vis the organizations?
9. How likely is it that they will speak for your organizations position?

Phase One

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

Step
3

B. Research Program
1. What is the basis for the existing information noted above: previous formal
research, informal or anecdotal feedback, organizational experience, personal
observation, presumption/supposition by planner(s) and/or something else?
2. How reliable is this existing information?
3. How appropriate would it be to conduct additional research?
4. What information remains to be obtained?
5. If the existing information is not highly reliable, consider additional research, such
as the following:
Review of organizational literature/information
Review of other published information (books, periodicals, etc.)
Interviews with key people within the organization
Interviews with external experts or opinion leaders
Focus groups with representative publics
Surveys with representative publics
6. What research methods will you use to obtain the needed information?

Phase One

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

Step
3

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

A. Directions for Use


1. On the Priority Worksheet (Exhibit 3.4), first assign a letter from A to K to each
public you want to compare. The worksheet will accommodate 11 choices at a time;
the order of listing is of no consequence. List each of the publics in the spaces
marked A, B, C . . . J along the right-hand column and the spaces marked B, C,
D . . . K along the top row. Note that choices Aand K are not duplicated in the listings.
Also record the key public names on the Scoring Chart (Exhibit 3.5).
2. Comparing each possible combination of itemsAB, AC, AD, AE . . . BC, BD,
BE, BF, etc.mark the letter of the item you think is the more important public. In
each box, also enter a comparative rating number (for example, A1 or C3) using
the following scale: 1 slightly stronger preference; 2 moderately stronger
preference; 3 much stronger preference.
3. When all possible pairs are considered, add the rating numbers for each letter. Enter
this number on the Scoring Chart. If just one person is setting the priorities, enter
the number in the Total column. If more than one person is setting the priority, enter
the numbers for each person in columns in the Scoring Chart, beginning at the left.
Add these and enter the sum in the Total column. For the average, divide this total
by the number of persons.
4. The resulting sore provides a sense of the priority being given to each
individual item.

Phase One

Identifying Key Publics

Step
3

G F

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

B
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J

Phase One

Priority Worksheet

Step
3

Scoring Chart
Rating 1 Rating 2 Rating 3 Rating 4 Rating 5 Rating 6 Rating 7

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization


Total

Average

B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K

Phase One

Step
3

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

A. Existing Information
1. Who is your key public?
2. Indicate the category below that best describes that
key public at this time and consider the public relations
response indicated.
Category
Latent public
Faces an obstacle or opportunity vis--vis the
organization
Does not yet recognize this situation or its potential
Apathetic public
Recognizes an obstacle or opportunity vis--vis the
organization
Does not perceive this issue as important or interesting
Aware public
Recognizes an obstacle or opportunity vis--vis the
organization
Not yet organized for action
Active public
Recognizes an obstacle or opportunity vis--vis the
organization
Preparing to organize or already organized for action

Response
Monitor the situation, anticipating change toward
awareness. Meanwhile, begin to plan a communication
process to provide information about the issue, explain its
significance to the public and present your organizations
opinion or intended action.
Monitor the situation, looking for any change toward
perceiving the relevance of the issue. Meanwhile, begin to
plan a communication process to provide information about
the issue, explain its significance to the public and present
your organizations opinion or intended action.
Initiate a communication process to present the issue,
explain its significance to the public, and present your
organizations
opinion or intended action.
Because you did not communicate sooner, you must now
engage in reactive communication, responding to questions
and perhaps to criticism and accusations without being able

Phase One

Expanded Planning Questions

Step
3

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

Issue
1. What does this key public know about this issue?
2. What does this public think about this issue?
3. What does this public want on this issue?
4. What does this public not want on this issue?
5. What does this public need on this issue?
6. What problem(s) does this public have related to this issue?
7. What does this public expect from the organization vis--vis this issue?
8. How free does this public see itself to act on this issue?

