Tag Archives: communications

Communications: Multicultural Considerations

Episcopalians have recently decided to approve and bless this type of marriage within the church (Dawson, 2012). In light of the recent debate over same-sex marriage, which has implications for societal values, health care, economics, public policy, business, and religion, approaching the subject requires care and specific messaging to ensure factual representation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community with limited personal bias. A biased or overly-stereotypical argument of debate or discussion point is easily nullified and serves only to discredit the messenger. According to James (2011) and Robison (2002), between 4 and 10% (14.4 – 36-million) of all Americans fall within the LGBT community. Additionally, as religion appears to be the countering force in this argument, the same care must be used for this group, also.

If I were to enter the debate, I would hope to provide a solution to the problem that would be equitable to all parties involved. If not realistic, it would, at least, be a positive addition to the debate; however, I feel that there is an equitable solution. The only was to reach this solution, though, is to maintain a factual position from which to analyze the problem. Hendrix and Hayes (2010) focuses on message construction, and though it is an important aspect of communications, public debate usually requires research more focused to attain understanding of the intricacies of the debate and the environment in which the debate is being held.

There are two aspects of marriage that need to be considered. First, marriage is largely a religious institution; therefore, the religious debate cannot be readily dismissed. The second aspect of marriage that needs consideration is legal definition of marriage and the licensing requirements of each state. Obvious to me, the federal government has no platform on which to stand as they are required to honor the states’ license of marriage. The rapid solution is to provide a state option to allow or disallow same-sex marriage. For this to occur, the states would have to change the marriage license to a license of partnership in household. The partnership in household designation would allow, for tax and legal purposes, the LGBT community as well as others, such as atheists, to enjoy the benefits of traditional marriage without encroaching on the purview of religion. This would leave each religious denomination the choice of presiding over a formal rite of wedding, which would officiate the marriage within the religion. The states and federal government should only honor the partnership in household designations or dissolutions when considering marriage for their purposes. Marriage is the only religious rite where government requires a fee, and they should not.

This solution provides historical precedent as well as satisfying the needs of the communities on each side of this debate, and it does so respectfully and without bias. Other arguments can still be made, such as the worthiness and value of society’s acceptance of same-sex marriage, but these arguments are less important than the official capacity in which each aspect of the argument (government and religion) are able to weigh in. Too many times, we as a society try to use institutions to force behavior when the chosen institution actually has little purview and impact on the behavior, such as the federal government in this case. This tactic only serves to inflame the debate and adds pressure to institutions to act.


Dawson, D. (2012, July 9). Episcopalians set to be first big U.S. church to bless gay marriage. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/10/us-usa-religion-gaymarriage-idUSBRE86902U20120710

James, S. D. (2011, April 8). Gay Americans make up 4 percent of population. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/williams-institute-report-reveals-million-gay-bisexual-transgender/story?id=13320565#.T_1wIOFySOw

Hendrix, J. A. & Hayes, D. C. (2010). Public relations cases (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Robison, J. (Ed.). (2002, October 8). What percentage of the population is gay? Gallup. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/6961/what-percentage-population-gay.aspx

Integrated Marketing Communications Case Study

Integrated marketing communication provides a seamless and comprehensive delivery of information to consumers. Hendrix and Hayes (2010) discusses the prevalence of integrated marketing since the 1990s and its usefulness in complying with the perceptions of consumers. In this way, integrated marketing communication is consumer-centric and relationship driven. An award-winning case study of Pfizer Animal Health, MGH, and TagTeam Global by the Public Relations Society of America (2009) demonstrates the utility of integrated marketing concepts.


Pfizer developed a canine weightloss medication, Slentrol®, in 2007, and relied on the collaborative efforts of MGH and TagTeam Global to launch the marketing efforts in 2008. Slentrol® is the first-in-class drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat canine obesity. The comprehensive effort resulted opening conversations between veterinarians across the country and approximately 200,000 dog owners, increasing dog obesity awareness, and, ultimately, lead to a 42% gain in Slentrol® sales.


Hendrix and Hayes (2010) describe how a SWOT analysis would be extremely useful when preparing for an integrated marketing effort. They stress that leveraging strengths and acknowledging weaknesses honestly allows the firm the ability to maximize market-share while maintaining vigilance against external threats. According to the Public Relations Society of America (2009), the primary research, conducted primarily by Pfizer, helped to define the market. MGH and TagTeam Global furthered this research with anecdotal evidence provided by friends, family, and colleagues and surveys directed to veterinarians, which helped to define the degree of understanding that most people have of the health risks of obese dogs. MGH and TagTeam Global also performed secondary research to help to define the messaging in a way that would resonate with dog owners.


The objectives of integrated marketing communications is, by definition, comprehensive. In the case study, the objectives included increasing a focus on canine obesity, educate dog owners to the dangers and risks of canine obesity, motivate dog owners to seek treatment if their dogs were perceived to be obese, and to increase sales of Slentrol® (Public Relations Society of America, 2009). To meet these objectives, a public outreach event, the National Canine Weight Check, was designed to allow dog owners to visit a participating veterinarian during an entire month for a weight assessment free of charge (Public Relations Society of America, 2009).


