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1 GATEKEEPING APPLIED TO PUBLIC RELATIONS: HOW A NEWSROOM BEHAVIOR IMPROVES KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT By CASSIANO POLESI A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011
2 2011 Cassiano Polesi
3 To my family, with special care to my wife, Denise
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank the 17 professionals who invested their time to share experiences about their practicesthey are informal coauthors of this work; Dr. Juan-Carlos Molleda, for his support; Dr. Spiro Kiousis and Dr. Ronald Rodgers, fo r keeping me focused; Rosana Dias, Joo Cumerlato, and Miriam Sanger, for their netw orking; Donald Cook, for his comments; Ariel Gunn and Charlie Meyer, for helping me organize the thousands of words ahead.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............................................................................................................... 4 ABSTRACT ...................................................................................................................... ...............8 CHAPTER 1 FROM JOURNALISM TO PUBLIC RELATIONS ................................................................9 Seeking Information in Journalism and in Public Relations ....................................................9 How is Gatekeeping Defined in Journalism and in Public Relations? ...................................11 A Tool to Improve Attention .................................................................................................. 13 Are Public Relations Theories Blin d to Important Journalism Practices? .............................14 2 LITERATURE REVIEW .......................................................................................................17 Gatekeeping in Journalism Studies .........................................................................................17 An Idea Grounded on Decades of Research ......................................................................19 Gatekeeping, a Management Task, a Filter, or Both .........................................................22 Levels of analysis on gatekeeping .....................................................................................23 Research questions .......................................................................................................... ...28 Gatekeeping in Public Relations Studies ................................................................................30 Information Management Skills in Public Relations .........................................................33 Issues Management ........................................................................................................... .34 Environmental Scanning ....................................................................................................35 Boundary Spanning ........................................................................................................... .36 Modern and Contemporaneous Views of the Three Topics ..............................................37 3 METHODOLOGY ................................................................................................................. 41 Research Strategies: Method, Pro cedures, Sampling, and Recruitment .................................41 The Field Procedure ......................................................................................................... ..43 The Sampling Process and Recruitment ............................................................................44 The Research Instrument and Protocol ...................................................................................45 4 FINDINGS .................................................................................................................... ..........47 Sample Summary ............................................................................................................... .....47 RQ1: Selecting Information ................................................................................................... .49 Criteria Follow Strategy .................................................................................................... .49 Internal Culture Defines the Value of Communication .....................................................50 Systematic Searching of Information .................................................................................53 Criteria Follow the Client .................................................................................................. 55 Criteria Follow the Market .................................................................................................5 6 Criteria Follow the Society ................................................................................................5 7
6 Defensive/Offensive Strategies a nd New Contexts Also Set Criteria ...............................57 Gathering Information With News Providers ....................................................................59 RQ2: Evaluating the Selected Information .............................................................................61 Experience, Subjectivity .................................................................................................... 61 Journalistic Flair, Sensibility ............................................................................................. 63 Criteria for Evaluating Information ...................................................................................65 Knowledge as a Social Activity .........................................................................................65 Other Perceptions Enhance Evaluations ............................................................................66 RQ3: Sharing Knowledge ....................................................................................................... 67 Informal Sharing of Knowledge ........................................................................................67 Systematic Ways of Sharing Knowledge ...........................................................................69 Unexpected Findings .......................................................................................................... ....74 Marketing ................................................................................................................... ........74 Human Resources ............................................................................................................. .75 Public Relations ............................................................................................................ .....76 Research and Relationship Building ..................................................................................76 Low Profile Communication..............................................................................................76 Outline Disguised the Pu rpose of the Interview ................................................................77 5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION ....................................................................................78 Implications of Gatekeeping in Corporate Communication ...................................................79 Gatekeeping and Management Efficiency .........................................................................80 Gatekeeping, Structure and Agency ..................................................................................81 Corporate Opinion or Positioning ......................................................................................83 Systematic Information ...................................................................................................... 84 The Communications and Public Relations Functions ......................................................85 Marketing, Human Resources, Policies .............................................................................86 Gatekeeping and Research .................................................................................................86 Limitations and Future Research ............................................................................................87 Nonbusiness Organizations ................................................................................................87 Differences Among Countries ...........................................................................................87 Internal Culture ............................................................................................................ ......88 Decision Making ............................................................................................................. ...89 Conclusion... ................................................................................................................ ...........90 APPENDIX A INTERVIEW REQUESTING ................................................................................................91 B INTERVIEW OUTLINE ........................................................................................................92 C RESEARCH INSTRUMENT .................................................................................................93 D INTERVIEW #1 ................................................................................................................ .....94 E INTERVIEW #2 ................................................................................................................ .....95
7 F INTERVIEW #3 ................................................................................................................ .....96 G INTERVIEW #4 ................................................................................................................ .....97 H INTERVIEW #5 ................................................................................................................ .....99 I INTERVIEW #6 ................................................................................................................ ...100 J INTERVIEW #7 ................................................................................................................ ...101 K INTERVIEW #8 ................................................................................................................ ...102 L INTERVIEW #9 ................................................................................................................ ...103 M INTERVIEW #10 ............................................................................................................... ..104 N INTERVIEW #11 ............................................................................................................... ..105 O INTERVIEW #12 ............................................................................................................... ..106 P INTERVIEW #13 ............................................................................................................... ..107 Q INTERVIEW #14 (WRITTEN) ...........................................................................................109 R INTERVIEW #15 ............................................................................................................... ..110 S INTERVIEW #16 ............................................................................................................... ..111 T INTERVIEW #17 ............................................................................................................... ..113 U NUMERIC SUMMARY OF FINDINGS ............................................................................114 LIST OF REFERENCES ............................................................................................................ .116 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................................121
8 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication GATEKEEPING APPLIED TO PUBLIC RELATIONS: HOW A NEWSROOM BEHAVIOR IMPROVES KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT By Cassiano Polesi May 2011 Chair: Juan-Carlos Molleda Major: Mass Communication Gatekeeping is the idea behind the making of news and is a well-known behavior in newsrooms worldwide. The leading purpose of this thesis is to analyze whether the gatekeeping process applies to non-news orga nizations. The goal is to help public relations practitioners manage strategic information by discussing ways to improve their ability to gather and share knowledge. Journalism studies has embraced gatek eeping since the 1950s, but the idea has so far not been used in public relations theories as a management model. This thesis brings together several views on gatekeeping from journalism, co mpares the ways it is analyzed in the public relations field, and looks for analogies in three ot her branches of discussion in public relations: issues management, environmental scanning, an d boundary spanning. The fieldwork consists of 16 in-depth phone interviews w ith top managers and middle managers involved in handling information for their communication areas or business units. The inte rviews question how participants select, evaluate, a nd share strategic information. The work assumes that gatekeeping exists in corporations, but that it is not as clear or as valued in corporations as it is in newsrooms. Nevertheless, the gatekeeping role has the po tential to strengthen corporate knowledge and public relations management.
9 CHAPTER 1 FROM JOURNALISM TO PUBLIC RELATIONS This study aims to explore how the journalism practice of gatekeeping applies to public relations. Gatekeeping is a newsroom working f eature that journalists and journalism scholars use to define and name the judgment behind th e act of gathering, f iltering, and evaluating information in order to hold it back, or move it fo rward to others in a decision chain. Hence, this study seeks to apply the newsroom gatekeep ing metaphor within non-news organizations, meaning companies handling any markets other than journalism. Seeking Information in Journalism and in Public Relations Gatekeeping is the function behind news making, so it is a model well known to journalists and publishers. In fact, it is the basis of daily work in news outlets worldwide, no matter the medium used as output. The gatekeeping idea is inherent not only to journalism but to any decision-making action, which is dependent on in formation gathering, selecting, and analyzing. Indeed, the concept is viewed in the social sciences as a meta phor for any turning point decision, made by anyone, who is then the gatekeeper of th at message or piece of information. Thus, this thesis extrapolates from thes e sourcesjournalism and social sciencesthe understanding of gatekeeping as the fundamental act responsible for building awareness and meaning, concepts related to what is labe led by business scholars as knowledge management Knowledge means understanding information, the ability to learn about or be aware of something. So the goal here is to explore gatekeeping as the basis of a knowledge management model for public relations, despite remaining linked to how the idea is exercised in journalism, and by journalists. This analysis advances by comparing argumen ts from the fields of journalism and public relations. Journalism studies co ntribute to the development of gatekeeping by embracing this concept originally conceived in a social scienc e setting. This thesis th en applies the current
10 journalistic rationale of gatek eeping to three topics commonly discussed in public relations studies, topics referred by the following terms: boundary spanning environmental scanning and issues management Among other ideas in the field, these three constructs share some likenesses and compatibilities with gatekeepi ng because they are also used to seek, select, and work to understand information. However, it should be observ ed that public relatio ns theories do not address gatekeeping from a management angle, that is, the hunting for information and the effort to interpret its meanings as journalism implicit ly does. Rather, public re lations scholars usually cite the idea to describe the role of journalist s or news outlets as a filter between corporate information and its external publics. This work aims to discuss these contrasting views of gatekeeping, assuming the approach has a signif icant impact on both public relations theories and practices. By incorporating a wide understand ing of gatekeeping, pub lic relations theories could offer better support to communication methods and routines in organizations. About communication concepts. To avoid the misunderstanding of equal concepts named differently, this study embraces and adapts the de finitions suggested by Shoemaker and Vos (2009): The stuff being moved about in the ga tekeeping process is to be called information Occasionally we refer to units bits or even items of information, but our purpose is to describe the flow of information in ge neral terms. The information is generally about events When the mass media aggregate information for presentation to the audience, we call these messages Messages can include ne ws, opinion, features, video, and more. Messages that actually become news are news items (Shoemaker & Vos, 2009, p. 5, italics in the original) In addition, Shoemaker and Vos describe mass medi a as "organizations that transmit information to many people" (2009, p. 5), a definition too broa d for the purposes of this study, because all non-media organizations also transmit information to people. Thus, this thesis makes a marketing distinction between news organizations and nonnews organizations based on the messages they handle, which attend to distinct publics needs: news message s and corporate messages. The former are produced in environments driven by a journalistic mind set focusing on a consumer
11 public in search of news media products, whil e corporate messagesincluding messages from news organizations viewed as businesshave the inherent slant shaped by the kind of strategic relation, or marketing positioning, that such corpor ations plan to build with their clients and other stakeholders. Also following the same authors, internet is not capitalized in this thesis, unless inside quotations, "j ust as we do not capitalize newspaper or television (Shoemaker & Vos, 2009, p. 6, italics in the original ), an approach extended for ge neric related terms, such as web site (but not the World Wide Web, or the We b, when these terms refer to the institutional internet information space ruled by global iden tifiers standardized by the international community known as World Wide Web Consortiu m, or W3C). This study relies on the Associated Press Stylebook to avoid the co mmon conceptual misunderstanding between technological medium and mass media: The intern et is "a decentralized, worldwide network of computers that can communicate with each other. The World Wide Web, like e-mail, is a subset of the Internet They are not synonymous and shoul d not be used interchangeably" (Christian, Jacobsen, & Minthorn, 2 009, p. 141, italics in the original). How is Gatekeeping Defined in Journalism and in Public Relations? Gatekeeping in journalism st udies is a communication metaphor that tries to explain the rational procedure people use to make decisions. In short, to fit the need s of this introduction, any piece of information acquired by someone goes forwardor notbecause of a decision made by that person, who is then the gatekeeper of that information. In addition, the information becomes more valuable for the ga tekeeper just after it passes th at metaphorical personal gate, meaning that the person will support hi s or her decision as much as po ssible, an idea that will be further explained in the next chap ter. Distinctively, public relations does not see gatekeeping as a process, but as a filter that operates when practitioners intend to deliver information through media channels. In fact, the field of public relations does not even define gatekeeping as
12 journalism does, although both professions essentially deal with the flow of information. Such contrast and other subtleties between journalis m and public relations views of gatekeeping will also be further addressed in the literature review. Prominent scholars in journalism studies c onsidered gatekeeping a model inherent to human communication. According to Shoemaker ( 1991), the idea is "as old as the process of communicationthe town crier had to decide what to announce and what to withhold" (p. 3). She defined gatekeeping as "the process by which the billions of messages that are available in the world get cut down and transf ormed into the hundreds of messa ges that reach a given person on a given day" (Shoemaker, 1991, p. 1). Despite th e value of this interpretation, this thesis considers the metaphor as only an attempt to de scribe a much more complex process found in human nature. "Human being's interest in news ha s its roots in prehistory," asserted Shoemaker (1996, p. 34) in a later essay. Gatekeeping is framed here as a thought as old as humankind, because identifying or defining a problem (thus se lecting a unit of information about something), and shaping a message related to it (which imp lies elaborating a thought on the topics involved, and thus building knowledge around them) is innate to human beings, meaning that it is an expression of human reasoning. The history of human civilizat ion offers endless cases of gatekeeping throughout the ages. The Altamira cave paintings, in Spain, are a relevant example from the Upper Paleolithic, about 15,000 years ago, because they express a decision made by ancient humans to emphasize a herd of bison above all other wild animals that c ould be represented on the cave walls. Egyptian hieroglyphs, Greek pottery, and the inscriptions on the walls and portals of ancient Roman architecture are other remarkable examples of decisions involving selecting information and shaping messagesincluding unwritten onesto create meanings.
13 Because of this inherent connection to our human behavior, gatekeeping as a decisionmaking action reveals itself as a simple step, easy as a daily task, even though the previous examples depict the process as a highly comp lex social and neurological mechanism. Indeed, gatekeeping is simple, as an outcome task, be cause it is deeply conn ected to human nature. Everyone, everywhere, can put it into practice easily. In other words, we are all gatekeepers. Such an inevitable condition is usually undervalued in terms of how the c oncept is analyzed and understood, both in journalism and pub lic relations, with a single di fference: Journalism studies acknowledge and apply the metaphor almost unani mously; distinctively, public relations practitioners usually underestimate the gateke eping idea or simply do not understand its full extension. This thesis aims to be a small step toward narrowing this gap. A Tool to Improve Attention Besides being simple yet powerful, gatekeeping has other interesting features. For example, it does not require specific investments from organi zations, except work time. It is not a research project, with its inborn complexities. It does not demand heavy training, extra costs, or specialists. It only needs people, the same staff that is alrea dy on duty. The single requirement is to put it into practice. "You can observe a lot by just watching," said the U.S. baseball player Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra. Gatekeeping is a path to improve the importance of simple attention. Gatekeeping is best realized as a tool, b ecause it does not offer judgments or political preferences by itself. It can be simply defined as an instrument to help develop any public relations philosophy or style. From an academ ic perspective, a full understanding of the gatekeeping metaphor should alwa ys be a concern, since no th eory toward public relations practice should avoid or undervalue a behavior set in human nature. From the practitioner's view, the concept can be applied immediately, with th e unbeatable advantage of reliability. Theories can change in a few years or decades, unlike human behaviors. Gatekeeping is reliable because it
14 is based on hundreds of centuries of usability, and in fact since th e existence of human civilizations, if one can trust the anthropological examples cited above. Are Public Relations Theories Blind to Important Journalism Practices? Gatekeeping as an information flow model is a hidden piece in the public relations field, where it is discussed without the same prestige it gets in journalism. Boundary spanning is intended for hunting information, as well as environmental scanning. Issues management considers all of this, and offers a broad view of how to deal with the information flow. Despite these features, scholars develop these three branches of literature without mentioning the gatekeeping idea as defined in journalism. Such topi cs can be treated as main subjects of articles and chapters; they are usually lis ted as independent keywords in indexes; they can even be the purpose of an entire set of books, such as issues management, for example. When gatekeeping is considered in these contexts, it is usually a side concept or argume nt to support an ongoing discussion (although it is getting more acceptance as an independent subject, possibly because of the internet revolution, as w ill be clarified latter). At large, gatekeeping is mentioned in public re lations debates to portray the interaction of practitioners and journaliststreating the latter, therefore, as the gateke epers who usually make decisions about the messages handled by the fo rmer public relations professionals. A common discussion in public relations lite rature involves how to bypass or avoid such decision turning points. This thesis works with the proposal of expanding the role of gatekeeping far from the context of relations between pr actitioners and journalists (or between organizations and news vehicles). What is considered here is the option of adapting th is journalistic behavior as an insight to manage information inside the orga nization itself. By doing so, the organization can increase the chance of achievi ng excellence in knowledge manage ment, and decrease the chance of being trapped by unexpected issues. "No surpri ses" is the motto used by Palese and Crane
15 (2002, p. 287) to explain the goal of a method th ey discuss about how to manage knowledge, what they define as corporate intelligence. Furthermore, due to a single correlation, enga ging public relations professionals with gatekeeping could improve the relationship with journalists and news outlets. As the organization starts to incorporate this basic journalism behavior, it will have a better chance of building an understa nding with other organizations that act similarly. Practitioners would potentially have a better sense of how journali sts think because they would be applying an equivalent skill in th eir environment. The internet is a strong force in this dire ction because public rela tions operations are becoming news hubs due to the increased sign ificance of controlled media, provided by emergent communication technologies. "Contro lled mass medium" (C. White & Raman, 1999, p. 406) is a key term adopted by public relations sc holars to define the vehicle or channel over which practitioners have full c ontrol. The technology existing now, available through and by the internet, gives practitioners the same role as ed itors in news organizations. From their desktops they can run a news outleta corporate blog or a web sitewith worldwide coverage, in a 24/7 cycle (24 hours/seven days a week ). Under these circumstances, th ey have to act as editors to achieve a similar level of control as journali sts, and gatekeeping can contribute to making it possible. In fact, gatekeeping is one of the most important common newsroom skills. Unlike journalism, public relations studies do not define gatekeeping theoretically as a management role, which leads to the assumption that scholars do not see it as a useful concept to help practitioners think strate gically. It does not mean public relations debates overlook the journalism field, but it does mean that scholars mention the concept to propose strategies and tactics mainly with the goal of bypassing the gate role performed by journa lists in newsrooms.
16 Lastly, this thesis potentially adds significan ce to public relations theories by identifying the aspect summarized in the prev ious paragraph, and by alerting to the advantages of building consciousness toward corporate gatekeepinglacking a better keyword to desc ribe an attempt to translate and apply in non-news organizations an idea fully developed in journalism companies. Thus, this study aims to influence the current body of knowledge by revea ling and exploring the relevance of such an approach for practitioners. To achieve this goal, the next section invest igates and compares some relevant views found in the literature from journalism and public relations. The discussion relies on a field investigation based on a methodology of qualitati ve interviews with 15 representatives of companies from several markets, with three main s profiles: public rela tions or communication practitioners, public relations or communication directors or top managers, and top managers whose responsibilities include communication management w ith direct influence on the company's reputation or branding.
17 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW The following two subsections analyze gatekeep ing from journalistic and public relations angles. Both fields usually define or discuss gate keeping with contrasting vi ews, as anticipated in the introduction, and the review unde rlines these discrepancies as needed. The third subsection focuses on boundary spanning, environmental scanni ng, and issues management, ideas fostered in public relations debates with features comparab le to the gatekeeping m odel, and this analysis aims to highlight them. Gatekeeping in Journalism Studies Journalism studies borrow the following gatek eeping model from social science, although the idea of selecting and rejecting information was concurrent in the field. The first gatekeeping model is considered by scholars to have been in troduced by the social-psychologist Kurt Lewin in 1947, in an article published after his death, accord ing to the history of the concept summarized by Shoemaker (1991). Lewin studied how to make social changes in a community, such as adapting food habits, and proposed a theory about channels and gatekeepers related to goods moving from outside source to the home, then to the table of a gi ven family. His study considered several personal decisions, or "gates," allied to a grocery store and a family garden, treated as different channels to deliver food. At a given point these two channels merge within the house. Then, a new turning point is symbolized by the decision about what will be stored or cooked, when the meal finally finds its way to the table. He inferred that neutral rules, and one or more gatekeepers, were responsible for the movement along channels and gates. These gatekeepers hold more power than others in the decisions insi de channels, gates, or over the entire activity. In addition, positive and negative forces put pressure on every decision-making step (or gate). As Lewin explained, an expensive piece of meat is a negative force before one decides to
18 buy it; when the decision is made, the high cost changes to a positive force within the following gates, because the buyer will have extra care with the product, making sure it will pass the entire channel accordingly, and reach the family tabl e in proper conditions. Through this view, several individual choices follow to an e ndless line of selections within a channel, so the gate allegory stands as an in-or-out prompt: Either someth ing (a piece of information, a decision) passes through the gate and follows the cha nnel's path, or it stays out. The idea is applicable to tangibles and intangibles, like messages, as Lewin made clear: "This situation holds not only for food channels but also for the trave ling of a news item through certai n communication channels in a group" (as cited in Shoemaker, 1991, p. 9). Gatekeepers of communication ve hicles consider all the clas hes and forces involved in their decision-making channel, as time constrains amount of news available in a given day, and other pressures. Supporting this, in 1991 Shoemaker grounded her view after Donohue, Tichenor, and Olien (1972), and described gatekeeping as a broader process of information control that includes all aspects of message encoding: not just selecti on but also withholding, tran smission, shaping, display, repetition, and timing of information as it go es from the sender to the receiver. In other words, the gate keeping process i nvolves every aspect of message selection, handling, and control, whether the messa ge is communicated through mass media or interpersonal channels. (Shoemaker, 1991, p. 1) In 2009, Shoemaker expanded and updated her view of the topic, and proposed with Vos an entire theory about gatekeeping, embracing the role of ne w technologies, the internet in particular. The primary novelty is the current mass media feat ure of establishing a channel for returning information, since the internet offers tools to gather responses and improve dialogue with the audience as never before in the history of commu nication, a scope not provided in the previous model. This updated and deeper work also developed new thoughts on the forces surrounding each gate, reviewed other models of gatekeeping (although all of them preserve the basic idea of a
19 pathwaya channeldirecting the flow of inform ation), reexamined other applications of the concept (in interpersonal and organizational co mmunication, for instance), and other levels of analysis (with discussions from the individua l level to the entire social context). These approaches also discuss gatekeepi ng "in more complex terms," as Shoemaker anticipated in 1991 (p. 4), as the models presente d in the last century could not express all the ramifications of the gatekeeping role in communi cation tasks, according to her evaluation. Indeed, several models try to fit the gatekeeping process, and Shoemaker proposed one to undertake people and groups. She also integrated other forces (akin to ideology and culture) and players (such as interest groups, markets, and government) in her model proposed in 1991, keeping the same concept in the current version proposed w ith Vos, but with a different design, meant to include the new "audience channel" (Shoemake r & Vos, 2009, pp. 123-125), the pipeline that conducts most of the content produced by or under direct influence of the public. This chapter elaborates some of these ideas, as well as proposal s from other scholars. But first, it is important to show briefly how the original model of ga tekeeping has evolved in journalism studies. An Idea Grounded on Decades of Research David Manning White (1950) first discussed th e idea of gatekeepers in a news outlet in 1949, when he analyzed the decision making of a middle 40s journalist nicknamed "Mr. Gates," with roughly 25 years of experience as a reporter and copy editor. Mr. Gates was in charge of editing the wire service deliv ered to a morning newspaper with a circulation of around 30,000 copies in a U.S. Midwest city. White's research proposal is probably not a coincidence, because he worked as a research assistant for Lewin at th e University of Iowa, and thus had the chance to get to know his ideas (Reese & Ballinger, 2001; Shoemaker, 1991; Shoemaker & Vos, 2009). Over one week, White studied Mr. Gates's decisions for rejecting about nine -tenth of daily wire copy provided by three major news distributor s: United Press, Associated Press, and
20 International News Service. By analyzing th e reasons provided by Mr. Gates for selecting a story, White speculated "how highly subjective, how reliant upon value-judgments based on the 'gate keeper's' own set of experiences, attitude s and expectations the communication of 'news' really is" (D. M. White, 1950, p. 65). Snider (196 7) reproduced the res earch in 1966 with the same Mr. Gates, and found similar results. Bleske repeated the research in 1990, this time with a woman nicknamed "Ms. Gates" (Bleske, 1991). With only five years of experi ence as journalist, Ms. Gates was working in a modernized newsroom facility, one that no longer used wired copy machines, but was instead an electronic environment. In addition, the newspape r's size had tripled, reaching a circulation of 90,000. Bleske examined the data, the amount and ch aracteristics of news rejected, and the reasons for those decisions, and found similar results comp ared to the data gathered by White 40 years before: "Despite differences in newspaper size an d gatekeeper gender, background and experience, news categories and the importance of those catego ries remained consistent (Bleske, 1991, p. 78). Although the results were alike, when compar ing the differences and likenesses between the two sites, Bleske did not an alyze gatekeeping as a work tas k, or a management pattern for handling information. As in other studies abou t news, Bleske takes for granted the decision making itself as a characteristic of newsrooms, and does not evaluate it as a process. His goal concerned the forces that drive the decisionsf or example, category of news, prejudices, and audience, which nevertheless adds other levels of complexity to the gatekeeping construct. Surely, the media outlet needs to please a certain ex ternal audience, but news gatekeepers need also to please their internal audience, so scholars point out that gate keeping is a complex relationship between individuals and their corporate environmen t. On this matter, Bree d (1955) discussed how media organizations impose social controls within their usual arena, the ne wsroom, and showed that
21 polices exist to acco mplish that, although they ar e unwritten rules, probably "due to the existence of ethical norms of journalism" (Breed, 1955, p. 108). He understood that a "'policy' may be defined as the more or less consistent orient ation shown by a paper, not only in its editorial but in its news columns and headlines as well, concerning select ed issues and events" (B reed, 1955, p. 108). In "formal organizations," as Breed (1955, p. 107) identifies non-n ews organizations, he stated that policies are usually developed by th e top leaders, and made the parallel with news organizations, where the policy makers are the pub lishers and the executive editors. These managers "must also secure and maintain conformity to th at policy at lower levels" (Breed, 1955, p. 107), what he named the "staffers:" reporters, copyw riters, and others newsroom workers without managerial responsibiliti es. Still following his tho ughts, a policy is put into practice by the idea of slanting, which "involves omission, differential selection, and preferentia l placement, such as 'featuring' a policy item, 'burying' an anti-policy stor y in an inside page, etc" (Breed, 1955, p. 108). Since news policies ar e concealed guidelines, Breed explai ned that newsroom staffers learn them by doing, by being e xposed to them through "s ocialization" of these no rms, and "by osmosis" (Breed, 1955, p. 109). No n-media organizations are free to ex plicit their comm unication polices, because their business do not nece ssarily relate to the freedom of expression, as news outlets do. Business policies, however, include other levels of ethics, pl us the handling of pr essures enacted by several stakeholders. To polish th ese guidelines, non-news organizati ons can still bene fit from that particular feature of news organizations: Newsroom polices are taught by doin g, and the best way to shape them is by practice. In ad dition, a considerable amount of this knowledg e process is compelled by challenges driven by u nplanned eventsthe news. Thus, to succeed on these learning steps of knowledge management, informal meet ings plays its role, as well formal meetings, known as the news conference, when ex ecutives and staff "discuss how to shap e the story" (Breed 1955, p. 110).
