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ANALYSIS OF THE PERCEPTION AND REALITY OF INTEGRATED
MARKETING COMMUNICATION (IMC) IN CORPORATE PUBLIC RELATIONS:
A STUDY OF SOUTH KOREA
HYOJIN JEANNIE SHIN
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF MASS COMMUNICATION
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
HYOJIN JEANNIE SHIN
For all that I have accomplished and become, I dedicate this thesis to my family.
Without their love and support, I would not be where I am today.
First of all, I would like to thank my chair, Dr. Linda Hon for all the guidance she
has given me, not only through the process of writing my thesis but throughout my entire
master's degree program. I am sure that my thesis, as well as my graduate education in
general, has benefited from her endless energy and dedication to the study of public
relations. Next, I wish to thank my committee members, Dr. Juan-Carlos Molleda and
Dr. Marylin Roberts for their guidance, knowledge, and encouragement in their areas of
I would also like to thank my fellow Korean "Communigators" for their endless
support and affection. Special thanks go to my master's program Korean classmates
Youngshin Hong and Hyungmin Lee, and former Gator Hyemin Yeon. Without their
friendship, help, endless debates, and conversations, my master's program experience
would not have been as memorable. I would also like to express my gratitude toward all
of my classmates in the public relations master's program, especially Merideth Lord and
Emel Ozdora. Their friendship, love, and support have helped me immensely in both
my school and personal life.
I cannot express enough my gratitude toward my friends in Korea for being there
for me and offering their support in whichever way they could during my two years study.
Special thanks go to my friend Minnie Kang, for coming all the way to Gainesville to
keep me company for a while. These friends are the ones who kept me going and kept
me sane even when all seemed hopeless, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Finally, I would like to thank my parents, Dongoh Shin and Kyungsook Lee for
their love and support. Their encouragement, guidance, patients, and belief are a
reflection of the achievements I have made throughout my life. For everything they
have done for me I am truly grateful and hope one day I will be able to give back a small
fraction of what they have given me. Also I would like to thank my brother Hyogun
Shin, for being the cynic that he is and showing me love in his own unique way.
Without my family I would not have been able to accomplish all the things that I have,
and would not be where I am today. For that I dedicate this thesis to them.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ...................................................................... ...................iv
LIST O F TA B LE S ......................................................................................... ....... viii
A B ST R A C T .............. ................................................................... ............. ix
1 IN T R O D U C T IO N ....................................................................... 1
2 LITERA TU RE REV IEW ................................................... ................................ 4
Public Relations and Integrated Marketing Communication.............. .................4
Public Relations' Attitudes towards IMC ........................................................4
The Benefits of Integration for Public Relations .............................................6
Public Relations and IMC from an International Perspective............................
Public Relations in South Korea .............. ............. .......... ...... .............. 9
The History and Development ............................... ................9
Change in South Korean Public Relations...................................... ................. 11
Benefits of IMC in South Korean Corporate Public Relations..................... 12
Research Questions............................ ............. .............. 13
Previous Studies ........... ......... ................. .............................. 13
Research Questions.............................. .............. 14
3 M E T H O D O L O G Y ......... ................. ......................................... ........................... 16
Survey ................. ................ .................. ............................ 16
Sample and Procedure ............ ......................................... 17
The Survey Instrum ent....................... ....... ............................. 19
Intensive Interview ................ ......... .......... ........ 20
D ata A n a ly sis .................................................................................................... 2 1
4 F IN D IN G S ................................................................... ......................................2 3
S u rv e y .........................................................................................................2 3
D em graphics .................................................................... 23
Exam ining R research Question ................................................................... 23
Research question 1 ................ .................................. 23
R research question 2 ................................................ .............. 28
Research question 3 ................................. ....................................30
Intensive Interview ..................... ............................... 33
Examining Research Questions.................................... .............. 33
R research question 4 ................................................ .............. 33
R research question 5 ................................................ .............. 35
5 D ISC U S SIO N ................................................................39
Perception of IMC in South Korean Corporate Public Relations ..................... 39
Practice of IMC in South Korean Corporate Public Relations...........................41
6 C O N C L U SIO N ............ .......... ................. .... .. ........ ...............................44
Contributions .............. .......... ................... .......... .......... .... 46
L im stations and Future R esearch................................... ..................................... 47
A SURVEY QUESTIONN AIRE ........................................................... .............. 50
B IN TERVIEW QUESTION S.............................................. ............................... 53
LIST OF REFEREN CES ............................................................ .. .............. 54
BIOGRAPH ICAL SKETCH ......................................................... .. .............. 58
LIST OF TABLES
3-1. Top five advertisers from 2000 2004 ............................................ .............. 18
4-1. Demographics of survey respondents.................................................................. 23
4-2. Mean of knowledge and necessity of IMC .......................................... ..............24
4-3. Significance test for difference in perception between organization types...............25
4-4. Group statistics of perception and type of organization.............................25
4-5. ANOVA for difference in perception according to age .........................................26
4-6. Group statistics of gender and perception ................ ...................................26
4-7. Independent samples test for gender and perception..............................................27
4-8. Importance of communication tools to IMC.........................................................27
4 -9 B en efits of IM C ................................................................................................ 2 8
4-10. A pplicability of IM C ............................................................................ ....... 29
4-11. Practice rate of an integrated communication program ..........................................29
4-12. Independent samples test for practice rate and organization type.........................30
4-13. Group statistics of practice rate and organization type................. .................30
4-14. Perception of importance of job aspect to PR.................................................... 31
4-15. Time actually spent on each job aspect ....................................31
4-16. t-test for attitude and perception of importance for various PR jobs aspects ..........32
4-17. ANOVA for implementation of IMC and practice of various PR job aspects ........33
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master Arts in Mass Communication
ANALYSIS OF THE PERCEPTION AND REALITY OF INTEGRATED
MARKETING COMMUNICATION (IMC) IN CORPORATE PUBLIC RELATOINS:
A STUDY OF SOUTH KOREA
Hyojin Jeannie Shin
Chair: Linda Hon
Major Department: Mass Communication
In today's corporate world intangible assets such as reputation, corporate social
responsibility, innovation, etc. have become a valuable factor. Businesses are no longer
evaluated solely on their financial performance, and a company can be worth much more
than its book value if it has a solid reputation. This is why many corporations are
focusing on their corporate brand equity in order for long-term sustainability and success
of their organizations. In this sense, it seems practical and possible that all
communication disciplines should work together in order to reach that common goal.
Integrated marketing communications (IMC) has been a debated topic for some
time and in general while the advertising and marketing fields have favorable views, the
public relations field was opposed to the idea of voicing concerns such as marketing
imperialism. However, under current circumstances since corporations are looking to
increase their corporate brand equity by developing long-term beneficial relationships
with various publics, the business environment makes it probable for an integrated
communication to be effective and beneficial for public relations.
The purpose of this study was to research the attitudes of public relations
practitioners and academicians in South Korea to see if there were any discrepancies
between what was found in the literature and actual practice. The results showed that
overall attitudes toward IMC were more favorable than what was suggested in the
literature. There are several possible reasons for this gap between theory and practice,
some of them being related to cultural differences between the United States and South
Korea, but others perhaps regarding the lack of interest and research on IMC from the
public relations academia.
This study is not comprehensive enough to make generalized statements about the
findings. However, it can serve as a step toward evoking new interest in an integrated
communication approach in corporate public relations.
What is a corporation? By definition a corporation is "a specific legal form of
organization of persons and material resources, chartered by the state, for the purpose of
conducting business"(Corporation, 2005). Thus, the basic goal of a corporation is to
make profit which also determines the value, or worth, of the corporation as well.
However, in today's world the market value of a corporation does not necessarily or
solely depend on revenues that the organization generates. For example, in 2004
PepsiCo showed a tangible book value of $6.5 billion, but had a market value of $86.8
billion. Then where does the $82.3 billion come from? According to Forbes magazine
it comes from estimating the value of intangible assets such as reputation, innovation, and
corporate citizenship that form the corporate brand (Fluke & Badenhausen, 2004).
Corporate branding has become a popular term in recent years and intangible assets
play a crucial role to a corporation in building up its corporate brand. In 2001, Business
Week and Interbrand started using valuation methods to assign dollar values to these
intangible assets of some of the largest global companies. Also in 2004, Porter Novelli
conducted a study in order to understand what is driving the corporate brand trend, and
asked communication professionals at 16 of the top global brands, "Do you believe that
in the future your organization will need to place greater emphasis on managing its
corporate or company name as if it were a brand?" to which 94 percent answered either
'yes' or that they were already doing so (Argenti & Druckenmiller, 2004). With such
emphasis on the importance of the corporate brand, it is only natural that corporate brand
equity is also becoming an important concept.
