Public Relations in the Public Sector. The Role of Strategic Communication in the Italian Public Administration

Purpose of the paper: The aim of this study is to examine the level of strategic management of public administrations and information and communication programs by public communication officers in Italy.

Methodology: The study is quantitative in nature. It was constructed according to the findings of the Excellence Project in Public Relations and thus applies a research instrument similar to that used in other international scholarly investigations in public relations. The population comprises civil servants working in information and communication activities for Italian public administrations.

Findings: The majority of public communication officers in the Italian public administration are not involved in the strategic management of public administrations but rather contribute to operational activities. They report directly to the senior manager of their department/unit and they use a mixed model of public relations.

Research limitations: Due to a lack of information on the exact number of public communication officers working in the Italian public administration and a too small number of respondents in one of the respondent groups, it is not possible to draw inferences or general conclusions from the findings. The study also suffers from the limits of a quantitative research approach, which provides less elaborate accounts of public communication officers perceptions of the strategic role of communication in the public sector.

Originality/value of paper: This study contributes to the existing knowledge on strategic public relations and public communication by offering a specific analysis of the strategic management of information and communication programs in the Italian public administration.

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