22 Other research projects identify further aspe cts of gatekeeping as the news outlet gets bigger or uses other technological apparatuses. Berkowitz (1990) studied the metaphor in a local news television, and precisely unde rstood that the nature of the work cannot be limited to the "evaluation of stories according to their news merits" (p. 82). In addition, independent values such as time, closeness to the audience serve d, and people involved with the news affect the decision-making routines. He found several studies on news work th at point to other dimensions, such as ideology, and how far the bounds of the news organization shape what is published or affect editorial creation tasks. Also, coherent ly with Breed, some discussions identify the decision-making process related to the gatekeepin g of news as a group activity instead of a choice made by a single person. In this regard, Berkowitz (1990) gathered reports from several executives and staff describing gate keeping as a social decision-m aking behavior, as opposed to a solitary task, although it is not "fully balanced group process a nd, therefore, had some inherent unpredictability." One producer he quoted as asserting: If you're sitting in the news conference, wh atever the news director says is going to carry out a lot of weight. The person with the most influence is going to dictate what is covered. Producers or the managing editor will be influential if the news director isn't at the confer ence. (Berkowitz, 1990, p. 88) The considerations above are examples of the soci al features of gatekeeping, and to some extent they are natural results of many people, thus, many gatekeepers working together. Gatekeeping, a Management Task, a Filter, or Both Comparing journalism and public relations views of gatekeepi ng can result in contrasting and similar approaches. The views contrast when journalism focuses on the concept design, portraying it as a management task, although this wordmanagementis barely used, since the trend is to call it a "process" (Donohue, O lien, & Tichenor, 1989; Whitney, 1981). Public relations usually does not think of gatekeeping as a management effort; rather, the tendency is to
23 see it as a barrier to be bypassed. The journalis tic approach is similar to the public relations viewas shown in the second subsectionwhen it portrays gatekeepi ng with a filtering purpose, linked to severa l roles in the newsroom. Journalism, however, shows impl icit agreement regard ing gatekeeping, wh ether understood as a process or a filter. Listing a few exampl es, scholars expose discrepancies in tone such as cultural differences, as mentioned by Peterson (1979); in the selection of indivi dual items (Stemp el III, 1985); with its relation with new social tendencies or new "social re ality," as in ecology and environmental issues (Schoenfeld, 1980, p. 456); or with differences in news outlets by size or city size (rural versus metropolitan areas) when addressing a particular topic (women in this case), according to the analysis made by Gross and Me rritt (1981). Several studie s analyze gatekeeping in di fferent contexts without opposing the main approach, whic h suggests how flexible the idea is. Comparin g print and online journalism, Cassidy (2006) concluded, "the results for each grou p suggest prin t and online journalists are not a breed apart" (C assidy, 2006, p. 18). The gatekeeping method remained inta ct in a radical change made by a newspaper, althou gh it was a challenge for the ed itors (Smith, Tumlin, & Henning, 1988), in a study on the news mix offered by three television networks (Rif fe, Ellis, Rogers, Van Ommeren, & Woodman, 1986), in a study comparing reasons to us e releases by television and newspaper gatekeepers (Abbo tt & Brassfield, 1989), in a study comparing the effects of wire news on editors (Whitney & Becker, 1982) in a study about the gatekeeping function on local television news producers (Harmon, 1989), and in a study su ggesting the integration of several views of gatekeeping in a single model (Chang, 2004). Levels of analysis on gatekeeping Thus, given the set of examples above, gateke eping as a basic model is well accepted in mass communicationin the United St ates, at leastsince the mi d-1950s, with room to grow beyond this field. Shoemaker, for example, explor ed some studies connected to organizational
24 information controls, and highlighted that it is possible to "see parts of the gatekeeping metaphor applied to interpersonal co mmunication" (Shoemaker, 1991, p. 16). Reese and Ballinger (2001, p. 641) considered White's research a "classic," an emblematic example of a study that belongs to the "roots of a sociology of news," sharing this position with Warren Breed's analysis about the forces driven by levels of social control in newsrooms (Breed, 1955). Their article based its concerns on questions that have arisen since the late 1960s, such as "what forces shape the media message, what and who 'sets the media agenda'?" (Reese & Ballinger, 2001, p. 641). Indeed, several forces might affect the gate keeping process, a discussion that Shoemaker and Reese (1991) addressed in a study to disc uss the manner and methods of shaping messages on media content. "Instead of taking media content as a given, we ask: What factors inside and outside media organization affect media conten t?" (Shoemaker & Reese, 1991, p. 1). To answer this question, they came to the following conclusions: The levels of analysis in communications research can be thought of as forming a continuum ranging from micro to macrofrom the smallest units of a system to the largest. A microlevel study examines communication as an activity engaged in and affecting individual people; a macrolevel study examines social structures beyond the control of any one individualsocial networks, organizations, and cultures. These levels function hierarchically: What happens at the lower levels is affected even to a large extent determined, by what happens at higher levels. (Shoemaker & Reese, 1991, pp. 8-9, italics in the original) The authors identified five such layers, labeling them individual media routines organization extramedia (sic), and ideological levels. The first level deals with personal and professional characteristics, backgrounds, and experiences that might affect a worker in charge of a mass communication job, including indivi dual values, beliefs, and att itudes toward politics, for example, and how these traits might influence professional roles and th e ethics attached to selecting content. The second leve l concerns the routines of pr oducing media, a discussion linked to several scopes taken here, because this thesis focuses on how the information is handled to
25 create knowledge and meaning. In other words, on what propels the decision making behind the construction of reality through the process of defining what news is (Gans, 2004; Hausman, 1990; Tuchman, 1978). The third level targets the role of the organiza tion itself on shaping co ntent, considering the forces generated by its structure as a company, aligned by its ownershi p, and directed by an organizational chart that defines "roles and lines of authority" (Shoemaker & Reese, 1991, p. 119). Like any for-profit organization, news outlets have economic goals to achieve, and economic constrains to consider. So, besides handling the flow of information in timely ways, newsroom routines also express other forces. In this rega rd, Hirsch asserted in his discussion of the gatekeeping tradition that mass media professionals do not work in isol ation, but must meet the expectations of their organizations, occupation, and (to a le ss obvious extent) ultimate audience. The "subjective bias" of selectio n decisions can be individual, organizational, or both. Thus, the issue of acc ounting for decisions taken by lo wer-level and other gatekeepers becomes an analysis of varianceboth statis tical and conceptual. To what extent an employee gatekeeper can base decisions on pe rsonal rather than organizational criteria is a major question for additional research. (Hirsch, 1977, p. 21) His view does not conflict with the third le vel discussed by Shoemaker and Reese, although Hirsch organizes the levels of an alysis in three dimensions inst ead of fivethe individual, the organization, and the societal background where the organization operates (merging in a single step, for instance, the first two levels identified by Shoemaker and Reese, individual and media routines). In the third level supported by Shoe maker and Reese, corporate contexts raise questions about how far administrative and busine ss concerns influence content, and how these forces reverberate loudly or softly in the lower le vels of analysisthe in dividual and the routines mentioned above. For example, media conglomerat es can improve their performance by simple synergy, "the ability for their products to comple ment and reinforce one another" (Shoemaker & Reese, 1991, p. 135). The organizational context that drives such synergy can foster or bend the
26 influences on selecting and shaping messages, thus affecting the work of gatekeepers in several ways. Policies and slanting, to name a few, are common ways to ach ieve these goals, among other news handling routines, aroused to some ex tent by the newsroom so cial environment (for instance, Breed, 1955; Gans 2004; Tuchman, 1973, 1978). The last two levels of analysis get closer to the idea of power, the power that comes from other sectors of a given society, and the power of ideology. Starting with the fourth level, message selecting and encoding receive pressure s from the sources of that information: The most obvious influence occurs when sources withhold information or lie, but they may also influence the news in mo re subtle ways, by providing the context within which all other information is ev aluated, by providing usable information that is easier and cheaper to use than th at from other sources (what Gandy  calls "information subsidies"), and by monopolizing the journalists' time so that they don't have an opportunity to seek out sources with alternative views. (Shoemaker & Reese, 1991, p. 150) Interest groups, public relations campaigns, advertisers, and the audience of a media product influence how the message is craftedand thus af fect the gatekeeping process, as do government, regulations, laws, forces driven by the marketpl ace, and the development of new technologies. Ideology, the fifth and last level of analys is, is also the most powerful, because it represents a societal-level phenomenon. Th is is in keeping with the European tradition of media studies, in which ideology is considered a total structure, compared with a system of individual a ttitudes and values. This ideological level subsumes all the others we have been talk ing about and, therefore, is the most macro of the levels in our hierarchy of influences model. The ideological level differs from the previous levels in that all the processes taking place at lower levels are considered to be working toward an ideo logically related pattern of messages and on behalf of the higher power centers in society. (Shoemaker & Reese, 1991, p. 184) In addition to power, Donohue, Tichenor, and Olien highlighted control as a fundamental feature of gatekeeping. Elaborating from several refere nces, their view retrieved the human "historic recognition of a fundamental social principle: knowledge is basi c to social power, and immense potential for developing power ove r other human lives rests with those who man the gates in the
27 communication flow" (Donohue, et al., 1972, p. 41). Th ey argued that the use and control of information is remarkably important to any large social organization. Supporting the approach taken by this thesis, they connected the ga tekeeping idea from news organizations to non-news organizations, and discuss the management of knowledge in the processes of decision making: Knowledge today is organized to a high degree at all levels of society, and mass media represent one form of this refinement. The way in which mass media knowledge enters into social d ecision-making may not be the same as the way knowledge is used for executive decisions in industry, but the general principle of knowledge control in the se rvice of other social needs is as applicable to mass communication as to any other level of human discourse. If mass communication is in actuality control of information and knowledge, then, in light of the way decisions are ma de in a modern, pluralistic society, the study of the gatekeepers who execute control decisions in the knowledge flow is especially urgent. (Donohue, et al., 1972, p. 42) The discussion above appraises the study of media systems, so the scholars' intention might be other than simply applying the gatekeeping idea in non-news organizations as proposed here, a variance that has to be considered. In addition, this thesis assumes th eir assumption that "all communication processes have a control function within them, either manifest or latent" (Donohue, et al., 1972, p. 43), although this research is less concerned with control than with management and handling of knowledge. Regarding knowledge management, this thesis emphasizes the hist orical perspective of human communication. Shoemaker (1996) expl ained the hunting of informati on as an evolut ionary result driven by biologic a nd cultural forces, beca use "it is characteristic of all humans, not just journalists, to monitor the world around us, and we share this characte ristic with much of the animal kingdom" (Shoemaker, 1996, p. 32). From this anthropological view, news is any abnormal or atypical information, so the concern is to anticipate how fa r the uncommon can be also dangerous or lead to undesirable results of any kind. As a side, these are also th e roots of the common se nse concerning that
28 important news are the bad news, so the usual complain of news consumers about the abundance of negative information in news outlets can be inte rpreted by the anthropologi c evolution of humankind. The approach taken by Shoemaker (1996), how ever, is remarkably distinct from the ecological idea proposed in the 19 50s by public relations scholars (Cutlip, Center, & Broom, 2009, p. 167), an idea reminded by Gr eenwood (2010) in her recent advocacy of applying Charles Darwin's "evolutionary theory as a metatheory for conceptualiz ing public relations thought" (Greenwood, 2010, p. 458). The an thropological view adopted by Shoe maker is distinct yet simpler, because it is restricted to the communication do main, and potentially stro nger, because she meets more easily the needs of the management of know ledge in organizations. Although Shoemaker is not debating public relations theory, her discussion addresses relationships and publics, as well. By narrowing her focus in news gathering, Shoe maker first considered that "the desire to receive and transmit information about the environment is both biologically and culturally derived and, second, that both biology and culture have ha d a profound impact on the form that news content has taken" (Shoemaker, 1996, p. 33). Citing scholars such as Wilbur Schramm, Jacob L. Gewirtz, and Slobodan B. Petrovich, her analys is retrieved the ancient human communication behavior reveled in cave paintings about 20,000 year s old, which this thesis considers one of the starting points of an evolution of social la nguage still going on today. As she pointed out, it is hard to imagine a time or place in which the gathering and dissemination of news did not play an important role. The task of sharing knowledge about what was happening in the environment was performe d in the traditional society by the watchman, in the modern society by both informed persons and the mass media (Schramm, 1971). The growth of the mass me dia is a natural outcome of the human obsession with news. (Shoemaker, 1996, p. 35) Research questions This thesis defines the three research questi ons (RQ) below, considering the theoretical views on gatekeeping summarized so far, but wi thout losing the historic al nature of human
29 communication: To clarify, the focus here is management and handling of information, not the social power attached to the information held, ev en though this research ha s to consider power as an inherent component of virt ually any communication context. Thus, the qualitative research proposed in the methodology section is conceived to target public relations practitioners at management levels, or managers who also deal with communications concerns. The questions are designed to address three sp ecific steps of the gatekeeping process, as described by Shoemaker and Vos (2009), but co nceived to embody corpor ate strategic messages and meanings. The first step is about selec tion: "Gatekeeping begins when a communication worker forms information about an event into a me ssage. This is the first gate for that event. Where does the pool of items/messages come from?" (Shoemaker & Vos, 2009, p. 22). The second step is regarding evaluation, which the authors see as the amount of newsworthiness, since their discussion relates to a news organi zation: "Newsworthiness is a cognitive construct that only partially predicts which events make it into the news events are not inherently newsworthy; only people can decide whether an event is newsworthy" (p. 25). The third step concerns the transmission of information: "A journalist who deems the event sufficiently newsworthy allows it past the first gate by crea ting or directing the crea tion of a message that begins its way through the media organization" (p. 23). Their conc erns relates gatekeeping to news organizations, but the research questions ra ther aim to explore how non-news organizations gather, analyze, and share strategic informa tion related to improving business operations: RQ1: How do public relations professionals at management levels, or managers with communication responsibilities, identify or select information? RQ2: How do public relations professionals at management levels, or managers with communication responsibil ities, filter or evaluate the selected information? RQ3: How do public relations professionals at management levels, or managers with communication responsibilities, or ganize this information, and share (or distribute) it with the re st of the organization?
30 Chapter 3 describes the research instrument (Appendix C), 20 questions developed from the research questions above. Before that, to add furt her contexts, the next subsection analyzes some discrepancies between journalism and public relati ons' views of gatekeeping. The third subsection reviews boundary spanning, environmental scanning, and issues management, constructs typically discussed in public relations studies that resemble the gatekeeping procedures described so far. Gatekeeping in Public Relations Studies In general, public relations sc holars use gatekeeping mostly to refer to the relationship with journalists within a particular news vehicle, or to refer to the medi um itself, as a gate between the organization and its publics. Public relations discussions, for instance, face the rise of the internet as an opportunity to bypass this ne ws gate step, and impr ove the organization's ca pability of spreading and controlling information toward its publics. According to C. White and Raman (1999), the World Wide Web can be considered th e first public relations mass medium in that it allows managed communication to fl ow directly between organizations and mass audiences without the gatekeeping func tion of other mass media; content is not filtered by journalists and editors. (C. White & Raman, 1999, p. 406) Thus, they understand the web as a channel wher e practitioners can have full control of their messages. According to this appr oach, the filtering ch aracter of gatekeeping in newsrooms is something to avoid, with instances as e-releases (news releases delivere d by internet, with or without special distribution services), because such a channel reduces "the gatekeeping role traditionally played by journalists in handling paper press releases" (Strobbe & Jacobs, 2005, p. 290). Ironically, the internet can as easily reduce the organization's power to control information, as it can increase it (Polesi, 2008). Coombs (1998) focused on that idea, when he discussed the empowerment of activism by network improve ment: "The gatekeeping function of the organization is defeated as stakeholders can turn to web sites or other s ources on the Internet for information about the organizati on and its behavior" (p. 300).
31 The quotations above de fine gatekeeping as a filter with unfriendly characteristics, and do not consider it a tool with positive attributes. The inte rnet allows an organizatio n to bypass journalists' gatekeeping of its good newswhat corporations want to promote; th e internet allows activists to bypass the organization's gatekeeping of its bad newswhat corporations wish to hide. Both situations portray gatekeeping as a formula to co nceal (or block) informationand knowledge, as an outcome. This thesis works with the assumption th at gatekeeping is a model to find information, plus to understand and analyze it in a given context, t hus creating a sort of organic knowledge along the way. The principle underlined here is that one can hide or block only th e information available, or the knowledge someone is aware of, so gateke eping exists in advance of the power it can enhance. In other words, at a gi ven moment in a decision chain, a gatekeeper must first find, evaluate, and move a piec e of information forward to who has power to decide, ultimately, what to do with such knowledgethat is, this power is enhanced by exerting control of information. Moving ahead, gatekeeping is unde rstood as a vortex of a triangular relationship among public relations, mass media, and the audience, [where] the mass media have power in tw o critical dimensions: (1) the power to potentially influence the public as studied in mass media effects research and (2) the power to perform a ga tekeeping function through pr ocesses of selecting and framing issues that will be exposed to an audience. (Fortunato, 2000, p. 482) With a similar tone, Harmon and C. White (2001 ) discussed the use of video news releases (VNRs) to aid television stations, which is an example of agenda building and information subsidies tactics that might circ umvent gatekeeping decisions in these news outlets. Their study implicitly reinforces the assumption that gatekeep ing is a barrier but it can be avoided, and the VNRs work as tangible instruments to accomplish that. This view of gatekeeping is a Western idea also well accepted in Eastern public relations studies. The examples selected here embrace th e approach described by Shoemaker, Berkowitz, and others in the academic articles discussed earlier. Gatekeeping can portray the "reporter's
32 assumptions about public relations" (Park, 2001, p. 405), it can be a "monetary proposition" in Kazakhtan (Terry, 2005, p. 34), and it can affect inte rnational news coverage in South Korea (Kim & Yang, 2008). As in the United States, newsroom gatekeeping in the East can be bypassed using the internet, as Kirat (2007) reported from the Unit ed Arab Emirates. Practitioners in South Korea have even developed the third gatekeeping, as named by Lee and Berkowitz (2004), a tactic performed by screening Koreans newspapers' firs t editions, which consists of the first copies delivered early in the morning, while the final ed ition of the day is on the way. According to the researchers, this job is a cultural practice unique to that country not related to technological concerns, even though the largest newspaper can run more than two million copies per issue. By analyzing other means of jumping the gate keeping wall in news vehicles, scholars have argued that acceptance by a news gatekeeper may depend on the amount of "news value" (such as impact, conflict, oddity, and magnitude) of a gi ven release or piece of corporate information. Morton and Warren (1992) found "a strong correlation between reader service and impact (p. 47, italics in the original). They argued that "histori cally, news elements have been defined by news people; however, these elements are difficult fo r the public relations practitioner to utilize" (Morton & Warren, 1992, p. 50). According to their findings, a release increases its chances of being accepted by editors if it focuses on reader service: This involves looking at what your read er needs and how the information your organization is producing can meet readers needs. Thus, the aim should be to reevalua te any information not just on how profitable it will be to the company, but on how it can provide a reader service. (Morton & Warren, 1992, p. 51) They suggested, therefore, that public relations practitioners should l ook at corporate news likewise editors of media vehicles evaluate wh at is worthy to publish, by interpreting what is appropriate to their readers. Morton and Warren's counsel can be taken as insight in favor of applying gatekeeping procedures internally by th e organization, which is the approach assumed
33 in this study. In doing so, an organization can potentially increase the acumen about its publics. That is the meaning of "looking at what your reader needs": The needs of any stakeholder with whom the company is interested in build ing a mutually benefi cial relationship. Information Management Skills in Public Relations Boundary spanning, environmental scanning, and issues management are administrative efforts used by public relation s for information gath ering and decision ma king (among other tasks). They share implied co nnections with journalism pract ices, as with gatekeeping, because a gatekeeper will be in charge of these tasks by any means, even when this role is not as explicit as it is in a newsroom Before going further, it is time ly to stress that this thesis cannot address the extent and the importance of discussions concerning these three constructs, all of which are well studied by public relations scholars. Howeve r, this analysis can point out what is suitable to the gatekeeping metaphor, because the conc epts mentioned above represent actions, tasks, tools, or teams organized to ha ndle the flow of informat ion, either when it travels from outside to inside the organization, or when it move s in the opposite direction, from inside to outside. "Organizations survive by making sense of and giving sense to their environments," asserted Su tcliffe (2000, p. 197). She supported the idea discussed by scholar s arguing that "information-gathering and information-processing rolessuch as the kind of information manage rs have to work with, and the handling of information prior to decisionsare more crucial to the success of the firm than strategic decision making itself" (Sutcliffe 2000, p. 198). Although Sutcli ffe scanned severa l studies about the term information processing there is no link with the approach taken by journalis m, as proposed here. The "review [is] grounded pr imarily in the perceptual, interpretive, and enactment perspectives related to how organizations and their members come to know and cope with their environments through the processes of attention, interpretation, and action" (Sutcl iffe, 2000, p. 204). Her study,
34 however, has a clear view of one angle that this thesis also c oncerns: "Information flows from organizations to their environments have received fragmented attention in th e organizational theory literature" (Sutcliffe, 2000, p. 213). Issues Management Managing issues is the most important co ncept aligned with ha ndling the information that flows into organizations. It has been developed since the mid-1980s, when "the discipline was still being define d" (Heath, 1997, p. ix) as almost a single field, which correlates with the growing importance of globa lization in this perio d. Despite this single relative importance, all three topics presente d before are single index entries (with minor differences in the keyword used) in relevant books about public relations theory and methods, as in the volumes edited by Botan and Hazleton (2006), J. Grunig (Grunig, 1992), and Heath and Vasquez (2001). Issues management alone is indexed in Jablin and Putnam (2000), Ledingham and Bruning (2000), and other works (Heath, 1994; Heath, Toth, & Waymer, 2009), and is the main subject in H eath (1988, 1997). A keyw ord search of back issues of the scholarly journal Public Relations Review returned 219 articles on "issues management." More than 20 of them contained the concept in the title, which indicates that the topic is popular and has been studied extensively by scholars. The idea is described by Renfro as a function "to enhance the current and long-term performance and standing of the corporation by anticipating change, promoting opportunities, and avoiding or mitigating threats" (as cited in Heat h, 1997, p. x). A prolific aut hor on the topic, Heath (1997) defined issues management as a link betw een public relations and the management roles, and includes among its core duties "the identifica tion, monitoring, and analysis of trends in key publics' opinions" (Heath, 1997, p. 6). Although he is expressing in this page his worries about how these external opinions (from the organization's view) can "mature into public policy and
35 regulatory or legislative constraint of the privat e sector," the goal of his understanding of issues managementidentifying, monitoring, and analyzingi s highly related to what is done in the newsrooms, as explained in the previous sections of this chapter, and in the introduction. Environmental Scanning Botan (2006) considered enviro nmental scanning the strategic research to govern preissues, which means any noticeable trend in the environment in which an organization exists and which depends on: "If issues are what publics decide are important, then preissues are occurrences in the environment to which publics have not yet attached significance, but could" (Botan, 2006, p. 241). He asserted that issues compound with publics to form the most im portant dimensions of the "grand strategies" that a given organizatio n can develop, and "they are so ce ntral to public relations and to the strategies and t actics that can be employed in any given situation" (p. 236). In the context he discussed, it is impractical to address all early affairs because "most preissues will not develop into issues that are important to significant publics and so will not sign ificantly affect the organization" (Botan, 2006, p. 241). In add ition, preissues can be endless, so no organization would have resources to address all of them without making sure that a partic ular topic can be relevant. Such situation leads to the balance between action and iner tia, although the latter mi ght be a result of an inflexible characteristic of the organization, a behavior that might express its broad strategy: In the case of an extremely intransigent grand strategy, for example, the organization does not think publics have any right to an agenda of their own. Thus, the organization does not seek to e ngage publics about such views. In addition, those organizations holding an intransigent grand strategy often do not have the communication links with their environment needed for early assessments (e.g., advisory councils, co mmunity involvement programs, social audits). (Botan, 2006, p. 241) Botan cited instan ces capable of scan topics beforehand, such as councils, audits, or programs to improve the involvement with communities. But he re again the organization's profile directs the results, because detecting the need for change base d on precocious evaluatio ns can be criticized by
36 top managers of intransigent organizations. With out the support of top de cision makers, a negative evaluation about a pr eissue can be unders tood as a disloyalty with the organization Botan suggested. Gathering and selecting information is a prim ary function of gatekeeping, so such activity can improve the organization's ability to detect preissues. In fact, it is timely to evaluate how far formal programs cited by Botan, such as advisory councils and social audits, can offer acceptable results without including the gatekeeping ideas. At least public relations practitioners should discuss how gatekeepersa role borrowed from journalismcould help to boost these programs. Boundary Spanning The idea of bridging the bordersor spanni ng the boundariesof an organization comes from viewing it with a "system" focus, a set of subsystems controlled by a major management hub, as Grunig and Hunt (1984) e xplained: "As boundary personnel, public relations practitioners support other organizational subsystems by help ing them to communicate across the boundaries of the organization to extern al publics and by helping them to communicate with other subsystems within the organization" (Grunig & Hunt, 1984, pp. 8-9). It is possible to see boundary spanning simply as a label for one side of public relations practice, such as when issues ma nagement is set apart. "Every co ntribution practit ioners make to issues management is mediated by the knowledge they accumu late through b oundary-spanning activities and throug h their unique perch at the boundaries of their organizations (Lauzen, 1997, p. 67). The label for the other side would be en vironmental scanni ng, because "issues management is the function of strategically aligning the corporat ion with the environment" (Bowen, 2002, p. 271) so acting close to the borders woul d improve the "opportuni ty to build relationships with external sources of information" (Lauzen, 199 7, p. 67). This study relies on this academic approach to assume that both environmental scanning and boun dary spanning overlap with issues management, or are practical expressions of the latter concept. By portrayi ng issues management as a whole activity,
37 environmental scanning a nd boundary spanning woul d be two arms of action s, two sides with maybe an unequal design, but a similarity in value and practical attitudes. Modern and Contemporaneous Views of the Three Topics Environment or boundaries, scanning or spanni ng: looking more closely, these keywords have almost adjacent meanings, but they just ma ke sense when related to the whole activity of managing issues, in the studies cited previously here. This holistic viewto borrow the word used by Nelson and Heath (1986, p. 23) to describe their model for issues managementconflicts with the system approach set in the boundary sp anning idea, and with the underlying sense of diverse isolated chambers within a corporate sy stem. In a model with this design, composed by several subsystems, studies mentioned in the prev ious subheadings (for instance, Grunig & Hunt) sustain that, to some extent, public relations is the force supposedly capable to join through communication all these disjointed pieces and areas of a given corporation or institution. Accordingly, to fulfill this goal of putting ar eas together, various lines of thought have discussed the role of issues management in pub lic relations. As reviewed by Nelson and Heath (1986), "these important developments stem from the desire by executive leaderships to integrate with long-term social changes through proactive as compared to reactiveintervention in the public interest process" (Nelson & Heath, 1986, p. 20). They proposed to base issues management on system theories and organizational communica tion, in order to support the decision making of top directors, and other managers. Their mode l discuss ways to achieve some command of actions, and track the environment, with the purpose of narrowing the organizational performance and the organizational behavior expected by the public. The idea of a "high-level function" to connect lower areas in the organization is also in Bowen (2002), who attested that "elite issues managers lead their organisations in not only ad apting to change, but also in using an ethical paradigm to analyse and implement th at adaptation" (B owen, 2002, p. 271).
