Title page for ETD etd-0416102-155145

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Indest, Christine Cidalise
Author's Email Address cindest@lsu.edu
URN etd-0416102-155145
Title Taking PR to School: A Case Study of Three Private High School Public Relations and Development Departments
Degree Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
William Anderson Committee Chair
Gene Sands Committee Member
Richard Nelson Committee Member
  • image management
  • fund raising
  • relationship management
  • public relations models
  • james grunig
Date of Defense 2002-04-11
Availability unrestricted
Few studies specifically explore public relations in private high schools. Statistics reveal that in Louisiana the number of nonpublic high school students continues to increase, therefore the competition among private schools for students increases as well as the demand to improve the private schools. These private schools need public relations to establish mutually beneficial relationships with strategic publics to attract students and to raise money to educate the students.

This thesis is a case study of private school public relations programs at three Louisiana high schools. The theoretical basis for this thesis centered on the research of James Grunig. To determine the most effective way for schools to communicate with key publics, the researcher explored two questions. The first research question studied the organizational hierarchy of private schools, especially as it relates to the public relations department. Grunig argued that the age, size, complexity and centralization of an organization affected the public relations department. In other words, as organizations aged and grew in size and complexity, public relations would become an integral part of the organizational hierarchy. The second research question examined the public relations models that private schools use, based on Grunig’s public relations models—press agentry, public information, two-way asymmetrical and two-way symmetrical and later Kelly’s adaptation of those models to fund raising.

The data supported Grunig’s theory that the age, size, complexity and centralization of an organization affect the public relations department. Two of the schools with over 100 years of history, placed a much greater emphasis on public relations than the school with less than 25 years as an institution. For the second question, the research revealed that all three schools use a combination of public relations and fund raising models. However, the most successful school in terms of attracting the best students and raising the most money used Grunig’s mixed-motive model, a combination of the two-way symmetrical and asymmetrical models.

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