Public relations practitioners in higher education: Dominant coalition, public relations models, public relations roles

Esin C. Turk

Abstract

This study examined the public relations practices of 490 four-year public universities and colleges in the United States. The relationship between dominant coalition's support, public relations models, knowledge necessary to practice these models, and the public relations roles practiced in the American universities and colleges were also studied. In the Spring of 1999, a questionnaire was sent to the chief public relations officers of the public universities and colleges seeking their response to questions about how and why public relations is practiced in their institutions. There were 189 usable questionnaires, with a return rate of 39.04. The public relations practitioners in higher education seem to be predominantly white, male, over 50 and with advanced degrees. They seem to be in close contact with the top administration, if not part of it. Although men seem to be the majority, women follow closely behind. Both groups seem to be paid well above median industry salaries. Data indicates that no one public relations model or public relations role is dominant in higher education, but a mixture of models and a mixture of roles are likely to be practiced depending on the problem or the opportunity. Lastly, dominant coalition moderately values the public relations function and those practitioners who practice two-way models of public relations and/or play manager roles are more likely to be represented in the dominant coalition.