Identifying the Client’s Culture Public Relations Campaigns School of Communication Studies James Madison University Dr. Michael Smilowitz
Why identify the client’s culture? • THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE: The more we know about the client, the better our communication for that client. • For our purposes, let culture refer to: The subjective understandings shared by members of the client’s organization regarding their organization’s structures, functions, and evolution.
Deal and Kennedy’s Four Types of Cultures • “Tough-guy/macho” culture. • “Bet your company” culture. • “Work hard/Play hard” culture. • “Process” culture.
Tough-guy/macho culture. • Defining characteristics: • Competitive, individualistic employees that look to perform high risks, and expect immediate feedback about the correctness of their actions. • Although part of a group, folks work individually, looking to fight their own battles, but will occasionally provide assistance to one another. • High risk actions are considered necessary – and so are really harsh outcomes if someone “screws-up.”
Tough-guy/macho culture. • Often found in organizations of investment bankers, traders, or engineering firms with the “tough guy” attitudes about getting things done. • Things heard in “tough-guy/macho cultures”: • “Around here, we shoot from the hip.” • “Let’s hit ‘em, and hit ‘em hard. • “Don’t think about it ... just do it.”
Bet your company culture. • Defining characteristics: • A high risk attitude, but decisions are to made slowly. • Risks are taken only by the highest levels of the organization, and only in areas of major strategies and policies. • Lower levels of the organization are to keep things “stable” and safe ...until told to change.
Bet your company culture. • Classic examples are drug companies and American automobile manufacturers. • Things heard in “Bet your company” cultures: • “Go slow – but go big.” • “We might do that ... but not till we’ve had lots of meetings to get everyone on-board.” • “Expect big payoffs if you got all the right facts.”
Work hard/play hard culture. • Defining characteristics: • Lots and lots of low risk activity to result in lots and lots of small gains. • Work lives and social lives are merged. • Everyone is expected to be a team player, to not cause waves, or make things difficult for friends. • Every event has strong political overtones because everyone is so connected.
Work hard/play hard culture. • Classic examples are marketing systems such as AMWAY. • Lots of meetings/conventions. • Almost mandatory attendance at each other’s weddings, birthdays, confirmations, divorce celebrations. • Competing to win trips to convention spots to bask in the sun with other distributors • Success in life comes from living the Amway way ... constantly, all the time, in every facet of life!
Work hard/play hard culture. • Things heard in “Work hard/play hard cultures”: • We have lots of fun working here. • We don’t every want to make it hard for our friends. • It’s not a job ... its an adventure!
The “Process Culture” • Defining characteristics: • Consistent pursuit of low risk, small gains. • Survival is the most important objective. • Bureaucratic structure and function. • Lots of signs of formal rank and tangible symbols of status. • Lots of policy and procedure manuals.
The “Process Culture” • Classic examples:
The “Process Culture” • Classic examples: • Major Frank Burns from MASH • Banking/Insurance Companies • Government agencies • Capital intensive industries
The “Process Culture” • Things heard in a “process culture”: • Don’t rock the boat ....ever. • If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. • That’s a nice idea, but its not how we do things around here. • You do a good job for the next twenty years, and you too can have your own name plate.
Paconowsky and Trujillo’s Cultural Indicators • Facts The social knowledge of the organization. What people say to one another about what the organization is...what it stands for...what are its beliefs. • Practices The manner by which things are done. The norms for who does what, when, where, and how. Who talks to who ... about what? Who can initiate conversations? Terminate?
Paconowsky and Trujillo’s Cultural Indicators • 3. Vocabulary • The specialized language used by members. The JARGON. • 4. Metaphors • The organization is like a machine .. • The sports metaphor .. All team players ... need a real go getter ... grab that ball and run. • The family metaphor ... Supportive, relaxed ... but parents are always right.
Paconowsky and Trujillo’s Cultural Indicators • 5. Legends • The stories, myths people tell about the heroes of their organization. • 6. Rites and Rituals • The customs, pleasantries, and ceremonies that mark important organizational events.