38 Other studies, however, maintain that reality is different or simply "t oo complex" (Cancel, Cameron, Sallot, & Mitrook, 1997, p. 32) and by doing so thes e works express a more contemporaneous concern, as Curtin and Gaither ( 2005) elaborated: "Critics charge that normative theories based on functional models of practice do not capture the dynamic characteristics of relationships and discursive nature of meaning, wh ich form the core of public relations practice" (Curtin & Gaither, 2005, p. 91). Several critics of "these domin ant functionalist conc epts started to emerge during the late 1980s," according to Holtzhausen (2002, p. 252), who maintains a "postmodern" agenda, an array of thoughts deeply against the vi ew of public relations as a management function. According to her, the focus taken by the ma jority of theori es on public relations "is typical of a modernist approach to organizations, which privileges a management discourse and emphasizes upper managements goal s for the organization as given and legitimate" (Holtzhausen, 2002, p. 251) She argued in the same page that the modern vi ew of public relations is an attempt to disregard any "disse ntion and conflict," and to enhance the power of the organization: The role of communication in this approach is to ensure information transfer from the supervisor to the subordinate to gain compliance and to establish networks to ensure the organizations power in rela tions with the public. This perspective includes the concepts of stra tegic message design, manage ment of culture, and total quality management. (Holtzhausen, 2002, pp. 251-252) Meaning and discourse are importan t ingredients here, as well as rh etoric, which "has to do with relationshipshow they are shapedtypically be tween organizations and individuals" (Toth & Heath, 1992, p. xiii). According to Toth and Heath, rhetoric emerge d more intensively in the 1980s as a contrasting point against the "systems world," as Toth (1992, p. 4) put. She acknowledged that "systems and rhetorical/critical scholars of p ublic relations have begun finding complementary contributions to an understanding of public relations" (Toth, 1992, p. 4), and this agreement has evolved since then in these authors' publications (Heath, et al., 2009). This apparently consentient with the modernist or positivist approach described by Holtzhaus en might be a reflection of a
39 world still ruled by organizations of this kind, alth ough it is beyond the purposes of this thesis to analyze to what extent this is a transitional ti me frame from modern to postmodern organizations. Some arguments exposed by Holtzhausen, however deserves attention, because they might open new opportunities to public re lations practices, such as the increasing importance of discourse, and the interaction among knowledge, power, ideology, truth, and the handling of dissension. Gatekeeping is appli cable in all these topics, even thought the postmodernist set of claims, statements and philosophies has to be questioned, in special when applied to business environment. Accordingly, Gaither and Curtin pr oposed to use the circuit of culture model, as presented by du Gay, Hall, Janes, Mackay, and Negus (1997), to fulfill what they saw as a lack of "an alternative theoretical basis that encomp asses identity, difference and power" (Curtin & Gaither, 2005, p. 92). Their concern was to move from the linear transmission-based comm unication models of Shannon and Weaver (1949) and Lasswell (1948), which drove the postpositivist media effects tradition, to a model of discursive process, wh ich underlies more recent paradigmatic formulations. In Careys (1989) terms, the new model recasts communication as ritual; that is, as a cultural form. It positions communication as a synergistic, nonlinear, dynamic process. (Curtin & Gaither, 2005, p. 93) Today, in sum, practitioners can still embody the origin al boundary spanning activity, but they are not confined to normative theories. A diverse se t of philosophies or methods is available to put into practice. Public relations professionals can safely assert that taking the two-way symmetrical model to solve daily problems "depen ds on a whole lot of things," as Cancel et al. (1997, p. 31) argued when they presented their "contingency theo ry of accommodation" as an alternative (Cancel, et al., 1997, p. 31). Practitioners can rely on the circuit of cult ure, mentioned before, and remodel boundary spanning with the notion of being "cultural agents opera ting mainly within the sites of production and consumption to crea te meaning through the shaping and transfer of information [which] places public relations practitioners as key players in the cultural economy" (Curtin &
40 Gaither, 2005, p. 107). Or they can take a postm odern posture and understand that p ublic relations "becomes a process that legitimates many diff erent and heterogeneous forms of meaning and understanding, in stead of a modernist approach based on consensus determin ed by the most powerful, in this case management (Holtzhausen, 2002, p. 257). Assuming both the rhetorical and the postmodern orientations noted above are applicable and relevant to the practice, this thesis understa nds that gatekeeping could also contribute to helping public relations professi onals build a better and more reliable corporate meaning and discourse. Assuming the systems approach still pl ays a significant role in the majority of organizations, the gatekeeping model could at le ast make clear some behaviors never or only slightly illuminated before, by simply applying th is fundamental newsroom practice in a different environment, the environment of non-news organizat ions. All things considered, it is timely to remember that gatekeeping is attached to human nature and the history of communication, so its applicability can always be both possible and re liable. It is possible because, as mentioned earlier, gatekeeping is inborn in people, and it is reliable because it has been applied in news organizations worldwide for centuriesfor exampl e, since the advent of the printed media. Next, Chapter 3 introduces and describes th e methods considered by this study, and outlines the research instrument.
41 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY This study has adopted a qualita tive approach to gather data on how public relations practitioners manage information and knowledge on a daily basis, a rese arch strategy that employed in-depth interviews designed to follo w a semi-structured questionnaire. The fieldwork relies on a convenient sampling of participants, representatives of organizations with diverse sizes (in number of employees or revenue, for instance), and handling distinct markets and business. The majority of these companies are multinationals, and the researcher has identified participants in the United States and Brazil. Th e latter is the most well-represented region in the sampling because it is the researcher's country of origin, a facet that inherently bends the process of recruitment toward Brazilian professionals, ev en in case they work in the United States. The researcher conducted 17 interviews, 16 by phone (one participant sent written responses via e-mail to the topics listed in Appe ndix B). The telephone interviews were recorded on a personal computer (several re cording applications are availabl e, some of them set with an open-source license). The next chapter, which incl udes the research findi ngs, adds details about the sample characteristics. The appendix include s a summary of each inte rview, with a topical profile of the interviewee and a brief description of the company they work for. Names are disclosed to add credibility to the results. Research Strategies: Method, Pro cedures, Sampling, and Recruitment As a method, qualitative research has "no commonl y accepted definition," according to Wimmer and Dominick (2006, p. 113) in their disc ussion on the philosophies and goals of this investigation approach. Their statement was re inforced for instance by Lockyer (2008), who added that "qualitative research has meant differ ent things at different times across its history" (Lockyer, 2008, para. 1). To further understand su ch a context, Wimmer and Dominick (2006)
42 pointed out that social science investigations are modeled by one out of these three criteria: positivist (also objectivist), interpretive, or critical. "Each of these represents a model or a paradigm for research an accepted set of theories, procedures, and assumptions about how researchers look at the world (Wimmer & Dominick, 2006, p. 113, bold and italics in the original). The authors, however, stressed the importance of the relations between the positivist and the interpretive approaches. In sum, positivist and interpretive views re present almost opposite philosophies, with effects in all sciences, while the critical mode l is attached only to the humanities, when the researcher's interest considers levels of social power, politics, and ideology. Positivism has a close relation to quantitative research because it relies on objective measurements. Besides its view of reality as independent and objective in formation, the positivist approach also considers that, whatever reality is, it can be divided, and studied as separated parts. Contrastingly, research under an interpretive frame understands reality as something subjective and holisticso reality makes sense only when related to the researcher and it cannot be divided; thus, it has to be understood as a whole, despite the existence of segments. In practi ce, these two distinctive views affect several sides of the resear ch process: its design, its settings, its instrume nt of measure, the role of the researcher, and the way theory is built under these two views. Discounting the polemic between qualitative and quantitative re search, the authors c onsidered that both approaches have inherent values, and can achieve the desired result if well designed. "Qualitative research uses a flexible questioning approach Quantitative research uses a static or standardized set of questions" (Wimmer & Dominick, 2006, p. 116). Another relevant characterist ic between the two strategies involves how the data are collected and analyzed. One side reflects the deductive style of quantitative methodsusually
43 driven by hypothes es developed before the re search step, and to be confirmed or rejected by the data gathered; the other si de mirrors the induct ive strain of qualit ative mannerswhen "data are collected relevant to some topic an d are grouped into appr opriate and meaningful categories; [and] explan ations emerge from th e data themselves" (W immer & Dominick, 2006, p. 116). This latter patter n, indeed, fully describes this thesis's fieldwork. The Field Procedure Qualitative methods embrace many ways of collecting data. Among them, this thesis has chosen to interview current public relations professionals, from di verse organizations, to evaluate how information is managed on a daily basisan exploratory attitude consistent with perhaps the first attempt to analyze gatekeeping as a mana gement attitude, a typica l journalistic behavior, in the public relations context, meaning in a non-news envi ronment. The research employs the in-depth interview format because this method enables distinct angles about the topic under investigation to be explored. In-depth interviews "are often referred to as semi-structured interviews because the researcher retains some control over the directio n and content to be discussed, yet participants are free to elaborate or take the interview in new but relate d directions" (Cook, 2008, para. 1). Unlike in structured interviews, "the researcher is not required to prepar e an extensive list of questions; rather, the researcher is required to be aware of the major domains of experience likely to be discussed by the participant" (Cook, 2008, pa ra. 1). Cook discussed the limits of this approach, noting that the method often combines other forms of collecting data, "such as observations, diaries, and documents" (2008, para. 3), an improvement this research could not address. Besides being time-consuming, local observation would impl y presence in several locations spread across la rge countries such as Brazil and the United States. This constraint is highlighted in the final chapter.
44 According to Firmin (2008a, 2008b), a semi-str uctured interview is the middle point on a chain linking opposite sides, the unstructured (also known as open interview) facing the structured method. His explanation accurately described the a pproach taken by this thesisa blend of both: One extreme involves open interviews that utilize minimal structure. There is no direction given or hints as to what th e researcher might suspect to find. The participant is encouraged to speak fr eely, taking the interview in whatever direction. Structured interviews exist at the other end of the method pendulum. When using this method, the researcher typi cally has garnered tentative hypotheses regarding what the participant might cont ribute to the interview. These hypotheses might be generated via previous researc h, literature reviews, pilot studies, or a priori reasoning. (Firmin, 2008a, para. 2-3) The Sampling Process and Recruitment The research sampling frame combines convenience and purposive samplings, mainly through the researcher's professional network. Th e researcher asked colleagues and friends to inform about potential particip ants; this task was done mostly by e-mail, and sometimes by phone. In a few instances, the researcher contacted a potential participant di rectly. The researcher has considered the snowball technique, as well. However, few interviewees have informed other potential participants, so the sa mple was rarely gathered with the support of those who got to know the main topics from the questionnaire. In f act, such a pattern has o ccurred with just one interviewee out of 17. The recruitment was done in two steps. After the potential participant had been identified, the first step was to send a request, tailored to each person, so each message was personalized for the recipient. Requests sent to acquaintances or unknown people followed the structure shown in Appendix A; invitations sent to professional colleagues usually pr esented the same content, but with a somewhat more informal approach. After setting up the interview, the second step was to send another e-mail as a follow up, listing briefly th e three main topics of the questionnaire: how the information is identified or selected, how this selected information is filtered or evaluated,
45 and how it is organized and shared (or distribu ted). Appendix B shows a model of this message, meant to work as a guide or an outline for the actual interview, which followed the research instrument (Appendix C), a set of questions to which no interviewee has had access. In reality, the interviews did not address all the questions, although the thr ee topicsselect, filter, and sharewere usually mentioned along the conversations. Alternatively, after the first step, the negotia tion to obtain the consen t of the participant was conducted by phone instead of e-mail. The outline (Appendix B) sometimes was sent before the confirmation, to encourage the prospective participant to accept the invitation. All the participants received the letter of consent by e-mail, with instruc tions to read it and express their acknowledgment by phone, or by replying to th e message. The researcher will keep these recording files for three years, following the or ientation expressed by th e IRB 02 protocol, the Behavioral/Non-Medical authorization monitore d by the Institutional Review Board to conduct research at the University of Florida. The approach was designed to avoid biased resp onses, in particular wh en participants have the tendency to positively suppor t the research object. Therefor e, the keyword gatekeeping was never disclosed in previous contac ts or conversations w ith participants. Over the recruitment, the interview was described as a research project about daily public rela tions tasks on knowledge management, so its goal was to describe ways to manage non-administrative information, the information that could affect positively or negatively the organi zation's reputation. The Research Instrument and Protocol The research instrument (Appendix C) addre sses exploratory concerns on how practitioners act as gatekeepers, how they select, filter, and manage information; thus, how they seize insights and, as a result, create knowledge in the process. Appendix B shows an outline sent in advance for each interviewee with the purpose of establishing a clear plan for the interview. The topics look
46 for how the gatekeeping function, as found in newsrooms' daily tasks, could be correlated with activities found in the selected company. Also, special care was given to analyzing how the gatekeeping role in journalism could be transl ated to the selected company environment. Developed by the researcher, the research instrument was never disclosed for the interviewees; it was used only as a guide by th e researcher, since the sampling frame includes distinct organizations with different communicat ions needs and procedures Indeed, no interview has addressed all the questions as they are listed in the Appendix C, although all the interviews followed the main topics outlined in the Appendix B (gathering, filtering, an d sharing, for instance). The interviews were conducted by phone, excep t one participant, who sent information through e-mail, answering the topics outlined in the Appendix B, which proved to be incompatible with the others because the phone in terviews followed the questions listed in the Appendix C, with specific concerns. In addition, by the end of the convers ation, the participants were invited to add any thoughts rela ted to the topics that they might want to include. In almost all the cases, this free time allowed the particip ants to provide valuable information that otherwise would not be addr essed through the questions. The qualitative research of this thesis does not generalize the results for other organizations. The information presented in the findings is analyzed only under the context of the selected organizations. In addition, although this thesis is grounded on theories about gatekeeping, its main goal is to explore this idea within an environm ent other than newsroomswith its results, this thesis does not pretend to expand the gatekeepi ng theory in journalism, or public relations.
47 CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS The next subsection summarizes some features of the sample, followed by four subsections that compile information gathered from the resear ch questions stated in Chapter 2. The selected organizations are based in two countries: United States (US) and Brazil (BR), but it does not necessarily represent the region of their opera tions, which can go from regional to global, characteristics that will be pointed out as needed All the companies names cited throughout this research maybe registered trademar ks of their respective owners, and are used here only to identify the interviewees' organizations, and the context th ey belong or represent. To easy reading, the trademark or registration symbol is included only in the first time the organization's name appears. Sample Summary This research probed information from 16 in-depth interviews done by phone, a sum of around 10 hours and 40 minutes of conversations guided by 20 questions (Appendix C); each interview lasted an average of 40 minutes. One participant decide d to send written response based on the outline of topics (Appe ndix B). The 17 participantsni ne females and eight males represent 16 organizations. Appendices D through T lis t the interviews in the order they were done, summarize information about these 17 organi zational units and cultures, and include full quotations of topics presented in this chapter. To increase credibility, the research proposed to disclose all participants' names and their respective organizations, which are identifi ed by the name they are most known and by the country where th ey are based. Particip ants who requested to conceal their names or the name of their organizati onsa shortcut to make clear the testimony is a personal statementare identified by the interview number: Orga nization 5 and 15, and Ms. 15. The research sample includes the following organizations: Odebrecht (construction and engineering; one BR operation, one US operation), J ohn C. Lincoln (hospitals and health services;
48 two US regional facilities in Phoenix, Arizona), TotalCom (advertising and communication services; BR operation also have subsidiaries and business with partners in other countries), Organization 5 (agriculture protection chemi cals division of the US operation), Unigel (chemicals, fertilizers, plastics, and packaging), TAM (air transportation), Aberje (communication and public relations professional association), and the Brazilian operations or subsidiaries of the following organizations: Monsanto (agricultural, biotechnology, and protection chemicals), Carrefour (supermarkets and other grocery store formats), Oracle (information technologies and services), CB Richar d Ellis (real estate services and consulting), Coca-Cola (beverage and food), Jones Lang LaSalle (real estate and investment management), Organization 15 (hydropower equipment and se rvices), Fiat (automotive industry), and Paramount Pictures (home entertainment segment). About the country of origin, the samp le includes seven organizations from the United States, five from Brazil, and one each fr om three other countr ies: France, Germany, and Italy. Three participants were workin g in the United States at the moment of the interview. One interview was conducted in English; al l others, in Portuguese. The researcher is responsible for translating and adapting the citations from Portuguese into English. Two organizations can be classified as not-forprofit (John C. Lincoln and Aberje ); eight organizations are public, with shares listed on the stock exchanges (Organization 5, Monsanto, Carrefour, Oracle, CB Richard Ellis, Coca-cola, Jones Lang LaSalle, and TAM); the remaining organiza tions are private or closed companies, meaning incorporated companies without public offer of sh ares at the moment (Ode brecht, TotalCom, Unigel, Organization 15, Fiat, and Paramount). Appendix U summarizes this information. The findings are grouped by the research ques tions (RQ), and by topics raised by the participants during th e interviews. Seven topics include a case which describes with more detail the
49 way a particular organization or interviewee handles the issue related to th at topic. Although some topics are equally raised by several participants, th e findings does not quantify this information, due to the generic meaning of the qualitative approach inherent to th e in-depth interviews applied to the sample. However, tendencies are highlighted when expressed by the majority of th e participants. RQ1: Selecting Information A unit of information is identified when it is considered strategic or relevant to non-news organizations, so the participants expressed this decision as a reflection of the perceived impact that such information has or may have on their business. The degree of this impact defines the newsworthinessto apply the concept used in ne wsroomsof this information, and increase its chances of being selected, and, thus, of passing through what is the first gate in the metaphor used by the gatekeeping theory. The next subsecti on addresses what apparen tly drives the criteria guiding this first gatekeeping ste p. In addition to internal cult ure, which defines the uniqueness of each organizational environment, the findings detected other forces that might drive the perception about the importance of information to be identified and selected: the role of the client, the market, and the community, or the society as a whole entity. Regarding public relations, adding strategic va lue to communication correlates with the embracement of practitioners in the top decision-making board, no matter how the communication function is named inside the organizations included in th e sample. These topics are summarized in the following subsections. Specific cases are described as needed. Criteria Follow Strategy The findings suggest that some organizat ions value communication as a strategic component of their decision-making processes, while in other organizations this appraisal is not as clear. Organizations that valu e communication as a strategic tool have the tendency to describe a more clear set of criteria to define informa tion with potential releva nce to them. Inversely,
50 organizations where the strategic face of communication is less evid ent also tend to describe with less accuracy the criteria they us e to identify and select informa tion. In some organizations, the criteria used to find strategic information is driv en by the effects it will have on the business, as this testimony described: Information is strategic to the extent th at it is related to the business of the company, and it is weighed according to how it affects the sector, from the global to the local economy. (Lage, Fiat BR, in -depth phone interview, Feb. 4, 2011, full quotation in Appendix S) Lage argued that several non-economic topics have also to be c onsidered, which relates to the environment where the company operates, such as political and social variables. Defining relevance to identify information might follo w very close the stra tegic canons set by an organization, as Nassar expressed: "Relevance to us is something inside a risk matrix, which is linked to the identity, mission, and vision of our members" (Nassar, Aberje, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 28, 2011, full quotation in Appendi x O). According to his description, middle managers not only identify but also evaluate sele cted information using strategic planning tools, such as the analytical matrix known as SWOT (an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). His ar gument indicates that Aberje a pplies this approach in daily basis, what will be detailed in the subsection about systemat ic searching of information. Internal Culture Defines th e Value of Communication The previous example suggests that organiza tion size apparently does not affect whether the communication is viewed as a strategic or a tactical task. Indeed, th e findings suggest that internal culture might have more influence in the strategic impor tance attributed to communication than business size (in terms of reve nue), organizational size (in terms of number of operational units or number of employers), or number of clients di rectly attended. As a consequence, internal culturean expression of the grand strategy proposed by Botan (2006)
51 influences the gatekeeping process, by estab lishing the level of interaction between the organization and its publics, speciall y publics outside of its boundaries. Following this, organizational culture might also explain to what extent communication is considered strategic and a valuable ingredient of decisi on makingor just a tactical tool used to move on decisions already taken. Th e research sample incl udes relatively small organizations that exp licitly value the strategi c component of communication, for instance the already cited Aberje, while other bigger or ganizations were described with a lesser commitment on that, for instance, Unigel, portrayed in the next subsection. Cultural background apparently correlates with the ways corporate gatekeeping is practiced on a daily basis, since the communication activity is expressed by dis tinct levels of commitment, running from informal meetings with team play ers or top managers to sharp weekly meetings meant to produce tangib le evaluations and plan sor a lack of meetin gs at all, with no monitoring, reports, or systematic evaluation of external or inte rnal environments. The case of Unigel is timely because the low commitment with the strategic value of communication described by the participant might require a clos er look to make sure it does not accomplish strategic results as it looks at first sightmaybe it is ju st enough for th e organization's purposes at the moment, at leas t until a new cr isis occurs. The case of Unigel. In the case below, external commun ication is outsource d, and internal communication is handled by a human resources profes sional because the organization's main concern is to address their employees, a job do ne mainly through intranet, e-mail, printed newsletters, and bulletins hung in murals every tw o weeks. This communicatio n is mainly related to work relations between the organization and its employees. The participan t describes the company as conservative and low profile and does not emphasize gather ing and evaluating information:
52 Relevance is comp licated. Our communicatio n is usually elaborat ed by request, topdown. When a communication demand exists the board of dire ctors call us to elaborate some news. [Gatheri ng] information about the ma rket, linked to management or strategic areas is not done. [Also,] there is no inte rface between human resources, or the communication subs ystem, and the departments. We do not search for information. (Neves, Unigel, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 19, 2011, full quotation in Appendix K) Neves noted that this approach reflects the wa y the shareholders understand communication, at least in relation to their busine ss: The operation competes globally, which demands high standards, but she describes the organization as being "ver y calm," meaning that the communication demands are not very intense. By not getting organized to look for information, she apparently attributes a low value to the strategic component of communication. This is reflect ed in part by the positioning of the communication function in the organizationa l chart, as a "subsyste m" of human resources. As Neves described, the channels used work w ith the idea of a centerthe organization's top managementdelivering news to its internal publ ic, including the most far offthe boundaries represented by the operational workers of the in dustrial plants. In her evaluation, internal communication is important to impr ove internal motivation, which is done by offering space to employees to share information, and by making them feel "they are part of the process" (Neves, Unigel, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 19, 2011, full citation in Appendix K). Despite the importance of such information or communication strategies to improve the relationship with employees the effects on business results are achieved in ways that this thesis cannot measure, or even addres s. Nevertheless, for Unigel, th is internal communication has achieved a strategic valu e in the long run, Neve s implicitly expressed. She reported that they started this approach in 2005, after one of the units of the group face a crisis with the community of a city named Cubato. The prob lem forced them to hire an outsourced consultancy to handle external communication, and the communicati on to their inte rnal publics.
