The rope model of public relations

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Public Relations is a process to establish and maintain mutual understanding and good will between an organization and its publics; and is a method for solving potential problems that can be faced on the way.
Rope model of PR is a formulation which involves initial research, the setting of the objectives, programming and the evaluation.
The phases of the model can be modified by the demands of different audiences or publics.
The research phase of the process involves identifying and learning about three key elements (1) the client (2) the problem or potantial problem to be solved, (3) audiences or publics.
The objectives phase involves the setting of the objectives for a program. The objectives can be the influence the client exerts with the audiences: such as informing them, or modifying their attitudes or behaviors.
The third phase consists of designing the program to accomplish the objectives. The program comprises a central theme, messages and various forms of the communication aimed at reaching the audiences.
The final phase involves the follow-up evaluation of the program. Evaluation examines the practitioner’s degree of success in achieving them.
Now we will have a detailed look at each of the elements in this process.

Rope model of PR is a formulation which involves initial Research, the setting of the Objectives, Programming and the Evaluation.
The phases of the model can be modified by the demands of different audiences or publics.
Research  identifying and learning about three key elements

(1) the client

(2) the problem or potantial problem to be solved,

(3) audiences or publics.

Objectives  setting of the objectives for a program.

  1. informing the audience

  2. modifying their attitudes

  3. modifying their behaviors.

Program  to accomplish the objectives.

a central theme,


various forms of the communication
Evaluation  examines the practitioner’s degree of success in achieving objectivess.

Research consists of investigating three aspects of the PR procedure.

1) The client  for whom the program is being prepared.

2) The opportunity or the problem  why does the client need the program at this moment

3) The audiences  who are targeted for communication in the PR program.

Public relations practitioners must be thorougly familiar with their clients. So the starting point of any program should be about the back ground data of the client- its financial status, reputation, past and present public relations practices, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.
If the client is a business organization  the practitioner must be familiar with its products and services. Interviews with key management personnel and documents such as annual and quarterly reports can provide this information. The location of the organization, whether in a single city or in multiple branches, the delivery system for the products or services, the organization’s major suppliers are all necessary to understand the client.
If the client is a nonprofit organization  the practitioner must become familiar with the services and the audiences of the organization, including major donors.
Other important background information includes - the precise mission of the organization -- its management’s goals, priorities and problems -- its total workforce, its financial status.
Finally the practitioner needs to raise questions that directly relate to public relations: - what is the client’s reputation – what image liabilities or assets does the organization possess? – what are its PR strengths, that is practices or programs that would enhance its public image? – sf. 9
Thus, the first requisite for effective research in the public relations process ,s an indepth understanding of the client for whom the program is being prepared.


The second aspect of research consists of clearly why the organization should conduct a particular PR program at a particular time (now):

  • Is it because of a unique opportunity to favorably influence public opinion or behavior toward the client? or

  • Is it in response to the development of unfavorable opinion or behavior toward the client? (problem!!!)

Public relations programs that arise out of opportunities are called PROACTIVE programs.

Programs that are needed to respond a problem are called REACTIVE programs.
When a fire breaks out, we must call the fire department. Public Relations practitioner must be ready to extinguish “fires” but they should also be skilled in “fire prevention”.
Thus, the investigation of why a public relations program is necessary. Through the investigation we can find out if the program should be a proactive one, or a reactive one.
The third aspect of research involves the investigation of target audience or “publics”. This part of the research includes identifying the particular groups that should be targeted.
AUDIENCE all organizations should have long-term or sometimes short-term relations or communications with certain “standart” publics. There are publics of principal concern to most organizations such as the media, internaş employees or members, the organization’s home community, and the national or local governments. Besides these, for example, a business that provides a product or a service is concerned with consumers as an important public. A nonprofit organization may target its donors.
To address publics most effectively each one should be segmented into its diverse components, so that each segment can become a seperate public to send special messages.
DESIRED DATA Once target audience is segmented into their key components, the practitioner is ready to collect data for each public. The practitioner needs to know:

  • each targeted public’s level of information about the organization,

  • the image and other relevant attitudes held about the organization and its products and services,

  • the past and present audience behaviors relevant to the client or organization.

Objectives are the single most important element in this model. They represent the practitioners desired outcomes in communicating with the targeted publics.
Later on we will discuss the types of objectives used in public relations, but first we will see the methods to formulate such objectives.
 Objectives should be stated in the form of infinitive phrases.

Each one should be specific and measurable.

to publicize special event X

to stimulate attendance at special event X.
These objectives can be combined, but this compound phrasing would complicate the measurement.
Some PR directors prefer that each objective be seperately measurable, usually in quantitative terms such as :
to publicize special event X through the local daily newspaper during the month October.

to stimulate attendance of at least 1,500 persons at special event X, on May 15.
 Two basic types of objectives are used in public relations programs: 1) impact objectives 2) output objectives

Below is the hierarchy of these objectives in ascending order of importance.

