Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Walker, Albert, 1920-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Journalism


Trade associations; Professional associations; Public relations


Public relations practice as it applies to trade associations and professional societies is examined in this investigation. Focus is on the volunteer composition of non-profit, membership organizations and its implications for association public relations. Because association management must seek, rather than be able to command, the support of members, association practice is implemented under certain disadvantages that are not known to corporate practitioners. This investigation seeks to substantiate or disprove the assumption that practitioners must operate under low levels of support from members. The study classifies associations into three groups to determine if member- response to public relations appeals differs from type to type, A closed-ended questionnaire was employed to collect data from a systematic sampling of association practitioners. The sampled practitioners were asked to estimate member-response to six typical association public relations activities. The practitioners themselves are evaluated on the basis of their experience with members. This variable is used to determine the internal consistency or distortion that might be present in the sample. Also surveyed is the ability of practitioners to accomplish programs without substantial member-support, and the appeal mechanisms or forms of communication, that practitioners use to solicit support. Findings tend to support the assumption that member-support for an association public relations program will, in most instances, be low. However, some types of programs are successfully executed despite insufficient member-participation. Practitioners, whose response to questions was shown to be influenced somewhat by the length of experience with members, reported some appeal mechanisms were more effective than others in generating member-support. These appeal mechanisms were the more personal forms of communication. Recommendations are made on procedures associations can take to stimulate member-support of association public relations activity and on steps that may be necessary if member passivity persists.


Includes bibliographical references.


iii, 78 pages




Northern Illinois University

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