53 Still, she apparently does not invest in selecting and evaluating information, but her testimony suggested that sharing information of any kindfor example, regular news about any subject that might be of interest to the internal publicis valuable. Since the information shared is selected and evaluated at some point, the thr ee steps of the gatekeeping process exist at some time and levels, for example, when Neves works to make these daily news possible, sometimes with the guidance of directors. Her testimony, how ever, did not describe the existence of a clear gatekeeping process, in part because such task may not be too demanding in everyday tasks, and maybe in part because it was not emphasized du ring the interview. Thus, on the research question topic, she did not express whether such work of selecting information has any strategic value. Systematic Searching of Information The description above contrast s with the Brazilian operati on of the German company identified here as Organi zation 15. According to Ms. 15, the Brazilian bran ch started a management and quality program abou t three years ago, when among other actions, th ey improved the company vision, mission and values, and deci ded to create more recently a un it to exclusively handle strategic issues where communicati on is included. She desc ribed a precise knowledg e management cycle, starting every Monday, with a two-hour meeting with the communication group, the engineers, and the project managers. "Our engineers and project ma nagers are our so urces of informat ion" (Ms. 15, Organization 15, in-depth phone interview, Feb. 2, 2011, full quotat ion in Appendix R). Through the information provided by the proj ect managers, the communication teamwork has an outlook of what is planned for a full month ahead; every week, this outlook is updated, according to the reality, since the projects can face delays or other problems. In the next day, Tuesdays, at 9 a.m., the communication team disc uss the briefing of the previous meeting, and decide which actions they will propose. These actions are planned in the next two days, when they elaborate estimates, design the schedules, an d add other details. By the end of Thursday,
54 they have a report with about 30 pages, and other attachments, which is submitted to the board of top managers, the "headers." This board also has a weekly meeting the following Monday, so these managers work on the planning done in the week before, while the same communication workgroup is currently working on the report for the next week. The case of Aberje. In some organizations, the commitme nt to systematically search for information might reach the standards defined by the International Organization of Standardizations (ISO). That is the case of Aberje, which started to implement these processes in the early 2000s. The organization was certified ISO 9001 in 2008, by DNV (Det Norske Veritas) Foundation, and they have been audited by indepe ndent services over the last six years. The results of these ten years of reengineering are meaningful: Considering only procedural outcomes, they have gone from a result of around R$300,000/year to R$7 million/year, Nassar reported. According to his testimony, "globaliza tion is for all," meaning that they compete worldwide with other a ssociations, and look for members in the United States, for instance, a goal made possible only because the asso ciation has governance and processes. At Aberje, gathering information is a weekly process starting on Mondays, with a twohour meeting held in a "war r oom," involving their team of 23 people, with the purpose of raising all information available. They rely, for instance, on keyw ords retrieved from internet search services, and work based on the four "pillars" that define the organization's vision and mission: relationship, educati on, knowledge management, and recognition. Each pillar is conducted by three or four manage rs, who define in this first forum what they call "horizontal meetings," when the topics will be analyzed in depth. A step further is to interpret information, the level of defining an opinion about it, wh ich is usually the deci sion layer ma de by the command of the organizatio n. He also considered:
55 Strategic selection of information, strate gic evaluation, and strategic opinion [about it], you cannot define which one is more important. If you don't have a good selection, you start your pro cess in a fragile manner. (N assar, Aberje, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 28, 2011, fu ll quotation in Appendix O) Taking a simple case as an example, the e ducational pillar has de tected a potential infrastructural problem related to hotel occupanc y and air transportation in Brazil, due to the FIFA World Cup of soccer scheduled for 2014, the Olympic Games in 2016, and more than a hundred of international events planned in th e country during this pe riod. This setting will impact several of their nati onwide communication workshops and seminars, attended by around 5,000 people per year. Based on that, they have defi ned actions to at leas t lessen the problem. Criteria Follow the Client Retaking aspects that influence the criteria used to identify and select information, four participants expressed their feeli ngs by including, with some emphasi s, the role of their clients in relation to their business. In these testimonies key words related to the organization's mission and vision are not mentioned to de fine relevance. Instead, the daily business sets the criteria, as this participant put it: Our goal is to communicate to our clients the value of technol ogy. What drives the grower to buy our product is the perspec tive that [the investment] will return, otherwise he won't buy it. (Madureira, Or ganization 5, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 17, 2011, full quotation in Appendix H) To Madureira, information is attached to the pr oduct and the specifications of their system of crop management. To some extent, these are prac tical information concerns, easy to detect and solve at what he considers a low level of impact, when the client is simply not following the directions correctly. Detached from routine concerns as desc ribed above, a higher de gree of communication impact relates to instances that arouse distinct technological views of Organization 5's approach. This is the case when, for example, technicians or consultants linked to a farmer association
56 express negative opinions, or disagreements abou t their products specifications. A problem with this scope is usually identified as quickly as possi ble, and shared with othe r areas of the company, because in such cases it is necessary to take an approach at a higher institutional level. This is done by asking the support of the public relations area, and its team of communication specialists. To monitor for issues like that, Madureira gath ers information informally, primarily through the five members of his team, who follow up conversa tions with about 50 regional managers, who, in turn, deal with around 200 technicians, consu ltants, and other agricultural production related workers in the field. He had considered more so phisticated information channels, but such move would not be worthwhile. Madureira, however, hi ghlights the importance of monitoring social networks, although his unity does not perfor m a systematic work on this matter. Criteria Follow the Market Two out of the four participants mentioned in the previous subsection also define relevance of information through the perspective of their client s, but add the market as an entire entity, in addition to contexts such as poli tics, policies, and public opinion. Th is view results in an attitude a little more focused on the in terests of the organization, as this testimony describes: Some information is important to the cl ient, and we need to promote it. Some information about the group is important to the market, and we need to disclose it, for example, the group has acquired a new company, it is entering a new segment. Everything we can promote a bout our services, or inst itutional information that allows the market to understand the gr oup, is considered relevant. (Peluso, TotalCom, in-depth phone interview, Dec. 17, 2010, full quotation in Appendix F) Gathering information in these contexts can be a result of external monitoring of potential problems, and news media act, in such cases, as a considerable input. Th e findings suggest that the organization profile also drives the guidelines to identify releva ncy. In the case of full-service organizations such as TotalCom, mentioned a bove, the most important source of relevant information is the top manager of the group, Eduar do Fischer. He usually no tifies at first hand all
57 the information that will be disclosed, be it posi tive news such as information about growing or the involvement with a new client, or negative ones, such as the loss of talent, a campaign that didn't achieve the expected results, or the loss of an important account. Criteria Follow the Society Other interviewees expand the idea of a client -driven criteria, and vi ew relevance in the information related to the community, so the soci ety replaces the market as a whole entity. The findings suggest that this a pproach fits better the ne eds of organizations orient ed to the consumer, with products or services, and results in a tone of a commitment with a l ong-term organizati onal strategy: Relevance is the people, the programs, the services. Relevance is specifically related to what we do and what we provide to the community. (Fuchs, John C. Lincoln Hospital, in-depth phone interview, Dec. 6, 2010, full quotation in Appendix E) Our biggest concern is to understand the dyna mics of our market. We need to be a resonance box of the society, so the compa ny will be sensitive to what is important to the society as a whole. (Simes, Co ca-Cola BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 31, 2011, full quotation in Appendix P) In such contexts, new key words emerge from the testimonies: emotions, feelings, credibility, excellence, and sustainability, to list the most mentioned. Acco rding to Simes, communication areas are the only organizational task force truly committed to listen to external publics, and to build dialogue with the society. In his opinion, by continuously l ooking for relevant information, this function was responsible fo r identifying the issue of sustainabilit y, for instance, a topic raised in the last 15 years, firs t under the view of social responsi bility, which has evolved to the meaning of sustainability a nd social business over time. Defensive/Offensive Strategies and New Contexts Also Set Criteria The importance of information can change overtime to reflect specific ne eds, for example, recent changes in the organization business history. That is the case of Or acle, which has bought more than 60 companies over the last six years, including, more recently, the hardware company
58 Sun, a merging operation that ended in Latin America in June of 2010. The most relevant information relates now to the actual positioning of the organization, which moved from the status of a software operation only to th at of a hardware business, as well, as Auricchio described (Indepth phone interview, Jan. 19, 2011, Appendix L). His concern relates to the wa ys this transition is taking place, a demand th at impacts internal and external public s at the same time : Internal publics need to think about an entire new approach, and exte rnal publics should be able to rely on a wider range of offerings. The key word for relevancy is now "integrated solutions" of bot h software and hardware, in addition to a new wo rldwide public, the deve lopers of the Java programming language. So the findings suggest that or ganizational contexts work to sh ape information worthy of being identified and selected as releva nt to whatever communication purpos es. Indeed, the re sult of adapting the organization to its cont ext can be labeled, for instance, with defensive or offensive meanings. Such oscillation of actions usua lly is more intense in or ganizations with strong in teractions with the final consumer of products or services, as well as markets highly monitored by social activism, usually through organized groups driven by ideological biases. The sample in cludes a supermarket with more than 170 stories spread th rough Brazil, which represen ts a daily direct attendance of over one million people; an air company w ith 100,000 passengers per day, flying to South America, North America, and Europe; and the impact of tec hnology applied to agricultural deve lopment, with special attention to the genetically m odified organisms (GMOs), an issue still highly sensit ive, and easily spread through all media channels. Defensive and offensive strategies influence information gathering, thus, the characteristics that raise attenti on or concerns of communicators: Everything related to agriculture and biotechnol ogy is relevant information for us The source of information [is important be cause it] already informs the bias driving that information: scientific studies with the endorsement of consultants, public institutions, [and the] utterance of opinion leaders. (Magella, M onsanto BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 18, 2011, full quotation in Appendix I)
59 I will divide it into two fronts: Relevance applies to the defense or the promotion of the brand. (Pitoschia, Carrefour, in-d epth phone interview, Jan. 19, 2011, full quotation in Appendix J) We are bombarded daily by demands of a ll kinds, relating to the operation, the aviation market, [financial] results, campai gns. [This is a] risk we combat every day [in order] to implement proactive topics something else than simply meet the press. (Mendona, TAM, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 28, 2011, full quotation in Appendix N) Gathering Information With News Providers Organizations use to rely on services like ne ws clipping to gather information produced by the media, although this summary of headlines and ne ws, printed or broadcast, is usually reactive: since it is already published, it is alrea dy in the public sphere. The advent of social media brings gradually a sense of real time to is sues and information that might be important to organizations, so several participants cited the importance of monitoring the web, and its social tools: blogs, Twitter, Facebook, a nd other social networks. The case of Odebrecht BR. After facing a crisis due to its close relations with the Brazilian government, Odebrecht BR went a st ep further on news clippings and other information gathering services, and decided about 20 years ago to subscribe to the news service providers directly, like Reuters and others. Such servi ces provide information to newspapers and other news outlets worldwide just as the wire services selected by Mr. Gates in the references included in Chapter 2. According to its corporate communication direct or Mrcio Polidoro, by doing that Odebrecht BR has the chance to act in advance, sometimes even before the news gets published. Today, they have a news provider to handl e this service, a daily report starting around 11a.m. with the goal to deliver "in real time" a ny information worldwide that might impact their business. This includes news published in the inte rnet, and in social medi a tools, as blogs and Twitter. In parallel, the methodology evolved to anot her tool, an index of media image, enhanced by CDN (Companhia de Notcias), a leading Brazilian public re lations and communications
60 consultancy, which started to work for Odebrecht around 1994. Known today as Iquem (ndice de Qualidade de Exposio na Mdia/Quality of Media Exposure Index), this tool works by monitoring, constantly and nati onwide, all printed news men tioning the company. It also attributes an index to the leve l of this exposition, based on para meters of weighing the newsa different measure is applied whether it is a head line or a small note, for instanceand weighing the impact of distinct news outletsa national newspaper or a local small one. The result is a balance of the organization image as a bra nd, delivered daily around 9a.m. In addition, Odebrecht uses a third tool to analyze the tenden cy of news in general, delivered by e-mail every morning to top managers, a topic that will be addressed in the last subsection. Regarding the news services, Polidoro considered that quick ac cess to information has a direct impact on their business. He explained with an international case: One day the financial controller [department] of Ve nezuela governme nt published in their site the following information: they will apply a fine on Odebrecht Venezuela for nonpayment of taxes related to 2006-200 7. Immediately, a Reuters' reporter based in Miami, whose job was to look for this kind of information, simply replicated the information publishe d by this public inst itution of Venezuela within the Reuters' network. Our system detected it coup le of minutes later, and this information reached me, and it was di rected immediately to the president of the company, who called me, picked up th e phone and called the director in Venezuela asking him about th e issue, if he knew someth ing about it. He didn't. So the director in Venezuela didn't know the information, and this information was already being distributed wo rldwide. The informa tion was public even before the company had been notified of that, a company [tha t was already] defined as a defendant in an action for ta x evasion. So [our director in Venezuela] contacted the department of the tr easury to explain the prob lem, Odebrecht produced a position note in the same day, and the t opic was clarified. In fact, it was only a misinterpretation on a specif ic procedure of tax payment, and the topic was solved: it didn't reverberate, it wasn't publish ed anywhere, but the news circulated throughout the internet. So th is was a communication actio n that helped a business strategy in a fundamental way. If that reverberates in Ve nezuela, for instance, it would be terrible, since we are a foreign company, acti ng in an important market, with big business wi th the Venezuelan government. (Polidoro, Odebrecht BR, indepth phone interview, Jan. 15, 2011, Appendix G).
61 RQ2: Evaluating the Selected Information The gatekeeping allegory moves one step forward by the way organizations filter and evaluate the information previously identifie d and selected, thus, by moving it through other gates inside the organization, when this informati on runs from outside to inside, or by directing or redirecting it from inside to outside. (In this regard, one might consider that news organizations are also meant to gather informa tion from the outside to inside, from the public sphere to inside newsrooms, reprocess it throughout editorial strategies and tactics, and, then, give this reprocessed information back to the society, by making or calling it news.) In the findings gathered by this research, experience, j ournalistic flair, criter ia, and knowledge are key words that describe how the evaluation expedi ent is achieved in non-news environments, although these words could be applied in news or ganizations with the same significance. These four branches are addressed next. Experience, Subjectivity The following comments clarify some ways inform ation is evaluated, starting with the idea of experience, which leads to a certain level of subjectivity in the deci sion-making process of moving information forward, especially to top mana gers. Such point was raised by the concerns underlining questions 8, 10, and 12 of the qualitative instrument (Appendix C), an inquiry with this meaning: How practitioners decide what topic is important enough to discu ss with their managers? It is such a hard question to answer, becau se it is a judgmental issue! I think it is one of those things you just know. I've done this for 40 years, and after 40 years you know what is important, [and] what is not important. (Fuchs, John C. Lincoln Hospital, in-depth phone interview, D ec. 6, 2010, full quotation in Appendix E) This question is a little difficult, becaus e this evaluation is very subjective. You measure the temperature of what is going on at the moment. So me topics we know will not reverberate, so the evaluatio n is very subjective on what we are experimenting at that moment. (Pinheiro, Odebrecht US, in-depth phone interview, Dec. 2, 2010, full quotation in Appendix D)
62 To some extent, the participants expressed some reluctance to answer which indicates that the gatekeeping behavior is not necessarily perceived but fully practiced. According to the testimonies, information is weighed through a ju dgmental process, a subjective action, guided by their experience in the field, and aided by the amoun t of time they have be en involved with the organization; in addition, evaluation is achieved by sharing thoughts with others, so the social component of gatekeeping also emerged from the sample. The case of Monsanto BR. A worldwide organization like Monsanto opens the opportunity to map issues in ot her countries before they reverberate in Brazilian media and society, Magella reported. He makes the decision of investing in a particular topic, and his sources includes "chatting with ot her leaders [in the company], journalistic feeling, daily news something written by a columnist, [or] the subject of an article (Magella, Monsanto BR, indepth phone interview, Ja n. 18, 2011, full quot ation in Appendix I). Magella exemplified his view with the research project conducted by the European Union rega rding the ten years of monitoring what is known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The study concluded that biotechnology is as safe as non-transgenic fo od. The document was a nnounced at the end of 2010, and Magella realized that th e topic did not reverb erate in Brazil as mu ch as it could, since the European Commissi on, which conducte d the project, is a reliab le source. He asked to monitor the social network trend about the study, and the service detected in fact, besides a low response about the topic, a negative evaluation expresse d by organization s opposed to GMOs, attesting that the result s of the European research should not be taken for gr anted. Based on these results, Magella decided to promote that study, because he has understood that all the biotechnology market can improve its credibility du e to a positive eval uation provided by a source with good repu tation worldwide.
63 Journalistic Flair, Sensibility Besides Magella, above, three participants me ntioned the key word sensibility, and one specifically mentioned the jo urnalist's flair, meaning the capabilit y of being sensible to outside or inside demands with some news appeal. Feeling, sensibility, or flair of a news reporter, however, work best with an input, which means that se nsitiveness needs a topic with an inherent value to be discovered and evaluated, as the case of Carrefour describes next. An acute perception to identify topics can also help to drive corporate research projects, which is considered by public relations theories and practices the most important organizational instrument to evaluate information. Simes suppo rts this devotion to formal research projects, which he considers the only practical instrument of business. He added the proviso, however, that feeling and sensibility work before the organization invests in such strategic effort. Following this view, the daily relationship built with external publics, throughout social connections, is the most important input to define the hypothesis that might be proved or not by formal research. To formulate the hypothes is, we need to pass through this first step, which is to listen. We listen to the press a lot, health groups, people linked to environment initiatives, for instance. We [need] to liste n actively, and everything. (Simes, Coca-Cola BR, indepth phone interview, Jan. 31, 2011, full quot ation in Appendix P) Simes advocated to avoid the "ostrich strategy" represented by the action of "stick your head in the ground, and don't pay attention to what is goi ng on around"and to be open to talk with any organization that might look for them, even when th e approach is somewhat aggressive. The idea is to know everything about what the other side is addressing. By doing that, Simes suggested that the communication area builds the connections between the organization and society, a responsibility that no other organization sector ca n handle effectively. Even marketing, usually viewed as an area intrinsically related to the consumer, cannot do such environmental scanning. On this, Simes argued marketing sectors develop a connection with the consumer mediated through
64 market research, since it is impossible to be in touch with millions of people who engage their brand. He suggested that the same applies to brand related to products or services. The case of Carrefour BR. Feeling about news, also known as journalistic flair, represents a professional asset ac cording to the testimony described in the following case. According to Pitoschia, background in journalism helps in evaluating a unit of information because the newsworthiness of a topic depends of other forc es than simply consid ering it a "good idea:" The topic defines itsel f. You know you can [offer this] to a ne ws budgeter, we can invite the journalist to check it in the store, so we are sa fe to work. It depends on the topic, and on what the organization is prop osing to addr ess. Sometimes the company has something hidden here, an d nobody has discover ed it is news. (P itoschia, Carrefour BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 1 9, 2011, full quotation in Appendix J) Pitoschia related a case about a new store that Carrefour was launching in Rio Grande do Sul. This is the most Southern stat e in Brazil, with an intense esteem fo r their culture and tr aditions. Her first action was to figure out somethin g about it. One of the store's uniqueness was the offering of regional products, so she evaluated that meet ing the regional expectation would be a good journalistic hook to explore. She also found, however, that the st ore located in Porto Alegre, the capital of that state, used to main tain a bus prepared to work as a "school" to te ach 36 ways to prepare chimarro, a tea beverage extremely representative of that Southern region. The bus used to travel to several cities in the countryside, sponsored by the organization. Base d on that "spectacular" finding, she managed to ge t a two-pages article in Veja the biggest Brazilian weekly news and politics magazine (similar to Newsweek, for instance). Her experi ence as a journalis t, knowledge of the market, of newspaper mechanics, and of what would be relevant to a corporate communication helped her to filter topics with pos itive potential to invest. In additio n, her journalistic flair alerts her of topics that should never reach the press, due to their potential negative impact.