Brand equity, in the traditional marketing sense, can be defined as "the brand assets
linked to a brand's name or symbol that add to (or subtract from) a product or service"
(Aaker & Joachimsthaler, 2000, p. 17). Then what is corporate brand equity? Schultz,
Hatch, Larsen, and Keller (2002) define corporate brand equity as "the differential
responses by consumers, customers, employees, other firms, or any relevant constituency
to the words, actions, communications, products or services provided by an identified
corporate brand entity" (p. 113). Therefore, corporate brand equity exists when
constituencies hold strong, favorable, and unique associations about the corporation
brand (Keller, 2002). Brand equity and its importance have been a hot topic in
marketing since the late 1980s (Aaker & Joachimsthaler, 2000). But why are marketers
now putting emphasis on the value of intangible assets and corporate brand equity?
Among the many factors, one of the most prominent is due to technological advances.
According to Argenti and Druckenmiller (2004), "the changing dynamics of product
marketing seem to make the corporate brand more important for companies" (p.370).
Technological advances broadened sales channels and diversified communication
channels, which also means that their advances diversified consumers and relevant
constituencies, and changed the way of effectively reaching and communicating to them.
Today's public is more informed than ever and will look to a company's value and
overall performance before purchasing a product, buying its stock, or boycotting and
turning away from it. Thus, products are looking to the corporate brand to endorse
them, and marketing communicators are focusing on the need to "protect, nurture, and
strengthen themselves by building interactive and synergistic relationships with all
stakeholders who can impact corporate performance" (Kitchen & Laurence, 2003, p. 105-
Public relations can be defined as "a function that establishes and maintains
mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on whom its
success or failure depends" (Ledingham, 2003, p.181). Through this definition it seems
that public relations is very similar to the focus of marketing communicators in building
corporate brand equity. Furthermore, since technological advances such as TiVO and
the Internet have made publics shift away from mainstream media, corporations such as
Amazon, Starbucks, and Krispy Kreme have combined marketing communications with
public relations to build their brand, and more corporations are looking to do so in such a
highly networked world (Fernando, 2004). Given this review, it not only seems that the
integration of communication disciplines such as public relations, advertising, and other
areas of marketing communications would be effective and beneficial, but also needed as
well in today's corporate communications.
Therefore, the main purpose of this thesis was to examine how IMC is perceived
among corporate public relations practitioners in South Korea. The research explored
dimensions such as the level of practice, implementation rates, and to see if IMC can be
beneficial to the corporate public relations sector. In addition, this thesis also examined
how South Korean academicians view IMC in relation to public relations as well.
Public Relations and Integrated Marketing Communication
Public Relations' Attitudes towards IMC
Integrated marketing communication (IMC), or integrated communication (IC), is
"a strategic process used to plan, develop, execute and evaluate coordinated, measurable,
persuasive brand communications programs over time with consumers, customers,
prospects, employees, associates and other targeted, relevant external and internal
audiences" (Schultz, 2004, p.8). At the very beginning when the concept was initiated,
advertising educators were in favor of IMC, seeing it as the best of both worlds. Public
relations educators, on the other hand, tended to be opposed (Miller & Rose, 1994).
Many public relations academicians and practitioners saw IMC as not only encroachment
but also a form of marketing imperialism where public relations was concerned (Kitchen,
Brignell, Li, & Jones, 2004). There is also argument that the view of public relations
held by most advocates of IMC is extremely narrow because they see public relations as a
technical support function that they consider to be press agentry or product publicity
alone and deals solely with customer publics. From this perspective public relations in
order to be excellent must be strategic and should not be dominated by marketing. It
should be separate from marketing functions (Grunig & Grunig, 1998).
Other issues also may stand in the way of public relations' scholars becoming
advocates for IMC. The first concerns the role of public relations in diversity issues.
From the point of view that the role of public relations is to form and maintain
relationships with an organization's publics and to provide two-way symmetrical
communication channels that will ultimately benefit all parties, public relations scholars
have voiced opinions about diversity or requisite variety. This is a characteristic, or
function, of public relations that helps organizations identify their various publics and
foster productive relationships with each, whether external or internal. Diversity in this
sense is not only limited to the physical aspects such as race and gender, but also
diversity of voice as well (Hon & Brunner, 2000). Public relations is more effective
when an organization provides support for such diversity (Dozier, Grunig & Grunig,
1995). Therefore there can be a legitimate argument that in embracing IMC, which is
portrayed as focusing mainly on the consumer public, public relations may not be able to
fulfill its role as a diversity agent and thus become less effective.
Another area of concern with an integrated communication system can be related to
public relations ethics. Throughout the development of the public relations field there
has been much debate about ethics. In the beginning stages, anything that was not
dissemination of false information may have been acceptable ethical behavior. But,
there is consensus that public relations today through two-way symmetrical
communication with publics should ultimately work for the greater good of society (Day,
Dong & Robins, 2001) and public relations practitioners have a role in being the ethical
conscience of the organization (Bowen, 2004). However, IMC because it originates
from the marketing and advertising fields may have a tendency to emphasize cost-benefit
analysis in building relationships or making ethical decisions. Therefore, if integrated
with other communication disciplines that have such a basis regarding ethics, again
public relations may not be able to fulfill its core responsibility effectively.
However, integration does not mean domination of the public relations practice by
marketing. According to Miller and Rose (1994) integration refers to the
implementation of horizontal coordination mechanisms such as communication 'czars' or
cross-functional teams, as well as the merger of all communication disciplines under a
single organizational unit. Therefore, opposition from the public relations field toward
this concept whether this opposition has to do with egos and turf battles (Duncan &
Everett, 1993), or concern about not being able to effectively execute public relations
practices in such a system, seems rather unresolved. Regardless of the theoretical
debate, many public relations professionals are determined not to let their function be
subsumed by marketing or advertising. However, some see the inevitability of a custom
mix of advertising, promotion, direct marketing, and public relations (Miller & Rose,
1994). Since IMC is becoming increasingly widespread and embodied in contemporary
marketing communication practice (Cornelissen, 2003), using integration as an
opportunity rather than being opposed to the idea may be beneficial to public relations.
The Benefits of Integration for Public Relations
Although many public relations professionals have argued against the integration
of communication because they viewed marketing and public relations as having
different goals (Miller & Rose, 1994) and also due to fear of marketing imperialism,
public relations is one of the communication disciplines that can contribute most and
provide most value to this integration. IMC planning shifts the marketing idea that the
most important thing is to "sell" products, or services, to acknowledge a principle that
public relations practitioners have known for a long time: Every organization has more
than one target stakeholder audience with whom it must communicate not just
consumers and these audiences have different message needs (Moriarty, 1994).
Further emphasized by Schultz and Schultz (1998), IMC advocates acknowledge that a
corporation's relevant publics include various internal as well as external audiences such
as consumers, shareholders, government, employees, and board directors. Thus, IMC
programs are not directed to consumers only, but to multiple publics, and put these
publics at the core of the process "in order to effectively address their needs and wants
through meaningful dialogue and by establishing long-term and profitable relationships
with them" (Kliatchko, 2005, p.27). In this sense, it seems that public relations, which
has always kept its pulse on all internal and external stakeholders, has much to contribute
to IMC such as being able to balance public opinion and business strategy (Gorning,
Not only are this knowledge and practice know-how of recognizing the
importance of relationships with various constituents and being able to deal with them
effectively an advantage that public relations professionals have in this integrated
communication system, but the focus that public relations has on the overall corporate
reputation is also another factor that places it at the core of IMC. Since IMC focuses on
the total corporate or brand reputation, it will turn to public relations to have a better
global understanding of how impressions are created. Organizational communication
factors such as relationships, motivation, and involvement are often addressed by public
relations programs. Therefore, public relations practitioners may be the people in the
organization who are most competent to function as change agents, which is a critical
task in creating and managing IMC programs (Moriarty, 1994). Also by taking
responsibility for positioning a primary corporate asset the company's reputation -
public relations practitioners can demonstrate an accountability which enables them to
become players (Gorning, 1994). Also, understanding the complexity of corporate
message synergy can bring public relations experts to marketing planning sessions where
they previously may have been uninvited (Moriarty, 1994). Furthermore, with
businesses and marketers thinking that "to survive the inevitable difficulties an
organization could face at some time in its life, building and protecting corporate
reputation through building brand equity must be viewed as the essential factor" (Edlin &
Harkin, 2003, p.26).
