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Doorley, J. & Garcia, H.  (2011). Reputation management: The key to successful public relations and corporate communication (2nd edition). Abingdon: Routledge.

Reviewed by: Joy Chia

Doorley and Garcia introduce this second edition by announcing their updates and additions. The new chapter on social media is a welcome one, and one that reflects changing public relations communication contexts, but the additional chapter on public relations consulting is not as helpful. Snapshots of theory appear with little synergy between theory and practice. There seem to be endless lists with vague statements about being true to your client, that quality is the cornerstone, that practitioners need to listen before talking and acting, and a good deal more. Successful public relations needs much more than knowing what it needs to do and how to do it. In this second edition the practitioners perspective dominates but there is very little about the rationale for practice and how academic research informs practice.

This book is best used as a supporting text that gives insight to aspects of corporate public relations. Best practices included in each chapter often merge into general statements and need to be considered in more detail. There is a tendency by most of the contributors to provide dot points and lists rather than explanations and good examples.

As we engage with each of the chapters the cartoons seem rather quirky but the chapter overviews are good and discussion questions facilitate solid seminar discussion. Chapter 1, Reputation Management, acknowledges and includes the contribution of Systems Theory as important to the way corporate communication flows and is managed, and it sets the scene as it develops understanding about reputational capital and risks.  Edelmans Public Engagement Model provides some good grounding in successful public engagement and why it is important to organisations reputation.  

Chapter 2, Ethics and Communication, is not one that I would recommend as the case studies are dated, there is very little theory in an area of public relations that has considerable theoretical knowledge and development. The global context needed to include reference to Europe, Asia and Australia to make it a more rounded approach to ethical challenges. There are many good chapters in other public relations texts that deal with this topic in a scholarly and applied way.

Chapter 3, Media Relations, includes one page on Grunig and Hunts theories that appears out of the blue as the chapter meanders through good news and bad news, issues in working with the media ending with 25 best practice points- no one is going to read this. The section on The Art of the Pitch is helpful though as it provides precise guidance and advice on pitching by email, phone and paper ? and what to do if the pitch is declined.

Chapter 4, Social media, makes it easy to come to terms with social media terms, how social media works and the way that the Ford Motor Company managed their reputation through social media, during a crisis. This is a good example of the need to keep communication open and dialogue with consumers and the community.

Chapter 5, Organizational Communication, needs solid organisational theory but one finds a great deal about employee communication and the dos and donts  of internal communication management. There is no reference to power and the public relations role in organisations or the development of internal human and social capital and what that means.

Chapter 6, Government Relations, is primarily for the North American audience but there is some good discussion about lobbying including the ethics of lobbying.

Chapter 7, Community Relations follows Joe Hardys model of relationship building and community engagement. The author emphasises that there is considerable pressure on companies to support their communities so they need a strategic community response for it to be successful. More of a global emphasis is apparent in this chapter as the developing world community is considered. Again many other public relations books deal more effectively with this topic.

Chapter 8, Investor Relations, fosters understanding of the share market, corporations goals, formal and informal disclosure and the regulatory framework necessary for corporations where the Securities and Exchange Commission regulates and ensures that investors are protected.  Digital and traditional media details, and investor relations methods offer a toolkit for investor relations. 

Chapter 9, Global Corporate Communication includes a small section on global, cultural and management theories with a dash of communication theory but then moves into the how and what of global communication.  The brief section on corporate social responsibility would have worked better in other chapters such as Chapter 13. China and the Soviet Union are mentioned mainly in relation to role of media in reporting corporate developments as the tight media control in other countries is recognised and understood.

Chapter 10, Integrated Communication, is a strange chapter where attempts to engage with theory related to  empowerment and framing are introduced  as part of the communication tool box but a book that does not have a theoretical foundation makes this look like a bite- size theory add-on. More encouraging is the case study from Edelman that highlights the need for values based campaigns using a social media strategy as part of the communication to the community.

Chapters 11 and 12, Issues Management, Crisis Communication, are solid chapters and ones that I use to give students a good grasp of a typical issues management structure, how to prioritise issues and then implement an issues plan. The second edition is much easier to follow as the tactics and core messages for issues management are clearly set out; the format and diagrams are concise and meaningful. The crisis chapter deals with rumour during a crisis in considerable detail with a most helpful section on the news cycle at the time of the spread of rumours. A good case study would have been valuable.

Chapter 13, Corporate Responsibility, keeping communication credible and ethical presents a sound introduction to an important topic for public relations, but Chapter 14, Public Relations Consulting and Chapter 15, Challenges and opportunities in Corporate and Organisational Communication, could have been included in previous chapters.

Some of the aims of this second edition such as relating key communication theory to practice and expanding and including global issues have not been realised. This book needs to be considered only for additional reading as it does not deal, in-depth with reputation management and is disappointing in its attempts to apply theory to practice.

About the reviewer: Dr Joy Chia is a senior lecturer and Academic Director at the University of South Australia. Dr Chia began the first public relations degree in South Australia and has taken a leading role in public relations research and scholarship. Joys national and international research focusing on community engagement, social capital and sustainability have broadened her horizons and opened up opportunity to work with management and commerce researchers. Canadian research in east and west Canada and  research in regional Australia developed models for community practice that highlight the critical role that organisations and their communities play in realising sustainable communities, and more importantly they indicate that universities need to be part of community partnerships, plans and programs within regional communities.

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