The Public Relations Society of America (2009) case study demonstrates a varied use of media and consumer word-of-mouth communication to raise awareness of canine obesity. MGH and TagTeam Global also created a website dedicated to provide education about canine obesity and recruited a number of veterinarians to participate in the outreach. These veterinarians were provided with advice on how to broach the topic as well as the necessary equipment to perform the free weight assessment. Again, they relied heavily on the previous research in order to communicate most effectively with dog owners based on the vernacular present on canine websites and discussion boards. This was a very strategic use of available communication tools.


The National Canine Weight Check is lauded as attracting over 200,000 dog owners to participating veterinarians to discuss the risks and options concerning their overweight dogs, Pfizer enjoyed a 42% increase in sales of Slentrol®, and Pfizer realized a great opportunity for continued marketing to almost 1,500 consumers through social network connections (Public Relations Society of America, 2009). Many other goals and objectives were met, and Pfizer, MGH, and TagTeam Global consider the National Canine Weight Check a large success.


Integrated marketing communications is a comprehensive combination of many advertising, marketing, sales, and public relations tactics to provide unification in the messaging and more effectively leverages the strengths of the organization. Integrated marketing relies on two-way communication and serves to establish long-lasting relationships between the organization and consumers. Integrated marketing can be very useful in a myriad of situations, and though it requires great attention to detail and thorough research to accomplish effectively, the rewards can be immense and lasting when done right.

Pfizer, MGH, and TagTeam Global would not, in my opinion, have benefited from such success had they not implemented this comprehensive approach. The research alone allowed the effort to succeed by uncovering more ways to attain credibility with the consumers as well as veterinarians (Public Relations Society of America, 2000). Further, the biggest benefit to integrated marketing that Pfizer now enjoys is the long-term loyalty and commitment found in a significant share of the market. This could not be attained, according to Hendrix and Hayes (2010), with other, more modest, forms of communication and marketing.


Hendrix, J. A. & Hayes, D. C. (2010). Public relations cases (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Public Relations Society of America. (2009). National canine weight check (Product #6BW-0916A11). Retrieved from http://www.prsa.org/Awards/SilverAnvil/

ROPE Process in Consumer Relations

Public relations is a very useful tool for an organization making its case in the public forum, especially when confronting another organization with conflicting values. In this case, I will explore the opportunity for using public relations concepts in defending a historical society against the desire of a group of property developers who wish to build on an historic site. Hendrix and Hayes (2010) demonstrates leveraging reputation and crafted messaging to inform the public of the controversy in a manner that helps to garner public support for the organization’s position using the R.O.P.E. (research, objectives, programming, and evaluation) process.


The first step in using public relations, according to Hendrix and Hayes (2010) is researching the problem and the audience. The results will allow tailoring the later message to effectively impact the audience in the desired manner. Tailoring the message specifically to the audience is very effective in communications. Research is especially important in separating those who are active in community politics from those who prefer a more laissez-faire approach to politics.

In this particular case, it is important to understand the import that the members of the community put on history, their political ideologies, and the economic impact of the developers’ proposed plan. Depending on how each of these relate to the current state of the community, a message could be crafted to emphasize the points most important to the community as well as educate the public to the importance of the issue.


Hendrix and Hayes (2010) state that both impact and output objectives are important when communicating with consumers. Impact objectives refer to the attitudes and behaviors that need to be influenced while output objectives refer to the overall measurable goals of the public relations effort. While the latter can be simply stated as to garner support to preserve the historic nature of the site, the former requires more precision.

Using the broad output objective statement above, further output objectives can be developed to meet the overarching goal. For example, a more specific output objective could be to mail informational flyers to each household within five miles of the historically significant site. Another example would be to meet with three previously identified community leaders each day to emphasize the importance of preserving the site versus developing it.

In this particular case, the impact objectives will rely heavily on the research performed to increase the community’s knowledge about the importance of historical preservation and to influence their perceptions of the usefulness of historical preservation contrasted with the negative impact of the development of the site. Further, the community needs to be educated about how the historical preservation society has performed in past years with a focus on those efforts that typical have the support of the public already.


As stated above, the programming of the message is very important and should be steered by the research. In the case of an historical preservation society attempting to protect an historic site from development, there will be media coverage. It is important to control the media as much as possible, and this can be accomplished by issuing press releases (see Appendix), holding public events covered by the media designed to educate the public about the controversy, and holding press conferences and interviews to give the media more access to the desired message over the competing message of the developers. The programming also needs to enhance and leverage the credibility of the historical society for the best results (Hendrix & Hayes, 2010).

Message programming can also be used in monitoring media coverage and augmenting the approach based on the amount and content of coverage. If one aspect of the message is clearly represented but another aspect is failing to connect with the public, emphasis can be placed on the lacking aspect of the message in future communications.


The reputation and credibility of the historical preservation society is very important in the continued efforts to garner support for preserving the site from the proposed development; therefore, constant evaluation of the society’s reputation within the community is paramount. Beyond the reputation, the effectiveness of each message component should be evaluated to ensure consistency with the objectives. This could be accomplished by using further research and analyzing the amount of favorable attention the society is getting in regards to this particular controversy and in general.

Understanding the effectiveness of the communication effort allows a decision to made to either stay on course or alter the messaging to use more effective measures and tactics.