Despite the negative perceptions of public relations scholars who are opposed to
the idea of IMC due to concerns that it may hinder the effectiveness of excellent public
relations, an integrated approach may be able to solve some of the problems that
professionals are facing such as ethical issues. Although public relations as a field tends
to agree that it should be the conscience of the organization to ultimately benefit society
as a whole, often times this is hard to achieve because public relations practitioners are
frequently left out of the decision making process regarding organizational ethics, thus
being powerless (Curtin & Boynton, 2001). Therefore, by becoming more included in
previously excluded areas, IMC also may benefit public relations by giving more power
to the role within the organization, which could ultimately contribute to a more effective
Public Relations and IMC from an International Perspective
As examined above, the movement toward an integration of the communication
principles has been widely debated. Although there are voices of advocacy, for the most
part IMC has been viewed through very skeptical lenses in the public relations realm.
However, much like the fact that the body of knowledge in public relations has been built
around research and studies conducted in the United States and Western countries
(Sriramesh, Kim & Takasaki, 1999), almost all reported studies regarding IMC have been
concerned with the development of the concept, or practice, in cultures where English is
the dominant language (Kim, Han & Schultz, 2004).
Past studies in international public relations have discovered that many theories
and practices that are apparent in the United States and Western countries do not always
apply to all cultures (J. Grunig, L. Grunig, Sriramesh, Huang & Lyra, 1995). If so, it
seems naive to assume that an integrated communication system will hinder the practice
of excellent public relations, or be viewed in the same way in all cultures as well.
Therefore, under the assumption that the environment and culture in which public
relations has developed and is practiced is different for the United States and South
Korea, this thesis will explore whether the perception of IMC differs from that of the
United States in the South Korean public relations field. A second purpose is examining
the degree of its implementation or lack of in corporate public relations practice.
Public Relations in South Korea
The History and Development
Public relations first appeared in South Korea in the late 1940s. In 1945, when
Japan was defeated in World War II, South Korea was freed from 35 years of
colonization. As a result of the Moscow meeting among the United States, the former
USSR, and China on September 8, 1945, the US Army administration over South Korea
was initiated thus, began the introduction of modern public relations in the country
(Rhee, 2002). At the beginning, public relations activities were close to propaganda,
with the American military's General Headquarters (GHQ) primarily censoring and
manipulating the press to enforce its own ideas and policies (Shin & Oh, 2002). As the
GHQ practiced its press policies, United States public relations practices were gradually
absorbed into the Korean media culture as well (Berkowitz & Lee, 2004).
In the 1960s, under the administration of President Jeong-Hee Park, public
relations became active in the corporate sector as well. During this time conglomerate
businesses called "Chaebol" rapidly expanded their businesses (Kim & Hon, 1998).
The Chaebol system in South Korea is a small group of business conglomerates that
dominate the Korean economy (Jo & Kim, 2004). These business groups were closely
tied to the authoritarian government and received special privileges in exchange for
illegal political funds. As a result, public relations was needed to avoid negative press
coverage on these group's close ties with the government and its monopoly of certain
markets (Sriramesh, Kim & Takasaki, 1999). Each Chaebol group set up in-house
public relations departments for this purpose; therefore, public relations practice was
confined to media relations in a reactive manner (Kim & Hon, 1998). Chaebol groups,
which are owned and managed by family members or relatives in many diversified
business areas, actually originate from a similar Japanese business system called
Chaibatz. However, the Japanese Chaibatz system disappeared after World War II
when General Douglas MacArthur led the democratization of Japan (Sriramesh, Kim &
Takasaki, 1999). As for South Korea, Chaebol groups are still very successful and have
major influence over the economy today. Four major Chaebol groups Samsung, SK,
LG, and Hyundai employ more than half a million people directly, and control the jobs
of millions more indirectly (Rhee, 2002).
Not surprisingly, due to the history of its development, and the Chaebol oriented
business system, public relations in South Korea has been focused on media relations
(Kim & Hon, 1998; Jo & Kim 1999; Park, 2001; Rhee, 2002; Berkowitz & Lee, 2004).
According to previous studies, more than 95 percent of operational lines in Korean public
relations agencies consist of media relations, including collection and distribution of
news material, and news monitoring (Park, 2001). However, such practices in South
Korean public relations have been slowly changing since the late 1980s.
Change in South Korean Public Relations
The 1988 Seoul Olympics was a mark in public relations history because it
fostered development of the profession into a more managerial and proactive function.
Since then, there have been indicators that even Chaebol groups have slowly resorted to
two-way communication, although it is very asymmetrical in favor of the organization
(Sriramesh, Kim & Takasaki, 1999).
More recently, there has been significant change within the country that allowed
public relations to take a wider scope of practices into mainstream. In 2002, President
Moo-Hyun Roh was elected. The "participation" government under President Roh's
administration declared in 2003 that it would begin to maintain "tense" relations with the
press, and watch over Chaebol businesses with scrutiny in order to reform the economy.
Accordingly, the government abolished, and put tighter restraints on, some of the
common media relations practices, such as gift giving (Berkowitz & Lee, 2004).
Another important change in the South Korean environment for corporations and
public relations is the emphasis on two-way communication. Factors such as
development of more diverse communication channels, rapidly diffusing information
technologies that lead to consumer fragmentation, and diversified consumer lifestyles,
contribute to this change (Kim, Han & Schultz, 2004). In terms of the development and
diffusion of new information technologies, South Korea is one of the countries moving
the fastest toward an information society. The number of Internet users reached 32.6
million by June 2005, and mobile communication users reached 37.8 million by the end
of August 2005, making South Korea's mobile subscriber base the 14th largest in the
world (MIC, 2005). These figures mean that almost all adults and teenagers, perhaps
even many children, use Internet and mobile communication technologies (Kim, Han &
In addition, many South Korean corporations have become globally successful.
Among the "2005 Global 500 list" from Fortune magazine, Samsung Electronics and
Hyundai Motors were included in the top 100th tier (Fortune, July 25, 2005).
Furthermore, in another article from Fortune magazine, which ranked the 25 most
successful and influential business leaders in Asia, the CEOs of Samsung Electronics and
LG Electronics were listed (Fortune, October 17, 2005). With many of these global
South Korean corporations also being dominant within the South Korean business sector,
corporate brand and brand equity in the South Korean market obviously become
important factors to these organizations as well.
Benefits of IMC in South Korean Corporate Public Relations
Public relations has the potential to be at the center of strategic decision making
in an integrated communications system. Despite much of the negativity about an
integrated communication system, public relations scholars have advocated an integration
of advertising and marketing public relations (J. Grunig & L. Grunig, 1998). However,
it is not just the marketing aspects of public relations that is needed in IMC, but the full
breadth. Public relations has much to contribute because much of IMC is similar to the
basics of public relations theory and practices (Moriarty, 1994). However, due to the
negative lenses through which IMC is dominantly looked through and turf debates about
who shall manage such a program which leads to arguments such as the one about
imperialism public relations in the United States has taken a back step in being
proactively involved in integration.
Nonetheless, the different historical background of the development of public
relations between South Korea and the United States, plus the current change in the South
Korean political and social environment that affects the practice of public relations,
suggest room for different perceptions and practices. From this perspective, public
relations practitioners in South Korea may have different views about IMC especially in
the corporate communications sector, and may be taking different steps toward this
communication approach than their counterparts in the United States. Especially due to
the high penetration of technological advances in South Korea, and the importance of the
corporate brand equity, which comes with the growth of multinational corporations, the
corporate public relations field may have more positive attitudes toward an integrated
communication system. Integration may have the potential for expanding the main role
of a corporate public relations practitioner beyond media relations.
As mentioned in the literature review, most of the IMC studies that have been
done previously had to do with the United States and Western markets. However, there
are a handful of research studies done in Asia. Kim, Han, and Schultz (2004) examined
advertising professionals, both in-house and at agencies, to see how well IMC was
received in the South Korean advertising field. The results showed that there was a high
acceptance of IMC and that the implementation of integrated approaches was increasing.
However, the study also noted that there were implications of barriers such as lack of
staff talent, the present decision making procedure, and the business culture. The
problem that arises with the business culture mainly refers to the "sister company
system," which exists in the Chaebol system, where the client company is restricted to
working with an agency that is a sister company within the big Chaebol group.
Therefore, the client companies are dependent on what their sister companies can do, and
if the sister company agency does not provide IMC services there is not much room for
implementation of an integrated communication approach.
Kitchen and Li (2005) conducted research in Beijing, China, among both
advertising and public relations professionals working in local and foreign agencies.
Results showed that in both professions over 70 percent claimed they offered IMC
services, although what they thought of as the most important factor of IMC differed
between advertisers and public relations practitioners. While most advertising agencies
said that IMC as a strategic business process utilized for brand communication programs
is the most important aspect, public relations agencies gave priority to the IMC aspect of
coordination of communication disciplines. According to the study this indicates that
while Chinese advertising agencies view IMC from a strategic perspective, public
relations agencies seem to locate it at a more tactical level.
These studies suggest a movement toward putting emphasis on the corporate
brand and its brand equity, as well as penetration of IMC in the corporate sector in Asia.
