Espacios. Vol. 37 (Nº 19) Año 2016. Pág. 2

Strategy Model Service: a tool for press agent

Estrategia del Servicio Modelo: una herramienta para el agente de prensa

Kleber Cavalcanti NÓBREGA 1; Cintia do Reis BARRETO 2; Manoel Pereira da ROCHA NETO 3; Klevelando Augusto Silva dos SANTOS 4

Recibido: 04/03/16 • Aprobado: 14/04/2016



1. Fundaments

2. Conceptual model

3. Methodology

4. Results and discussion

5. Final considerations



This paper investigates to what extent press agents establish a service strategy in their operation Research for this article was produced by qualitative approach, since it refers to a content analysis based on an interview script to obtain a description of the messages (Bardin, 1977, Malhotra, 2004, Vergara, 2009, Silva, 2009). The universe of study was journalists working with media relations in Natal/RN/Brazil. The selection was made using, as criteria a non-probability sample for convenience (Mattar, 2005).The results indicate that these professionals do not usually define a service strategy, do not detail the services to be provided, and do not link services offer to a proactive strategy.
Keywords: Service strategy. Communication professional. Press Agent


En este trabajo se investiga en qué medida los agentes de prensa establecen una estrategia de servicio en sus investigaciones . Este artículo fue producido con un enfoque cualitativo, ya que se refiere a un análisis de contenido basado en un guión de entrevista para obtener la descripción de los mensajes (Bardin, 1977 Malhotra 2004, Vergara, 2009 Silva, 2009). El universo de estudio fue de periodistas que trabajan con relaciones con los medios en Natal / RN / Brasil. La selección se realizó mediante los criterios de muestra no probabilística por conveniencia (Mattar, 2005). Los resultados indican que estos profesionales no suelen definir la estrategia de servicio, no detallan los servicios a realizar, y no se enlaza a la oferta de servicios una estrategia proactiva.
Palabras clave: estrategia de servicio. Profesional de la comunicación. Agente de prensa


With more demanding clients and a more competitive market, managers have changed the way they drive some of the processes within organisations, especially those related to services. The changes that have been occurring have caused organisations to start working with service strategies focussed on the client's differential advantage delivering benefits and value with the goal to fulfil the unmet needs of clients (Barbosa, 2008, Grönroos, 2009, Nóbrega, 2013, Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons 2010). For this reason there is a need to establish a service strategy for each sector, whether industrial, commercial or service, to drive more dynamically the management and operation of the services being provided to the client (Nóbrega, 2013).

In the area of services, we encounter the activity of communications that has been changing over time in line with the dynamic processes of the market and the service sector. So that today's Media Relations, one of the activities of communications, is contained within the context of organisational communication (Duarte, 2013). That means, the work done by the Press Office is considered by Sartor (2011) as strategic because it adapts the journalistic structure to the processes and actions of organisational communication, once it has the specialist knowledge to promote and maintain a relationship with the media. Albuquerque, Costa and Sousa (2010) affirm that the use of the tools of the Press Office, sending press releases that pitch story lines, to organising lectures, website, video and the institutional publication are strategic actions. Sartor (2011) also emphasises that the Press Office has the strategic responsibility for the creation and the maintenance of the client's image. Kunsch (2003) reports that communications starts to consider, to structure and apply a strategic approach in their activities with the use of tools which focus to meet the client's objectives. The role of the press agent becomes key in the process of communication of the organisation and society, once these professionals realise through their work that theyshould be a facilitator in the strategic dissemination of news, considering Media Relations within a broader context aligned with organisational strategies (Ferraretto and Ferraretto 2009).

It is assumed that if the press agent develops a service strategy and works in accordance with it they will provide consistent improvement to the client image in addition to helping them whether a company or organisation, to provide it's end consumer agile communication when using the various tools of the press office. In doing so they follow the reasoning of Lovelok and Wright (2001, p. 187) who affirm that the service strategy is the "raison d'être"of the company whose goal it is to provide value to their clients and achieving service excellence with something irresistible. This vision of excellence can give direction to press agents to show how future organisational communication should be followed.

However, there is an issue related to the formulation and execution of a service strategy, as press agents may not always be aware of the thinking behind it as it is subject restricted within the organisational area. Literature about the role of the Media Relations professional deals with it as an area related to journalism and not management (Sartor, 2011, Albuquerque, Costa and Sousa 2010). This paper aims to analyse whether the press agents think and act from a service strategy. For this purpose a service strategy construct has been devised to be used as a guide for interviews with  journalists who are press agents.