Though this controversy is hypothetical, political discussions and debates frequently call into the question to utility and desire of maintaining historical sites versus the opportunity to develop these sites to improve economic output or improve overall living conditions within the community. For those that feel an importance in preserving history when confronted with political controversy, the communication efforts described here can be used to effectively plead the case in the public forum, arguably the most important forum in controversies such as these.


Hendrix, J. A. & Hayes, D. C. (2010). Public relations cases (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.


Example press release.

Contact: Michael Schadone FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Telephone: (555) 555-5555

Cell: (555) 555-5556

Email: info@historicalsoc.org


Please Help Preserve the Johnson Mills

The Society of Historical Preservation has recently learned that the Johnson Mills site, located at 55 Johnson Rd. in Township, Connecticut, is in danger of being destroyed. This site, an historically significant building where our first governor, John Johnson, founded the lumber mill that propelled our state into prosperity for over 300 years, is important to the economic and political history of the state as well as the nation.

On May 5, 2012, Property Developers, Inc., submitted a proposal to the Township zoning board to develop the Johnson Mills historical site as condominiums and a strip mall. We believe that, although the community of Township is very supportive of preserving the history of the region, this proposal will be approved unless the members of the community attend the next zoning board hearing on July 25, 2012, at 123 Government Ln., to express their concern over the needless destruction of this important site.

Further, Township is experiencing the same economic conditions as the rest of the country and home ownership is at an all-time low for the region. In addition to the historic importance of Johnson Mills, it seems that the creation of a condominium complex is contrary to the needs of the community.

We at the Society of Historical Preservation anticipate that the people of Township and others within the state would be dismayed to hear of the plans of Property Developers, Inc., to develop the Johnson Mills site. It is important for us to give the community the opportunity to oppose this proposal by calling the Township town hall at (555) 555-0001 and attend the upcoming hearings to voice their concerns.

# # #

If you would like more information on this topic, or to schedule an interview with Michael Schadone, please call Steve Smith at (555) 555-5557 or email Steve at contact@historicalsoc.org

Crisis Communications: Imperial Sugar Case Study

At approximately 7:15 pm, on February 7, 2008, a large explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery rocked the area of Port Wentworth, Georgia, killing 14 people and injuring 36, and although, the incident was found to be the fault of Imperial Sugar, this discussion will focus on the crisis communications and public relations surrounding the event (Bauerlein, 2010; U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, 2009). According to a report from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA; 2009), although John Sheptor was appointed Chief Executive Officer merely nine days earlier and did not enjoy the support of a crisis communications team, he was thrust into the spotlight having to deal with this particular crisis.

According to a local television station, the people of Savannah and Port Wentworth responded admirably at the first hint of trouble (“Sugar refinery explosion,” n.d.). This is more of a testament to the community than to Imperial Sugar; however, it promotes a sense of good-will and community trust that Imperial Sugar was able to leverage. Almost immediately, Sheptor, in conjunction with Imperial Sugar partner Edelman, was holding regular news conferences, disseminating press releases, and correcting the record. The only delay is seemingly the time required to work with first responders and investigators (“4 found dead,” 2008; PRSA, 2009; U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, 2009). According to the PRSA (2009), Sheptor and Edelman immediately instituted a program to communicate to “employees, stakeholders, investors, elected officials and the media, and to engage the public in helping the company support the Imperial Sugar employee family” (p. 1).

As the crisis wound down to the recovery phase, it is important to note, as Chapman (2008) chronicles, that all displaced employees were still being paid by Imperial Sugar. All employees that were able were used to help in the clean-up efforts and ultimately maintained their employment status with Imperial Sugar. Within a week of the incident, Sheptor reported that the company was looking to rebuild and, in just over two month’s time, the decision to rebuild was official (Securities and Exchange Commission, 2008).

Sheptor leveraged Edelman’s communication philosophies which allowed communications to be prioritized, correct, honest, and abundant. While also providing much needed information to employees and families of missing employees, especially, this mode of communication also allowed Edelman, and Imperial Sugar, to cultivate media relations that will benefit them in the future.


4 found dead in Ga. sugar refinery blast. (2008, February 8). Associated Press. Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23059948/ns/us_news-life/t/found-dead-ga-sugar-refinery-blast/

Bauerlein, V. (2010, July 8). Imperial Sugar to pay fines in deadly Georgia explosion case. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703636404575352782366026008.html

Chapman, D. (2008, April 13). Sugar refinery near Savannah determined to rebuild. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved from http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/business/stories/2008/04/12/sugar_0413.html

Public Relations Society of America. (2009). Crystallizing a response to a crisis (Product # 6BW-0911A05).

Securities and Exchange Commission. (2008, April 17). Current report: Imperial Sugar Company (Form 8-K). Washington, D.C.: Author.