However, both of these studies put a greater emphasis on the advertising profession -
although the Kitchen and Li (2005) study did include public relations practitioners as
well. If IMC is defined as a total integration of all communication disciplines, the
public relations field's perception toward this approach is as important as any other.
Therefore, this study explores how IMC is perceived in the South Korean corporate
public relations sector, and also examines the level of practice, or potential for future
implementation. It attempts to determine if an integrated communications system will
help in shifting the current focus of public relations on media relations to an emphasis on
building and maintaining relationships with diverse publics. This study will examine
the following research questions:
RQ1: What is the perception of IMC in the South Korean corporate public relations field?
RQ2: How widely is IMC practiced in the South Korean corporate public relations field?
RQ3: Has public relations practice of IMC helped widen the scope of South Korean
corporate public relations beyond media relations?
Furthermore, because a majority of the negative perceptions of IMC in the public
relations field in the United States and Western countries come from academia, this thesis
also will study the attitudes of South Korean public relations academicians toward IMC.
To do so, this study will examine the following research questions:
RQ4: What is the perception of IMC in South Korean public relations academia?
RQ5: Do academicians believe that being proactive in an integrated communication
system can broaden the scope of corporate public relations' emphasis beyond media
relations in South Korea.
The main purpose of this study was to examine if an integrated communication
system is positively perceived among South Korean corporate public relations
practitioners. This study explored whether the perception of IMC was positive, whether
IMC was actually practiced and the degree of its implementation, as well as whether it
has helped in broadening the scope of public relations practice. To answer these
questions a quantitative survey method was employed and a self-administrated
questionnaire was used to gather data.
Survey methods are effective when collecting a large amount of data, and allow
the researcher to examine variables such as attitudes, motives, and intentions relatively
easily (Wimmer & Dominick, 2003). Surveys are also flexible, allowing many
questions to be asked, and are consistent because they ask the same question of all
subjects, which allow the researcher to collect a large amount of standardized data
(Babbie, 2001). However, surveys also have weaknesses in that the independent
variables cannot be manipulated or controlled, which makes it difficult to establish
causality between two variables, and inappropriate questionnaire design can bias results
(Wimmer & Dominick, 2003). Surveys also are somewhat inflexible in the sense that
the initial design cannot be changed throughout the study, and they cannot deal with the
context or details of the situation under study (Babbie, 2001). Therefore, to ensure
reliability in a study Babbie (2001) suggests using research methods proven reliable in a
In order to improve reliability in this study the questionnaire was based on the
previous studies of Kim, Han, and Schultz (2004) and Kitchen and Li (2005). The type
of questionnaire they used also has been used for studies in the United States and the
United Kingdom (Kitchen & Li, 2005). However, although this study used this
questionnaire as a basis, it was slightly modified to focus on examining the perceptions of
IMC and its practice among public relations practitioners rather than advertising
practitioners. For example, sub-question 6-e was changed from asking about the
advertising profession to ask about the public relations profession, and questions eight
and nine were added in order to examine the scope of public relations' practice (see
A self-administrated questionnaire in English was designed and translated into
Korean by the researcher. It was reviewed by two Korean public relations practitioners
who did not participate in the survey and have graduate degrees from universities in the
United States. After the survey was complete, the open-ended responses were back
translated into English by the researcher and reviewed again. No major inconsistencies
or problems were found with the translated results.
Sample and Procedure
This study examined public relations practitioners in South Korea working in
corporate public relations. Therefore, practitioners working in-house for corporations as
well as practitioners working at agencies who mainly work in corporate public relations
were targeted. A pretest was done with 15 public relations practitioners who either
work in-house for corporations or agencies in the Seoul area prior to the actual survey.
The 15 pre-test questionnaires were coded and tested for reliability using SPSS 12.0.
The Cronbach's alpha value of the pretest was .747, and according to Woo (2001) if the
Cronbach's alpha value is over .7 a measure is considered reliable. In the main survey,
a total of 150 practitioners were surveyed. The survey was conducted in Seoul, Korea
from December 2005 to January 2006.
For in-house public relations practitioners, those who work in the top two
corporations that have the highest budget for communications were selected. The
corporations were chosen based on information from the Korea Advanced Digital Data
(KADD) Inc. on advertising expenditure from 2000 to 2004. The only two corporations
that were consecutively included in the list of the top five advertisers during the five year
period were Samsung Electronics and SK Telecom as illustrated in table 3-1.
Table 3-1. Top five advertisers from 2000 2004
(currency: ROK Won)
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Samsung SK Telecom LG Electronics KT KTF
2004 Electronics 1.23 billion 0.99 billion 0.94 billion 0.81 billion
Samsung SK Telecom KT N/A N/A
2003 Electronics 1.71 billion 1.02 billion
SK Telecom Samsung LG Electronics KTF KT
2002 2.01 billion Electronics 1.01 billion 1.01 billion 1.00 billion
SK Telecom Samsung KTF LG Electronics NamYang
2001 1.18 billion Electronics 0.76 billion 0.75 billion 0.62 billion
Samsung SK Telecom LG Electronics HyundaiMotors NamYang
2000 Electronics 0.83 billion 0.77 billion 0.65 billion 0.64 billion
A total of 100 questionnaires were distributed to in-house practitioners of the two
corporations and 58 were completed; eight were disregarded for being incomplete. The
questionnaire also was distributed to 50 practitioners by convenience sampling to
practitioners working at public relations agencies in Seoul, Korea. Twenty one
complete questionnaires were collected, making the total number of completed
questionnaires 71 out of 150. The overall response rate of the survey was 47.3 percent.
The Survey Instrument
This study used a 16-item questionnaire that had five sections (see appendix A).
The first section (questions one through five) asked the respondents if they knew about
IMC and whether or not they thought it was important for public relations. This section
also had the respondents tell how important they thought various communication
disciplines are in an integrated approach, as well as their thoughts on the benefits of an
integrated communications approach. The second section (questions six and seven)
asked respondents about the implementation rate of an IMC system or communication
programs that had an integrated communications approach. The third section (questions
eight and nine) asked about the various aspects of a public relations job and whether the
respondents perceived them as being important in public relations, as well as the actual
practice of such various aspects. The fourth section asked for demographic information,
and the fifth section consisted of three open-ended questions to further examine the
respondents' perceptions about public relations and IMC, as well as barriers to
For the questions asking the respondents about perception, importance, or
attitude, a 10 point Likert-type scale was used. Likert-scales are useful in gathering
respondents' opinions, feelings, and attitudes. Likert-scales can either have an odd
number scale, which give respondents the option of having a neutral opinion, or an even
number scale, which forces respondents to make a choice. Although both scales have
advantages and disadvantages, when given the possibility of a neutral option many
respondents tend to take that option (Allen & Yen, 2002). Therefore, although the
Kitchen and Li (2005) study used seven point Likert-type scale, in this study an even
number scale was employed in order to eliminate neutral or undecided responses.
In order to gain more insight and qualitative analysis, intensive interviews also
were conducted for this study. The interviews were conducted to examine the
perception of IMC among the South Korean public relations academic field, and whether
or not academicians thought an integrated communications approach would broaden the
scope of corporate public relations practice.
Intensive interviews generally use a smaller sample. They provide detailed
background about the reason why respondents give specific answers and more accurate
responses on issues. They also allow for longer observation of the respondents'
nonverbal responses which add to the gathering of elaborate data concerning opinions,
values, and feelings (Wimmer & Dominick, 2003). However, intensive interviews have
disadvantages in that they are: 1) hard to generalize to the whole population, 2) in the
case of unstructured interviews the results may not be consistent, and 3) even if the
interviewer is trained properly the results can be biased (Wimmer & Dominick, 2003).
In order to eliminate the disadvantages of bias and inconsistency, all interviews
were conducted by the researcher with the same set of questions for each interviewee.
A total of five questions were asked regarding the perception of an integrated
communications approach from academicians' viewpoints, and their opinion on whether
an integrated system will be able to shift some of the focus on media relations to
establishing and maintaining relationships with more diverse publics (see appendix B).
Six professors in public relations departments who teach in major universities in
South Korea were contacted in November 2005. These professors were chosen because
either: a) they teach at universities that have a separate public relations course or, b) they
were recommended by a public relations agency managerial level practitioner who has
worked with them on consulting accounts for corporations. Due to the fact that it was
the holiday season and winter break, some interviewee candidates could not find the time
to accept the interview. Among the six professors who were contacted, three
participants agreed to a face-to-face interview. The interviews were conducted in
December, 2005 and January, 2006.
The interview questions were originally prepared in English and translated into
Korean by the researcher. The interviews varied from approximately 30 to 50 minutes
and were conducted in Korean. The Korean manuscript then was translated back into
English by the researcher and was reviewed by a Korean graduate student with a master's
degree in public relations from a university in the United States.
