Topic: Employee Public Organization Relationships and Relationship Management

Author(s), Title and Publication

Rhee, Y. (2004). The employee-public-organization chain in relationship management: A case study of a government organization. Institute for Public Relations.


This study examined the critical roles that employees play in an organization’s relationship building process with its publics. An in-depth case study of a government organization’s community relations programs explored links among three concepts: employee-organization relationships, employee-public relationships, and organization-public relationships. Data were collected through 63 interviews, document analysis (e.g., newspaper articles, newsletters, and meeting minutes), and participant observations.

The findings suggested that employees who have positive relationships (e.g., high level of commitment) with their organizations, and who use symmetrical cultivation strategies contribute significantly to the development of positive organization-public relationships. In addition, when external publics have positive interactions and trusting relationships with employees, they tend to evaluate the overall organization positively. Employees also feel more empowered through participation in communication programs with external publics, and they developed personal networks with other employees by participating in such programs.

The study showed that public relations programs that tap into the intersection of internal and external publics contribute to the simultaneous development of positive relationships within and between both arenas. Important factors for building employee-public-organization relationships include: the communication behaviors and visibility of company leaders; the involvement of leaders in PR activities; the extent and quality of face-to-face communication; listening skills; and the open sharing of information, responsiveness to questions and issues, and continued dialogue opportunities.

Implications for Practice

Public relations practitioners can facilitate relationships by incorporating interpersonal communication methods into their program planning, rather than focusing solely on mass media. Because that the quality of organization-employee relationships was found to affect the way publics evaluate organizations, managers and leaders should encourage employee participation in public relations. Practitioners can help by developing programs that incorporate employee involvement.

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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