hypothesis we advance is:
public affairs communications campaigns positively influence media agenda-setting.
McGuire’s (1989) theoretical foundations of campaigns is a communication
persuasion theory adaptable to military public affairs campaigns. It is
well-suited for communication campaigns that must reach large audiences
to change their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. He characterizes two
sets of components as an "input/output" matrix to be manipulated and measured
when planning and evaluating communication campaigns. The list of input
variables provide options to the communications planner when designing
The input components are McGuire’s (1989) independent variables that are
manipulated to achieve certain outputs. The input components are sources,
messages, channels, receivers, and intent. The source variable refers to
the characteristics of the person who presents the message to the public.
Sources can vary in number, demographics, and credibility. Messages may
vary in types of appeals, information presented, organization, and repetition.
The channel variable refers to the mass medium through which the message
is transmitted to the public. It can also refer to delivery style and context.
Receivers are the target audience. Like sources, receivers can vary in
number, demographics, and lifestyles. The campaign’s intent reflects the
beliefs, attitudes, and/or behaviors the planner desires to change and
is the goal of the communications campaign (McGuire, 1989).
McGuire’s (1989) model identifies twelve output variables that are measured
by examining the reactions of the public to the sources, messages, channels,
receivers, and intent. The output variables are endpoints in a communication
campaign and can be used to determine the campaign’s level of success.
Exposure, attention, liking and comprehending the message are fundamental
to a communications campaign. They refer to getting the messages out to
a wide audience, with clarity, appeal and, understanding.
Acquiring skills, changing attitudes, remembering, and retrieving information
are the basis for long-term changes in beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.
Deciding to act, behavior change, reinforcing a decision are the long-term
changes communications campaigns often seek. Consolidating the results
is essential to any communication campaign. Only through evaluating results
can a campaign planner determine the success of the communications campaign
McGuire’s (1989) campaigning theory is similar to the Department of Defense
(DOD) Instruction governing public affairs guidance (PAG) (5405.3, 1991).
PAG is a process by which military public affairs develops a coordinated
response to a command issue that may generate public interest. This ensures
that spokespersons speak with a single voice. The PAG template is flexible
such that it can be used at any command level from small units and installations
to DOD level issues.
Like McGuire’s (1989) inputs, PAG identifies whom the spokesperson(s) is/are,
it outlines the themes and messages, with potential questions and answers,
that will be communicated and to whom they will be targeted (5405.3, 1991).
PAG identifies the approach to media coverage similar to McGuire’s (1989)
channels. An active approach involves efforts to stimulate media and public
interest including inviting them to the activity. A passive approach involves
no efforts to generate public and media interest beyond responding to inquiry.
The approach will often dictate the intent of the communications plan.