Sugar refinery explosion (Collection of news reports). (n.d.) WTOC. Retrieved from http://www.wtoc.com/category/125278/sugar-refinery-explosion

U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. (2009, September). Investigation report: sugar dust explosion and fire (Report No. 2008-05-I-GA). Retrieved from http://www.csb.gov/assets/document/Imperial_Sugar_Report_Final_updated.pdf

Crisis as Opportunity

Through the last few weeks, we have explored various means of saving the reputation of an organization in crisis. From reframing arguments to apologizing and promising to making it right, we have many tools at our disposal to turn the conversation in a way that is, at most, beneficial to the organization’s reputation or, at least, less harmful to it. But, what happens when the crisis is so detrimental to the organization’s reputation due solely to flagrant immoral or illegal conduct? Can a crisis communications plan be of any help?

On November 5, 2011, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested facing 40 counts of criminal activity, including a number of counts of sexual assault on a minor for incidents relating to Penn State’s association with The Second Mile charity, founded by Sandusky, over the course of 15 years (Garcia, 2011; “Sandusky,” 2011). Two days later, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz surrender to police to answer charges for failing to notify authorities for suspicions of sexual abuse of a minor (“Officials,” 2011; “Sandusky,” 2011). In two more days, football legend, Joe Paterno, head coach of the Penn State football program, resigns amidst the controversy surrounding the university and its football program (Garcia, 2011; “Sandusky,” 2011). Within days of the arrests (and, before all the facts are known), the university is being excoriated in the news (Zinser, 2011). This, I believe, constitutes a public relations nightmare.

Trivitt and Yann (2011), of the Public Relations Society of America, present the case of the Penn State crisis as a reminder that public relations and crisis managers cannot fix every problem: “we think it’s important that, as a profession, we don’t overreach and try to uphold our work as the savior for every societal tragedy and crisis. Doing so makes us look opportunistic and foolish considering the gravity of the situation” (para. 13). In the case of Penn State, there were a number of opportunities for the assaults to be reported to the authorities, yet Sandusky was allowed to remain in close unsupervised contact with young boys until, finally, one of the victims contacted the authorities in 2009 and an official investigation was initiated (“Sandusky,” 2011). The best thing that Penn State could have done was to report the accusations to the proper authorities as soon as they were made aware, saving the administration from allegations of a cover-up or their collective morals being called into question (Sudhaman & Holmes, 2012). The perception, now: cover-up and morally corrupt. There were a number of moral obligations that representatives of the university failed to abide over the preceding years, and the reputation of Penn State will suffer for it.

Immediately following the break of the scandal, the Penn State administration scrambled to make appropriate efforts towards repairing the poor reputation of the university, including donating $1.5-million of football profits to sex crimes advocacy programs, suspending the school newspaper’s sex column, and holding a town hall type meeting where students can pose questions and concerns directly to school administrators (Sauer, 2011). Though these steps are good, ultimately, the only means of recovering the reputation that Penn State once held is time and a changing of the guard; however, this does not mean that Penn State is suffering. According to Reuters (Shade, 2011), applications to attend Penn State are up from last year, and the current school administration, as well as alumni, are coming together to strengthen the trust between the school and students. Further, Singer (2011), a crisis communications and reputation management specialist, describes the steps the university can take in the coming years to truly restrengthen its brand. Singer emphasizes <em>cleaning the slate</em> by firing any other employees directly associated with the scandal, <em>creating a team-centric leadership culture</em> by limiting the political power of any one person within the university (especially the head coach), and <em>living the values</em> put forth by the university (e.g. “Success With Honor”). So long as the crisis is handled appropriately since the mass firing of school officials, the school’s reputation will be judged on the response to the crisis and not the crisis alone.


Garcia, T. (2011, November 9). Paterno announces retirement, says Penn State has bigger issues to address. PRNewser. Retrieved from http://www.mediabistro.com/prnewser/paterno-announces-retirement-says-penn-state-has-bigger-issues-to-address_b29902

Officials seeking alleged abuse victims. (2011, November 9). ESPN.com. Retrieved from http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7203566/penn-state-nittany-lions-sex-abuse-case-officials-arraigned-police-seek-alleged-assault-victim

Sandusky, Penn State case timeline. (2011, November 9). ESPN.com. Retrieved from http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7212054/key-dates-penn-state-sex-abuse-case

Sauer, A. (2011, December 1). Penn State bogs down in PR crisis, but a turnaround already showing. brandchannel. Retrieved from http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/2011/12/01/Penn-State-Bogs-Down-In-PR-Crisis-120111.aspx

Shade, M. (2011, December 1). Penn State officials say applications up despite scandal. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/01/us-crime-coach-students-idUSTRE7B00GD20111201

Singer, J. (2011, December 7). The Penn State scandal: crisis as opportunity. The Business of College Sports. Retrieved from http://businessofcollegesports.com/2011/12/07/the-penn-state-scandal-crisis-as-opportunity/

Sudhaman, A. & Holmes, P. (2012, January 25). The top 10 crises Of 2011. The Holmes Report. Retrieved from http://www.holmesreport.com/featurestories-info/11377/The-Top-10-Crises-Of-2011.aspx

Trivitt, K. & Yann A. (2011, November 9). Public relations won’t fix Penn State’s crisis. PRSay. Retrieved from http://prsay.prsa.org/index.php/2011/11/09/public-relations-wont-fix-penn-states-crisis/

Zinser, L. (2011, November 9). Memo to Penn State: Ignoring a scandal doesn’t make it go away. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/10/sports/penn-state-fails-a-public-relations-test-leading-off.html?_r=1&ref=sports

Public Relations and the Media

Using a fictitious scenario about an international airline company addressing the media after one of its planes had crashed, I will examine the usefulness and limitations of a crisis communications plan. It is also worthwhile to note that although the messaging is important, the manner in which the message is delivered is also important. Battenberg (2002) lays out a compelling case of which tactics to use and which to abandon when dealing with a media frenzy.