1. Fundaments

1.1 Office of communications

The Office of Communications works in a specialised way, where the focus is to coordinate the actions of the client's communication with its diverse publics, establishing strategies that cover three areas: media relations, coordinated by a journalist; public relations and publicity and propaganda (Koplin and Ferraretto 2000). According to Ferraretto and Koplin (2000), the journalist takes care of journalistic information, the public relations takes care of the corporate image, the publicist takes care of marketing of the services and organisational products. Together the three areas form the tripod of the Office of Social Communications. According to the National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ) (2007), the role of communications officer, is usually the responsibility of a journalist who had their press agent powers extended to act as a communications manager, integrating and coordinating other communication professionals.

To Almansa (2010), the Office of Communications should answer to and be overseen by senior management, whose objective is to manage, control and connect all communication activities either internal or external to develop, maintain and / or improve the client image for internal and external publics. Martin (2010) concludes that the functions of the Office of Communications are: to have a relationship with the media, to take care of the corporate image, work with internal communication.

1.2 Media relations

Media Relations, the focus of this article, consists of continuously sending journalistic news of the organisation to the media (Fenaj, 2007). Media relations is a strategic and not just operational entity that enhances the flow of information to the media and facilitates journalists' access to sources within their organisations, providing a direct channel to the media. This activity should build stronger relationships with journalists in the newsrooms. It must also guide their organisations on a new direction "for it to be more open and communicate responsibly with the majority of society - using the media as mediator" (Mafei, 2005, p. 52).

According to Braga and Tuzzo (2011, p. 2), the role of the press agents is to build and maintain the image of their organisation, but it goes beyond this to reach the strategic dimension that is, "to think [...] in the systematisation of knowledge in the field of communication, within the context of human relationships and the use of appropriate instruments for image creation and monitoring". For Cassiano and Smaniotto (2002) the press agent is the link between the client organisation and the press, and this professional must understand the objective for the communication of the company and which media suits best to reach their target audience. It is noted that the role of press agent has changed over time: it is no longer the professional who just sends press release to the media but they have become a mediator and facilitator for the strategic circulation of news (Ferraretto and Ferraretto 2009).

1.3 Services

Services are a sector with specific characteristics whose focus is to add benefits for the customer, producing satisfaction for the money invested to meet their needs and desires, which may or may not be related to a tangible item (Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons 2010, Grönroos, 2009, Kotler and Keller 2006). According to Grönroos (2009), services are more or less intangible activities, produced and consumed simultaneously, with the customer as a co-producer in many of the processes, where the service is abstractly perceived.  Grönroos (2009, p. 47) also states that "the most important feature of services is the nature of their process" because it involves various activities where several resources are used, including people, goods, information, infrastructure, where the biggest part of the characteristics of services are formed from the characteristics of the process itself. That means, as services are activities, they are produced and consumed simultaneously inherently causing the characteristic of inseparability. Grönroos (2009) also points out that services cannot be stored and in most cases does not result in ownership and shows inconsistency in the process, as a given service provided to a customer by an employee will not be the same as provided to a different customer by the same employee, demonstrating the heterogeneity of the service.

So it appears that Media Relations, while an activity directly related to the definitions and characteristics of the service, is considered an activity, a process, a lived experience, which delivers value and benefit to the customer (Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons 2010, Grönroos, 2009, Johnston and Clark 2010, Zeithaml and Bitner 2011, Nóbrega, 2013), and one of the proposals is to deliver value to the client, using various resources including information, people and infrastructure.

1.4 Service strategy

The service strategy is interlinked with the service definition, which is related to the mission and business strategy of the organisation. The first step is to define what should be done, for whom, how and with what resources, always thinking of the benefits offered to the customer, especially the outcome and the technical result (Grönroos, 2009). Nóbrega (2013) states that the proposed service strategy proposes how the company offers services to its clients in order to generate value for the main product of the organisation. To Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons (2010), the focus of the service strategy is to fulfil unmet customer needs.

So it is perceived that companies need to formulate a proposal for services based on the organisation's resources with the strategic intent on the segment in which you want to generate value (Grönroos, 2009, Hoffman et al. 2009, Fitzsmmons and Fitzsmmons 2010, Zeithaml and Bitner 2003). Therefore, the actions and activities of the Press Office are considered strategic when adapting the processes and actions of communication to journalistic structure with the expertise to promote and maintain a continuous flow and long term relationship with the media and society (Sartor, 2011, Bonfadini, 2007).

