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NMSU professor finds 'accountability' most important to public relations

Accountability is becoming more and more crucial in the modern public relations environment that has become a pressure-cooker for its practitioners, according to a national survey conducted by a New Mexico State University journalism professor.

"PR professionals must have the vision, courage, and character to lead themselves, their organizations, and their professions into the 21st century," writes J. Sean McCleneghan, in "PR Practitioners and 'Issues' in the Early Millennium," published in the most recent edition of Public Relations Quarterly.

McCleneghan surveyed 118 PR practitioners asking them to rank nine "millennium" issues impacting today's public relations practices. He found 'accountability' was ranked most important to the practitioners.

"It is the responsibility of public relations practitioners everywhere to help business and non profits ensure 'accountability' on all levels," said Beth Charlton, communications director for the Fine Arts Fund in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Others agreed with Charlton.

"Public relations professionals will be challenged in 2005 and beyond," said Paul Maccabee, president of Maccabee Group Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., "to pick and choose which companies/organizations to represent on the basis of corporate morality and values."

McCleneghan also found technology to be highly ranked among PR practitioners.

"'Technology' is No. 1 because information changes daily and PR pros need to be on top of all changes at all times," said Kimberly Maxwell, president and CEO of NetPR, Inc., in Freeport, Fla.

Some practitioners ranked "accountability" and "corporate responsibility" together.

"You can't have one without the other," said Wilma Matthews, director of public affairs for Arizona State University. "As corporations continue to expand globally, their ability to do business in other countries will be judged by how well they conduct their business in their home economy."

McCleneghan has taught at NMSU since 1982, and served as department head until 1994. In 2004 he earned the William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award from the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. He was awarded the 2004 Star Communicator Award from the El Paso, Texas, Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, or PRSA.