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Public relations in Germany

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Vivika Tamra

on 3 October 2014

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Transcript of Public relations in Germany

Public relations
in Germany

Public relations has a 150-year history in Germany, starting with promotional efforts in railroad and industry.
Political, economic, and social influences shaped the evolving PR proffession in Germany.
Political history and PR history are connected.

Periodical sturcture of German PR:

Period 1 (mid 19th century – 1918) Development of the occupational field
Period 2 (1918–1933) Consolidation and growth
Period 3 (1933–1945) Media relations and political propaganda and the Nazi Regime
Period 4 (1945–1958) New beginning and upturn
Period 5 (1958–1985) Consolidation of the professional field in the Federal Republic of Germany and establishment of a socialist public relations in the German Democratic Republic (GDR)
Period 6 (1985-present) Boom of the professional field and professionalization

1 Bentele, 1997,in Sriramesh & Verčič, 2009: 442.
Freedom of press in Germany
State press politics

German Empire (until 1866) – no freedom of press.
After founding German Reich (in 1871) – upturn of the press, but much mass press products developed.
Around 1914 – great development of the press, national organizations and businesses start to put more effort into PR. Public information and manipulation were often connected.

1841 – establishment of the first political press department in Prussia, with a function to inform and observe the press and avoid negative articles in the media.
1848 - official abolishment of censorship.
After the foundation of the German Reich – a liberalization of the press through the Reich press law.
1871 – foundation of Press Department at the Office of Foreign Affairs with the task to observe and gather information of the press and its manipulation.

1870 – establishment of the first corporate press department by Alfred Krupp, the founder of the famous steel company, Krupp.

End of 19th century - German economy’s rapid development and military elite’s desire to extend German territory. Persuasion of the majority with different publicity instruments like posters, press reports etc.

Early exposition of external communication instruments in companies like Krupp, AEG, Siemens.
Evolution of Business-like PR
PR From World War I
Until the Nazi Dictatorship
- the loan campaign to raise funds for financing the war. Corporate public relations also was affected.
Democratic Weimar Republic
– improvement of PR, a great number of press offices and news bureaus, businessmen practice active PR.
The national socialism period
(1933–1945) - step backward for the entire field of PR. Public information activities centralized under the Reich Ministry of Public Information and Propaganda.
German PR pioneers Carl Hundhausen’s and Albert Oeckl’s first experience in advertising and PR.
After WWII –
rebirth of PR in Germany. Great influence of America (American PR agency’s branches in Germany).
Foundation of the German Public Relations Association by Carl Hundhausen and Albert Oeckl.
Until the late 1960s
– interpretation of PR as advertising for trust.
Early 1970s
- understanding of PR as the dialogue with different target groups started to develop.
Middle 1980s
- a boom of financial and human resources among PR agencies. PR was introduced in universities and polytechnics.

PR From World War II Until Today

Image of PR

Improvement of the image of communication experts.

Necessity of communication management and the need for well-qualified academics are mostly unquestioned.

Professional communication experts are treated as partners and as colleagues “on the other side of the desk” by journalists.

PR in Germany Today
Structures of the Occupational PR Field in Germany

The total number of full-time PR practitioners: at least 20,000, of which around 40% work in corporate PR; 20% in organizations, such as associations, clubs, churches, unions etc; 20% in institutions and 20% in PR agencies.

Not many are members of a professional association.

Professionalization in the PR field

has been increasing since the beginning of the 1990s.

PR education: vocational polytechnical institutes, academies, universities.

Dominating activities: media relations (press reports, press conferences, organizing talks with journalists etc.), internal communication (analyzing the media, producing and organizing internal media etc).

The demand for specialized agencies is high. Today, German companies consider public relations to be relatively important.

Definitions and Different PR Concepts

The German phrase for public relations is “Öffentlichkeitsarbeit,” which means “public work” or “working in public with the public sphere and for the public sphere”.