Media Questions

As a member of the media, there are some very specific questions that need to be addressed. For instance, was the crash a result of weather, aircraft maintenance, or was this a terrorism event? In addition, recent layoffs of its mechanics coupled with its aging fleet of aircraft might have contributed to the crash and needs to be addressed. Other employees were laid off in addition to some mechanics. It would be important to know if more experienced members of the flight crew were among the lay offs, as this flight was trans-Atlantic and might require some specialized expertise.

Public Relations Response

According to Coombs (2012) and Fearns-Bank (2011), the response to the media needs to be truthful and humble. The cause of the crash will eventually be determined by the federal investigators, and any assumptions now would be premature. This should be clearly stated to the media along with a statement that every effort to assist in the investigation will be made. In regards to the lay offs, it should be made absolutely clear that, along with our dedication to safety, the lowest performing mechanics and pilots were the ones laid off, keeping the most experienced and skilled mechanics who would never sign off on any unworthy aircraft. An example statement might include: “In our corporate culture of safety, we allow any of our employees to trigger a grounding and complete safety check of any of our aircraft for any reason, even with our recent financial difficulties. If we do not fly safe, then we do not fly.” If the company would ground all similar aircraft for an immediate safety check, it would be helpful to reinforce the ideals of the corporate culture of safety.


As the public relations officer addressing these media concerns, I would be sure to answer these questions as humbly and honestly as possible. I would try to rely on the messaging provided in the crisis communication plan. However, in light of recent financial difficulties and layoffs, the plan may prove partially inadequate, though it will provide, at least, a framework to ensure the messaging is consistent (Coombs, 2012; Fearns-Bank, 2011). Obviously, information will be limited as the crash just occurred; however, the concerns of the recent layoffs and service expansion still need to be addressed. Any assurance of safety that is less than matter-of-fact might not be convincing enough to the flying public (Stevens, Malone, & Bailey, 2005). Fortunately, I am able to cite the impeccable safety record and award-winning corporate excellence and customer service. Additionally, other sections of the communication plan, such as messaging involving lay offs and other financial issues, might prove useful to help the public and the media further understand the company’s dedication to safety, ensuring that any problems identified will be quickly rectified (Coombs, 2012; Stevens, Malone, & Bailey, 2005).

Though the position of defending the corporate image in light of tragedy is not an enviable one, a strong and ethical corporation deserves to enjoy business continuity even after such a tragedy (Stevens, Malone, & Bailey, 2005). Having an effective communication plan in place and utilizing the plan in an honest, humble, and transparent manner can promote the corporate image even while suffering crises (Coombs, 2012; Stevens, Malone, & Bailey, 2005).


Battenberg, E. (2002, December). Managing a media frenzy. Public Relations Tactics, 9(12), 1, 15. Retrieved from http://library.waldenu.edu/

Coombs, W. T. (2012). Ongoing crisis communication: Planning managing, and responding (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Fearn-Banks, K. (2011). Crisis communications: a casebook approach (4th ed). New York, NY: Routledge.

Stephens, K. K., Malone, P. C., & Bailey, C. M. (2005). Communicating with stakeholders during a crisis: Evaluating message strategies. Journal of Business Communication, 42(4), 390-419. doi:10.1177/0021943605279057

Job Analysis: Analyzing Position Descriptions

Every organization is formed with a purpose in mind, the vision. In order to achieve this purpose, positions within the organization must work toward attaining certain goals furthering the larger organizational vision, the mission. Those who administer these organizations must catalog and organize the requisite roles, tasks, duties, and responsibilities required to achieve the goals and vision of the organization. This process is called job analysis and results in position descriptions for each job required to facilitate the mission of the organization (Fallon & McConnell, 2007). Position descriptions serve as a framework to codify the chain of command, roles and responsibilities, and functional lists of duties to be performed (Fallon & McConnell, 2007). Position descriptions also help to determine the value and compensation requirements of each position (Fallon & McConnell, 2007).

Unfortunately, as Fallon and McConnell (2007) discuss, many organizations fail to create adequate position descriptions, putting the organizations at risk of possible litigation, or less severe, employee confusion and ultimate inefficient operations.

Taxonomy of a Position Description

Fallon and McConnell (2007) write adamantly that “job descriptions have a regular format, style, and language” (p. 119) and are a result of a vigorous job analyses. Fallon and McConnell outline the components of a valid position description: job title, FLSA status, a summary of duties, compensation (salary range), knowledge required to perform the job, particular skills required to perform the job, the level of physical, psychological, and emotional effort usually required to perform the job, responsibilities inherent in the position, typical working conditions, and other general statements describing the position. Position descriptions using this format and with a certain level of detail can also be helpful in evaluating employees already in the position.

Using this format, I will compare two similar health care position descriptions (Northwest EMS, 2007; U. S. Office of Personnel Management, 2012) and discuss their similarities and differences.

