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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2021

21 Relationship management: Status and theory

From the book Public Relations

  • John A. Ledingham


This chapter presents and discusses the main tenets of relationship management (RM) as a general theory of public relations. The notion of relationship management potentially represents the most comprehensive overhaul of theory and practice in the history of public relations. The emergence of a relationship management paradigm moves the discipline away from crafting communications as the central focus of public relations toward a system for managing the organization-public relationships (OPRs). Within the parameters of a management system, the role of relationship management is to initiate, maintain, and nurture a mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and the publics with which it interacts (Ledingham 2003a). Further, public relations as relationship management function adopts a managerial view in researching, planning, implementing, and evaluating activities. Hence, RM serves as both an organizing concept and, ultimately, a unifying theory of public relations. This chapter reviews the emergence of RM as a general theory of public relations and its core elements, and offers conclusions concerning RM, as well as thoughts regarding the future of public relations profession as RM.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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