65 Criteria for Evaluating Information Criteria is important not only to select information but al so to evaluate it. Some participants suggested that their evaluations are usually guided by a main reference, or a set of guidelines meant to filter information. The sample includes cases when this set of criteria is unwritten, even though the organization defines a clear communication di rection, establishing how to communicate with the client, and which messages should be developed. In other cases, the participant expressed a clear guideline used by his area to evaluate information: Our criteria are national re levance, since regional issues will be addressed locally, or something that endangers peop le's lives, let's say [an accident] with a truck filled up with phosphoric acid, th is is something that becomes a national issue. Also, [our] seven sust ainability areas: human resources; our product portfolio; the [consu ming] of our products, rega rding health, positively or negatively; community; and three areas related to the environment: water, recycling of our packaging, and carbon emission. (Simes, Coca-Cola BR, indepth phone interview, Jan. 31, 2011 full quotation in Appendix P) Knowledge as a Social Activity The findings suggest that the use of word kn owledge works as an ex pression of a more systematized procedure or format. Also, it is implic it that experience and fe eling are more attached to individual evaluations or decisi ons, while knowledge translates its elf as a social construction, or an evaluation procedure built through interaction with others, by sharing and exchanging ideas. Evaluating information as a person or as a grou p might be viewed, however, as two distinct instances of a pendulum. Par ticipants in management positio ns express these behaviors interchangeably, and resort to both as needed, alth ough most of them mentioned that the majority of decisions is done by sharing di scussions with others. Following this, evaluations always end up as a social construction. Few participants expr essed decisions about information as a personal attribute. Testimonies of social construction of knowledge can be accessed in the appendices F (Peluso), H (Madureira), L (Auricch io), M (Garcia), and N (Mendona).
66 Other Perceptions Enhance Evaluations Attention to details and a wi de range of areas to consider make a difference in the perceptions that drive the analysis and evaluation of information. In fact, attention to detail is the capability to see hidden features in a unit of information, although, in a strict sense, adding a new bias to information is not gatek eeping, but slanting, a construct not included in this thesis. This matter, however, will be briefly discussed in the next section. The capability of adding a new bias to informa tion is pointed out by Lage, from Fiat BR, as a desirable characteristic of the communication area he supervises. For example, he illustrated this idea with a recent news about the restriction of credit to consumers, a kind of news that might look trivial and commonplace, but receives a sp ecial attention from his communication area. We conduct a different reading of this info rmation, we add a ne w bias, we subsidize the other directors, so they are able to deal with that. We need to view information with other eyes, so we can [evalu ate] whether we can be offe nsive or defens ive about it. (Lage, Fiat BR, in-depth phon e interview, Fe b. 4, 2011, full quotation in Appendix S). The information is relevant for the sales system of Fi at and its retail market because credit restriction can arouse a defensive behavior on the consumer, and nega tively impact sales. According to Lage, this type of information is cons tantly monitored and immediately passed along, so the company can develop an opinion about it, includ ing to be prepared for any reques t for speeches about the topic. A wider range of areas to considerthe ot her point introduced aboveis less about information and more about the people responsi ble for evaluating it, according to the argument expressed by Nassar, from Aberje. In his vi ew, the middle managers are the owners of a considerable amount of information (and knowledge, as a consequence), and the ability to decide about such information is related to other levels than simply professional expertise: These managers have to be refined, because [they] will make decisions about issues not only within the technical range, but also including ethics and aesthetics. A manager without culture cannot even integrat e this strategic scope. (Nassar, Aberje, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 28 2011, full quotation in Appendix O)
67 The solution to this demand, Nassar noted, involves the development of new skills and competences of this middle management group, a development that relies on continuous education, such as pursuing a master's or a doc toral degree, or other kind of specialization. Lastly, systematic evaluation of corporate imag e also helps determine strategic directions, as Polidoro, for Odebrecht BR, reported. The already mentioned daily report Iquem about news tendencies, includes recommendations that can result in valuable oppor tunities. In 2010, the company realized that the hydroelectric of Sant o Antonio (in Rio Madeira, Amazon area) was an issue with good potential to communicate, due to its environmental care, and its social receptivity. They invested in promoting the project worldwide, and achieved good results. The topic was addressed by more than 40 long articles, and was on the covers of the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, for example. Polidoro looked for these newspapers to oppose the environmental organizations that usually emphasize Amazon issues in the United States and in Europe. RQ3: Sharing Knowledge Gatekeeping is a process with a clear direc tion in newsrooms: It works to produce news vehicles, whether printed, broad cast, or networked, and all of them have in common the purpose of share information systematically (Chapter 5 di scusses this topic). Nonnews organizations also worry about sharing information, and public relati ons practitioners are us ually in charge of handling a considerable amount of such tasks. The findings suggest however, distinct levels of sharing information systematically, and dissimila r ways to do so. Also, participants express several levels of value to consistently deliver information, the channels used to accomplish that, and its formatwritten or unwritten, such as meetings or corporate TV broadcast. Informal Sharing of Knowledge On one hand, participants share information in a very informal way, usually through faceto-face meetings, when they build knowledge by discussing the issues they are working on. For
68 example, Pinheiro, from Odebrecht US, shares information with her team through weekly meetings, usually scheduled every Monday, although this is not mandatory. This meeting helps her to "align" the thoughts of the group under her coor dination. Her team is fo rmed by five females working on all demands as needed, bu t with distinct focuses, although all of them related to tactical outcomes, such as organizing events, producing printed material or maintaining the web site. Pinheiro values these meetings as an opportunity to inform the group about all the current projects, and to make sure everyone is on the "same page," although so metimes she suggested that the meeting can achieve a more strategi c level. "It is really the quality moment we have to exchange ideas" (Pinheiro, Odebrecht US, in-depth phone inte rview, Dec. 2, 2010, full quotation in Appendix D). However, the responsi bility for solving problems relies on her, and this task might need the interaction of the country manager. In addition, any action has also to deal and proceed with the agreement of the contract director, the manager h eading each of the five o ngoing projects in that country. Under the entrepreneurial culture foster ed by Odebrecht worldwid e, each one of these contract directors gives the final wo rd on any action that might affect the project they are in charge of; by this view, this director is the ultimate gatekeeper of a particular engineering project. The case of John C. Lincoln. So far, gatekeeping has been mainly presented and described as a bottom-up process, meaning its direction goes from lower levels of management to decision makers positioned in upper levels in the organiza tional hierarchy. Because this keyword has never been disclosed to the participants, Fuchs, from John C. Lincoln, pointed out, without mentioning gatekeeping or any similar concept, that such pr ocess of information gathering and evaluation can also flow in the opposite direction. This is the case when top managers look for facts or advice nested in the lower-level management positions, to search the knowledge nurtured by experience, for instance. On this, she suggested that her 25 years of practice in Arizona is longer than the
69 professional background of many journalists she pr ovides support. Additionally, her 12 years of work in the organization also helps practitioners above her hierarchically. "I am a walking file cabinet," she said, without any tone of arrogan ce, since she also expressed she has open access to her supervisors, and, thus, they exchange information easily by several ways or channels, such as notes dropped in each other offices, text messages, phone calls, or even through posts in the social network Facebook. Yet, it would be rare to need to go straight to the top managers, since the organization has a "clear chain of command," in her view: The vice president of marketing and comm unications [one level below the chief executive officer (CEO)] has being here for about f our years, and my boss, the director of public re lations has being here for [about] three years, so in my brain I've got organizational history that no body else has. (Fuchs, John C. Lincoln Hospital, in-depth phone interview, D ec. 6, 2010, full quotation in Appendix E) Even though the CEO works in the orga nization a little longer then her, Fuchs reported that her historical knowledge is al ways relevant to share, because it can portray, for example, the revival of old issues with the experience ac quired in the past. An example of that was the reaction in December 2010 against the cl osing of the birthing center a financial decision planne d a long time ago, to focus the hospital's efforts on other defi ned core areas. They could antici pate nurses and mothers protest much likely the way it ha ppened around five years be fore, when the topic was first discusse d, and the hospital started to make ch anges in the birthing fac ilities, according to her. The decision demanded a large communication effort on plan ning and research, given the emoti onal impact of cl osing a service that has been delivering ba bies over several decades, for the community near the hospital. Therefore, the knowledge of the past has helped them develop su ch a plan, albeit they w ould be sensitive to the case even if they neve r had faced someth ing similar befo re, Fuchs said. Systematic Ways of Sharing Knowledge If sharing information can be very inform al on one hand, on the other hand the findings suggest several ways or channels to systematically spread kn owledge through the organization. A
70 system means also a method, or a plan, so this strategy usually inherent ly leads to a tangible form of distribution, adding as an outcome the ab ility to archive and retrieve such information. Some of these channels follow the one-to-many approach taken by tradit ional media; others work with the interaction made possible by the new technologies raised by the internet. Usually, the result is a mix of both traditional and onlin e format, so bulletin boards, personal letters, newsletters, magazines, intranet tools, e-mail, online chats, webcasts, and even an internal TV network were mentioned by the participants. Like other organizations in the sample, most of them spread in several sites or countries, Oracle BR distributes information through several channels at once. According to Auricchio, they conduct webcasts every quarter with the CEO of the company to announce its results; the event is held in an auditorium, and people who are invited to attend have the opportunity to ask questions, as well. Supporting human resources or the legal ar ea, he also uses e-mail to publicize information and updates, which is distributed daily, under his supervision. Recently, he managed to implement a corporate TV network, meant to substitute the traditional bulletin board with printed information, an information channel that will a ggregate other existing ones. The company also has a weekly online newsletter, distributed in the entire Latin America region, including Brazil. In general, the typical information spread th rough these channels ha s a low strategic value by itself, but this value can be increased. I ndeed, information or knowledge distributed or gathered through systematic channels can have a higher level of strategic meaning, and this feature does not correlate with a wider or narrower audience. Appa rently a more suitable way to evaluate the strategic va lue of information widely distributed is considering the level of impact of this information on the business or on its operation. For example, 30 years of corporate knowledge archived in a single source can make a difference, as Peluso noted:
71 We have an intranet, where the information about the group is shared with all collaborators. Our asset is intangible, it is [our] intelligence: we don't have factories, products, we sell ideas and comm unication solutions, so the main asset of the company is information. [The intranet includes an] area about the corporate memory, so any collaborator can search what this group has already worked on, which solutions it has created, which [impor tant] campaigns it has developed, what strategies it has already done for big c lients. (Peluso, TotalCom, in-depth phone interview, Dec. 17, 2010, full quotation in Appendix F) The intranet is also a tool to promote everything th at deserves to be shared with the other units. For example, a new practice, or a big action that ende d up with a good result an d visibility is usually advocated thought this channel. Although human re sources is the area responsible for managing the intranet, the person in char ge of that works in the commun ication office, and the work is supervised by Peluso. By doing that, the intran et manager can access the information faster, and align with the communication area the tone of each message. In additio n, Peluso defines the criteria of what kind of information that goes to ex ternal publics needs also to be shared internally. Peluso said that this service is more accessed by the eight un its physically distant from the headquarter, a two-story loft used by the two remain ing units, where such info rmation is shared in a more quickly and informal manner. She uses e-mail marketing and monitors how many people open these messages and how they surf inside this intr anet. They send around three messages per week, but even small notes can be highly important, Peluso argued. She also receive s suggestions from this public, around three messages per month, besides tips passed informally, which she usually "gatekeeps," by evaluating them more carefully before deciding to share the topic within the intranet. The findings gathered other experiences of sh aring information systematically. Monsanto BR implemented in 2010 an internal chat tool, and scheduled monthly onehour meetings with top managers, so everyone inte rested in asking question s or exchanging ideas with that manager can join the chat room. This tool helps th e top managers, usually based in the headquarte rs located in the So Paulo city area, to keep in cont act with the othe r 40 units spread out in th e country. The experience
72 was viewed as a "best practice," according to Magella, an d raised the interest of other Monsanto subsidiaries worldwide, like India, for example. As mentioned before, Od ebrecht BR has a morning news service delivered by e-mail to the top managers, with an analysis of th e most important nationwide topics publishe d by Brazilian newspapers and magazines. Named Caf com Notcia ( Coffee with News ), this service provides a macropolitical and macroeconomical sect or analysis, so the managers in volved can have an idea of the most important news, and al so an analysis of them. The case of Fiat BR. In September 2008, Fiat BR introduced Monitor Grupo Fiat a weekly newsletter since January 2009, delivered by e-mail every Friday to around 70 leaders of the organization. According to Lage this initiative offers a bette r support to these executives, "a balance of the week," by providing them an anal ysis of the news and the market, and pointing out regional economic evaluations that might aff ect the business performa nce of the company in the country. Even information rega rding the competitors is include d, if relevant. The newsletter becomes daily whenever needed. In fact, the ne wsletter was launched during the 2008 American economic crisis, when it started with two daily is sues, but given the intense flow of information in that period, it reached several issues dail y, updated every two hours, if necessary. The publication is edited internally by a senior journalist, and it is divided by units of businessthe market segments where the company works, such as cars, trucks, and agriculture. Lage used the newsletter to argue that systematic information is very important to the business. Being systematic, however, is not limited to tangible products; it can take other actions. He explained with a recent case, when they st arted to check the radio specifically to receive advanced updates about the weather over a rainy season in the Belo Horizonte area, the capita l and the most developed city of Minas Gerais state. By doing so, they discovered th at a hailstorm would reach the region in three days. The operati onal areas were informed, and had enou gh time to rent sh eds around the city,
73 to move their vehicles us ually parked in open yard s. They managed to protec t all their fleet based on this single information, which re presented a considerable economic savings, according to him. Systematic information [is necessary], so th e perception about it can be wider, more democratized, [thus,] all the areas can use it the best way possible, preventively or offensively. Systematize means we work the in formation, we interpre t it, and contribute [to make possible for] the other agents of the company to get a benefit [out of it]. (Lage, Fiat BR, in-depth phone in terview, Feb. 4, 20 11, full quotation in Appendix S) Lage argued that communication has been consider ed strategic in the co mpany over the last ten years. As the director responsible for this area, he has a seat on the board of directors, a decision committee integrated by ten executives, plus the president. He also supervises the image committee, a group formed to conduct research evaluations about the company. The task demands a team meeting every two weeks, with the corporate communication (the area he is directly responsible), and directors from the other communi cation areas: marketing (handled by the commercial area), and internal comm unication (handled by human resources). The communication strategic plan of the company is defined by this image committee, which adds "synergy" to these areas. It also helps to bu ild a strong sense of di rection, because all the contracts regarding investments, and the characteristics of these communication efforts, are implemented as a result of a deci sion made by this committee, a decision drawn up in minutes to reinforce the commitment in written. Introduced about four year ago, this committee works to accomplish a unified communication, and to build a stronger timeline of these actions, by emphasizing distinct publicsinternal or ex ternalaccording to the topics involved. He attributed this intensive care to the characteristics of the retail market of cars, a demand not as intense in the segment of trucks and tracto rs, for example. Lage explained that this work also leads the company to stay ahead: "Wh ile other organizations are all talking about sustainability, we are very far ahead. We are introducing right now a huge plan, a diagnostics about reputation" (Lage, Fiat BR, in-depth phone interview, Feb. 4, 2011, full quotation in
74 Appendix S). In his view, reputation is a feature increasingly va lued by the consumer, society, and the markets in general. Their plan is to embrace the idea of reputation within the company, in order to make it part of its internal culture. Unexpected Findings The interviews retu rned topics labeled here as unexpected findings summarized below. Some of these topics were raised duri ng the conversations, while othe rs are evaluations made by the researcher, who acts in all these ca ses as a gatekeeper, as well, because they coul d be left out of the results. The follow ing topics, thus, ad dress communication regarding marketing, human resources, and public relations. It also addresses research and relationship building, usually two key concepts discussed in public relati ons, and the communication of low-profile organi zations. This subsection ends with an evaluation of the outline (Appendix B) based on the only wr itten participation. Marketing A research developed in the public rela tions field about gatekeepingan intrinsic communication behavior linked to journalism practicesmight end up finding clues about the differences between the communication em ployed by marketing and public relations practitioners. The findings suggest that the distinct approaches of both fields might rely on the sources of information monitored or gathered by people behind these functions. The gatekeeping functionselecting, evaluating, and sh aring informationalso exists in marketing, but this field is driven by numbers. Such feat uresometimes portrayed as an anecdotal evidencedid appear in the interview conducted with the on ly participant linked to the area: Marketing is a strategic f unction within the company. Our goal is to bring income and profitability to the company out of our films, which are our products. We control it through reports, in cluding accounting and fina nces, even to understand whether the investments, or th e costs [related to a product] were appropriate or not. Regarding the consumer, the measurement we have is the result [achieved by] the retail store. (Freitas, Paramount BR, in -depth phone interview, Feb. 10, 2011, full quotation in Appendix T)
75 Her area works exchanging ideas with the person responsible for communications and media relations. In some cases, marketing provides inputs for these public relations actions; sometimes it is the opposite. Despite this relationship, her final eval uations of results still re ly on report s driven by numeric performance, alt hough in a broad sense she includes inta ngible variables to decide about a particular plan. "We look for any opportunity to develop a partners hip with someone related to the films [we promote]," Freitas noted. For example, the launching of the anniversary edition of Breakfast at Tiffany's a film released in 19 61, and one of the greates t performs of Audrey Hepburnwas improved, with the support of the public relations area, by an exhibition of Hepburn's dresses by Senac, a nationwide technical school that al so offers fashion design courses. Human Resources As with marketing, the field of public relations also handles discussions of the role of human resources, especially in the cases it de als with the communication to internal publics, mainly the employees. Polidoro draws a clear li ne to divide communication related to the "intangible," meaning what impacts the image of the organization, against the communication to employees. He explained: Communication is the medium through we protect the intangible. Businesses go by, we have being involved in mining, agri culture, cellulose, then we had only engineering and petrochemical s, now we are involved in other businesses. In 20 years, we don't know what we'll have. Bu t the intangible is symbolized by the image of the word Odebrecht, and the attributes it carri es. Communication [is necessary] whenever you want to take care of the intangible. This action also needs to be directed to people inside [the orga nization], because the best builder of the corporate image is always who work fo r it. [Nevertheless,] the communication toward a teamwork is a responsibility of the leader [the director of a site, a plant or a unit]. We cannot see internal communi cation as something pertaining to a department located in the 32nd floor of a h eadquarter in So Paulo. It does not have any efficacy, it does not solve the problem of our construction s ite in New Orleans [USA]. Regarding people, mood, rela tionship, I understand this is not communication [in a strict sense], this is related to people, human resources, it is related to the leadership of the leaders. (Polidoro, Odebrecht BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 15, 2011, full quotation in Appendix G)
76 Public Relations Brazil is cited by scholars as an example of a country where public relations is a regulated profession, a characteristic nonexistent in the Un ited States, for instance. The reality, however, shows that major organizations do not rely on the public relations fi eld to manage their communication functions. Instead, anyone can practice corporate co mmunication, and the sample includes professionals with distinct backgrounds. In addition, none of the participants mentions public relations as their actual function. Chapter 5 di scusses this topic. Research and Relationship Building Theories emphasize the role of research in almost all public relation actions. The findings suggest, however, a broader da ily task of observing a nd interacting with the e nvironment that might be more useful in the short run. According to this view research is a middle and long-term tool, driven by the perceptions raised by the dail y work of selecting and evaluating information, the pr ocess explained by the gatekeeping theory. Similar arguments apply to the concept of relations hip building. Chapter 5 discusses these topics. Low Profile Communication Two participants explicitly defined their or ganizations as low profile: Unigel and CB Richard Ellis. How far this characteristic affect s internal systems for gathering and evaluating strategic information? Future research could explore this question. The topic will be retaken in the conclusion subsection. However, it is timely to present some testimonies from the participants: The organization profile is very conservative and low profile regarding any publicity, which is typica l of Unigel. It retracts the way the shareholder understands communication. He is very low profile. [Despite our gross revenue], it is a company you don't see in the news papers, in the media, in the magazines. (Neves, Unigel, in-depth phon e interview, Jan. 19, 2011) I consider [our organization] low profile, due to the kind of business we work. Since it involves most of the time stra tegies from our clients, we usually are not authorized to promote our cases. (Garcia, CB Richard Ellis, in-d epth phone intervie w, Jan. 21, 2011)
77 Outline Disguised the Purpose of the Interview Only one participant avoided the phone interv iew, and sent written answers based on the outline (Appendix B), with a broad description of the topics discussed in this work. This unexpected feedback collaborated indirectly to make sure that the outline was specific enough to give a previous idea to the partic ipant about the subject of the research, so the interviewee could feel more comfortable about a distant meeting, while at the same time, this anticipated guideline was equally generic, thus, dis guising properly the main purpose of the phone interview, which is to analyze gatekeeping and information handli ng procedures. The answers follow Appendix B, an outline sent by e-mail: Answers to modules 1 and 2 [identificati on and selection, filte ring and evaluation]: The communication of the organization with its external publics aims to promote the positioning and image to the market, involving the publicit y of its services, scope of the company, and quality. Informa tion regarding new clients, data about the real estate sector, its perspectives a nd best practices are analyzed and discussed with the board of directors. In order to disclose information, we request to our clients a formal authorization regarding using their names. Answers to module 3 [organizing and shar ing]: We handle our own channels to promote information to the market: Web, ne wsletter, media relations specialists, email marketing, media, [T]witter. The majority of information, when approved, is handled through those channe ls. Only media actions i nvolve financial approval. (Aranha, written answers sent by e-mail, Feb 1, 2011)
78 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION This thesis explored the gatekeeping concep t in non-news organizations as the function responsible for handling informatio n and developing knowledge. The results of this research raise discussions at two broad distinct levels: public relations theories and p ublic relations practices. From the perspective of public relations theory, th is research represents an attempt to apply ideas traditionally attached to the journalism field in th e public relations environment. An entire debate can follow this focus, questio ning, for example, how far comm unication would be a field above journalism and public relations, an d how far the characteristics that drive journalists and newsrooms also affect public relations practi ces. Related to that public relations theories usually rely on several branches of knowledgeincluding many thoughts fo und in the social scie nces, and even in the business literaturebut rarely look for support in journalism studies. Yet both disciplines commonly use the same buildin gs that headquarter schools and colleges of communication worldwide. But still both worlds have the tendency to travel apart, and this work is aware of it. The following discussion con cerns only the public relation s practice perspectivein particular, the implicat ions for managing corporate know ledge. As a result some public relations mechanics is also implied, for inst ance, how to organize people. By discussing practical implications, this thesis aims to improve the professional field of corporate communication. It does that by contributing to make communicati on a strategic value embraced by public relations practitioners, jo urnalists, and anyone el se who unders tands that organizations are important players for making a better world. The next subsection focuses on implications for communi cation practices in organizations Another subsection discusses the constraints of this thesis, and s uggests future research in subtopics raised here, or in the ways journalism and public relations fields interacts. The final subsection st ates a brief conclusion.
