As my internship continues, I’ve been able to observe how my superiors in my department emphasize building and maintaining close client relationships. Having a strong network of these relationships with clients as well as competitors and media contacts is essential for effective PR work. This practice corresponds with many psychological theories we studied throughout the semester, many of which focused on how leaders identify with and exemplify the ideals of the group. One such theory which is particularly applicable to my experience so far in public relations is the concept of idiosyncrasy credit based on research from Dr. Edwin Hollander. This theory contends that leaders have a certain “reserve” of credit among their followers that is built up by behavior that displays conformity to group norms and competence in their field. This credit can later be spent as the leader introduces and implements changes to those group norms: “…This yields the prospect that early signs of competence and conformity will permit later nonconformity, in the form of innovations, to be better tolerated.” In the world of public relations, I believe the conformity aspect of building idiosyncrasy credit is essential for convincing clients to try new strategies for increasing publicity. For account supervisors at Sharp, most of the conversations they have with clients on a daily basis begin primarily with reassurances to that client— updates and affirmations that their vision and goals are being accurately represented, and that the team at Sharp is actively working to secure opportunities to spread the word about their product or service, even when those results are not immediately apparent. Based on the conceptual understandings of idiosyncrasy credit and and observations of client interactions over the past three weeks, PR executives like my boss Jaimie need to have three things in order to “cash in” their idiosyncrasy credit”: a personal relationship based on positive social interaction and proven identification with a common group, a proven understanding of the groups (i.e. the clients) vision and goals for their company, and Sharp executives proven capabilities. Once these three things have been established, my supervisor can convince their often stubborn clients to allow them to try new and innovative ways to increase publicity around their work.
- Professionalism Equals Legitimacy
- Intern-Style Leadership