Data from the returned surveys were coded and loaded for data analysis.
Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS 12.0) was used for the analysis.
Frequency statistics were utilized to examine RQ1, RQ2, and RQ3. To further explore
each research question, t-tests and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) methods were
also used to test for differences in perception or practice of IMC among respondent
The content of the interviews was analyzed by two people-the main researcher
and another graduate student. The same manuscripts were distributed to the graduate
student, and were analyzed independently. Coder reliability was assessed dialogically-
after the manuscripts were translated into English, the main researcher and coder went
over each answer together to compare differences in their interpretations of the original
interview answers. No significant differences or problems in the interpretations were
Of the 71 people who responded to the questionnaire, 58 percent are male and 42
percent are female. For the type of organization the respondents worked in, 70 percent
worked at an in-house office of a corporation and 30 percent worked at agencies. As for
the ranks of the respondents 62 percent were mid-level employees (assistant managerial
level), 25 percent were entry level, and 13 percent of the respondents' ranks were senior
manager and up (see Table 4-1). The whole population for the in-house practitioners of
the two selected companies was 105 in total: 71 male, 34 female practitioners.
Table 4-1. Demographics of survey respondents
Type of In-House 50 70
organization Agency 21 30
Entry 18 25
Rank Mid 44 62
Upper 9 13
G r Male 41 58
Female 30 42
Examining Research Question
Research question 1
RQ1: What is the perception oflMC in the SNu,,,t Korean corporate public
In order to examine this research question a frequency test was utilized for
questions one through five of the questionnaire. For questions using a 10 point Likert-
type scale, the questionnaire was designed so that the higher the number the more
positive the attitude or perception. The results from question one showed that 83.1
percent of the respondents knew what IMC was. On a 10 point scale (with 10 being the
most positive) when asked how well they knew about IMC and how necessary they felt it
was to public relations, the mean number for each question showed a result of (6.04) and
(7.92) respectively (see Table 4-2).
Table 4-2. Mean of knowledge and necessity of IMC
N Valid 71 71
Missing 0 0
Mean 6.04 7.92
Median 7.00 8.00
Std. Deviation 2.481 1.654
Minimum 1 1
Maximum 9 10
To further explore the perception of IMC among practitioners, differences in
perception according to type of organization, age, and gender also were examined. To
explore the difference in perception between organization types, an independent sample t-
test was utilized. The independent variable was the type of organization, and the
dependent variable was the perception of IMC. Perception in this exploratory
dimension was tested for both the knowledge and the perception of the necessity of IMC
- questions two and three from the questionnaire. Results showed that for knowledge
the p value was less than (.05), which means that there was a statistically significant
difference in knowledge between practitioners who work in-house at corporations and
those who work at agencies. However, for necessity as a perception the p value was
(.066), which means that there was no statistically significant difference between
practitioners working at the two types of organizations (see Table 4-3).
Table 4-3. Significance test for difference in perception between organization types
Levene's Test for
t-test for Equality of Means
Equality of Variances
F Sig. t df tailed)
15.724 .000 -3.516 69 .001
Equal variances not 6
-4.499 66.170 .000
Equal variances.042 -1.389 69 .169
Equal variances not -
assumed867 68.975 .066
Although numerically there is a difference in the mean score for necessity between
the two types of organizations (see Table 4-4), the difference is not statistically
Table 4-4. Group statistics of perception and type of organization
Org. Type N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
In-house 50 5.42 2.596 .367
Agency 21 7.52 1.327 .290
In-house 50 7.74 1.882 .266
SAgency 21 8.33 .796 .174
In order to explore the difference in perception according to age, a one-way
analysis of variance (ANOVA) method was used. The independent variable was the age
of the respondents, and the dependent variable was perception. Results showed that for
both knowledge and necessity as perceptions, the significant values were both higher than
(.05), which means that there was no difference in perception according to age (see Table
Table 4-5. ANOVA for difference in perception according to age
F df Sig.
Between Groups .872 18 .612
Knowledge Within Groups 52
Between Groups .670 18 .824
Necessity Within Groups 52
To explore the difference in perception according to gender, an independent
sample t-test was used with the independent variable being gender, and the dependent
variable being perception. Again, perception was measured with both knowledge of
IMC and the necessity of IMC to public relations.
As can be seen in Table 4-6, there are differences between the mean scores for both
knowledge and necessity depending on the gender of the respondent. The mean score
for knowledge of the male respondents was (6.22), and for female respondents (5.80).
The mean score for necessity of the male respondents was (7.83), and for the female
respondents (8.03). However, t-test results show no statistically significant difference
(see Table 4-7).
Table 4-6. Group statistics of gender and perception
Gender N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
Male 41 6.22 2.574 .402
Female 30 5.80 2.369 .433
Male 41 7.83 2.036 .318
Neceity Female 30 8.03 .928 .169
Table 4-7. Independent samples test for gender and perception
Levene's Test for
Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means
F Sig. t df Sig. (2-tailed)
.074 .787 .701 69 .486
Equal variances 6
.710 65.370 .480
6.955 .010 -.511 69 .611
_____not assume-.566 59.337 .573
As can be seen in Table 4-8, results for which communication tools respondents
thought were most important in IMC showed that practitioners believe public relations is
the most important (mean score of 8.49), followed by advertising (8.30), sales promotions
(7.49), the Internet (7.41), direct marketing (6.63), and personal selling (6.51).
Table 4-8. Importance of communication tools to IMC
Ad PR SP DM PS Internet
N Valid 71 71 71 71 71 71
Missing 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mean 8.30 8.49 7.49 6.63 6.51 7.41
Median 8.00 8.00 8.00 7.00 7.00 8.00
Std. Deviation 1.034 .969 1.827 1.734 1.919 1.917
Minimum 6 5 1 1 1 1
Maximum 10 10 10 10 10 10
As can be seen in Table 4-9, for the survey item about the benefits of IMC,
results showed that the respondents gave the highest score to the statement that it would
increase consistency with a communication message (mean score of 8.04). Respondents
gave the second highest score to the statement that IMC would benefit professionalism in
the communication field as a whole (7.68), followed by IMC would improve
professionalism in public relations (7.39).
Although respondents thought that it was least likely that IMC will be supported by
top management (7.01), this score still indicates a positive response because it is over 5.5.
Thus, overall results showed that corporate public relations practitioners in South Korea
have a positive perception toward IMC, and think that it is necessary in relation to public
Table 4-9. Benefits of IMC
CEO Job Consistency Comm. Pro PR Pro
N Valid 71 71 71 71 71
Missing 0 0 0 0 0
Mean 7.01 7.03 8.04 7.68 7.39
Median 7.00 7.00 8.00 8.00 8.00
Std. Deviation 1.669 1.612 1.719 1.402 1.686
Minimum 1 1 1 1 1
Maximum 10 10 10 10 10
Research question 2
RQ2: What is the practice rate of lMC in the SN,,lui Korean corporate public
In order to examine the research question, descriptive statistics of question
numbers six and seven from the questionnaire were analyzed. Results showed that
although only 49.3 percent of respondents answered that an IMC system has been
implemented in their work, 93 percent replied that there were some communication
campaigns that had an integrated communication approach (see Tables 4-10 and 4-11).
Table 4-10. Applicability of IMC
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid No 4 5.6 5.6 5.6
After 6 8.5 8.5 14.1
26 36.6 36.6 50.7
Yes 35 49.3 49.3 100.0
_Total 71 100.0 100.0_
Table 4-11. Practice rate of an integrated communication program
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid No 5 7.0 7.0 7.0
Less than 25% 23 32.4 32.4 39.4
25 35.2 35.2 74.6
Less than 50%
ver0 11 15.5 15.5 90.1
Less than 75%
Over 75% 7 9.9 9.9 100.0
_Total 71 100.0 100.0
In order to further explore the practice rate of an integrated system, a statistical
analysis was done utilizing an independent sample t-test to see if there was a difference
between the type of organization and practice rates. The practice rate consisted of two
aspects the applicability of an IMC system and the implementation of integrated
communication type campaigns questions six and seven on the survey questionnaire.
As shown in Table 4-12, results of the t-test show that there is a difference in
applicability of an IMC system according to organizational type (p =.037), but not for
practice rates of communication campaigns that are some type of an integrated
communications approach. Since the agency mean for applicability is higher than that
of the in-house, results show that agencies tend to have a more positive perception in
applying an IMC system within the organization (see Table 4-13).
