Public meetings and communication excellence: Exploring the intersection of public affairs and public involvement
Patterson, Michael Aaron
Toth, Elizabeth L.
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This study explores how public meetings are currently used by government agencies and examines the meetings' effects on agency-public relationship outcomes (Hon and Grunig, 1999). The data consisted of 20 in-depth telephone interviews with public affairs practitioners in government agencies. The results suggest that practitioners perceive a fundamental incongruence in public affairs and public involvement efforts which extends to their frequent non-involvement in public meetings. The data suggests that this relates to contending responsibilities to both specific and general audiences. The discussion seeks to link these perceptions of publics and communication responsibilities to the relevant contextual factors of the public sector in order to examine theoretical prescriptions. The relevant theory suggests that the segregation of public affairs and the vehicles for public engagement limits the informational value of public input and relegates agency-public relationships to the role of process measures rather than communication goals.