2 Verčič, Ruler, Bütschi, & Flodin, 2001: 376
3 Bentele,1998, in Bentele & Wehmeyer, 2003, 447
Different perpectives of PR
German Culture
Many social developments that influenced cultural values like industralization, WWI and WWII, national socialism movements etc.
In the rationalized, mechanized, and individualized industrial Germany is now developing into an information and knowledge society.
Representatives of
traditional values
establish their priorities on the family’s order, work as obligation, and traditional roles of men and women.
Representatives of more
modern values
focus on lifestyles that emphasize the possibility of free and independent self-realizalion and professional success.
Importance of
t values has been increasing, process of
, increasing role of the media.
Employees form a heterogeneous groups that demand comprehensive communication.
External communication has to take into account the diversity of the public and their cultural values.

5 Hilde Eeckhout lecture, 2014
6 / 8 Sriramesh 2009: 63)
7 Sriramesh and White, 1992, in Sriramesh 2009: 43
According to the different dimensions of organization culture, Germany has masculine organization culture, high uncertainty avoidance and is a low context culture.

The relationship between high and low context in culture still is an under-researched concept in PR.
To communicate to their publics in a global marketplace, PR practitioners will have to sensitize themselves to the cultural heterogeneity of their audiences.
Culture affects, and is affected by other environmental factors such as political system, economic system and level of development, media system, and activism.
The influence of political economy
4 Bentele and Wehmeyer, 2009, in Sriramesh & Verčič,2009: 44

Germany's PR industry has been strongly influenced by the economic systems:

-the market economy has enabled the use of PR by corporations, associations, unions, NGOs etc.
-business enterprises communication (public relations) budgets depends directly on the economic development
-the permanence of PR agencies depend directly on the status of the economy
-structural changes in germany’s economic system have impacted PR industry positively
- regarding the great number of Initial Public Offerings the demand for PR experts has increased.

Communicative policy making
, which highlights the link between policy makers and the involvement of communication, PR advisors and stakeholder involvement , has increased and improved over time in Germany.

Today, the policy makers and communication advisors have stronger cooperation in Germany’s political system, which have lead to more effective involvement of different stakeholders interest in political decision making.
Germany's political system influences its social structure and nature of public relations

The Weimar Republic, enabled rapid development of the PR profession in all social areas.
During the Nazi dictatorship the PR was propagandistic and state was in censorship.
In Nazi Dictatorship period, Germanys political system did not value public opinion, which leaded to unsophisticated nature of PR that was one-way propagandistic in nature.

In later periods, under the democratic political system, Germany’s PR developed and PR agencies were created.

5/6 Sriramesh & Verčič,2009:5
7 Machteld Weyts lecture, 2014
Lobbying in Germany

Lobbying, as an aspect of PR and public affairs, is an informal effort is to defend interest on the organization and influence others, particularly public authorities.

Bundestag Legislation
Germany has specific rules and regulations that govern lobbying activities. In Germany lobbying takes place only in the Bundestag (Lower House), which is the only house of Parliament in the EU with specific rules for lobbying activities.

The German system of regulating lobbying activities is a disciplined system
Germany has national Lobbyists Register, which main goal is to identify lobbyists and its interest group that supply information to Bundestag.

8 Rikk Otten lecture, 2014
9 Chari & Murphy, 2006: 52-54
Media system in Germany
Mass media in Germany are assigned a service function, which includes three main tasks:

German PR industry is strongly influenced by the media system

In the period of Nazi dictatorship
the national socialist state made great propagandistic efforts, whereas the media served as loudspeakers of political and ideological content.

Media control
- in the national socialism period the media was dependable on the nature of political system and strictly controlled by governmental forces.

After freedom of press
Germany’s media became independent from governmental influence.

Germany has the dual-broadcasting system in which public and private commercial broadcasting operate side by side.

According to the press ownership type division Germany has two types of ownership: private and government.

Public and private broadcasting are subject to different legal regulations.

Public broadcasting
has to serve public welfare and providing audiences with information, sports, entertainment, and culture. Public broadcasting adopts a strict, internal pluralistic concept
-> every program has to reflect the actual diversity of the society.