Table 4-12. Independent samples test for practice rate and organization type
Levene's Test for
Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means
F Sig. t df Sig. (2-tailed)
.883 .351 -2.124 69 .037
Equal variances 8.380 .005 -.569 69 .571
Equal variances -.650 51.891 .518
Table 4-13. Group statistics of practice rate and organization type
Org. Type N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
Appli y In-house 50 2.16 .866 .122
Agency 21 2.62 .740 .161
Il. In-house 50 1.84 1.167 .165
SAgency 21 2.00 .837 .183
Research question 3
RQ3: Has public relations 'practice oflMC helped widen the scope of Sol,,,
Korean corporate public relations practice beyond media relations?
To examine this research question, first respondents were asked questions about
how important they felt various aspects of public relations are, including media relations,
consumer relations, investor relations, government relations, internal relations, corporate
citizenship, etc. Then they were asked how much time they actually devoted to each
aspect in doing theirjob as a corporate public relations practitioner. Again, a 10 point
Likert-type scale was used with one being not important, or devote no time, to ten being
very important, or devote all of their time.
Results showed that respondents viewed media relations as being the most
important job in public relations (mean score of 8.34). The second most important
aspect was consumer relations (8.00), followed by corporate citizenship (7.76), investor
relations (7.66), and internal relations (7.45). Results showed that the respondents
thought government relations was the least important (see Table 4-14).
Table 4-14. Perception of importance of job as ect to PR
MR CR IR GR Internal CSR
N Valid 71 71 71 71 71 71
Missing 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mean 8.34 8.00 7.66 7.34 7.45 7.76
Median 9.00 8.00 8.00 8.00 8.00 8.00
Std. Deviation 1.444 1.464 1.341 1.492 1.566 1.608
Minimum 1 1 5 1 1 1
Maximum 10 10 10 10 10 10
When asked about how much time the respondents actually spent on each aspect of
a public relations job, results showed that respondents devoted the most time to media
relations (6.48), followed by consumer relations (5.72), internal relations (5.52),
corporate citizenship (5.20), and investor relations (4.13). Government relations again
came in last (see Table 4-15).
Table 4-15. Time actually spent on each job aspect
MR CR IR GR Internal CSR
N Valid 71 71 71 71 71 71
Missing 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mean 6.48 5.72 4.13 3.93 5.52 5.20
Median 7.00 7.00 4.00 4.00 6.00 5.00
Std. Deviation 2.704 2.559 2.158 2.332 2.407 2.584
Minimum 1 1 1 1 1 1
Maximum 10 10 9 9 10 10
To further explore whether an integrated communications approach helped
broaden the scope of the perception of public relations, the relation between the
respondents' perceptions of IMC and their perceptions of the importance of various
public relations job aspects were analyzed using an independent sample t-test. Attitude
was measured by how necessary the respondents thought IMC was in public relations
(question three). The perception of the importance of multiple job aspects was
measured by the sum score of ratings for various aspects of public relations (question
eight). Since the question asking respondents about the necessity of IMC in public
relations was designed as a 10 point Likert-type scale, answers that were five points or
below were coded as negative attitudes and answers that were six points or above were
coded as positive attitudes.
Results of the t-test show a statistically significant value of (.038) (see Table 4-
16). This finding demonstrates that respondents with a positive attitude toward IMC
tend to view multiple aspects of public relations important, as opposed to viewing a
single aspect (i.e., media relations) as being dominantly important in public relations.
Table 4-16. t-test for attitude and perception of importance for various PR jobs aspects
Levene's Test for
Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means
F Sig. t df Sig. (2-tailed)
Overall Equal variances
2.175 .145 -2.116 69 .038
Equal variances 3 3
-1.478 3.163 .231
In exploring whether an integrated communications approach helped broaden the
scope of public relations practice, the relation between the respondents' perceptions of
IMC and the time that the respondents devoted to various public relations job aspects
were analyzed using a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). The practice rate was
measured by the respondents' responses to question seven of the questionnaire, and the
time devoted was measured by the sum of scores for question nine.
As can be seen in Table 4-17, results of the ANOVA test showed no statistically
significant difference between the practice rate of IMC and devoting more time to
multiple aspects of public relations. In other words, even if respondents work in
organizations that have an over 75 percent rate of integrated communication campaigns,
respondents do not necessarily devote more time to multiple aspects of public relations
than those who work in organizations that do not practice IMC at all.
Table 4-17. ANOVA for implementation ofIMC and practice of various PR job aspects
F df Sig.
Between Groups .748 4 .563
Within Groups 66
The intensive interviews were conducted in order to gain insight into the
perception of an integrated communications system in the South Korean academic field.
Among the three participants, two of them had a generally positive attitude toward IMC
and felt that it was being accepted as an integral part of public relations practice, and one
participant thought that the notion of IMC was a phase that will pass.
Examining Research Questions
Research question 4
RQ4: What is the perception of lMC in S.Ntli Korean public relations academia?
To examine this research question participants were asked about their
perspective, as well as what they thought the general attitude of Korean public relations
academia is toward an integrated communications approach. Two participants showed a
positive attitude toward IMC, saying that an integrated communications system will
create synergy between public relations and marketing communications. One
participant mentioned that especially in the practice of corporate communications, the
coordination or integration among marketing and public relations departments is
frequent: "marketing communication practitioners are striving to learn more about other
aspects besides marketing such as product managing, advertising, and especially public
relations. They are realizing that in order to see the larger picture public relations is
essential." The participant added that just as public relations is becoming an
indispensable aspect to marketing, the opposite is also true.
Another participant mentioned that since marketing professionals are realizing the
importance of publics other than consumers, public relations is playing a vital role in
IMC. This is not only because the profession deals with relationships with diverse
publics, but also because marketing is realizing that these other publics can actually
influence consumers. Public relations in this sense is vital to marketing
communications because it manages the various environments that directly and indirectly
affect the consumer public. She also pointed out that a more appropriate terminology
for this integrated communications approach is IC (Integrated Communications), which
in her perspective encompassed the concept of IMC within.
Both these participants acknowledged that there is some negativity in the public
relations academic field toward IMC due to turf battles and control issues. One
participant said that "although the Korean public relations academia accepts the IMC
paradigm, it seems that they also think that public relations should be in control of
marketing." He went on to further explain about this control issue, saying that since
corporations need to build relationships and gain trust with diverse publics, public
relations academia may have a tendency to view marketing communications as a single
function dealing with consumer publics within the broader spectrum of public relations.
Nevertheless, he also mentioned that despite these differences, marketing
communications and public relations alike seem to agree that in corporate practice all
disciplines are working for the same goal. Coexistence is not only inevitable, but also is
needed to enhance effectiveness.
Another participant also mentioned that although in the public relations
curriculum IMC is not taught separately, MPR (Marketing Public Relations) is offered
and that the theories and basis for that course derive from IMC literature. She also said
that when teaching public relations, it is almost impossible to ignore marketing
environments because often times that is what influences, or affects, the environment of
However, one participant voiced his opinion that his perception of IMC was
negative. First of all, he mentioned that IMC was not a substantial practice but more of
a passing phase. "Like emotional marketing or green marketing," he said, "it's
temporary." The participant also mentioned that IMC came from a need for advertising
agencies to include public relations, or an integrated communication approach, to expand
their services for company growth. Therefore, IMC may serve as a similar tool for
public relations agencies in expanding their territory, but otherwise the notion of IMC is a
threat to public relations.
Research question 5
RQ5: Do academicians believe that being proactive in an integrated
communication system can broaden the scope of corporate public relations'
emphasis beyond media relations in Sn,,,iu Korea?
To examine what the participants thought about this question, they were asked
what they thought was the most emphasized aspect among public relations in South
Korea. They were also asked to comment on whether or not they thought an integrated
communication approach could broaden the scope of public relations.
To this question all of the participants answered that media relations was
probably the most emphasized aspect of Korean public relations. However, the details
about how or why media relations is emphasized were slightly different for each
One participant said that although media relations is still important, the way that it
is practiced has changed, mainly due to advances in technology. Since digital
broadcasting and the Internet have created a new digital media era, it has become much
easier and faster for publics to access information through a variety of channels.
Therefore, the practice of media relations has taken a different form because public
relations practitioners can no longer build strong relationships with a selected few media
outlets that used to dominate the information channels. As this participant explained,
"These major newspapers and television stations that used to be almighty in influencing
publics have now become just one of the very many channels available."
He also mentioned that there is a current trend for organizations to make and
operate their own media outlet via the Internet in the form of an on-line newspaper. The
strategy is to get their voice out to the public and this is also a new form of a controlled
communication device that public relations practitioners have to take on.
Another participant pointed out that although media relations is still an important
function of public relations, it is not the same practice as it was because media relations is
not just about building good relations with journalists or powerful media outlets. Rather,
media relations is to facilitate the use of media as a tactic or means to get out information
and messages that will build strong and beneficial relationships with diverse publics
within the context of a larger function of public relations such as issue management or
However, one participant mentioned that media relations was still the most
important function of public relations mainly because organizations that have more
access to the media are considered to be more competent or powerful. He also
mentioned that in the sense of an organization being a powerful entity, government
relations is becoming increasingly important as well.
