1999 Ketchum Excellence in PR Research Award Winner
Bryan H. Reber
University of Missouri, Columbia
Public relations practitioners and lawyers each were asked to sort 34 statements roughly onto a most agree/most disagree continuum. By analyzing the subjective responses to these statements, two types of public relations practitioners and two types of lawyers emerged.
One public relations type, the Caring Collaborator, was marked by the desire for collaboration, understanding and forthrightness. The second public relations type, the Legal Eagle, was also collaborative in nature, but was more confident about her ability to assess problems from a legal perspective.
One legal type, the Cooperative Colleague, is also strongly collaborative and believes lawyers should take part in message development during crises. This lawyer believes public relations plays a unique and essential role in crisis management. The second legal type, the Confrontational Counselor, wants public relations to be involved, but is also strongly committed to controlling public statements. This lawyer believes “no comment” is a responsible reply to queries whose answers have not been fully evaluated.
Comparative analyses showed that lawyers were better able to predict the responses of public relations practitioners to the statements than were public relations professionals able to predict lawyers’ responses.