79 Implications of Gatekeeping in Corporate Communication Knowledge management is a complex concern, a nd the findings of this research can drive discussions in several directions. The following topics summarizes some of these possibilities, such as organizational opinion, bias, and sy stematic information. There might be other discussions, so the purpose here is to open a debate that can ra ise the interest of communication professionals in general. Worthy to add, the subj ects are examined without trying to generalize any proposal or idea, due to the e xploratory character of this study with its inherent restraints, detailed later. Even ignoring th ese drawbacks, the discussion avoi ds generalizations because each organization is a unique universe, with its own contexts, and any a ssumption has to accept this as a reality. Corporate communication solutions might fit one situation, but they do not fit all. Few ideas, however, are wide and flexible enough to work under all circumstances, and this thesis assumes that gatekeeping is one of them, alt hough the process it represents is also almost invisible for reasons that ar e not worth considering now. Indeed, it is suitable to note that no inte rviewee has mentioned gatekeeping as an acquainted task, although the activity exists imp licitly in the work of selecting, analyzing, and sharing information, as the quotations make it clear. Occasi onally, participants considered information gathering, for instance, a result of specialized se rvices, some of them produced by external providers, without highlighting that this role is also done internally anyway. In other words, the findings suggest that non-news organizations do have gatekeepers, but this management task is not as clear as it is in news organizations, meaning that it is not institutionalized as it is in a newsroom. For example, newsrooms are usually organized by editorial sectors, such as eco nomy, politics, sports, an d business, and people inside each sector also have clear gatekeep ing functions, such as those of reporters, producers, and editors. Non-news organizations can also be divided into sectors, and the
80 findings show some interesti ng examples of that. Nassar me ntioned four sectorspillars developed from their mission statementto focu s the attention of managers at Aberje. Simes listed seven sust ainability areas with national rele vance, in addi tion to anything related to the safety of CocaCola's products. In these two examples, probably one or more gatekeepers are in charge of checking at least the topics with more in tense impact, but it is not clear how far these fields of interest are recognized by the rest of organization as unquestionable sectors. Further, it is not clear whether this acknowledgment would improve managing information about these topics. Gatekeeping and Management Efficiency The previous insight leads to stress the parallel between information control and knowledge management in news organizations, a nd its possible counterpart in the side of nonnews organizations, assuming that gatekeeping ex ists in both environments, but it is outspoken only in newsrooms. On this, the literature review ed in this work testifies that gatekeeping is explicitly recognized by j ournalists professionals in their daily tasks within newsrooms, so the role of the gatekeeping behavior is connected to the products of news organizations. Advancing suggestions for future research, a possible projec t designed to discuss journalism practices could address to how far news media products can exist without gatekeeping procedures. Such research, however, would have to define what is quality, in other words, which qualitative characteristics define the existence of news vehicl es, and the role of gate keeping to achieve such standard, a discussion linked with the next paragraph. Taking the parallelism to the other side, gatekeeping is less evident in non-news organizations, but future research could examine how far this work in such contexts would be able to achieve more efficiently public relations task s, such as managing crisis, identifying donors (in case of nonprofit institutions), cultivating clients, among othe r demands from stakeholders
81 considered strategic to the organization grown and survival. The correlation drafted here revels its linkages according to this research concern: Gatek eeping is an explicit behavior in newsrooms, and it might contribute to the quality of the final prod uct delivered by news orga nizations. This product is a piece of information created to communicate any topic under a pa rticular discourse. If that is true, a research project could address the relatio n between an environment with a clear corporate gatekeeping functionnewsrooms, in this caseaga inst one environment where this behavior is less obvious, such as a public relations department or a business office. The research goal would be to analyze to what extent the lack or em phasis on gatekeeping as a management role produces weaker or better communication pract ices, or corporate discourse. Gatekeeping, Structure and Agency Still advancing research suggestions, an even larger question can be addressed by including the idea of stru cture and agency. According to Jonathan (2010), the structure-agency question is one of the oldest issues in soci al science, and one that is destined never to reach a sa tisfactory conclusion. The three contending positions here are: (1) that structure largely determines agency, (2) that agents constitute structures, and (3) that struct ure and agency are mutually constitutive. (Jonathan, 2010, Structure and Agency section, para. 1) Also known as macro-micro problem or levels of analysis, the topic is discussed mainly by sociologists, but it has interfer ences in many other fields, such as medicine, education, and business (for instance, Gorton, 2000; Jacks on, 2006; Shilling, 1992) Public relations practitioners, as an example, might face every day the macro-micro concern, the one between the individual set of personal pol iciesthe ethics behind the prof essionand the policies settled by the organization he or she works for. As gatekeep ing, the concept of structure and agency applies in daily lives of every humankind, and to some extent it is equally co ncealed as the former. Regarding the structure side, individuals do not have control over the social environment they belong or live, thus, according to Musolf,
82 race, class, sex, ideology, institut ions, organizational hierarchy, groups, geographical location, period of history, m ode of production, generational cohort, family, culture, roles and rules are all exam ples of social facts, the structural dimension of social life. We are born into si tuations that have existed before us and that will exist after we are gone. In general, structure refers to social arrangements, social relations, and social practices wh ich exert enormous power and constraint over our lives. (Musolf, 2003, p. 1) On the other side of this swingi ng relation is the micro level repr esented by the individual. This is where the gatekeeping metaphor applies to. The idea of agency, still according to Musolf, refers to the fact that we make culture, history, and policy, though not under conditions of our own choosing. Human be havior is embedded in, and emerges through, social interaction. Human beings are producers as well as produced, shapers as well as shaped, influencing as well as influenced. Social action is volitional, purposeful, and meaningful, even though some social facts constrain life chances. Actors reflect, rather than re spond by reflex. Agency emerges through the ability of humans to ascribe meaning to obj ects and events, to define the situation based on those meanings, and then to act Endowed with agency, the oppressed can oppose structures. (Musolf, 2003, p. 3) These discussions raise the topic of individual responsibility, for instance, meaning the ways an individual can work for change high levels of soci al forces, the forces driven by the macro levels of structures. Future research provided by these theoretica l backgrounds could analyze the gatekeeping influence in the agency concept, by assigning to the decision-making process the flux of intended and unintended cons equences of individual actions. In addition, future research could develop a similar analysis as presented by Shoemaker and Reese, the five rings overlapped on one a nother to illustrate their hierarchical model, stratified as individual, media r outines, organization, extramedia (s ic), and ideological levels, as mentioned earlier. Sounds obvious the structure a nd agency idea underneath their approach, thus, both lines of thoughts could merge. Applied to orga nizations, such investigation could evolve to a model specifically adapted to public relations n eeds, although a proposal with this goal would represent a long and systematic research agenda.
83 Corporate Opinion or Positioning The findings suggest that organizations tran sform information into knowledge when they build an opinion about a particular subject. The pr oblem is to reach this end point. In fact, any administrative decision is an opinion about a problem, but organizations face routinely the challenging to analyze more co mplex demands imposed by relations with stakeholders. The challenging in such cases is the organizational in telligence to interpret a piece of information by applying to that a new bias, a point of view that should reflect, ideally, the values nurtured by the organization. Following precisely the literature on journalism, adding ne w bias to a piece of information is not gatekeeping but slanting, a construct this thesis does not address. Remembering Breed, slanting "involves omission, differential selection, and preferential placement" (Breed, 1955, p. 108). This thesis rather defines it with th e idea of "differential selection," which leads to the view that slanting is the most valuable skill of any journalist, th e talent to pay attention to the detail that will make a difference in the end, whet her it is an article or an entire news outlet. Lage noted that an important knowledge management improve ment is the ability of his communication area to "interpret" information and give a distinctive bias to a unit of news when needed. In his case, an in ternal team is in charge of that, under his supervision. In particular, a senior editor is re sponsible for edit ing a weekly newsletter, with analyses of news and other information. Although Lage tries to not overstate the newsletter as a strategic tool, because it "just" aids the leaders, he considers the online report an example of systematic information, detailed next. The newsletter helps the top managers constantly foresee information by systematically interpret the news to the top managers of Fiat BR, so it is a periodic exercise of spreading corporate opinion on trends and topics. The newsletter probably reflects, in some level, evalua tions and decisions made by Lage, and his communication area, through the inform al meetings they have often.
84 Systematic Information In newsrooms, gatekeeping is a process with a cl ear direction: It works as an essential part of news vehicles production, whether printed, broad cast, or networked. All these formats have in common the purpose of systematically share informa tion with an audience wider than the internal public of the newsroom responsible for working on that information. This thesis understands gatekeeping as a process not necessarily to attend a wider audience. The difference about what organizations do with the information they gatherwhether news organizations or non-news organizationsis a matter of their marketing purpos es. The gatekeeping role is the same whether the purpose of this task is to deliver info rmation to a large audience or a small one. Non-news organizations usually value both sides, internal and external, and the findings suggest that sharing with a large audien ce or a small one is ju st a matter of purpose. Usually, strategic information is shared only with top managers, and even the examples reported here were carefully chosen: Participan ts reported the cases they felt secure enough about, the information that might not represent a strategic risk, and did not share examples they believed could expose too much the intern al characteristics they see as important. The findings, however, suggest distinct degr ees of how far the researched organizations share systematically the information gathere d, and how much the part icipants value this feature. Although news organiza tions have a high comp romise with a systematic delivery of information, because it is an essential feature of their product, the fieldwork tried to not overstate it as a compulsory subject or a manage rial concern, so the topic was asked naturally as much as possible during the conversations. Some participants rais ed the topic almost without encouragement, while other participan ts misunderstood the concern addressed by the researcher. In general, participants cited periodical internal communicationnewsletters and bulletin boardsas examples of sharing information regularly, although these channels
85 usually deliver information without intrinsic st rategic value. The testimonies suggested that strategic information is delivered mainly to a sma ller audience. The Communications and Public Relations Functions Scholars cite Brazil as an example of a c ountry where public relations is a regulated profession, unlike the United Stat es, for example, where the profe ssion follows other criteria, such as achieved legitimacy and accreditation. The real ity, however, shows that major organizations operating in Brazil do not rely on the public relations field to manage their communication functions. Only two participants have public relati ons as their first backgr ound. Indeed, anyone can practice corporate communication, and the samp le includes professionals with distinct backgrounds. This is done by not a ssigning to public relations the of ficial definition of this job in the organizational diagram. Making it clear, if an organization hires someone as a public relation practitioner, this person has to be a certifie d public relations profe ssional; for instance, any journalist interested in the job could not be hired w ithout an additional public relations certificate. Thus, organizations usually define the work as pertaining to communication instead public relations, so the hiring step can consider any co mmunication professionalthe companies can hire anyone they feel qualified to the job, not only certified public relations practitioners. So regulating public relations superficially makes the professional or the profession more strong. In practice, it turns out a weakness. Additionally, none of the partic ipants mention public re lations as their actual function through e-mail messages or through professional social networks such as LinkedIn. In addition, the findings suggested that the orga nizations, and the participants involved, are comfortable with this setup. Fift een out of 17 partic ipants do not have any public relations background in their curriculums. Despite that, organizations and professionals have been achieving good results, as far this research can reach. For ex ample, a good result includes the idea that drives public relations theories about the strategic co mponent of the profession, which is engaging
86 practitioners in the top decisionmaking process. The fi ndings suggest that organizations value communication, but this co rporate culture or attitude does not correlate with an academic background in public relations carried by the professionals in charge of communications. For example, out of 14 participants able to influe nce the decision making of top managersformally integrated in the board of direct ors or notonly two have academic skills in public relations. With a natural manner, participants in top positions still define public relations "traditionally:" It is a subset of a wider communication area, the subset responsible for handling ev ents, social meetings, and any other action with this clos er meaning of building social relations with a public. During the interviews, the key words "public relations" was mentioned less than the key words "strategic communication." This might be an insight about what prac titioners see as more important. Marketing, Human Resources, Policies The participants indirectly address several views and relations a bout what communication means for areas known as marketin g or human resources. To some ex tent, gatekeeping theories can clarify the reasons for the distin ct approaches of communication wh en they are conducted by such areas. The findings suggest that, si nce the gatekeeping is an inhe rent human attitude, what comes in, comes out. The output of a mess age depends on its input. It is a gatekeeping decision what a communication practitioner de fines as the starting point for the information selecting step. Also, this research could not focus in deep on corpor ate policies, and how fa r these hidden or open guidelines help building a set of criteria necessary to aid the gatekeeping function in daily basis. Gatekeeping and Research Public relations theories usually stress the need of actions based on research and relationship building. The findings suggest that research is impor tant, but the daily task of gatekeeping is also essential. A single analogy makes this clear: Research would be the engine that empowers public relations and communicati on management, but such a car still needs a
87 driver to handle its power ever y day. Gatekeeping also helps fi nding information that research cannot find. So daily intercommunication and qualitative information gathering have the potential to anticipate future tendencies, on one side, and to handle immediate changes in the environment, on the other. Research might set st rategies for building relationships, but work on them routinely is a dynamic guided mostly by gatekeeping processes. Limitations and Future Research In-depth interviews work better when associat ed with field observat ion, so the information gathered can be examined in practice. Observatio ns allow to realize differences between the way a participant describes a task and the way it is routinely done, so it can change the perceptions about the findings, thus, the an alyses of the results. Future research could include field observations in organizations, or reproduce the al ready cited Mr. Gates study, but this time, in non-news organizations. Just as gatekeeping, other newsroom beha viors could be applied to the public relations practices. In fact, it opens a wide branch of study th at could straiten both fields, a tendency guided by the merge of distinct media, made possible by current technologies. Next, four other topics that might deserve new investigations. Nonbusiness Organizations Most organizations in this research are driven by profits Even the only two not-forprofit organizations, John C. Lincoln and Aberje, seek resu lts in ways that cannot be comparable to charities. A future research could analyze how far the findings would be similar in the public relations management of gove rnmental agencies, nonprofit organizations (NPOs), or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Differences Among Countries A singular circumstance drove the organizations selected for this research, so all of them operate in the Brazilian market, except John C. Linc oln. The research was not designed with this
88 purpose, as explained in Chapte r 3. Neglecting this, a deeper an alysis of those organizations could explore whether gatekeepi ng procedures apply distinctly in the decision making practiced in the country of origin of th ese organizations, comparing to the same procedure in Brazil. Taking an international and more diverse perspective, fu ture research could compare the decision-making procedures among several countr ies, but perhaps preserving the gatekeeping steps defined in the research questions: info rmation gathering, filtering, and sharing. Such research project might include culture as an ingredient of diversity. Internal Culture The findings suggest that internal culture has significant influence on the strategic value of building knowledge around concerns th at might hit an organization. The sample brought cases in two extremes of a chain, meaning that co mmunication can be positioned close to the decision center, or stay far from it, with some degrees between. Organizations that apply more value to strategic inform ation usually have a communication practitioner who can freely talk with to p decision makers or managers, or a corporate communication director integrated in to the management boa rd. Free transit does not necessarily means an according position in the organization hierarchy. This distinction, howe ver, apparently does not affect the gatekeeping process, because the person responsible for selecting or evaluating still have some power over the inform ation she or he is working on. Participants express involvement with this deci sion process, especially when they suggested that the access to top decision makers is part of th e job characteristics. Still, such characteristic is not necessarily present in the organization's functi on chart, thus, it can be just a matter of culture. So bigger companies have the tendency to include a communication director inside the board of directors, but this might not be related to organi zational size; rather, it is an outcome of internal values. For example, TotalCom and Aberje are sma ller organizations than Unigel; despite that, the
89 latter showed, based on the interview, less commit ment with the strategic value of information handling. This insight is retrieved from the desc ription of the role of communication in the top decision-making board, expressed by the interaction of this activity and such management level. Decision Making The sample shows the tendency to socially handle the decision-making cycle, so many arrangements flow after a group agreement, as suggested by Berkowitz (1990). The findings suggest that few decisions are made individually As mentioned in several cases, communication practitioners discuss and share the decisions on st rategic information, or move the discussion to upper managers. Thus, the findings might suggest that organization size can influence the decision-making procedure about critical info rmation, because it would demand more people integrated in the process. Therefore, size might make a difference in two levels: The size of the operation, usually expressed by the number of employees, and the physical or geographical size, meaning an organization spread in many sites. The findings have pointed two distinct strategies to solve this concern: centralization and decentralization. In addition, other two characte ristics describe the way pract itioners handle information: The degree of informality and fluency between top managers and middle managers, or among both and the operational workers, and how far eval uations and decisions ar e written or shared informally, by simple conversation. The findings s uggest that written plan s and reports become more important as the information is cons idered more strategic by the organization. Nevertheless, a diverse range of research could explore the dispute between formal and informal approaches. A single point looks clear: When the organization reaches a decision, through the evaluation made by practitioners re sponsible for this task, the information increases its value, evolving from being simply data to become knowledge.
90 Conclusion This thesis infers from the research findings th at gatekeeping is suitab le for public relations practices, although the idea is no t clear in non-news organizati ons. Still, the gatekeeping approach has been capable of raising sensitive testimonies a bout corporate communications, and opens a fresh route for future research involving other journalism routin es and public relations practices. Gatekeeping is perhaps the most critic al behavior of journalism and publishing. But policies, slanting, and periodicity are also importa nt characteristics of ne wsrooms that could be investigated by anyone interested in a ny demand involving soci al communication. Organizations need to be closely connected with society, and such labor is not addressed solely by huge investments, although budget does make a difference. Good relations arise, in fact, through the daily work of communication practiti oners sensitive to the value of attention. Consciousness, discernment, and attitude grow by constant contact among practitioners who are qualified to listen to the demands of all stakeholders, and the gatekeeping concept embraced here acts all the time, although often in the background. We are all gatekeepers, and we will be better corporate gatekeepers the more organizations rea lize this fact. This thesis might contribute to clarifying this idea and, by doing so, help commu nication professionals improve their work. By making clear the role of subjectivity in communication, this thesis points out that practitioners' awareness is relevant. Organiza tions value quantitative information when making decisions, but some share of the quality of these decisions still exists as simple judgment, so gatekeeping is part of the proce ss. Organizations rely on quantitativ e input, but perhaps they rely on it too much. As Nassar argued, decisions about managing knowledge do not concern techniques only, but should also include ethics and aesthetics. Indeed, techniques are important, but they are not enough in a world demanding and complex. Organizations have to make decisions from broader perspectives, and gatekeeping helps achieve this purpose.
91 APPENDIX A INTERVIEW REQUESTING E-mail subject: Requesting interview for thesis research conducted at the University of Florida -------------------------------------------------Dear (Name of the potential participant), Please consider the invitation below. Best, C. ========================================= Interview requested for the purpose of research about journalism routines and public relations This is a request to contribute to the qualitative research for my master's thes is on public relati ons, conducted at the University of Florida. My purpose is to interview 15 to 20 public relations professionals or their managers. Topic and format This thesis is about strategic knowled ge mana gement in public relations. The interview is a 3oto 40-minute talk on simple daily activities related to corporate communication. My goal is to analyze procedures for handling non-admini strative information, information with the potential to change the reputation of organizations of any size and kinds, whether public, private, or non-profit. The interviews will be handled by phone. Before the call, I send a topic sheet to guide the conversation. Each participants will receive a copy of the thesis. This fieldwork has the potential to prod uce a variety of results. As a form of compensation for participating in the research, those involved in the study will receive an electron ic copy of the final work after the University of Florida approves its publication, which might happen by May or June, 2011. I am a Brazilian journalist, with a degree in marketin g and communication from USP (University of So Paulo). Follow this link to check my current association with UF. My chair is Dr. Juan-Carlos Molleda Please let me know your decision by sending me a reply with one of the follow statements: "I agree to consider participating," or "I disagree to consider participating." Best regards, Cassiano -Cassiano Polesi Public Relations Master's Student College of Journalism and Communications University of Florida -(000) 000-0000 m. -(000) 000-0000 h.
92 APPENDIX B INTERVIEW OUTLINE E-mail subject: UFlorida: Interview outline [N ame of participant/Company] -------------------------------------------------Hello (name of the participant), Here is the outline, so you can ha ve an idea of our conversation. *** The thesis is about knowledg e management in public rela tions, with emphasis in strategic values. The interview focuses on how you deal with information of any kind, give n that it has the potential to affect the reputation of [name of the organization]. The interview addresses simple daily procedures, with no risk of in volving confidential information. It takes about 30 minutes, plus a short summary of your or ganization's business (description and size), your role inside the company, and yo ur professional profile. Our conversation will follow this outline and devote about 10 minutes to each topic. Module 1 focuses on how you iden tify or select information. Module 2 focuses on how yo u filter or evaluate it. Module 3 focuses on how you organize (or produce) this information, and share it within your organization. *** Best regards, Cassiano
93 APPENDIX C RESEARCH INSTRUMENT Qualitative Instrument Interviewee profile Before the interview, please provide the following information: Professional name: Job description: Academic background: Year of birth: Years of professional experience in the field: Years spent working in the organization: Before we start please give a brief description of: Your business purpose, market, and size (n umber of employees and estimated revenue); Your management role within the organization; The role of public relations in the organization (including a brief evaluati on of its importance). Each participant will be asked some but not all of the fo llowing questions. Which ques tions are asked will depend on the participant's context. Q1: Identification and selection 1. What kind of informatio n is relevant to you? 2. How do you supervise or monitor your team about it? 3. How do you identify and select it? 4. How do you know a piece of informatio n is relevant to your business? What does it bring to your attention? Why is it important? 5. Who defines this importance, and how much do you participate in that defining process? 6. How is this definition shared or formalized (m emos, formal meetings, informal talks)? Are you responsible for that, or is someone else? In case it does not belong to you, who is re sponsible, and how is it formalized or shared? 7. Lastly, what is the most important inform ation you found last week? Last month? Q2: Filterin g and evaluation 8. How do you evaluate the information you've selected? 9. How free is your team to make its own evaluations? 10. Please explain your criteria or how you share or discuss your evaluation. 11. What information do you discard? Wh at do you value, and pass along? 12. How did you set these criteria? Who defines them, and how far do you participate in that defining process? 13. Are you free to change these criteria? If so, how do you do so (memos, formal meetings, informal talks)? Q3: Production and sharin g 14. How do you formalize the information you possess? 15. How does your team present and share information with you? 16. How do you present and share informatio n with your company's top managers? 17. In what form is this knowledge usually passed al ong (memos, speeches, meetings, letters, position papers, informal talks)? 18. Who is your "audience" (staff, middle managers, top managers, top directors). 19. How often do you produce such communications of information? 20. Lastly, what is the most relevant communication of information you produced last week? Last month?
