Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Research)


Cork Institute of Technology

First Advisor

Emmet Coffey


This study aims to explore the role and positioning of public relations (PR) in non-profit organisations (NPO’s). Two case studies are explored namely the Mercy Hospital Foundation and the Cork Simon Community. The lack of research in the area along with the belief that NPOs rely on PR more than any other industry prompted the research idea for this study.

The literature review deals with the need for PR to be accepted as a management function with many leading theorists agreeing on the matter. According to Grunig (1992), the organisational effectiveness theories provide organisations with the formula to make their organisation successful. This study found that elements of the organisational theories had a direct link with the PR function through communication, strategic management planning, crisis management and goal evaluation.

The research methodology was conducted through mainly qualitative research. The main research method for this study is two case studies in an attempt to explore depth rather than breadth. In order to maximise the research potential, sub research methods were utilised. Observation, documentation and record analysis along with interviews were used to gather data.

The study found that neither organisation had a designed PR department yet relied heavily on the PR function. PR tasks were delegated between management and staff members. Despite this, the PR function was part of senior management and held in high regard by all interviewees.

As a result of the findings, this study recommends a qualified and experienced PR professional is hired to maximise the PR function and allow other staff members concentrate on their own tasks. While the study explores NPOs it is intended to add to the body of PR knowledge across all sectors.

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