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«13TH INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS RESEARCH CONFERENCE “Ethical Issues for Public Relations Practice in a Multicultural World” Holiday Inn ...»

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A third example of how we are now incorporating various data sets into USO communication evaluations can be seen in Figure 12, which illustrates social media activity with the USO’s website and email fund-raising campaign. Data from 8/15 shows a spike in Facebook activity that resulted from the USO actively promoting a “Support the USO” Friday; this is similar to “Follow Fridays” on Twitter. Activity on the USO’s Ning online community also spiked that day, which is a cross-platform spillover of the Facebook activity. The lesson learned is that online activity on one online platform can affect other platforms. This phenomenon was also evident between 8/22 and 8/29, when a fund-raising email blast drove increased activity on 626 the USO’s Facebook page. Thus, communicators should expect and plan for spillover effects when developing online communication plans.

In a similar vein, real-world events have the potential to drive online activity. This was the case on 9/11, when the anniversary of the terrorist attacks coincided with a spike in activity on the USO’s Facebook page. Similarly, the USO’s annual gala on 10/7 also generated an increase in Ning activity and a spike on Facebook.

Figure 12. Correlation of Facebook, Twitter, Ning and USO website activity with fund-raising email and annual gala (2009).

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Taking an organization-wide view of measurement Over the past two years, the USO has made tremendous strides in being able to clearly articulate what should be communicated, with whom and to what effect. With the help of KDPaine & Partners, we have established important data and assessment baselines, particularly with respect to determining many of the outcomes of the USO’s media relations program.

With the second year of this communication measurement program, the USO-KDPaine team has launched into the next phase of development. This phase is three-fold: First, we are incorporating additional types of data that will enable ever more meaningful assessments of the effectiveness of the communications department and the USO overall. Second, we will provide data-driven formative research to continue to guide communication program planning. Third, we will conduct evaluative research to determine the effectiveness of the USO’s communication programs and how these communication efforts affect the organizational goals.

Based on the metrics schema highlighted in Figure 2 and detailed in the 2009 IPRRC paper, this phase of measurement seeks to move beyond measuring data (e.g., media coverage) that are typically thought of as belonging to the communications department. The next step is to include operational data from throughout the organization. Such data includes information on customer, donor and partner behavior; customer, volunteer and employee satisfaction; and organizational culture and climate, along with many other potentially relevant sets of data that, when viewed as a whole can provide operationally useful insight.

Incorporating organizationally important data

The ability to incorporate new data sets into the overall communication evaluation program has already proven to hold tremendous potential because of the myriad ways it can inform organizational decision-making. For example, with the USO’s customers (i.e., the stakeholder group that includes service members and their families), goals include increasing awareness and understanding, improving attitudes and opinions, encouraging use of USO programs and services, and fostering long-term positive relationships between the USO and its customers. Given the assessments previously discuss in this paper, we know which messages to which they might be exposed and how those messages are available via news media. Combining data from news media coverage with data from the USO’s public service announcement (PSA) program enables more thorough understanding of the ways in which stakeholders in particular geographic areas might be exposed to key messages.

Data from feedback surveys of customers using USO centers and non-center based programs should enable the determination of the degree to which they are aware of, understand and value the programs and services provided by the USO. So, too, should assessments of customer use of specific programs, services and communication tools. With respect to program use, the USO participates in the United Through Reading Military Program, in which deployed military parents record DVDs of themselves reading children’s books on camera. The DVDs and books are mailed to the children at home, who can follow along in the book while their 628 parent reads to them on the television. The parent at home is encouraged to photograph or videotape the child doing this and send the photos or video to the deployed parent, thus completing the circle of communication. Tracking use of this program, along with collecting feedback from the service members and the parents at home will allow the USO to fine tune this program to best meet customer needs and expectations.

Customer attitudes and opinions are tied to both communications about the USO and their experiences with the USO. To better understand how troops and their families perceive the USO, in the fall of 2009, we undertook the first of what should be an annual customer awareness and satisfaction study. This online survey was conducted with 5,656 participants. Questions were designed to determine customers’ awareness and use of USO programs and services, how these services can be improved, which programs and services are the most highly valued, and so forth. Figure 13 illustrates one of the macro-level findings from this study. Such survey data, especially if conducted longitudinally, will be useful in assessing customer awareness, attitudes, opinions and satisfaction with the USO. They will also be useful in identifying how well USO communication efforts are improving levels of program awareness and use.

Figure 13. Active duty service members’ satisfaction with USO services.

This principle applies to all of the organization’s programs and services. Likewise, customer traffic and feedback from USO centers in airports and in combat zones overseas can be fed into the system to be correlated with the other relevant data sets. Finally, to determine the health of the relationship between the organization and its customers, service members and their families can be surveyed to determine their perception of satisfaction, trust, commitment, control mutuality (i.e., the degree to which the distribution of power in the relationship is acceptable to each party) and relationship type.

629 Similar processes of correlating various data sets can be used to assess awareness, understanding, opinions, attitudes, and, ultimately, the nature of their relationships with the USO for each of the strategic stakeholder groups. For example, volunteer behavior (e.g., number of hours donated, longevity with the organization, and so forth) can be correlated with relationship and organizational climate data from volunteer surveys to paint a more detailed picture of how well the USO is maintaining relations with this critical group of stakeholders. Additional detail can be added by also including data on volunteers’ use of the USO’s social networking site (i.e., www.usocommunity.com), Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media.

