Date Approved

6-30-1999

Embargo Period

7-21-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. in Public Relations

Department

Public Relations & Advertising

College

College of Communication & Creative Arts

First Advisor

Bagin, Donald R.

Subject(s)

Electronic mail messages; Public relations

Disciplines

Public Relations and Advertising

Abstract

This study determined that many, perhaps most, public relations executives do not consider real or potential clashes between employers and employees over the use of organization E-mail systems for personal communication to be their concern.

The drafting of organization E-mail policy and its communication to employees seem to be the primary concerns of management information systems (MIS), human resources executives and legal counsel. When such policies result in misunderstanding and discontent among employees, human resources executives are more likely than public relations executives to seek solutions. Both public relations and human resources executives addressed the thesis question through a focus panel, two surveys, and personal interviews.

This study also revealed that at least half of organizations in America still lack a written E-mail policy. This is true despite rulings in cases brought by disgruntled employees in which the court told employers they should advise their employees in writing that the organization owns the E-mail system and employees are not permitted to use the system to send and receive personal correspondence.

Based on the findings of this study, further study is recommended to determine if public relations executives have relinquished some responsibilities for internal communication. This study also recommends further examination of this question: Should public relations executives be more concerned than they apparently are about potential threats to good employer-employee relations posed by trends in business practices and advances in technology?

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