Impact Objectives

  • Informational Objectives

* Message Exposure

* Message Comrehension

* Message Retention

  • Attitudinal Objectives

* Attitude Creation

* Attitude Reinforcement

* Attitude Change

  • Behavioral Objectives

* Behavior creation

* Behavior Reinforcement

* Behavior Change

Output Objectives

OUTPUT OBJECTIVES, the lower category represent the work to be produced, such as distribution or execution of the program materials. Such objectives can easily be made specific and quantitative.

  • to publicize special event X through the local daily newspaper during the month October.

These objectives can be easily measured by counting the number of news releases sent to the media. Some practitioners use only output objectives in their programs and thus, have the advantage of seting definite, specific and attainable goals, which can be measured quantitatively. Once these goals have been met, the practitioner can claim success.

Unfortunately, output objectives are unrelated to the influnces of the program on the audience.
IMPACT OBJECTIVES There are 3 kinds of impact objectives: informational, attitudional, and behavioral. These are called impact objectives because they represent specific intended effects of PR programs on their audiences.

  • Informational Objectives include message exposure to, message comprehension by, or message retention by the target audience.

    Two examples of informational objectives are:

    to increase awareness of the company’s new plant by (15 percent) among all segments of the community (during May).

  • Attitudional Objectives aim at modifying the way an audience feels about the client or organization and its works, products, or services. Attitude modification may consist of forming new attitudes where none exists, reinforcing existing attitudes, or changing existing attitudes.
    to promote favorable attitudes toward the company’s new retirement policy (among 80 percent of current employees during 1988)

It is rather easier to create or reinforce the attitudes, than changing them. The reversal of the attitudes is the most difficult of all tasks in public relations.

  • Behavioral Objectives involve the modification of behaviors toward the client. Like attitude modification, behavior modification can consist of the creation or stimulation of new behavior, the enhancement of existing favorable behavior or the reversal of negative behavior of the audience.
    to persuade 60 percent of people overthe age of 50 to regularly take a cancer test.

Objectives result from and are shaped by the findings revealed in the research phase.
In ROPE model of PR, objectives precede and govern programing decisions. The degree of the influence of these objectives depends on the design of the programming.

Includes :

  1. statement of the theme, if applicable, and messages to be communicated to the audiences.

  2. action or special event(s) sponsored by the client

  3. use of the media, either uncontrolled or the controlled

  4. principles of effective communication


The first element of a program, its theme and messages, should frame the program’s entire scope and must be carefully planned in conjunction with the action or special event central to the program.
The program should be catchy and memorable. The best themes are in the form of short slogans consisting of no more than 5 words. Not all programs require themes or slogans, but a brief creative theme can become the mostmemorable part of the entire PR effort.


In any program, a central action or a special event has to be sponsored by the client. The client’s actions or events are usually the focal point of the theme and messages. Some PR programs do not realize actions and concentrate only on theme and messages. But, it is highly recommended to be action oriented in programs. A central action or event can make most programs more newsworthy, interesting and effective.
The two forms of communication used in Public Relations are usually classified as uncontrolled and controlled media.
First one is called uncontrolled media, because the practitioner loses control of the materials. Here, our target audience is the decision making editors of mass media. The objective is “to favorable news coverage of the client’s actions and events”. The standart formats used to communicate client news to the media include news releases, feature stories, captioned photographs, ans news conferences.
As this is the uncontolled media, the editor may choose to use the practitioner’s release or feature story entirely, or partly, or may choose not to use it. Or the editor may choose to send a reporter to write or videotape their own stories ignoring the practitioner’s efforts.
The controlled media is paid by the client. The wording of the material, its format, and its placement in the media are all up to the client.
The final aspect of programming concerns the use of effective communication principles. The factors of source, message, channel, receivers and feedback will bw useful in our examination of communication principles.

1) source credibility 2) message: salient information 3) message: effective nonverbal cues 4) message: effective verbal cues 5) channel and feedback 6) receivers: opinion leaders 7) receivers: group influence 8) receivers: selective exposure 9) feedback : audience participatipation


Evaluation of PR program is realized according to its stated objectives, each of which can be measured by different methods.

  • Evaluating Informational Objectives

Measurement of informational objectives include 3 dimensions:

1)message exposure 2)message comprehension

3) message retention

  • Evaluating Attitudinal Objectives

Attitudes can be measured by well-established survey research instruments, most known of these are Likert Scales. Attitude measurement require both pretesting and posttesting and must be done by competent professionals well-schooled and experienced in quantitative research methods.

  • Evaluating Behavioral Objectives

  1. Target audience can be asked what their behavior have been since exposure to the PR program (requires pretesting and posttesting)

  2. Observations can be done, behavior is simply observed, in some cases can be counted.

    • Evaluating Output Objectives

Involve the distribution of controlled and uncontrolled media.

Evaluation by

- keeping records of number of news releases sent to publications and broadcaststations, the number of contacts made by journalists, number of speeches given to the targer audience, the number of meetings held with key audiences.

The evaluative data are recycled as a part of a continuing procedure. Data helps practitioner in adjusting ongoingrelations with various audiences.

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