As the USO-KDPaine team moves into more sophisticated assessments of the organization’s communications programs, we will include regular waves of public opinion data, the baseline of which was established with a national survey conducted at the end of 2008 to gauge awareness of the USO mission and interest in specific communication initiatives, such as the USO electronic newsletter and a USO magazine. A follow-up survey has just been fielded.

During 2009, the USO also conducted its first organization-wide climate study. This study was designed to assess the health of the organizational climate, as well as employee attitudes and opinions about the organizational culture and structure, work distribution, leadership, resources, and a host of other factors that affect employee recruitment and retention.

Additional data on the use of the USO website (e.g., traffic statistics, search engine rankings, online donations, and so forth), PSA program data, customer and employee satisfaction, social media data, and revenue data are also now being collected and will be incorporated into the evaluations during 2010. The USO’s dashboard was structured to accommodate and integrate such disparate data sets into the organization’s evaluation program.

This is critical, as the communications evaluation dashboard now has the capability to not only provide meaningful feedback on the effectiveness of the communication program, but on overall organizational effectiveness as well.

630 The Community and Physician Relations Department at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital: A Case Study in Public Relations Management

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The healthcare industry in the United States is changing at record speed, especially in California. California has seen the emergence of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO's) and the drastic effects they have had on the hospital environment. These changes are occurring throughout the organization and affect everything from ordering of supplies to length of patient stay. It has also caused great changes in one particular area of the hospital—the public relations and marketing departments.

The purpose of this case study was to explain communications management in a period of time of the recent past to ensure no encroachment on the current state of public relations for the Community and Physician Relations Department (CPRD) at Lucile Salter Packard Children's hospital at Stanford (LPCH).

The change in this department reflects the overall trend in healthcare marketing and the need for hospitals to promote themselves to stay profitable. The San Francisco Bay area is being hit particularly hard by all these changes and prediction that several hospitals may close in the near future. One goal of the CPRD is to educate the community about the hospital so they will use and pay for its services. Another goal is to encourage physicians to purchase phone triage services that bring in revenue and referrals to LPCH.

The CPRD has several areas of focus, but this case study did not attempt to cover them all. This case study focused on two main areas: the Pediatric Telecenter, a medically-based outreach program and Community Relations which is non-medically based outreach. It has only been in existence for 20 months and is a conglomeration of several different employees who previously belonged to different departments. Community Outreach used to be part of the Development and Communications Departments and the Pediatric Telecenter was part of the Medical Outreach Department. These two areas now combine their resources to more effectively reach out to the community and physicians in the Bay Area.

Managing this relatively new and varied group can be a challenge. Not only is the overall healthcare system changing, but LPCH has been experiencing work redesign for the past four years which also has impacted the department. Additionally, new areas keep being added to the CPRD. The Volunteer Services area of the hospital became a part of the CPRD, and a few months earlier, Continuing Medical Education was added. In all, the CPRD now had nine different areas of responsibility under the leadership of one director and four managers.

This case study explored three theories relative to the management style of the CPRD:

participative versus authoritarian management, symmetrical versus asymmetrical communication, and the role of the dominant coalition. The management style of the director is important because it affects her staff. As an outreach department, knowing how to communicate with its various publics is a must. The asymmetrical and symmetrical theory is necessary to comprehending the overall communication management of the CPRD. Finally, the concept of the dominant coalition will be discussed because although the director of the CPRD is not considered senior management, she does have an important role to play with those in higher echelons of management. This also affects her management style and effectiveness.

As the role of the CPRD director is discussed, it is important to keep in mind that she is not a professional in communications or public relations; she is a nurse. This unique characteristic brings a different approach to the management of the CPRD and this will be explained in this case study.

The first author of this study was a member of this department and reported to the 632 director. As a result, this case study departs from others in that is relies on participant observations and is an insider's look at the creation, current management and future goals of this uniquely designed department.

Several methods of evidence were used in this case study to develop the process of triangulation and add to the verifiability of the results (Yin, 2009). Documents were selected based on the existing archives and availability. Agendas and year-end reports were useful to show the background, past successes, and future goals of the CPRD. Archival records such as organizational charts and budgets provided the business aspects of the department. The time period covered was one fiscal year. The bulk of evidence came from conducting personal interviews with several individuals. Those individuals were the CPRD Director and the two managers in charge of Community Outreach and the Pediatric Telecenter respectively. These interviews focused on the creation of this department, management style, communication to the public, and the effect of the director's role in the dominant coalition.

There were several delimiters to this case study. First was the time factor. The case study was conducted in fewer than 16 weeks so there was a limit to the amount of information that could be collected and examined during that time. Another delimiter was the role of the first author as a participant observer. Although this circumstance allowed for ease of access to people and information, it also was somewhat awkward in an interview situation. Because all the individuals involved worked together, the respondents knew that what they said could affect the interviewer. Some of the interview questions were awkward but the answers obtained still seemed more honest and in-depth than an outsider could have obtained.

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