1.5 Service strategy in the press office

Contacting the newsroom, providing agile journalistic information about the company exclusively for a specific vehicle, pitching story lines are considered specialised and strategic activities for the management of information in organisations (Sartor, 2011). Albuquerque, Costa and Sousa (2010) emphasise that sending press releases to pitch story lines, organising lectures, website, video, and institutional publications are all strategic tools of action used by the press office to build and maintain communication. To Sartor (2011) it is also a strategy of the press office to build the image of the clients, to take care of how it is presented, to be a mentor, a coach and monitor for the spokesperson of the organisation in interactions with journalists and society, and also to provide control, mitigation and crisis management for the image of the organisation in a planned and transparent manner. This is possible because the press office has taken an "active role in the construction and management of the image [...], the press office is not perceived in this light, as merely an executive activity but as a place for the planning and design of projects of an organisation" (Sartor, 2011, p. 75). Then the press office defines the strategies according to journalistic techniques, client's needs and institutional policies "so it balances the realm of journalistic technique, the capacity to manage the organisation's visibility and image, and the ability to relate well" with the media (Sartor, 2011, p. 78).

The press agents are experts in strategically planning communication and are responsible for the client's relationship with the media. The focus is to consolidate the company's image to develop creative projects, implementing actions that demonstrate the differential advantage of the client. For these reasons, the press agent needs to know in depth the client's characteristics, potentials and difficulties for developing actions and projects using the communication in exclusive ways according to the client's profile and the target market they want to communicate to and reach (Di Bella, 2011).

2. Conceptual model

To create the research construct, the model of Nóbrega (2013) was adapted to the activity of Media Relations, completed with some attributes based on studies of the strategies developed by the press office, considering the main authors: Duarte (2010), Sartor (2011), Kunsch (2008), Di Bella (2011), Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, Lampel, (2010), Colnago (2006), Albuquerque, Costa and Sousa (2010), Gonzales (2012) and Marchiori (2008).

The construct of the study follows this reasoning and strategy for the service offered: First, evaluate and verify the positioning, how it is to be presented to clients or how the professional is perceived by the consumer public. Second, identify the client segment in which the client acts, intends to act, or are potential customers. Next identify what services are available or can be offered and if the services are segmented by customer type. The fourth step is to do an environmental SWOT analysis to identify existing opportunities, unfilled gaps, where to improve services and any threats, competitors or external factors that may affect the company negatively, as well as the strengths and weaknesses. The fifth step is to identify the core competencies i.e. what the professional does better without the competition's knowledge and highlighting the differences related to what separates them from direct competition. The next step is to highlight the value of the Services Promise that will be delivered to the customer and the benefit they perceive as delivered by the professional. After everything has been identified a strategic action plan can be drawn up to ultimately identify those most applicable Communication Tools to reach the target audience of the company, whilst highlighting the strengths and difficulties found in the whole process of strategic analysis based primarily on the attributes of Nóbrega (2013) with the support of the attributes found on strategies devised by the press office proposed by Duarte (2010), Sartor (2011), Kunsch (2008), Di Bella (2011), Mintzberg, Ahlstrand and Lampel, (2010)  Colnago (2006), Albuquerque, Costa and Sousa (2010), Gonzales (2012 ) and Marchiori (2008). However, for this article, only the attributes Services, Client Segmentation and Service Promise, which are the initial analysis of this study, were considered.

3. Methodology

Research for this article was produced by qualitative approach, since it refers to a content analysis based on an interview script to obtain a description of the messages (Bardin, 1977, Malhotra, 2004, Vergara, 2009, Silva, 2009). The universe of study was journalists working with media relations in Natal/RN/Brazil. The selection was made using, as criteria a non-probability sample for convenience (Mattar, 2005).

An interview script with 16 open questions concerning the Formulation and 16 open questions related to the Execution phase was produced in accordance with the attributes derived  from the construct. Data from eight journalists working in the area of media relations was collected between August and December 2013 by using an interview script designed and forwarded via email using Google-Docs. After collection of data, the attributes Services, Client Segmentation and Service Promise were studied for this article, as the first analysis. First, a reading of each response was made followed by the creation of a table compiling the codification of the respondents, unit of context related to the attribute study and reports proving the unit of context - answers of respondents as shown in the item results and discussions.

4. Results and discussion

The results presented support the proposed content analysis of Bardin (1977) by the reflections, interpretations and perceptions of the responses obtained in interviews. The first attribute Services - in relation to the formulation of concept - in which the journalist was asked to identify the services that must be offered. It was found that the respondent press agents did not follow a structured line of reasoning to identify the service to be offered according to the Nóbrega (2013) proposal. The author states that identifying the service is important to structure the company's offer and contrast it with that of the competition. By working this way it is possible to see gaps to introduce new services or identify poor services. Furthermore, the author states that the identification of the service helps in the formulation of service strategy.