94 APPENDIX D INTERVIEW #1 Name, Or ganization : Renata Pinheiro, Odebrecht US Date: Dec 2, 2010 Label: Organization 1 Type: Private/limited company HQuarter: Miami FL, USA Country of origin: Brazil Employers: 220 in the US; 80,000 worldwide. Url: odebrecht.com Main market: Construction and Engineering Description: That is the U.S. arm of a worldwide engineerin g and heavy construction company based in Brazil. The Odebrecht holding includes other business: chemicals and petrochemicals, bio-energy, environmental engineering, real state, and gas & oil. Each engineering or heavy construction contra ct is considered a unit of business, and, thus, it is independent to work, so the co mmunication is not centralized. This unit handles the U.S. market, and currently has projects in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. It represents around 4% of the group global business. The gross revenue of the US operation in 2010 was around U$ 300 million. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Female Age: -Years of experience: 10 Years in the company: 4,5 Managerial level: Top manager regarding the communication sector in this unit; function informed in her e-mail: Corporate communications & sustainable development. Relation with the top decision-making board: Full informal access to discuss topics and issues. Education: San Diego State University, California State Univ ersity: BA, International Business & Marketing. Details about relation with team work: She has five assistants working with her. Details about public relations: The company does not use this label; the area is named as corporate communication. Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1st level 2nd level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) Relevant information is everything related to the image of the company, and, obviously, I mean the ways the company unfolds, or interferes with our projects, the assignments we are work ing on, or the projects we worked; information related several times to our clients, as well; information that, in one way or another, we know will interfere with the potential project we are studying or working; informatio n related sometimes to policies that might interfere with public opinion, or policies that might interfere the sc hedule of some pr ojects. (Pinheiro, Odebrecht US, in-depth phone interview, Dec. 2, 2010) This question is a little difficult, because this evaluation is very subjective. I'll answer in two parts: the first, is the process the methodology we work is very informal. Howe ver, when something reach my attention, through external channels, monitoring, for instance, or through a contract director, who migh t suggest to address some subject, whatever, or even [when] Gilberto [the US director] brings a point luckily we share the same space, so we have an open access to share ideas. I believe it is more about collaboration among the sides involved our feeling about it You measure the temperature of what is going on at the moment. Some topics we know will not reverberate, [it will not cause] any real impact on our business, so the evaluation is very subjective ab out what we are experimenting at that moment. (Pinheiro, Odebrecht US, in-depth phone interview, Dec. 2, 2010) Hopefully, we never faced a crisis, [which demands] a much more formal protocol. All topics [we have been dealing with] are very commonplace, they reflect our kind of job. We do have a crisis management manual that we have developed, so, whether we face a crisis we understand with in our organization that this is the case to document [actions], to formalize [procedures], even to learn [from the mistakes, and] to improve. I hope we never go through something like this, so, in daily basis, we do not document, we do no formalize the actions taken, everything is very informal. (Pinheiro, Odebrecht US, in-depth phone interview, Dec. 2, 2010)
95 APPENDIX E INTERVIEW #2 Name, Or ganization : Susan Fuchs, John C. Lincoln Hospital Date: Dec 6, 2010 Label: Organization 2 Type: Not-for-profit HQuarter: Phoenix AR, USA Country of origin: United States Employers: 3,000 in the JCL network Url: jcl.com Main market: Hospital & Health care Description: That is a not-for-profit organization, with two ho spital locations: North Mountain and Deer Valley (266 beds, and 204 beds, respectively). They offer two health center, about two dozen physician practices, primarily family care, few specialists, a trauma center (N orth Mountain), and a pediatric center (Deer Valley), the only one in the area where this unity is located. The ol dest facility runs since 1954 (North Mountain). They are not "large" hospitals; they are "community" hospitals. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Female Age: 66 Years of experience: 40 Years in the company: 12 Managerial level: Media specialist; function informed in her e-mail: Strategic media relations specialist. Relation with the top decision-making board: Full informal access to discuss topics and issues. Education: BA in journalism University of Florida. Details about the responsibility and relation with team work: She is the media specialist, and deals with the entire health network. She works alone, although in connection with the publ ic relations director at the hospital. Her job, for instance, is to inform the resources they make available for the community. She does a proactive approach to the media, because this have more impact an d credibility than advertising. According to her, "people are very cynical about advertising." Details about public relations: Fuchs works under the supervision of a publ ic relation director. She used to be a public relations director herself for hosp itals in the past, but now "I just do the things that I really, really like." She looks for what people want to know, and helps to prov ide information for the demands that reaches them: "If a reporter wants to do a history about a medical issue, wants to talk with a specialist, about a specific thing, wants to find a patient who has a certain experien ce, anything along those lines I am very good in finding people who are very authoritative of about whatever the subject it may be." Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1st level 2nd level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) Relevance is really easy. It is the people, the programs, the services that John C. Lincoln health network provides to the community. It relates to the things we do that become relevant. The degree of importance depends on the strategic goals of the organization. Right now, for exampl e, we have an emphasis on promoting some specific areas, like cardiac, trauma, pediatrics [to show] how ou r services have a degree of excellence [so] that would be a prioritizing. The relevance is specifically related to what we do and what we provide to the community. (Fuchs, John C. Lincoln Hospital, in-depth phone interview, Dec. 6, 2010) It is such a hard question to answer, because it is a judgmental issue! I think it is one of those things you just know. I've done this for 40 years, ok? And after 40 years you know what is impo rtant, [and] what is not important. (Fuchs, John C. Lincoln Hospital, in-depth phone interview, Dec. 6, 2010) The vice president of marketing and communications [one level below the chief executive officer (CEO)] has being here for about four years, and my boss, the director of public relation s has being here for [about] three years, so in my brain I've got organi zational history that nobody else has. (Fuchs, John C. Lincoln Hospital, indepth phone interview, Dec. 6, 2010)
96 APPENDIX F INTERVIEW #3 Name, Or ganization : Luciana Peluso, TotalCom Date: Dec. 17, 2010 Label: Organization 3 Type: Private/limited company HQuarter: So Paulo SP, Brazil Country of origin: Brazil Employers: --Url: totalcom.com.br Main market: Marketing and advertising Description: TotalCom is the biggest advertising group in Brazil holding a 100% of Brazilian investors and partners. The group is headed by Fischer America adve rtising, and nine other companies, toward different segments, such as direct marketing, business research, and promotion services. The advertising agency is the leading company financially and strategically. The agency ha s three operational offices in Brazil, and it is also based in Argentina, Portugal, and Angola. In addition, it operates worldwide through agreements with five other advertising agencies. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Female Age: 42 Years of experience: 13 Years in the company: 7 Managerial level: Top manager regarding the communication sector in this unit; function informed in her e-mail: Corporate communication. Relation with the top decision-making board: Full informal access to discuss topics and issues. Education: BA Journalism/PUC-So Paulo; several workshops and courses. Details about relation with team work: She has one assistant; all press media relations is done with the support of a third part agency; other providers give support to other works, as internet coverage. She reports directly to the president of the group, Eduardo Fisher. She defines the communication of the group, and of each company inside the group: the strategy, how the group plans to be positioned. Details about public relations: The company does not call the communication area as public relations. Internal public is held by human resources, but with her supervision. The company sees corporate communication as the umbrella to reach severa l publics, and Peluso wo rks with all of them. Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1st level. Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) In our function, we always need to th ink about what is relevant to the mark et where we are. Some information is important to the client, and we need to promote it. Some information about the group is important to the market, and we need to disclose it. For example, the group has grown, it is opening a new unit of business, it has acquired a new company, it is entering a new segment. A company has to build a transparent channel with the market, [and spread] information that affects the market directly. Sinc e we are a service provider, everything we can promote about our services, or institutional info rmation that allows the market to unde rstand where the group is heading, is considered relevant. (Peluso, TotalCom, in-depth phone interview, Dec. 17, 2010) We exchange ideas very informally, [the president of th e company] has his office side by side, there is few hierarchy levels, we are more horizontal than vertical, we talk like eye to eye, in person, very quickly. (Peluso, TotalCom, in-depth phone interview, Dec. 17, 2010) We have an intranet, where the information about the group is shared with all collaborators, where we have an area [to archive] the memory of the group. [This archive exists] because our asset is intangible, it is [our] intelligence: we don't have factories, products, we sell ideas and communication solutions, so the main asset of the company is information. Thus, we have this area about the corporat e memory, accessible by everyone, so any collaborator can search what this group has already worked on, which solutions it has created, which [important] campaigns it has developed, what strategies it has alread y done for big clients. So all this lear ning of everything done by the group over its 30 years is [archived] in this memory area. [In addition, we add] everything that deserves to be shared with the other units, for example, a new practice, or a big action that ended up with a good result and visibility. Human resources manages this, but the person responsible for that wo rks in my office, with me. An d it is on purpose, so she can access the information faster, and align with my area the tone of each message, what goes in, what stays out. We help her to define the criteria of what [kind of info rmation] needs to be shared with everybody Since we promote what happens inside to outside, we align with her what [goes to external publics] that needs to be shared internally, as well. (Peluso, TotalCom, in -depth phone interview, Dec. 17, 2010)
97 APPENDIX G INTERVIEW #4 Name, Or ganization : Mrcio Polidoro, Odebrecht BR Date: Jan 7, 2011 Label: Organization 4 Type: Private/limited company HQuarter: So Paulo, SP Brazil Country of origin: Brazil Employers: 80,000 worldwide (with 44,000 in Brazil) Url: odebrecht.com Main market: Construction and Engineering Description: The group operates several markets. Besides construction and engineering, the holding Odebrecht S/A controls business in the following areas: chem icals and petrochemicals, bio-energy, environmental engineering, real state, and gas & oil. Brasken, one of the group, is a publ ic company. Each company repeats the same model regarding communications: a director dealin g with internal communication, media relations, and documentation and memory. There is no management hier archy between the directors of each company and the director of the holding, they are all eq ual in terms of responsibilities, and in the organizational chart. The director of the holding defines the macro politics of th e holding, and the strategies for the CEO. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Male Age: 58 Years of experience: 37 Years in the company: 23 Managerial level: Top director regarding the comm unication sector in this unit; function defined as: Corporate Communication Director Relation with the top decision-making board: Full informal access to discuss topics and issues. Education: BA in linguistics; graduate de grees in people development. Details about relation with team work: He manages 20 people directly; in ad dition, he interacts with around 150 communication people in the whole group. Today there are 185 contracts in 20 countries. Details about public relations: Public relations does not exist as a functional term, but the "classical" practice exists. He describes public relations as someone in charge of events, and other social meetings. Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1rt level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) We receive a daily report with tendencies, and recommendations toward an alert, or an opportunity. This report arrives everyday to me and my press manager, who handle s external communication. He analyzes this with his team, and decides what to address. We don't belong to a ll the engineering business, because we are in a kind of holding of these business, so we look for the leaders of these areas and we ma ke a challenge. Last year we realize that [we could explore positively] the hydroelectric of Santo Antonio [Rio Madeira, Amazon area], due to its environmental care, and its social receptivity. We did a huge work toward the Brazilian and the international press, it was on the cover of Wall Stre et Journal, and Financial Times. We looked for these newspapers also to oppose environmental organizations that usually talk abou t Amazon in the US and in Europe. So it was important to address. We invited many people to know the project, [as a result] over the last year there was 40, 50 long articles [worldwide] about Rio Madeira So we have a structured action to sell journalistic topics, in order to enhance these elements that contribute to the image [of the organization]. This is a concrete action, and this decision is mine. However, none action is developed without the decision of the bu siness leader [the director responsible for a project contract], because I don't have the knowledge of the circum stances related to several business at diverse times, this dynamic is very intense. In the example of Santo Antonio, our big showcase last year maybe because of political local concern it would not be interesting to highlight something related to that project. Who is sensitive [about a local problem] is the proj ect leader, so the [project director] can decide not do it. (Polidoro, Odebrecht BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 15, 2011)
98 APPENDIX G (PART II) Communication is the medium through we protect the intangible. The businesses go by, we have being involved in several businesses, mining, agriculture, cellulose, then we had only engineering and petrochemicals, now we are involved in other businesses, in 20 years we don't know what we'll have. But the intangible is symbolized by the image of the word Odebrecht, and the attributes it carrie s. Communication [is necessary] whether you want to take care of the intangible So this action also needs to be directed to people inside [the organization], because the best builder of the corporate image is always the ones who work for it, or at least have this as the main activity. The communication toward a teamwork is a responsibility of th e leader [the director of a site, a plant or a unit], we cannot see internal communication as something pertai ning to a department located in the 32nd floor of a headquarter in So Paulo. It does not have any efficacy, it does not solve the problem of our construction site in New Orleans [USA]. [The action of people] does not im pact the image of the organization [as much as] the risk inherent to the business activity, it is not the individual action that might damage the image, the brand, it is the act of serving the client that embed natural risks. We know the risks involved in a project Regarding people, mood, relationship, dialogue basis, how communications flows, I understand this is not communication [strictness], this is related to people, human resources, it is related to the le adership of the leaders, and in the dialogue with their teams. (Polidoro, Odebrecht BR, in-d epth phone interview, Jan. 15, 2011)
99 APPENDIX H INTERVIEW #5 Name, Or ganization : Ricardo Madureira, Or ganization 5 Date: Jan 17, 2011 Label: Organization 5 Type: Public company HQuarter: Saint Louis MS, USA Country of origin: United States Employers: 21,000 in 66 countries. Url: --Main market: Agricultural, biotechnology, protection chemicals Description: It is a Fortune 500 company, with three main lines of products: Agricultural and vegetable seeds, plant biotechnology traits, and crop protection chemicals. The company essentially sells its products to farmers, and help them to improve their agricultural results. Ne t sales in the fiscal year of 2010: $10.50 billion of dollars. Summary of the interviewee: Gender: Male Age: 40 Years of experience: 15 in business management Years in the company: 1,5 Managerial level: Top manager with focus on crop protection, related to chemistr y; function defined as: Global Strategy and Product Management Director. Relation with the top decision-making board in the United States: Indirect access: he reports and has full access to a manager, who in turn has full presence in the board. Education: Chemistry engineer Details about relation with team work: The company has a corporate communication team of specialists, so his division does not have someone focused on that. The exec utive in charge of business and marketing also handles communication and the relations with their publics, a netw ork of representatives that goes up to farms engineers and technicians. The communication they handle in this unit is related to the business products. Details about public relations: The company has a corporate communication team of specialists, so the public relations is handled by the organization itself. Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1rt level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) Our business is about technology. Therefore, it is fundam ental for us to have our cl ients well informed about the usage of technology. I believe it is different with companies that handle well-known and established processes. For example, I came from a beer company, so in that case th ere is not a demand for a communication specifically about the product. Since I am in the strategic and product area, since we have been launching new technologies, since we have the life cycle of each technology, the communication to our clients and our team is about updates, about technology, about the ways our products can be better us ed, and the ways to maximize them for our clients. So communication is very attached to the business. Our goal is to communicate to our clients the value of technology and how much it can aggregate to their business. At the end of the day, what drives the grower to buy our product is the perspective, is the understanding that [the investment] will return, so the grower will extract value from that, otherwise he will not buy it. (Madureira, Organizati on 5, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 17, 2011) [We don't have] a criteria, a list of things that could happen, a pattern, [something] written My division of products deals with a system, meaning not only the product but all the techniques involved with its application. So this is very practical and clear, thus, any devian ce regarding the understanding of these proceedings is considered an issue, and we need to take some action. This action goes from simple explanations to something bigger. For example, [in the case] a consultant from a farmer association exposes in their seminars, or trainings, [affirms] that our product has features A, B, and C, and [the consultant] disagrees, and proposes instead features C, D, and E, then we'll have a clear problem, in fact, an institutional problem. It passes through that initial filter, and [in a case like that] we try to address the topic in a level that we can discuss technically, and, eventually, develop lectures, or some action [regarding] this. (Madureira, Organization 5, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 17, 2011) It is part of our cult ure, not only in my area, that transparency an d ability to communicate quickly is essential. Since we work with chemicals and geneti c modified organisms, the company is very sensitive regarding all kinds of communication, especially external, so it has to be shared. [but] I don't know any written rule about it. (Madureira, Organization 5, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 17, 2011)
100 APPENDIX I INTERVIEW #6 Name, Or ganization : Geraldo Magella, Monsanto BR Date: Jan 18, 2011 Label: Organization 6 Type: Public company HQuarter: So Paulo SP, Brazil Country of origin: United States Employers: 2,300 in Brazil Url: monsanto.com.br Main market: Agricultural, biotechnology, protection chemicals Description: It is a Fortune 500 company, with three main lines of products: Agricultural and vegetable seeds, plant biotechnology traits, and crop protection chemicals. The company essentially sells its products to farmers, and help them to improve their agricultural results. Ne t sales in the fiscal year of 2010: $10.50 billion of dollars; R$2.1 billion (Reais). Brazil represents the second biggest operation worldwide. Summary of the interviewee: Gender: Male Age: 42 Years of experience: 13 in journalism; 5 in corporate comm. Years in the company: 1 Managerial level: Top manager regarding the communication sector in this unit; function informed in his e-mail: Communication Manager; function is also defined as Pu blic Affairs manager in the social network LinkedIn. Relation with the top decision-making board in Brazil: Full informal access to discuss topics and issues. Education: BA in journalism (UF Minas Gerais/Brazil); MBA in finance, communications and investor relations (USP/Brazil); Reuters Foundation (Writing International News). Details about relation with team work: He reports to a member of the Br azilian board; he supervises six people, three of them based in So Pa ulo (Monsanto BR headquarter), and th e others in three different cities: Camaari (Bahia), Uberlndia (Minas Gerais), and So Jos dos Campos (So Paulo state). Details about public relations: He deals with the area of public a ffair, known in the country as corporate communication, responding for any comm unication regarding media and all other publics. Relations with industry and government are handled by other areas. These di fferent areas, however, are held by the corporate communication sector. Recruitment: Snowball: Researcher 1rt level 2nd level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) Everything related to agriculture and biotechnology is rele vant information for us main ly studies. The source of information [is important because it] already informs the bias driving that information: scientific studies with the endorsement of consultants, public institutions, research institutes, information provided by leading reputation vehicles, either local, national, or international (because they will be replicated by the local press, [and] through the blogosphere, blogs, tweets, social networks), [and th e] utterance of opinion leaders. (Magella, Monsanto BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 18, 2011) [The perception about a potential topic] comes from day-to-day, chats with other leaders in Monsanto, journalist feeling, daily news, any topic that has emerged in the news letters I receive, from the clipping [service], something written by a columnist, the subject of an article. A subjec t that has emerged in an important market, in the United States, in Europe, in Asia, something I haven't yet perceived here in Brazil, but I believe it can show up here also. [Investing in a topic] is my decision. (Magella, Mo nsanto BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 18, 2011)
101 APPENDIX J INTERVIEW #7 Name, Or ganization : Regina Pitoschia, Carrefour BR Date: Jan 17, 2011 Label: Carrefour Type: Public company Headquarter: So Paulo SP, Brazil Country of origin: France Employers: --Url: www.carrefour.com.br Main market: Supermarkets and other grocery store formats Description: With about 170 stores, the organization works in Brazil since 1975, through several brands related to grocery stores and supermarkets. The group also handle s two other brands to the commercial segment, and discount stores. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Female Age: 52 Years of experience: 20 in journalism; 10 in corporate comm. Years in the company: 2,5 Managerial level: Top manager regarding the communication sector in this unit; function informed through email: Corporate Communication manager. Relation with the top decision-making board in Brazil: Full informal access to discuss topics and issues. Education: BA in journalism (USP); three extensions in economy (FEA, Fundao Getlio Vargas, and Ibimec). Her background in journalism was always economy and personal finances. Details about relation with team work: One internal person, an external agency with seven people in So Paulo, and other four regional partners : one in the Northeast area of Brazil, one in charge of Minas Gerais and Esprito Santo states (central area of the country), one in Rio de Janeiro, and one in the South area of the country (So Paulo is Southeast). Details about public relations: She handles corporate communication, but mainly press; the job is done with third party services. In addition, she centralizes the corporate communication, through a matrix of communication: internal, governments, and social entiti es. She reports to the vice-president of corporate issues. Her work includes planning and developing of communicat ion strategies. Her area gets involved in all major communication planning. Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1st level 2nd level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) Basically, I will divide it into two fronts. One proactive front, where it is important [to promote] the balance sheets [or financial statements] of the company, any new launching, such as the e-commerce last year, which has complemented our commercial platform so in this regard, giving a bigg er dimension to the strategic and commercial information that the orga nization needs. Another relevant part is the defense of our image and reputation. We are a retail company, with over one millio n people passing through our stores in Brazil, so given that exposure, we need to be very careful about any issue inside stores, because it reverberates quickly and widely, since we are a multinational, with presence almost everywhere in the country. So relevance applies to the defense or the promotion of the brand. (Regina Pitoschia, Carrefour BR, in-depth phon e interview, Jan. 19, 2011) The topic defines itself. Whether the topic is important, wh ether it has stuff to work wi th. It doesn't matter if one comes with a very good idea, but not well tied No, we cannot do it. [Or] yes, this is good! You know you can [offer this] to a news budgeter, we can in vite the journalist to check it in th e store, so we are safe to work. It depends on the topic, and on what the organization is proposing to address, so we can develop it Sometimes the company has something hidden here, and nobody has di scovered it is news. (Regin a Pitoschia, Carrefour BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 19, 2011)
102 APPENDIX K INTERVIEW #8 Name, Or ganization : Mrcia Neves, Uni gel Date: Jan 19, 2011 Label: Organization 8 Type: Private/limited company HQuarter: So Paulo SP, Brazil Country of origin: Brazil Employers: 1,200 Brazil; 500 Mexico. Url: unigel.com.br Main market: Chemicals, fertilizers, plastics, and packaging Description: The holding has several unities in Brazil, and one in Mexico. They are the second biggest petrochemical company in the country, and a global player as well. The gross revenue was R$ 2.6 billion in 2010. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Female Age: 47 Years of experience: 10 in human res., 6 in internal comm. Years in the company: 20 years Managerial level: She is linked to Human Resources. Function is defined in the social network LinkedIn as: Human Resources Coordinator Relation with the top decision-making board: Full informal access to discuss topics and issues. Education: BA in administration Details about relation with team work: One person helps with this task. Sh e reports to the financial director, who reports to the presidency. Details about public relations: The area is related to Human Resources. There is no external contact, handled by a third part consultancy, linked to the presidency. This service handles external communication, including press. Her job is focused in communicat ion to the company's employees. Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1st level 2nd level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) Relevance is complicated Our communication is usually elaborated by request, top-down. When exists a communication demand, the board of directors call us to elaborate some news, some mural information. We use some pieces [named Human Resources News or HR Announce s]. So, it is done by request or based on our needs, whether something is going on, any change inside the orga nization we advertise it to our collaborators, our employees. Our communication sticks to that. Information about the market, linked to management or strategic areas is not done. Any information comes from the manage rs or directors, there is no interface between human resources, or the communication subsyste m, and the departments, un less we receive an inpu t from this division or director requesting us to produce any article about a subjec t they decide to di sclose. We do not search information. (Neves, Unigel, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 19, 2011) When you don't have a communication area inside the co mpany, the employees feel somehow cheated or betrayed about information. When you start to communicate events, changes, rearrang ements, hires, [or when you] give motivation, space to the employers promote their [own] arti cles, you realize that the organizational mood improves a lot, specially for the human resources area, because they feel they are part of the process. (Neves, Unigel, indepth phone interview, Jan. 19, 2011)
103 APPENDIX L INTERVIEW #9 Name, Or ganization : Fbio Auricchio, Oracle BR Date: Jan 19, 2011 Label: Organization 9 Type: Public company HQuarter: So Paulo SP, Brazil Country of origin: United States Employers: 1,200 in Brazil; more than 104,000 worldwide Url: oracle.com.br Main market: Information technology and services Description: Oracle Brazil is the first operation in the Latin America. In the fiscal year of 2010, the total revenue was around U$ 27 billion. In the last two years, the company has acquired around 60 companies, including PeopleSoft, and recently, Sum, a process that ended in January 2010. According to Auricchio, in July the companies were working totally integrated. Thus, now, Orac le is also a software and hardware company. "We offer a complete solution, from software to hard disks." Oracle BR has five units in the country: So Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Braslia and Belo Horizonte. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Male Age: 45 Years of experience: 20 in public relations Years in the company: 4 Managerial level: Top director. Corporat e Communication director; function informed in his e-mail: Director, Corporate Communic ations Brazil. Relation with the top decision-making board: Full presence in the Brazil ian board of directors. Education: BA in public relations, by Casper Lbero. Auri cchio is an exception among the interviewees: his background is public relations only, with experience essentially in public relations agencies, where he developed a close relation with the technology markets in the last six years. Details about relation with team work: Auricchio reports to the Latin America communication director. He has five assistants: two focused in corporate citizenship an d internal communication; an d three people to handle communication with journalists, although they belong to a service provider, an agency. "We have an in-house agency, with total access, so this helps a lot." Details about public relations: He integrates the board of directors, with the president and the top managers, and share decisions concerning to communication. The work is mainly to take care about the reputation, plus press, and several publics. The recent acquisitions indicate new challenges, like the public related to Java, made of developers, so the company is investing in social ne tworks. The company works in three blocks worldwide: Americas, Europe, and Asia/Pacific. There is a corporate guideline, however it is adapted to local needs, and Java is an example of that. Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1st level 2nd level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) For me at the moment, relevant inform ation is the actual positioning of the company, because it has changed completely. In about one year it has moved from the status of a software company to that of a hardware company [, as well]. This [has both] external an d internal [effects], because it is a pa radigm change to my internal public, which has to talk about Oracle externally as a complete company, and my mission of tr anslating it in a way that the market understands it, and seeks to know us better, of promoting it as a company with integrated solutions for any kind of business. (Auricchio, Oracle BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 19, 2011) I have a constant interaction with the communication direct or for Latin America, her office is next door, we keep ourselves very aligned, even because she has developed a lo t of what we have here today, and also with the [LA] region. We have weekly calls with th e region under her command, and we are always aligned. Whatever any others do is shared with her. I can tell you that I decide about 50%. (Auricchio, Oracle BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 19, 2011)