Comparing and Contrasting Position Descriptions

Northwest EMS: Paramedic

Northwest EMS, located in Tomball, Texas, is the municipal provider of emergency medical services. Either city or departmental human resources would have directed the analysis required to formulate the position description.

Strengths. This paramedic position description (Northwest EMS, 2007) clearly follows a similar outline as recommended by Fallon and McConnell (2007). Further, as this position requires particular licenses, certifications, and other qualifications, these are enumerated distinctly as minimum qualifications for the position.

The biggest strength of this position description, however, is the section which details very particular job requirements, both physical and non-physical, as they relate to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Weaknesses. This position description does not provide a salary range for the position. Although this could be a result of the document lying in the public domain and quickly becoming outdated, a salary range should be communicated openly for applicants to consider. This would benefit both the organization and the applicant, ensuring recruitment resources are expended only on applicants with a continued interest in the position.

National Park Service: Paramedic

This position is within the National Park Service at Yellowstone National Park. The position description would have been developed through position analysis by the U. S. Office of Personnel Management at the direction of the National Park Service.

Strengths. This paramedic position (U. S. Office of Personnel Management, 2012) also follows a similar outline as recommended by Fallon and McConnell (2007) and also provides that certain licenses, certifications, and other qualifications are required; however, as this is a federal position governed by separate and particular rules, there are particular components within the position description that are unique to federal government job postings.

One strength of this position description that notably differs with the Northwest EMS description is the inclusion of the salary range.

Weaknesses. No FLSA status is noted within the position description, but the FLSA might not apply to this federal position.


In analyzing similar position descriptions within municipal and federal organizations, there will be particular differences guided by the requisite employment rules and legislation for each; however, there are certain universal requirements for adequately describing the duties and responsibilities of each position, and it seems that both the Northwest EMS (2007) and National Park Service (U. S. Office of Personnel Management, 2012) position descriptions are, indeed, adequate representations of each paramedic job.


Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resource management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Northwest EMS. (2007). Paramedic job description. Retrieved from http://www.nwems.org/ employment_Paramedic.pdf

U. S. Office of Personnel Management. (2012). Health technician (paramedic). Retrieved from http://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/307171500

Marketing Plans in Health Care

Health care marketing is interesting when considering military treatment facilities. Naval Hospital Pensacola, according to Ludvigsen and Carroll (2003), is limited in the scope and manner that administrators are allowed to use federal monies to fund marketing efforts. Since budget cuts forced many military installations to close, and with them the attached military treatment facilities, efforts have been made, through programs like Tricare, to redirect the military health care market to the civilian care providers; however, hospitals that remain in operation, such as Naval Hospital Pensacola, have found that their market share has decreased sharply over time.

Naval Hospital Pensacola developed a marketing plan in 2003 to address the 5,000 enrollment opportunities that were left vacant due to military restructuring and Tricare development.

About Naval Hospital Pensacola

Naval Hospital Pensacola, a 60 bed facility, is the second oldest Naval hospital. The services provided by Naval Hospital Pensacola are primarily primary care, but the facility also has five operating suites and also provides urology, orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology, among other services and operates with a budget of $64.5-million (Ludvigsen & Carroll, 2003). Naval Hospital Pensacola’s pharmacy is said to be the fourth busiest in the Navy, according to Ludvigsen and Carroll (2003).

Marketing Naval Hospital Pensacola


In order to analyze the potential for additional capacity, Naval Hospital Pensacola formed a committee whose recommendation was that an additional 5,000 enrollee capacity was possible. The hospital, at the time of the plan formulation, served approximately 19,000 enrollees. The Managed Care Department of Naval Hospital Pensacola then developed this marketing plan to answer the recommendations of the capacity committee. Additionally, “the hospital implemented a policy which requires TRICARE Prime enrollees moving within [Naval Hospital Pensacola’s] catchment area of 40 miles, to use [Naval Hospital Pensacola]” (Ludvigsen & Carroll, 2003, p. 1). This policy ensured that certain Tricare recipients must utilize services provided by the naval hospital and dissuaded them from using civilian services that other Tricare recipients were allowed to use. This policy, according to Ludvigsen and Carroll (2003), provided additional access to approximately 10,000 Tricare Prime recipients residing within the 40-mile catchment area of Naval Hospital Pensacola.

SWOT Analysis

The marketing plan (Ludvigsen & Carroll, 2003) provided internal and external analyses that showed staffing was adequate for the proposed growth and, unlike the civilian sector, the funding would be made available based on use as Naval Hospital Pensacola is a military treatment facility whose budget relies on enrollment and not on cost-savings. “Because [Naval Hospital Pensacola] derives its funds via Federal appropriations, [Naval Hospital Pensacola’s] administration does not experience the financial pressures that civilian counterparts face, and can focus on quality issues” (Ludvigsen & Carroll, 2003, p. 7). Additionally, Naval Hospital Pensacola relies on the concept of one-stop shopping for enrollee health care needs as a marketing strength.

