Getting to the heart of public relations: the concept of strategic intent

Author: Melanie James, University of Newcastle
Published: 2009, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, Volume 10
Abstract: This paper suggests that public relations can be understood as the strategic attempt to get the subjects of public relations activities to construct the intended meaning of the employing or commissioning entity rather than any other meaning. The author puts forward that the intentional construction of meaning for strategic purposes may be at the heart of public relations as everything undertaken by practitioners could be framed within a concept of strategic intent. One way of conceptualising this assertion is to consider two key concepts within the field of public relations – strategy and the construction of meaning. This paper suggests that the development of theory to accommodate such a position should be considered and proposes that a broadly social constructionist approach may offer the best prospect of undertaking this. If this view was widely adopted then the debate as to who holds the power and wherewithal to influence and control the meaning construction process, and the ethics of doing so, could take place.

Keywords: Public Relations, Strategy, Social Constructionism, Meaning, Strategic Intent.