104 APPENDIX M INTERVIEW #10 Name, Or ganization : Ivana Garcia, CB Richard Ellis BR Date: Jan 21, 2011 Label: Organization 10 Type: Public company HQuarter: So Paulo SP, Brazil Country of origin: United States Employers: 33,600 in 65 countries; 300 in Brazil Url: cbre.com.br Main market: Real state, consulting and services Description: CBRE is a global leading company in the real estate market, where they act only with top level commercial business. Their division of facilities (cor porate infrastructure management) deals with the top 500 companies ranked by Business Week. The company has offi ces in 65 countries. The Br azilian office runs since 1973. Their performance in Brazil, in 2009, achieved the following results: R$ 8,6 billion in corporate leases (rental value X 5 years), R$ 122,1 billion in asset valuations. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Female Age: 48 Years of experience: 25 Years in the company: 8 Managerial level: She is a consultant on marketing and commun ication for CBRE, and gives support to the top managers. Strategic decisions are shared with the boar d of directors. She handles the brand in segment of services; other divisions handle other segments. The func tion is described in her e-mail as: Communication and Marketing. Relation with the top decision-making board in Brazil: Full informal access to discuss topics and issues. Education: BA in Portuguese language; other post-graduate courses in corporate communication, merchandising, marketing, among others. Details about relation with team work: She works alone, and use third party services when necessary. Details about public relations: --Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1st level 2nd level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) Relevance to us is all our achievements, our successes with our clients, the success cases we can disclose to the market, since several cases we cannot disclose because we work with confidentiality ag reements, which belong to the organizations' strategies of our clients. (Garcia, CB Richard Ellis, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 21, 2011) I believe it is important to know the organization's busine ss, as I am here for eight years, I know the company very well. We need to have good sense to filter, and whether I find something relevant I discu ss with the top managers to use it or not, to get an agreement (from them). (Garcia, CB Richard Ellis, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 21, 2011)
105 APPENDIX N INTERVIEW #11 Name, Or ganization : Marcelo Mendona, TAM BR Date: Jan 28, 2011 Label: Organization 11 Type: Public company HQuarter: So Paulo SP, Brazil Country of origin: Brazil Employers: 26,280 Url: tam.com.br Main market: Air company Description: TAM is the actual biggest airline company in Brazil. It operates 850 rotes, and 63 destinations, and attend around 100 thousand travelers in South America, North, and Europe. Annual revenue in 2009: U$ 4.89 billion. Recently, the company merged with LAN, the biggest airline operating in Chile, to develop an airline operation focused in Latin America. This new company is named LaTam. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Male Age: 53 Years of experience: 11 in journalism; 8 in corporate comm. Years in the company: 3 Managerial level: Top director regarding the co rporate communication sector in this unit; the function is described in his e-mail as: Corporate Affairs Director. Relation with the top decision-making board: Presence in the board of directors as needed. Full informal access to discuss topics and issues. Education: BA in journalism by ECA/USP, in 1976; specialization in Michigan, in 1991/92; MBA in management at Fundao Getlio Vargas (SP). Details about relation with team work: Mendona supervises three areas. One area handles the press (it has one manager and 12 people involved). Internal communication is handled by three people, all journalists, although one is a communication analyst; the area is currently without a specific mana ger, as it use to have: due to the crisis, this work was assumed by the following manager, to attend a downsizing proposed by the administrative area. The third area supervised by Mendona deals with government related issues (it has 2 people, and one manager, who also manages currently the internal communication area). Details about public relations: Three areas: Press, internal communication, and government and institutional managers. This last area is very specif ic to the business, and their reality. Usually, this is an area close to the legislators. The company has a consultancy in Brasilia, rela ted to legislations and air market legislative projects. Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1st level 2nd level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) As a leading company, with 100,000 passengers/day, flying to South America, North America, and Europe, the demand is huge we are bombarded daily by demands of all kinds, relating to the operation, problems, delays, it includes issues concerning the business, the aviation ma rket, tendencies, expansions, retractions, fuel prices it includes specific [issues] related to results. We are listed in [the stock exchanges of] So Paulo and New York, so, as an open company, we might face several surveillance s, inspections, attention. Also, there is a high demand from marketing: campaigns, sponsorships advertising, selling points Th e risk we combat every day is to implement proactive topics, so we try to do something else than simply meet the press. (Mendona, TAM, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 28, 2011) Filtering depends a lot of the professional who is in the front, the sensibility to identify a topic that has to scale. Daily, you have operational things usually some topics that have a wider image impact reaches me. (Mendona, TAM, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 28, 2011)
106 APPENDIX O INTERVIEW #12 Name, Or ganization : Paulo Nassar, Aber je Date: Jan 28, 2011 Label: Organization 12 Type: Not-for-profit HQuarter: So Paulo SP, Brazil Country of origin: Brazil Employers: -Url: aberje.com.br Main market: Public relations professional association Description: With about 44 years of existence, Aberje expres ses the evolution of corporate communication in Brazil, according to Nassar. Today, the association works wi th a wide range of topics related to the field. It's a professional and scientific association, holding about 1,000 people representing companies, plus government institutions, private, nonprofits, and individuals. Nassar defines Aberje as a global association facing a global public. For example, the orga nization develops works with architecture history, and other areas of knowledge. Following this global strategy, Aberje is organizing events in New York and Miami, to reward or promote the best communication campaigns developed in North and in Latin America. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Male Age: 59 Years of experience: -Years in the institution: -Managerial level: General director (equivalent to th e presidency of the association). Relation with the top decision-making board: Full presence. Education: PhD in communication sciences; MA in interfaces; BA in journalism. Details about relation with team work: He is the main director of Aberje. Details about public relations: Nassar considers himself an "intruder" in the public relations area, given the actual complexity of this field. He li sts questions regarding ethics ethnicity, biodiversity, and genetics that public relations has to deal with. To address all these topics it's important to include other ar eas, such as anthropology, social sciences, law, philosophy, or ev en the hard sciences, like Math. He de fines public relation as meta-system, because it depends on several interfaces with which someone is working on. Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1st level 2nd level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) Relevance to us is something inside a risk matrix, which is linked to the identity, mission, and vision of our members. For example, information today is a commodity so we detect and select the informat ion that generates value or destroys value for our members. We map information regarding risks, such as the risk of the country itself [Brazil, in this case], the risk of regulations, terrorism, issues concerning informatio n technology, loss of talents, na tural disasters, or disasters linked to production processes, or within the logistics chain of the organization, as well as fa lse or apocryphal information within the social network environments. We elect criteria for selecting [information], and it starts from this risk matrix; following that, we use some strate gic planning tools, like the SWOT matrix to evaluate whether that information is a threat or an opportunity, and if the organization has any st rengths relevant to that analysis. (Nassar, Aberje, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 28, 2011) The selected information is strategic, an d we try to interpret this information. This interpretation drives to another level, a level of having an opinion about the information that has been well selected and well interpreted. This level of opinion is already the level of the decision made by the command of the organization. But it is flexible: depending on the complexity of the information, you ca n have several meetings, while simpler topics might be dropped in a single one Each meeting is guided by an informational strategic agenda So these three occasionsstrategic selection of information, strategic evaluation, and strategic opinion [about it], you cannot define which is more important. If yo u don't have a good selection, you st art your process in a fragile manner. (Nassar, Aberje, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 28, 2011) The [middle] managers own that information, this is the reason we consider that this manager has to be refined, because [this manager] will make decisions about issues not only within the technical range, but also including ethics and aesthetics. Thus, a manager without culture cannot even integrate this st rategic scope. We have a key di rector inside Aberje working to develop competence in this group, so a considerable numbe r of people involved with strategic areas have a master's degree, or are pursuing a master or a doctoral degree, or have [some kind of] specialization. This group is acquiring competence in management, [since] most of them come from the communication field. These decisions [include] a senior evaluation, [although] the decisions are usually shared, [because] the organization has only two hierarchical levels, and the managers have access to the directors. (Nassar, Aberje, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 28, 2011)
107 APPENDIX P INTERVIEW #13 Name, Or ganization : Marco Simes, Coca-Cola BR Date: Jan 31, 2011 Label: Organization 13 Type: Public company HQuarter: Rio de Janeiro RJ, Brazil Country of origin: United States Employers: 53,000 in 46 industrial units of independent bottlers Url: coca-cola.com.br Main market: Nonalcoholic beverages and syrups. Description: This is the representative office of the Coca-C ola company, which is defi ned as a system, because the business is an alliance formed by several independent industries, with their own bottl ing facilities and capacity. The Brazilian operation is the third biggest global market of the company, almost together with Mexico. United States is the biggest market worldwide. Coca-Cola operates in Brazil since 1942. Currently, the Brazilian system is formed by 16 authorized bottlers, and ot her two companies, Leo Junior and Del Valle, a total of 46 industrial units that handle production, bottling and dist ribution in their area of operation. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Male Age: -Years of experience: 20 in marketing communication Years in the company: 7 (+4 before) Managerial level: Vice-president of communication and sustainability, as stated through e-mail. Relation with the top decision-making board: Full presence in the Brazilian and Latin America board of directors. Education: BA in journalism, and uncompleted mast er by USP; MBA by Denver University. Details about relation with team work: Simes supervises 20 people directly, plus around 120 people nationwide, working on his demands. Worldwide, Coca-Cola has 21 people working at his managerial level; four in South America (including him). Details about public relations: Simes supervises three areas: corporate communication, institutional marketing, and sustainability. The firs t division relates to the usual communication area: press, stake holders, internal communications, crisis management, and health. In stitutional marketing takes ca re of advertising, and the company's product portfolio in a broad view. Individually, Co ca-Cola or DelValle product is another area, so Simes responsibility is to handle the whole branding approach. Sust ainability is a responsibility held by everyone, but he works to improve this agenda. Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1st level 2nd level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) Our biggest concern is, on one side, to maintain a positive image of Coca-Cola Brazil, and its 150 products, and, on the other side, to understand the dynamics of our mark et. Thus, we can feed info rmation internally so our products, our actions, would be correct, regarding what the society expects. It relates to sustainability: We need to be a resonance box of the society, so the company wi ll be sensitive to what is important to the society as a whole. Sustainability has acquired more importance to the organizations in the last year s, [in the past] you did not think about it, it was not on our radar 15 years ago. I woul d say that our area has begun to raise the importance of this issue, first, under the view of social responsibility, which has evolved to the meaning of sustainability and social business over time. (Simes, Coca-Cola BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 31, 2011)
108 APPENDIX P (PART II) Our practical instrument of business is only one, as it is for everyone: research. It is the only way to do it [evaluations]. Of course, before we conduct a research, we need to be sensitive to whether the winds are blowing in a specific direction [or another], so when you go to the research you have so me hypothesis to be proved or not. Our area is the function with the most external contac t, all other functions are basica lly toward internal publics, finances, for example, worry about the numbers, the systems, people handling marketing and product does not get in touch in the consumer "per se," ther e are millions of consumers, so the on ly way you do that is through market research, ok? Inside Coca-Cola the only two areas with the function [of building] external relationship is my area [communication] and public affairs, a specific area to hand le governmental relations that does not report to me. My area has the function of handle social connections. Every week, I have lunch, dinner, meetings with a lot of people, like health publicphysicians, nutritionists, like people from educational areas, journalists So these people with whom I have a daily contact help us to gather this social sensibility. Our function in these contacts is to hear: We need to hear what society is thinking. To form ulate the hypothesis I mentioned previously, we need to pass through this first step, which is to listen. We listen to the press a lot, health groups, people linked to environment initiatives, for instance. We have two options with organiza tions that look for us, sometimes gently, sometime aggressively. One is the "ostri ch strategy": you stick your head in the ground, and don't pay attention to what is going on around you. The other one is to listen actively, which means to look for it, and listen everything. Do you have a critic for us? What is that? I want to know everything you are thinking about. (Simes, Coca-Cola BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 31, 2011) Our criteria are national relevance, si nce regional issues will be addresse d locally, or something that endangers people's lives [or their safety], for exam ple, the shedding of some [industrial] input, let's say [an accident] with a truck filled up with phosphoric acid, this is something with relevance that becomes a national issue. Also, some issues might be topic, but they are very relevant to us, [a nd they belong to our] seven sustainability areas, which we have direct focus: people or human resources; our product portfolio, anything related to that is relevant; anything related to the benefits of ou r products, regarding health, positively or negatively; community, everything related to that we have interest at national level; and three areas related to the environment: everything related to water, recycling of our packaging, and everything relate d to carbon emission. (Simes, Coca-Cola BR, in-depth phone interview, Jan. 31, 2011)
109 APPENDIX Q INTERVIEW #14 (WRITTEN) Name, Or ganization : Larissa Aranha, JL LaSalle BR Date: Feb 1, 2011 Label: Organization 14 Type: Public company HQuarter: So Paulo SP, Brazil Country of origin: United States Employers: -Url: joneslanglasalle.com.br Main market: Real estate services an d investment management. Description sent by e-mail: Jones Lang LaSalle is a company specialized in real estate consultancy and services. The company has special team and offers services to clients who aims to increase value through purchase, occupancy, and investment in the real estate market. It achieved a global revenue in 2009 of US$2,5 billion. The company operates in 60 countries, involving 750 cities, and 180 corporate offices, offering solutions to investors and renters. The company is the worldwide leader in consultancy for hotel investments. In this segment, JL LaSalle has 200 specialists, in 19 countries, and 10 prof essionals in Brazil. The Brazilian operation offers the following services: rentals, sales and investments; renters repres entation, management of proprieties, facilities, industrial and shopping centers; project mana gement, consultancy, evaluations and research. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Female Age: -Years of experience: 20 Years in the company: 14 Managerial level: Top manager regarding the communication sector in this unit. Function defined in her e-mail: Communication and Marketing Manager; in the social networ k LinkedIn it is defined as Senior Communication and Marketing Manager. Relation with the top decision-making board: Full informal access to discuss topics and issues. Education: BA in public relations (FAAP/B razil 1991); MBA (ESPM/Brazil 1996); several trainings in the USA. Details about relation with team work: Communication and marketing is teamwork with six people, all of them located at the company headquarter, in So Paulo. The strategies are defined with the company president, and aligned with the global orientation. Details about public relations: Aranha is the marketing manager, and her main attribution is to develop marketing actions to promote positively the corporate image of the company. This is done through newsletters, corporate brochures, web, and press agencies. She also ha ndles the internal communication, and area that she implemented by 2007. Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1st level 2nd level
110 APPENDIX R INTERVIEW #15 Name, Or ganization : Ms. 15, Or ganization 15 Date: Feb 2, 2011 Label: Organization 15 Type: Private/limited company HQuarter: So Paulo SP, Brazil Country of origin: Germany Employers: 49,000 worldwide; 1,500 in the Brazilian division Url: -Main market: Industry related to capital goods (turbines, energy generators, and other segments) Description: Family company originally from Germany, with around 150 years of existence. The company has four main divisions: paper machines, hydroelectric equipment, drive systems machinery, and industrial services, which relates to the maintenance and modernization of old facilities. The interviewee works for the Brazilian hydroelectric division. Summar y of the interviewee: Gender: Female Age: 32 Years of experience: 10 Years in the company: 2,5 Managerial level: Middle manager; her business card describe s the function as: Communication Analyst, Corporate Communication. Relation with the top decision-making board: No access; she repo rts to a manager. Education: BA in technology; extension in marketing and communication USP, and Florida University. Details about relation with team work: She has three junior assistants, and reports to a marketing supervisor. She works as communication analyst to marketing, sale s, market promotion, sales promotion, and product development. Details about public relations: Another professional handles public re lations, which takes care of media and events. Each division of the company has its own communication and marketing teamwork. Recruitment: Direct invitation Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) Our engineers and project managers are our sources of information [regarding projec ts], so we know what we need to do and how we will handle it. [We have a meetin g] usually every Monday [of around 2 hours, staring at 2pm, resulting in a two pages briefing], that's when we know what is planne d for the month, what we're going to address. They pass the whole month in advance, then, we discuss and update the schedule weekly [because things change quickly due to delays and problems] On Tuesda y, at 9am, we have a meet ing of our team, to discuss the actions [that we are planning], then we have Wedn esday and Thursday to prepare the actions, elaborate estimates, the schedules, to prepare ev erything This report is due usually by the end of Thursday, around 5pm. On the following Monday, at the same time, we have the headings meeting [so the top managers base their evaluations on the report of the previous week, while the strategic team is working on the next report] The report includes several atta chments, but the document itself has around 30 pages. (Ms. 15, Organization 15, indepth phone interview, Feb. 2, 2011).
111 APPENDIX S INTERVIEW #16 Name, Or ganization : Marco Antonio Lage, Fiat BR Date: Feb 4, 2011 Label: Organization 16 Type: Public company HQuarter: Betim MG, Brazil Country of origin: Italy Employers: 15,000 in Betim(auto unit); 38,000 nationwide Url: www.fiat.com.br Main market: Automotive, trucks, and agriculture vehicles Description: The Fiat Group, a holding of 19 companies, is ra nked as the 11o. biggest bu siness group in Brazil. Its main market is the automotive sector: cars, trucks, tractors and other agricultural machin es; it also operates with motors for several applications, industrial automation systems, and other segments. The company informs they have the biggest share in the Brazilian market of cars an d light commercial vehicles, with 24.5% of dominance. Summary of the interviewee: Gender: Male Age: 60 Years of experience: 11 in journalism; 20 in corporate comm. Years in the company: 19 Managerial level: Top director; function is defi ned in his e-mail as: Director of Corporate Communication. Relation with the top decision-making board: Full presence in the Brazil ian board of directors. Education: Journalist; master of strategi c marketing (UF Santa Catarina) Details about relation with team work: Lage leads the following internal teamwork: eight people handle press and content, seven handle events; four handle public relati ons, five handle social responsibility, and four handle administration of the area. This group wo rks in the industrial facility (in the Minas Gerais state), and in the office located in So Paulo. They also have the support of se veral external agencies to handle activities such as community communication, promotion of social responsibility initiatives, marketing and media initiatives, and relationship with institutional publics. In addition, the area works with event producers. Details about public relations: Corporate communication is divided in three sectors: internal communication is handled by the human resources area; another management unit handles communication related to marketing, and the unit under Lage's direct supervision handles all othe r publics. In the organization al chart, however, he is the responsible for all these three areas, and represents them in the board of directors. He also is the leading of the image group, a teamwork that defi nes the action plans for all these three areas, and conduct research about the brand. For instance, they recently defined the issue of reputation as the main keyword to address to the company's internal publics. Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1rt level 2nd level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) Information is strategic to the extent th at it is related to the business of th e company, and it is weighed according to how it affects the sector, from the global to the local economy, with the consumer market, when it is analyzed under the economic view. Other strategic information is not directly linked to the business but is instead related to the environment where the company markets its products, where it develops its business. It may be political, social, or have as many as several poss ible natures, but the way to measure that is through the level of the impact on the business. (Lage, Fiat BR, in-depth phone interview, Feb. 4, 2011) We had recent news about credit restriction, and this is important because our market expands based on the credit for the consumer. Last month the new government defined an action to reduce credit. This is the kind of news that is monitored, and it is immediately passed along, thus, the company can have an opinion about it, including giving speeches if necessary, and prepare the market, in special the sales system [of Fiat] and retail, so this information can be absorbed, to avoid a physiological affect on the consumer. This kind of information might look trivial, commonplace, but our area has a special attention to that. We conduct a different reading of this in formation, we added a new bias, we subsid ized the other directors, so they were able to deal with that. We need to view information wi th other eyes, so we can [e valuate] whether we can be more offensive or defensive about it. (Lage, Fiat BR, in-depth phone interview, Feb. 4, 2011)
112 APPENDIX S (PART II) I believe it is important [to implement this as] culture. Information concerns [used to be] managed individually in the company, driven by the perception or the ability of each executive. In our case, what we did, what we have being doingwhich is an evolution, in my opinionis to systematize this process. Systematic information [is necessary], so the perception about it can be wider, more democratized, [thus,] all the areas can use it the best way possible, preventively or offensively. [Systematic information] helps the business of the company in any area, being it sales, manufacturing, environment [and others]. Our weekly monitor is distributed to our executives with our reading [of the news]. When [we detect] something risky, we carry this to our board meeting scheduled every Monday. So systematize means we work the information, we interpret it, and contribute [to make possible for] the other agents of the company to get a benefit [out of it]. (Lage, Fiat BR, in-depth phone interview, Feb. 4, 2011) Communication is a strategic activity, and it is not caught by surprises, [communication] helps and shares the decisions in 360 degrees, so we are able to work threats and opportunities. Communication does not go up to the board of directors, communication is inside this board. It is another focus, it is anot her approach. (Lage, Fiat BR, in-depth phone interview, Feb. 4, 2011)
113 APPENDIX T INTERVIEW #17 Name, Or ganization : Anadege Freitas, Paramount Pictures BR Date: Feb 11, 2011 Label: Organization 17 Type: Private/limited company HQuarter: Rio de Janeiro RJ, Brazil Country of origin: United States Employers: 50 Url: paramountpictures.com.br Main market: Entertainment Description: This is the Brazilian operation of Paramount Pictures, USA. It is a small operation, because Brazil represents only 3% of the worldwide market. This division handles the home entertainment markets: DVDs, and related products, also some rights over distribution to other media. Another division of the same company handles the marketing related to movie pictures. Summary of the interviewee: Gender: Female Age: 31 Years of experience: 9 in marketing communication and PUR Years in the company: 8 Managerial level: Marketing manager responsible for catalogs (fil ms older than 6 month) and films to children. Relation with the top decision-making board: No access; she repo rts to a manager. Education: BA in journalism, with specialization in marketing (FIA, FGV, and USP). Details about relation with team work: Freitas reports to a marketing dire ctor, and has two assistants. The division has another professional to hand le public relations, press, and other media contact. Public relations is not at the same managerial level. Details about public relations: Freitas does not handle public rela tions, which is handled by another professional; Freitas describes public relations through the actions they orga nize to the consumer, usually at the retail store. Relations to media is done internally, and Freitas share experiences and information with her colleague. In the organizational chart, the public relations professional is in a lower manager level than the marketing manager, but she reports to the marketing top ma nager, and to Los Angeles (w here the central unit of the company is located). Recruitment: Through personal network: Researcher 1st level Summary of quotations selected for research questions 1, 2, and 3 (some of them mentioned in Chapter 4) Marketing is a strategic function within the company. It is responsible for fo llowing communication actions, as well as financial information, [to figure out] whether [the result] is profitable or not. Our goal is to bring income and profitability to the company out of our films, which are our products. We control it through reports, including accounting and finances, even to understand whether the in vestments, or the costs [rel ated to a product] were appropriate or not. We need to know in formation regarding other areas to be ab le to analyze it, in order to fix or improve [the performance of each prod uct]. Regarding the consumer, the measurement we have is the result [achieved by] the retail store. (Freitas, Paramount BR, in-depth phone interview, Feb. 10, 2011)
114 APPENDIX U NUMERIC SUMMARY OF FINDINGS Total 17 participants, 16 organizations Organizations included, area of business, and respec tive headquarters (related to the interviewees) Odebrecht construction and engineering 1 site in Brazil (BR), So Paulo SP 1 site in the United States (US), Miami FL John C. Lincoln Hospital health services 1 site US, Phoenix AR TotalCom advertising and communication solutions 1 site BR, So Paulo SP Organization 5 agricultural, biotechnology, and protecti on chemicals 1 site US, Saint Louis MS Monsanto BR agricultural, biotechnology, and protection chemicals 1 site BR, So Paulo SP Carrefour BR supermarkets and other grocery store formats 1 site BR, So Paulo SP Uni gel chemicals, fertilizers, plastics, and packaging 1 site BR, So Paulo SP Oracle BR information technology and services 1 site BR, So Paulo SP CB Richard Ellis BR real estate, consulting and services 1 site BR, So Paulo SP TAM airlines, air transp ort and services 1 site BR, So Paulo SP Aber je professional association 1 site BR, So Paulo SP Coca-Cola BR beverage and food 1 site BR, Rio de Janeiro RJ Jones Lan g LaSalle BR real estate services an d investment management 1 site BR, So Paulo SP Organization 15 BR hydro power equipment and services 1 site BR, So Paulo SP Fiat BR automotive industry 1 site BR, Belo Horizonte-MG Paramount BR home entertainment 1 site BR, Rio de Janeiro-RJ
115 APPENDIX U (PART II) Organizations' country of origin USA: 8 John C. Lincoln Hospital, Organization 5, Mo nsanto, Oracle, CB Richar d Ellis, Coca-Cola, Jones Lang LaSalle, Paramount Brazil: 5 Odebrecht, TotalCom, Unigel, TAM, Aberje France: 1 Carrefour Germany: 1 Organization 15 Ital y: 1 Fiat Organization type Not-for-profit: 2 John C. Lincoln Hospital, Aberje Private or limited companies: 6 Odebrecht, TotalCom, Unigel, Or ganization 15, Paramount, Fiat Public companies: 8 Organization 5, Monsanto, Carrefour, Oracle, CB Richard Ellis, Coca-Cola, Jones Lang LaSalle, TAM Interviewees Total of interviews, by gender and format : 17 participants, 9 females and 8 males 16 interviews conducted by phone, 1 written response Interviewees base of o peration: United States (US): 3 John C. Lincoln Hospital, Organization 5, Odebrecht US Brazil (BR): 14 Odebrecht, TotalCom, Unigel, TAM, Aberje (all Brazilian companies) Monsanto BR, Oracle BR, CB Richard Ellis BR, Coca-Cola BR, Jones Lang LaSalle BR, Paramount BR, Carrefour BR, Organization 15 BR Fiat BR (subsidiaries of foreign companies)
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121 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Cassiano Polesi is a journalist and editorial producer. He received a Master of Arts in Mass Communication degree from th e University of Florida in Ma y 2011, and wrote his thesis on the application of ga tekeeping to publi c relations. His vi ew of public re lations focuses on the ways organizations manage information to build meanin g and style, an approach that emerged from his writings about corporate communications and his working experience in business journalism, gr aphic design, art dire ction, photography, typ ography, and editorial production in online and printed formats. Born in So Paulo, Brazil, in 1960, Cassiano Polesi received a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Univ ersity Metodista in So Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, in March 1984, and a certificate from the School of Co mmunications of the University of So Paulo, with a specialization in communication and ma rketing management, comp leted in November 2006 He has also taken courses and workshops on art direction, typo graphy, photography, and editorial systems. His article "Information Architecture Theorize s the Web Without Giving Importance to the Editorial Function" was se lected for 1 Ebai 1s t Information Arch itecture Brazilian Meeting, held in So Paulo in October 2007. This article is an application of the guidelines discussed in his book "Matrix of Marketing, Communicat ion, and Business," developed between 2000 an d 2008. The 2nd edition, in Portuguese is available on de mand, in printed and electronic formats. An article from the book"The Advertiser Is the Media"was select ed for the 6 Prmio de Mdia Estado 6th Estado Media Award, promoted in 2003 by O Estado de S. Paulo a leading Brazilian newspaper.