However, the SWOT analysis detailed within Ludvigsen and Carroll’s (2003) marketing plan admits that the naval hospital suffers access of care issues as a main vulnerability. This, coupled with a broken promise image, allows three other area hospitals to fulfill this marketing void. “Effectively competing requires improving quality of care, creating access, improving facilities, providing amenities, and promoting these accomplishments” (p. 9). Examples of Federal legislation are provided to show the marketing disadvantages of military treatment facilities.


The primary objective of the marketing plan (Ludvigsen & Carrol, 2003) is to increase enrollment by 5,000 Tricare Prime recipients, mainly within the internal medicine, family practice, and pediatric clinics. In order to be viewed as successful, the minimum additional enrollment must be 2,000 over the next two years, again targeting 5,000 additional enrollees.


The marketing plan (Ludvigsen & Carroll, 2003) of Naval Hospital Pensacola utilizes a combination of three models in order to focus the hospital efforts. The first model is the traditional marketing mix model detailed by four components: product, placement, pricing, and promotion. The second model, based on the hospital’s own consumer marketing studies, include four components, “the Four C’s” (p. 21): competence, convenience, communication, and compassion. The final model, based on the Institute of Medicine’s (2001) health care improvement aims and objectives, includes safety, efficacy, patient-centricity, timeliness, efficiency, and equity.

Using a matrix to match the qualities of each of the three models, criteria were developed to further synthesize the goals of the hospital, its marketing theory, and the expectations of the targeted health care consumers. Representation of this combined modeling, however, starts to confound the reader by unnecessary references to concepts of quantum physics. The model is concisely represented by three dimensional representation with patient-focus in the middle of a pyramid formed between product, access, efficiency, and promotion.


Being a military treatment facility and being highly governed by Federal legislation, Naval Hospital Pensacola is not a typical health care organization. In order to market improved or underutilized services, the hospital requires a novel approach, which is outlined within the marketing plan of Ludvigsen and Carroll (2003).

Naval Hospital Pensacola does well to focus, first, on the strengths and weaknesses identified by internal and external analyses, then, developing a plan that exploits the strengths to develop a means of overcoming the identified weaknesses. By focusing on industry-accepted aims and objectives, Naval Hospital Pensacola demonstrates improvement in measurable areas to attract additional enrollment. It is important to note, however, that, being a military treatment facility, the hospital enjoys a rare advantage of being able to pass rules mandating enrollment of certain beneficiaries within the prescribed catchment area.

The plan is an effective means of overcoming certain identified obstacles. It is realistic, allowing for fail-soft situations (or, minimal standard improvement), and comprehensive plan that addresses a true marketing need for both the hospital and the target health care consumer.


Institute of Medicine. (2001). Crossing the quality chasm: a new health system for the 21st century. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Ludvigsen, S. M. & Carroll, W. D. (2003). Naval Hospital Pensacola marketing plan. Retrieved from http://www.tricare.mil/familycare/downloads/marketing_plan.pdf

Strategic Planning: Strategies & Tactics

Seattle Children’s Hospital (2011, n.d.) was the first pediatric specialty care hospital founded west of the Mississippi River. Seattle Children’s Hospital, supported by the philanthropic efforts of the community, performs at the cutting-edge of pediatric medicine and research. With nearly 60 pediatric specialties and award-winning research faculty, Seattle Children’s Hospital presents expertise in the field of pediatric medicine.


Seattle Children’s Hospital (n.d.) is a pediatric specialty care center associated with the University of Washington to provide medical and surgical residents with the hands-on practical experience and education needed to succeed in the medical profession.

The hospital (Seattle Children’s Hospital, n.d.) has many specialized programs, or sub-specialties, within its pediatric specialty, including urgent and emergency care, oncology and hematology, craniofacial, orthopedic and sports medicine, a heart and transplant center, neonatology, neurosurgery, and general and thoracic surgery.

Seattle Children’s Hospital (n.d.) also boasts an award-winning research facility dedicated to treating and eliminating pediatric disease.

Strategic Planning

The strategic plan of Seattle Children’s Hospital (2011) focuses on the hospital’s vision and four specific goals:

  1. provide the safest, most effective care possible,

  2. control and reduce the cost of providing care,

  3. find cures and educate clinicians and researchers, and

  4. grow responsibly and provide access to every child who needs us (p. 2).

In order to succeed in reaching these goals, the hospital’s plan must have directives that outline the strategies and tactics useful in attaining the goals.


Strategy is the broad means directed towards attaining strategic goals. As Seattle Children’s Hospital’s (2011) strategic plan demonstrates, in order to achieve the means of providing the safest, most effective care possible, “[the hospital] will standardize our care processes and strengthen our systems to prevent and respond rapidly to medical errors” (p. 5). This strategy is broadly stated, provides direction, and acknowledges that failures may still occur, which allows for the provision of a secondary, or backup, strategy for response to these failures.


Tactics are the individual steps made within a strategy towards attaining a specific goal. Tactics should be moral, safe, efficient and effective towards the strategic goals. For instance, the strategy of “[standardizing] our care processes and [strengthening] our systems to prevent and respond rapidly to medical errors” (Seattle Children’s Hospital, 2011, p. 5) is well-stated, yet broad. In order to employ this strategy, tactics must be employed that are specific to meeting the described goal. In this case, Seattle Children’s Hospital (2011) has identified that “[completing] the transition to an electronic medical record system” (p. 5) is a specific means that can be used to help fulfill this particular strategy and meet the described goal.

