How To Measure Strategic Relationships

    What gets measured gets managed is an axiom to which many CEOs subscribe. As important as media measurement may be, is that all you aspire to manage? James E. Grunig, professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, and Linda Hon, professor at the University of Florida, are leading theorists on measuring and managing strategic relationships as the ultimate value of public relations to an organization.

Research in interpersonal communication and psychology identifies four major indicators of successful relationships:
•    Control mutuality – stability requires that organizations and publics each have some control over the relationship.
•    Trust – measured in three dimensions of integrity (the belief that the other party is fair and just), dependability (the other will do what it says it will) and competence (the other has the ability to do what it says it will).
•    Satisfaction – each party has positive expectations and believes the benefits of the relationship outweigh the costs.
•    Commitment – each party feels that the relationship is worth maintaining.

    Hon and Grunig argue that these indicators can be used to measure organization/public relationships, and that two types of relationships also should be assessed:
•    The Exchange Relationship – where one party provides benefits because the other has reciprocated in the past or is expected to do so in the future (such as a marketing relationship).
•    The Communal Relationship – where both parties provide benefits because each is concerned for the other even when they might get nothing specific in return (such as some corporate social responsibility programs).

This was an article written by Frank Ovaitt, president and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, which appeared in PR News' 2006 Guide to Best Practices in Corporate Social Responsibility. Buy it online at

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