When asked whether or not IMC could broaden the scope of public relations
practice in South Korea, one participant replied that he did not think so at all. The other
two participants answered that an integrated communication approach would definitely
widen the scope of public relations.
One participant explained that an integrated communications approach makes it
possible to take into consideration and utilize other channels and ways in which
relationships can be built with various publics. He continued to say that "(IMC) allows
public relations practitioners to explore other tools such as events, personal selling,
promotional campaign activities, etc., in order to reach publics and not depend solely on
media to get their message across."
Another participant said that IMC definitely broadens the scope of public
relations practice because it diversifies publics, thus making the job of a public relations
practitioner to be "360 degree public management." She also mentioned a trend toward
public relations consulting becoming prominent in areas such as reputation management
and issue/crisis management. This trend not only enhances the need for research in the
field, but these specializations also use a good combination of theory and practice.
This research presents how an integrated communication approach is perceived
and practiced among corporate public relations practitioners in South Korea despite much
negativity about IMC in Western based public relations academia (Duncan & Everett,
1993; Miller & Rose, 1994; Kitchen et al., 2004). Also, since most of the literature
review on IMC was derived from an academic perspective, this thesis examined the
South Korean academic perspective on IMC as well.
Perception of IMC in South Korean Corporate Public Relations
This study showed that the overall perception of IMC was positive among
corporate public relations practitioners in South Korea. On average, practitioners gave a
higher score than the neutral point on the questions asking about their knowledge of IMC,
as well as on how necessary they thought it was in public relations practice. Although
the mean score for knowledge was slightly lower than their perception of necessity for an
integrated communication approach, the results can be interpreted as being positive on
both counts. This also shows that although they may not be that familiar with an
integrated communications approach, they are very open minded in adapting this concept
to their public relations practice. Practitioners also thought that public relations and
advertising were the most important communication tools in IMC, but they also thought
highly of other tools as well with every sector registering a higher score than the mid -
Practitioners thought that the most beneficial aspect of an integrated
communication approach was being able to maintain a consistent communication
message, followed by IMC enhancing the professionalism in the communication field in
general, and then enhancing the professionalism in public relations. Although, they
thought that it was least likely that an integrated communications approach would be
supported by top management, even this statement received a score that was well above
the neutral point. This shows that the general tendency of the practitioners regarding
the benefits of IMC to public relations was positive. Therefore, contrary to the findings
from the literature which suggested that the public relations field viewed IMC as a form
of marketing imperialism and that IMC would harm the practice of effective public
relations practice (Kitchen et al., 2004; J. Grunig & L. Grunig, 1998), this study showed
that at least with these public relations practitioners in South Korea this is not the case.
There was optimism about IMC in South Korea among the academicians as well.
Academicians said that since corporations and marketing communicators alike are
realizing the importance of diverse publics and the need to build and maintain good
relationships with them for sustainability and business success, an integrated
communication approach is inevitable. Although they did mention some negativity
from the public relations academic field toward IMC due to turf battles and power control
issues, they believed that the negativity is decreasing.
However, there was also one academic opinion that IMC was simply a passing
phase that was neither needed nor beneficial. This coincides with Cornelissen and
Lock's (2000) claim that IMC is a management fashion rather than a theoretical concept.
Although the other two academicians interviewed for this study had a more positive
attitude toward IMC in relation to public relations, since these results cannot be
generalized to the whole population, this study would have to conclude that similar to
public relations academia in the United States, IMC seems to be a debatable topic in
South Korea as well, with both advocates and opposition present.
Practice of IMC in South Korean Corporate Public Relations
This study found that the overall practice rate of an integrated communication
approach was fairly high among South Korean corporations. Although less than half of
the practitioners replied that their organizations implement an IMC system (49.3 %),
almost all of them said that their practices include some degree of communication
campaigns that adopt an integrated approach (93 %).
This study also showed that public relations practitioners generally thought that
various aspects of public relations were all important to the practice. Although media
relations scored the highest, even the lowest score which was for government relations,
was well over the neutral point, and the difference between the highest and lowest scores
was small (1.00). The time practitioners spent on various aspects of the public relations
job showed consistent results with what practitioners thought was important, with the
most time spent on media relations and the least time spent on government relations.
However, the gap between the scores for the actual practice time showed a larger
difference (2.55) than that for perception, and while the scores for all of the sections in
perception were above the mid point, for actual practice time several sections fell below
the neutral line.
Through this study, in which government relations scored the lowest points in both
perception and practice, it seems that South Korean corporate public relations
practitioners regard government relations as the least important aspect of their practice.
However, a possible explanation for this result may exist due to the organizational
structure of the corporations. Most practitioners who participated in this survey work in
organizations where there is a separate department in charge of government relations.
Since this survey only included those who work in public relations departments, they may
have responded less favorably to government relations because it is not included in their
territory at work.
Interview results also showed optimism that an integrated communication
approach would broaden the scope of public relations practice. This is because an
integrated approach would have to take into consideration more diverse publics, and
under such a system public relations could not solely focus on one specific public such as
the media. Examining the relationship between IMC and the scope of public relations
among practitioners, results showed that practitioners who had positive perspectives of
IMC tended to see more aspects of public relations as important functions to the
profession. However, no significant results were found for the relationship between the
practice of IMC and the time practitioners actually devoted to different functions of
These results show that overall the positive perceptions of an integrated
communication approach and the importance of diverse publics did not correspond
exactly to the actual practices executed in the field. This discrepancy could imply that
although IMC sounds good in theory there may be factors that prevent this approach from
being applied or showing the projected effects. Some obstacles in implementing an
integrated communication approach were mentioned by interviewees and practitioners in
their answers to the open-ended questions. Although reasons varied from person to
person, several obstacles in common could be identified.
Most of the issues recognized especially by the practitioners were related to
organizational problems. Many practitioners felt that there would be territorial conflict
between marketing departments and public relations departments. Similar to the turf
battles mentioned in the literature review as well as the interview results, many
practitioners felt that although an integrated communication system would benefit the
public relations practice, territorial claims among different departments within the
organization are an issue. Without a unified department overseeing the entire
communication process or strong initiatives from top management this type of conflict
would be difficult to resolve. However, many practitioners felt that top management
currently does not have enough motivation to draw definite lines of responsibility or
solve such problems. Another prominent issue was the short-term nature of some
communication campaigns. Many practitioners saw IMC as a long-term initiative but a
significant portion of the campaigns that they execute focus on immediate results,
therefore making the process inadaptable. Others mentioned the reality of having to
focus on media relations, which is another dilemma that cannot be resolved unless there
is a top down initiative.
Some practitioners who work at agencies pointed out that there was not much need
from clients for an integrated communication campaign, or that there was little awareness
among clients. Academicians cited lack of awareness among top management as a
possible obstacle as well as the lack of infrastructure for an IMC system.
Integrated marketing communications (IMC) has been a research topic for over
the last two decades (Madhavaram, Badrinarayanan, & McDonald, 2005). Among the
various communication fields that have scholarship about IMC, there exist differences
among researchers in the conceptualization of IMC, meaning that there are both
advocates and those who are opposed to the idea. Public relations is no exception
among this variety of communication disciples, where there are advocates for an
integrated communication approach among the field as well (Madhavaram,
Badrinarayanan, & McDonald, 2005; Miller & Rose, 1994; Moriarty, 1994). However,
based on the literature review, it seems that there is more tendency among the public
relations academic field in the United States to view IMC in a negative light (Duncan &
Everett, 1993; Miller & Rose, 1994; Moriarty, 1994; J. Grunig & L. Grunig, 1998;
Kitchen et al., 2004). Although the concerns that many scholars have about adopting an
integrated communication approach to the public relations field may be legitimate, this
thesis sought to explore those opposing views, especially in the sector of corporate public
Based on the perspective that corporations have a unified and ultimate goal,
which is to enhance their corporate brand equity, communication has become a much
more diverse and important function within organizations since corporations no longer
are being valued solely on their financial performance. IMC literature has suggested
that integrated marketing communications is an effective strategy in building and
maintaining brand equity (Naik & Raman, 2003; Keller, 2003). Therefore, this thesis
studied whether or not there was a gap between the perception of IMC in public relations
literature and the perception of IMC among public relations practitioners in the corporate
sector. This study also studied whether the perspectives of Western based academia
would apply to those of a different culture.
To conclude, although the overall perception of IMC in the South Korean
academic field was as debatable and diverse as viewpoints in the United States, IMC had
more positive connotations. In addition, although there were concerns about obstacles
in implementing an IMC system and skepticism about the probability of being able to
overcome those obstacles, attitudes toward an integrated communication approach among
these Korean public relations practitioners were generally positive. This finding
suggests more in-depth research about the relationship and effectiveness between IMC
and corporate public relations is needed.