Private broadcasting
activities give more choices for the consumer, providing entertainment and relaxation.
to encourage the development of public opinion;
to control the legislature;
to mediate between the citizens and state institutions

10 Sriramesh & Verčic, 2009: 18-19
11 Lowenstein, 1971- in Sriramesh & Verčic, 2009: 70
12 Branahl, 2000:20
Media Outreach
The growth of the private media market in 1990s also increased the importance of PR and the growth of PR agencies in the 1990s.

The Media diffusion as the extent of media outreach in
society and media access in Germany is high:
The average time of media use is 8.5 hr per day, of which 41% (3.4 hr) is for radio and 37% (approx. 3 hr) is for television.
Each day ,80% of Germans spend 30 min reading the newspaper.
Around 40% of the total population uses the Internet for at least 13 min per day.
13 Sriramesh & Verčic,2009:81
14 Media Perspektiven, 2001, in Sriramesh & Verčic,2009: 456
15 Sriramesh & Verčic,2009:74
16 Sriramesh & Verčic,2009:68
17 Hines, 2009
Mass media influence is critical to strategic PR in Germany-
factors like media control, diffusion and access help the PR professional to create effective media relations strategy and maintain communication through effective channels.

New media has changed the dynamics of the relationship between PR and traditional mass media

The current media system of Germany affects PR in different ways:

- the growth of private broadcasting market gives PR more opportunities to be recognized by the media and choose the channels.
- the increasing number of radio and television stations produces higher journalistic activities and also increases PR activities.
-journalists and public relations employees are more closely aligned in Germany than in many other countries.
- large number of specialized media makes it easier to reach specific target audience, but on the other hand the audience is much more fragmented.
The future of PR in Germany
Communication management in Germany will be seen as key competence of 21st century- the ongoing development of information & communication society is constantly influencing PR and it will gain more importance in organizational and societal level

PR departments will gain more relevance and importance as necessary part of effectively functioning organization.

PR will be more specialized within organizations and agencies: reputation management, issues management, change communication.

Public relations professionalization will also develop further in academical field- more educational programs about PR, academic dicipline of public relation science already exist in Germany.

The profession of PR will develop further with stronger scientific foundation.
Reference list:
Bentele, G., & Wehmeier (2003). From Literary Bureaus to a Modern Profession: the development and current structure of public relations in Germany. In Sriramesh, K., & Verčič, D (Eds.). (2009). The Global Public Relations Handbook: theory, research, and practice. Routledge: London, (pp. 441-465).

Chari, R., & Murphy, G (2006). The Regulation of Lobbyists in Canada, the USA, the EU institutions, and Germany. A Report for the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, pp. 52-54. Retrieved from: http://www.lobbyists.ru/eu/10.pdf

Duhe, S., & Sriramesh, K. (2009). Political Economy and Public Relations, pp. 25-51. In Sriramesh, K., & Verčič, D (Eds). (2009). The Global Public Relations Handbook: theory, research, and practice. Routledge: London, (pp. 25-51).

Hines, R. (2009). German public relations. PRism 6(2). Retrieved from: http://praxis.massey.ac.nz/prism_on-line_journ.html

Otten, R., Weyts, M.,Betsbrugge, E., & Eeckhout, H. (2014). International Public Relation lecture slides. Tallinn University: Tallinn.

Sriramesh, K. (2009). The Relationship between Culture and Public Relations. In Sriramesh, K., & Verčič, D (Eds.). (2009). The Global Public Relations Handbook: theory, research, and practice. Routledge: London,(pp 52-67).

Sriramesh, K., & Verčič, D. (Eds.) (2009). The Global Public Relations Handbook: theory, research, and practice. Routledge: London.

Verčič, D., Ruler, B., Bütschi, G., & Flodin, B. (2001). On the definition of public relations: a European view. Public Relations Review, 27(4), (pp. 373-387.)
Made by:
Vivika Tamra
Rovshan Ugur
Pille Riin Pettai

Tallinn University 2014
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