Phase One

Analyzing Key Characteristics

Step
3

Organization (including product/service)


1. How does or how might the key public affect your organization?
2. How does or how might your organization affect this public?
3. What does this public know about your organization?
4. How accurate is this information (compared to information in Step 2)?
5. What does this public think about your organization?
6. How satisfied are you with this attitude?
7. What does this public expect from your organization?
8. How much loyalty does this public have for your organization?
9. How organized or ready for action on this issue is this public?
10. How influential does this public see itself as being within the organization?
11. How influential does the organization see this public as being?

Phase One

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

Step
3

12. Place an X at the appropriate location in the following listing:


Does this key public think the image of your organizations product(s) or
service(s) are:
Contemporary -- -- -- -- -- Traditional
Fun -- -- -- -- -- Tedious
High Tech -- -- -- -- -- Low Tech
Ordinary -- -- -- -- -- Distinguished
Expensive -- -- -- -- -- Inexpensive
Idealistic -- -- -- -- -- Practical
Modest -- -- -- -- -- Pretentious
Scarce -- -- -- -- -- Abundant
Worthless -- -- -- -- -- Beneficial
Efficient -- -- -- -- -- Inefficient
Ordinary -- -- -- -- -- Innovative
Essential -- -- -- -- -- Luxury
Risky -- -- -- -- -- Safe
High Quality -- -- -- -- -- Low Quality

Phase One

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

Step
3

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

13. What are the similarities and the differences between your organizations selfimage and the image of it held by this public?
Communication
1. What media do this public use among each of the following: personal
communication
channels, organizational media, news media and advertising/promotional media?
2. Is this public actively seeking information on this issue?
3. How likely is this public to act on information it receives?
4. Who are credible sources and opinion leaders for this public?
Demographics/Psychographics
1. What is the average age of members of your key public?
2. Where is your key public located geographically?
3. What is the socioeconomic status of your key public?
4. What products or services does your key public commonly use?
5. What are the cultural/ethnic/religious traits of your key public?
6. What is the education level of your key public?
7. What lifestyle traits does your key public have?
8. Are there other relevant characteristics

Phase One

Analyzing Key Characteristics

Step
3

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

Personality Preferences
Place an X at the appropriate location in the following listings:
Information Presentation: Is this public more likely to prefer messages:
that present..............................facts -- -- -- -- -- -- or ideas
that deal with.....................certainty -- -- -- -- -- -- or possibility
that point toward..................what is -- -- -- -- -- -- or what might be
that give information..........literally -- -- -- -- -- -- or figuratively
that depict................common sense -- -- -- -- -- -- or a vision
Information Content: Is this public more likely to prefer messages:
that are addressed to..........the head -- -- -- -- -- -- or the heart
that are based on.....logic and reason -- -- -- -- -- -- or sentiment
that seek to.........convince the mind -- -- -- -- -- -- or touch the emotions
that lead one to....................analyze -- -- -- -- -- -- or sympathize
that focus on..........things or groups -- -- -- -- -- -- or individuals
Benefits
1. What benefit or advantage does your organization offer each public?
2. How does this benefit differ from the benefits available from other organizations?

Phase One

Analyzing Key Characteristics

Step
3

B. Research Program
1. What is the basis for existing information noted above: previous formal research,
informal or anecdotal feedback, organizational experience, personal observation,
presumption/supposition by planner(s) and/or something else?
2. How reliable is this existing information?
3. How appropriate would it be to conduct additional research?
4. What information remains to be obtained?
5. If the existing information is not highly reliable, consider additional research, such
as the following:
Interviews with key people within the organization
Interviews with external experts or opinion leaders
Review of organizational literature/information
Review of other published information (books, periodicals, etc.)
Review of electronic information (Internet, CD-ROM, etc.)
Focus groups with representative publics
Surveys with representative publics
6. What research methods will you use to obtain the needed information?

Phase One

Step 3: Analyzing the Organization

Step
3