Another tactic not presented in Seattle Children’s Hospital’s (2011) strategic plan but helpful in attaining the goal of improved patient safety and drawn from the strategy of “[standardizing] … care processes and [strengthening] … systems” (p. 5) would be the formation of an anonymous, voluntary self-reporting system in which a nurse or physician submits a card detailing a medical or surgical error in the spirit of identifying processes and systems in need of improvement.


Strategic plans are guided by strategic goals, and strategic goals can have many strategies that are employed and useful in meeting the stated goals. It is also true that a plethora of tactics can be employed for each strategy.

Strategic plans are often based on lofty, yet attainable, goals. In order to meet these goals, one must only ask a simple question: How? With each broad answer, a continuous and recursive series of How? can be used to work the strategy into a number of manageable tactics to use to reach that lofty goal.


Seattle Children’s Hospital. (2011). Shaping the future of pediatric healthcare: Strategic plan 2012 to 2016. Retrieved from http://www.seattlechildrens.org/pdf/strategic-plan-2012-2016.pdf

Seattle Children’s Hospital. (n.d.). About Seattle Children’s. Retrieved from http://www.seattlechildrens.org/about/

Leadership: Determining the Best Approach

 The true value of leadership is empowerment, or the ability to promote those traits through the chain of command for subordinates to use to effectively make decisions that are in the spirit of the vision of the leader (Buchbinder, Shanks, & McConnell, 2012; Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1991; Wieck, Prydun, & Walsh, 2002). When leaders make decisions, the focus is not on the myopic view of the here and now but reflects the nature of ethics and vision promoting the endeavor (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1991).

Buchbinder, Shanks, and McConnell (2012), discuss various strategies and attitudes employed to both lead and manage the health care workforce. Though each of the styles presented are effectively used in certain scenarios, many managers and ineffective leaders misuse these styles due to misplaced attitudes, trust, and motives. These styles are authoritarian, bureaucratic, participative, theory Z, laissez-faire, and situational. The authoritarian and bureaucratic styles are closely related as dictatorial and at risk for involving micromanagement; however, authoritarians tend to be motivated by their responsibilities, whereas bureaucrats tend to disregard their responsibilities. The participative and theory Z styles are more democratic and egalitarian describing the usefulness of a majority opinion or consensus before moving forward. Though these styles could result in indecision, they are best implemented when a leader has ultimate decision-making capabilities and relies on his or her subordinates for input. Laissez-faire leadership is typically characterized as the hands off approach. Laissez-faire leadership, when used correctly, relies on the specialized training or focused scope of the work of the subordinates and lends guidance only when necessary. Laissez-faire leadership, however, can provide refuge for a lazy manager. Situational leadership is the use of all or some of the styles described above depending on the specific circumstances of a given situation. For instance, providing guidance to a new employee might benefit from an authoritarian approach; however, deciding on the best approach to implementing a new process might benefit from a participative style of leadership.

In the emergency medical services, a move has been made over the last decade to separate from the authoritarian leadership of the fire service. In my opinion (due to the gross lack of research within both the fire and emergency medical services), the attitudes of the fire service leadership do not correspond well with the manner in which paramedics wish to be led. As paramedics are formally educated and expected to perform as skilled clinicians in the field, they tend to operate independently and view their supervisors more as a resource tool than as tactical or clinical decision-makers. Combination departments, or those that operate both fire and emergency medical services, would do well with developing situational leadership skills to guide both operations (Mujtaba & Sungkhawan, 2009). Though paramedics may utilize an authoritarian style of leadership during an emergency call (and, do well to follow such styles in these environments), during normal day-to-day operations, paramedics respond much better towards a laissez-faire, or indirect, style of leadership that allows for independent critical thinking (Buchbinder, Shanks, & McConnell, 2012; Freshman & Rubino, 2002). For example, during a call, I expect that when I direct my crew to perform a certain task that it is completed immediately; however, between calls when I might say that in a particular scenario a certain intervention is necessary, I expect some discussion to aid in the learning of my crews and to help develop and hone their critical thinking skills.

True leadership has its own rewards, primarily, empowering those who follow to synthesize the traits of their leaders and evolve into leaders, themselves. This, in addition to watching your own visions take root and flourish.


Buchbinder, S. B., Shanks, N. H., & McConnell, C. R. (2012). Introduction to healthcare management (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Freshman, B. & Rubino, L. (2002). Emotional intelligence: a core competency for health care administrators. Health Care Manager, 20(4), 1-9. Retrieved from http://ezp.waldenulibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mnh&AN=12083173&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Kirkpatrick, S. A. & Locke, E. A. (1991). Leadership: Do traits matter? Academy of Management Executive, 5(2), 48-60. doi:10.5465/AME.1991.4274679

Mujtaba, B. G. & Sungkhawan, J. (2009). Situational leadership and diversity management coaching skills. Journal of Diversity Management, 4(1), 1-55. Retrieved from http://journals.cluteonline.com/

Wieck, K. L., Prydun, M., & Walsh, T. (2002). What the emerging workforce wants in its leaders. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 34(3), 283-288. doi:10.1111/j.1547-5069.2002.00283.x