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Media Covering the Public Relations Field

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In as complicated and complex a society as ours, every vocation has media that keep its practitioners in touch with what goes on in the particular area. These media cover both the theoretical and applied aspects of practice in various fields. Over the past 50 years a number of publications have grown up as independent entities that report on the varied public relations activities. Other media report on public relations as it impinges on their particular field.

The bibliographical record indicates that there are about 15,000 items dealing directly with public relations. These are reported in Robert L. Bishop's Public Relations: A Comprehensive Bibliography (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Leigh-James, 1974); Scott M. Cutlip's A Public Relations Bibliography and Reference and Film Guides (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1957); and the most recent, Public Relations, The Edward L. Bernayses and the American Scene: A Bibliography, edited and compiled by Keith Larson (Westwood, Mass.: F. W. Faxon Co., Inc., 1978.)

Some directories deal both with the public relations practitioner and with services and media that may be employed for the dissemination of fact and point of view. These directories include Who's Who of Public Relations, published by the PR Reporter, (Exeter, N.H.).

There are newsletters and other periodicals directly bearing on public relations, which cover news and current ideas in the field. Discussion of the aims and costs of various journals and newsletters follows.

Public Relations, founded in 1944 by its present editor and publisher, Denny Griswold, was the first independent public relations weekly for executives. Its purpose is to provide information and "how to" assistance on public relations and to contribute to the growth of the field. It offers specific news on many aspects of public relations in government, business, education, and nonprofit organizations, including personnel moves, public relations accounts, honors, notable statements of business and public relations leaders, and the like. Issues also contain a public relations case study. A year's subscription costs $89.50 in the U.S. and Canada, $123.50 elsewhere.

The J. R. O'Dwyer Company, Inc., has three periodicals of interest to those in public relations. According to Jack O'Dwyer, president, the O'Dwyer Newsletter is published weekly and covers news in the public relations field. The newsletter lists upcoming events, directories and books of interest to public relations people, honors won, new addresses of firms, and so on. Subscribers, who pay $60 a year, have access to the publisher's extensive files on public relations. As is customary in newsletters, no circulation figures are available.

The company also publishes O'Dwyer's Directory of Corporate Communications. This profiles the public relations departments of 2,001 corporations and 200 of the largest trade associations in the U.S. It is published annually in July and costs $60.

The third publication is O'Dwyer's Directory of Public Relations Firms. This lists more than 700 public relations firms and their clients and special skills. It is published annually in January and costs $30.

Public Relations Journal, begun in 1945, is a monthly periodical published by the Public Relations Society of America for its members. It is the only monthly magazine in the public relations field. A typical issue offers several pages of news in the field, five to seven short articles, a letters column, book reviews, and personnel news. The annual subscription rate for non-members of the PRSA is $12 in the U.S. and $13 elsewhere.

Public Relations Quarterly was begun in 1955 as a periodical of the American Public Relations Association, designed to add to the permanent literature of the field. When the Association and the Public Relations Society of America merged in 1961, Public Relations Quarterly became independent, and today, except for the various newsletters, it is the only independent periodical in the field of public relations. A typical issue contains three to five articles, letters to the editor, and a regular column on writing style. Current subscription price is $12. Howard Penn Hudson is the editor and publisher.

PR Reporter, founded in 1958, is a weekly, four-page professional newsletter for practitioners of public relations, public affairs, and communications. It does not attempt to be a publication of historical record. Although it often breaks news stories, its ultimate interest is not in news per se but in its implications for practitioners. Four categories of news are emphasized: issues, techniques, research, and opinion. The annual subscription price is $80, with special rates for college-level teachers, college students in public relations sequences, multiple copies at the same address, and long-term subscriptions. Subscribers receive two alternating (therefore biweekly) supplements: Tips & Tactics, a how-to guide by expert practitioners, and Purview, a digest of behavioral science, management, and media literature. For the past 13 years PR Reporter has conducted an annual survey of the profession, providing statistics on practitioners, backgrounds, age, income, working conditions, education, and opinion.

The Ragan Report is a weekly survey of ideas and methods for communications executives, established in 1970. According to its founder, editor, and publisher Lawrence Ragan, it serves executives who seek to communicate with internal and external audiences of organizations. It emphasizes print communication and employee communication. It discusses the larger issues of public relations and personal communications as well. The corporate name of the organization is Lawrence Ragan Communications, Inc. The subscription price is $60 a year.

Managing the Human Climate, founded in 1970, is a bi-monthly. Subscription rate is $18 a year. Supplements are included with some issues. They consist of speeches, key articles, and the like. It provides, according to its publisher, perceptive analysis of attitude trends and patterns important to leaders of organizations and gives insight into the reasons for public attitudes, how to accommodate to them, and how to affect them. Its purpose in part is to provide the public relations profession "with depth and breadth to enable practitioners to meet managers* demands for help in coping with contemporary problems." The publisher is an accredited member of the PRSA. He serves as counsel on public relations to corporations, associations, and nonprofit organizations.

There are other publications that deal peripherally with the field. The Public Opinion Quarterly, a learned journal first published by Princeton University in 1934 and initiated at the suggestion in part by this writer and Harwood Childs, devotes some space to public relations subjects. Other comparable periodicals, The American Journal of Sociology and the Journal of Social Issues, occasionally discuss matters connected with the profession. Advertising Age, a weekly published in Chicago, often refers to public relations.
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