Public relations is a field of study that cannot be independent of practice.
Furthermore, corporate public relations is a sector that cannot be understood apart from
its business environment. When taking into consideration the fast moving pace of and
rapid changes in the business world, it is possible that public relations academic research
is not reflective of current trends and changes that need to be studied to bridge the gap
between theory and practice. Although the thought of having a normative theory may
be reassuring, in order for public relations to grow and develop as a professional field,
scholars and practitioners alike need to continually adapt and challenge prevailing
There are two major contributions from this study to public relations. First, this
study attempted to uncover the perceptions about an approach that is more practice
related in nature but rarely examined from practitioners' view. Although there have
been studies that have examined the perceptions of advertising practitioners, and partial
studies of perceptions among practitioners at public relations agencies, none had a main
focus on the relationship between public relations and an integrated communication
system (Kim, Han & Schultz, 2004; Kitchen & Li, 2005). The academic literature
review suggests that many scholars in public relations feel that IMC is an area of interest
for research. However, this study showed that there is certainly some difference in
attitude toward IMC within academia and practice. Therefore, this thesis may be able to
evoke some interest into looking at what an integrated communication system means for
the profession and re-examine assumptions about its effectiveness.
Secondly, this thesis added to the field of international public relations by
examining the possibility of differences in perception about IMC among different
cultures. Although the findings from the intensive interviews cannot be generalized to
the entire South Korean academic field, the overall attitude toward an integrated
communication approach seemed to be different from that found among academicians in
the United States. It is difficult to say that these differences are absolute. There very
well could be much positive attitude toward an integrated communication approach from
the public relations field in the United States, or other Western cultures, that the
researcher was not aware of. However, given the fact that the perception of U.S. based
academia comes from literature review, views about the subject that are not published
cannot be included and the underlying connotation of the overall literature that was found
could be interpreted to indicate such negativity. Also, since the interview data of this
study cannot be generalized to the whole population, a more elaborate research on South
Korean academia may show results that contradict the ones found here. This is one
limitation of this study that is further explained in detail below.
In addition, among academicians and practitioners alike, IMC was thought to be
beneficial to public relations in South Korea because it could diversify the scope of
important publics beyond the media. This media relations orientation is not unique but
definitely is an important aspect of South Korean public relations. So, this media focus
may be one of the reasons why an integrated communication approach was more
positively evaluated. This suggests for international public relations, a normative theory
in one culture may not apply to another.
Limitations and Future Research
The key drawbacks of this study are that the sample size was relatively small, the
majority of the survey respondents come from two particular corporations, and much of
the analysis of perception comes from a quantitative study.
The researcher had reason to choose the two particular South Korean corporations
to be the main target of the survey as explained earlier. However, since these two
corporations tend to have a larger budget for communications compared to the average
Korean corporation, the attitudes or perceptions that the practitioners had toward IMC
may be different from practitioners who work at smaller organizations with a
substantially smaller budget. Therefore, future studies could expand the sample to
include practitioners from large, medium size, and small corporations, as well as agencies
to see if practitioners' perceptions toward IMC differ according to the size and type of
organization they work for. Also, both of the corporations that were represented in this
study belong to the electronics/information technology sector. Therefore, further studies
could also research organizations by industry type (i.e., automobile, food, entertainment,
etc.) to see if there are any significant differences between them, and to see if there are
any characteristics that are unique to a specific industry as well.
Secondly, since the qualitative analysis was designed merely as a supplement to the
survey, although there were some insightful findings, they cannot be generalized.
Future qualitative studies could examine a larger group of academicians to see whether
their perceptions of IMC differ from those of educators in the United States. Also, a
qualitative study of practitioners would be insightful for examining whether there is a gap
between theory and practice, and if so what the reasons are.
Finally, although this thesis based its literature review mainly on academic
literature from the United States, the perceptions of practitioners that is researched was
from a different culture. This is a factor that could be accountable for the differences
found between theory and practice in this study because not only are there cultural
differences between the two locations, but there are also other differences such as
infrastructure, market, technology, etc. All of these factors make it hard for a direct
comparison of the two cultures without controlling for variables. Therefore, a possible
future study could research the perceptions of IMC among United States public relations
practitioners in the corporate sector to examine if there is a gap between theory and
practice. Also, an experimental study of the perception of U.S. practitioners and South
Korean practitioners, where all other variables except culture are controlled, could be a
future venture to study if there are in fact cultural differences that affect the practice of
IMC in public relations. In addition, to further expand the study of the impact of
cultural differences in the perception of IMC in public relations, several countries could
be researched and then compared to, to see if there are similarities or differences by
country and by region (i.e. Asia, Western Europe, North America, Latin America, etc.) as
1. IMC can be defined as "a strategic process used to plan, develop, execute and
evaluate coordinated, measurable, persuasive brand communications programs
over time with consumers, prospects, employees, associates and other targeted,
relevant external and internal audiences."
According to this definition do you know what IMC is? O Yes O No
1-1. If you know what IMC is but disagree with the definition provided here, please
specify your definition of IMC. (if this question does not apply to you please go
to question 2)
2. How familiar are you with the concept of IMC? (Please indicate on a scale of 1 to
Don't Know .......................................... Know very well
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
0 0 0 00 0 0 L 0
3. How necessary do you think IMC is in public relations?
Not necessary ................... ............... ..... .. Very necessary
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4. Please rate the importance of the following communication tools in developing an
IMC campaign by ticking the box that best corresponds to your perception:
Unimportant .. .......... ............ Very important
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
(a) Advertising O O O O O O O O O O
(b) Public relations O O O O O O O O O O
(c) Sales promotions / events O O O O O O O O O O
(d) Direct marketing O O O O O O O O O O
(e) Personal selling O O O O O O O O O O
(f) Internet 0 O O O O O O O O O
(g) Other (please specify)....................
5. Please rate how much you agree with the following statements on a scale from 1 to
(a) IMC is/will be supported by top management
(b) IMC gives me more control/power of my job
(c) Integration increases consistency in
(d) IMC will improve the professionalism in
the overall communications field
(e) IMC will improve the professionalism in
6. What is your view on the applicability of IMC within your organization?
D Already applying D Apply within 3 years D Apply after 3 years D Will not apply
7. What percentage of your communication campaigns are some type of an
'integrated communication program'?
D Less than 25%
D Between 25% and 50%
D Between 51% and 75%
D Over 75%
8. Please rate the following aspects of public relations in relation to their importance
to the job:
(a) Media relations
(b) Consumer relations
(c) Investor relations
(d) Government relations
(e) Internal relations
(f) Corporate citizenship
(g) Other (please specify)............
1 2 3
D D DL
D D DL
D D DL
D D DL
D D DL
D D DL
8 9 10
D D D O
L] DI D
] D O D
D D D O
1 D D D
] D O D
9. Please rate the following aspects by how much time you spend on it as a public
(a) Media relations
(b) Consumer relations
(c) Investor relations
(d) Government relations
(e) Internal relations
(f) Corporate citizenship
(g) Other (please specify)............
All the time
3 D D
10. Please indicate the type of organization you work for:
O In-house O Agency
11. Please indicate your current job position:
O Staff O Manager O Executive
12. Please indicate your age:
13. Please indicate your gender:
0 Male O Female
Please answer the following open-ended question about your organizations' implementation
14. Please identify and discuss any major barriers that hinder the implementation
or future development of IMC in your organizations.
15. Please discuss your personal thoughts on IMC and its effect on PR (example:
positive vs. negative) in detail
16. What do you think are the major reasons for not implementing IMC programs,
or the public relations departments' lack of participation? (if applicable)
1. What is your perception of IMC? What do you think of it in relation to the
public relations field (i.e. negative, positive, etc.)
2. What is the general attitude toward IMC in the South Korean public relations
3. What do you think is emphasized the most in public relations' practice in South
4. Do you think an integrated communication system will be able to shift away some
focus from media relations to building relationships with other publics?
5. What do you think are possible barriers and obstacles in implementing an IMC
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Hyojin Jeannie Shin was born in Seoul, Korea, on October 10, 1977. She
graduated with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Ewha Women's
University, one of the most prestigious colleges in South Korea.
She has worked in the corporate sector in public relations and advertising from
2000 to 2004, before returning to graduate school to further her education. She started
her graduate program in the fall of 2004 and completed her Master of Arts in Mass
Communication with a specialization in public relations from the University of Florida in
2006. During her graduate study, she was interested in corporate public relations,
integrated communication, public relations and its application to branding, as well as
international public relations theories.
After graduation she plans to continue her professional career in public relations
and integrated communication.