Table 1 alludes to how press officers identify the services that will be provided to clients. It appears that press officers that come closest to the Nóbrega (2013) proposal are: AI1 and AI8. The first observed the movement of the market to identify the services required and the second observed the gaps. AI3, AI6 AI7 answered in relation to customer demands agreeing with the thinking of Corrêa and Caon (2009), which highlight that professional services seek customised attention to serve customers in a particular way,  meeting their needs and desires. AI2 and AI4 are not shown as identifying the services to be provided but they cited services they do provide and anticipated the answer of the next question, what services are offered.

Table 1 - Report of responses from press agents concerning the Formulation of Services.

Press Agent







"[... studies based on the customer profile [...] "

Movement of the market

"[...] Market movement at the current moment"


Providing information

"The client in question is a public company that is 

accountable to society,  so the main work area aim is to

provide this information, [...]"


Demands, technological innovation

"According to the individual demands of each customer and

technological innovations."


Brand awareness, Media Training, Clipping, Consulting,

Internal and External Communication

"Dissemination of brand information to the press; Media

Training and Clippings, further  communications consulting, 

guidance for better internal and external ommunication of the




"Not sure I understood the question."


Client needs

"Meeting client's needs"


Meeting the clients needs

"[...] The services offered should be very focused on

 meeting the needs of the customer"


Noise in communication, gaps

"[...] Situations that cause or have caused or may cause

miscommunication [...] gaps that can and should be fulfilled."

Source: Primary (2013)

To complement the Formulation, the action was verified, i.e., what services are offered after identifying them. It was noted that the press agents prepare a daily list of their professional activities without detailing the services as suggested by Nóbrega (2013). As an example of this the response of AI2 claims to make a "newsletter". However, before producing the newsletter it is required to identify the story lines, arrange interviews to create the content to go in the newsletter and after that review the text and format the electronic layout. Then, as it is shown by the responses, none of the press agents interviewed responded as suggested by Nóbrega (2013) to detail the services to support the strategy and/or as proposed by Grönroos (2009) specify services in relation to the full service package: core services, enablers and improvement.

For the Client Segmentation attribute, the question was about whether the press agent provides targeted services per market sector. The answers were direct and identified as follows: the press agents AI1, AI4, AI7 and AI8 all said yes, and AI7 expanded the answer stating: "[...] It is interesting that the professional has the ability to offer the service that best fits the client. [...]". Press officer AI8 said: "The field of Media Relations works with a very targeted service [...]". Press Officers AI3 and AI6 said they did not, AI5 said yes, it was provided and AI2 just replied "[...] segmentation in media relation services was applied in isolated cases."

What can be seen with the answers is that the segmentation is done by the services offered and not by the clients as suggested by Nóbrega (2013, p. 73): "[...] who it will serve. [...] is a strategic choice of the organisation to serve a great variety of clients or a smaller group of segments". It means the professional needs to be clear about who the client is, which segment they belong to and how they will target them to offer the best co-related services to facilitate the planning and to meet the real needs of the client.

To complement the attribute of Client Segmentation, the press officers were asked to state how they segment clients. Regarding the services offered, press officers AI2, AI6 and AI8 respectively responded the following: "[...] we segment the development of actions by city or region. [...] segmentation happens when sending press release [...] " (AI2); "According to the services we offer each one" (AI6); "Mainly internal [ ... ] and external [...] " (AI8).

AI1 and AI4 responded on the differentials and the former made reference to the differential of the services offered first when he said: "[...] differentiated services, primarily within the digital media [...]" and the latter in referring to the client differential when it was stated:"The differential is in each type of client."  AI5 reported on different forms of service: "Offering different forms of services whether by the creation and maintenance of specific channels such as websites and newsletters or by specific services for events on particular dates". AI3 made reference only to the organisation of materials per client: "I organise the materials produced for each client in separate folders - physically and virtually". With these findings it is perceived that the press agents do not identify the groups of clients according to their needs and expectations, focussing instead in achieving better results in the daily activities of media relations in the press office (Nóbrega, 2013).

With regard to the attribute Service Promise, firstly it was studied how the press agents identify the benefits offered to the client. It is observed that, only AI2 considers values in reply: "Among other benefits we seek a better image for the company" however, this journalist said what will be delivered not stating how he identifies it and with this anticipates the answer to the following question which was what benefits does the press agent provide to clients. With regard to the identification of Service Promise, the other press agents responded that the identification of the benefits is discovered afterwards when the client provides feedback concerning reports, placement in the media and measurement of results. However, as Nóbrega (2013) highlighted, the value propositions defended by the press agent occur in accordance with each action or activity following the pre-defined service strategy and not after the service is delivered.

Following research on Service Promise, the next question to be dealt with is what benefits the press agent provides clients. It can be seen that most of the answers showed an emphasis on the benefits to be delivered to the client as per Table 2. However, it was not clear if the values to be delivered to the clients were planned in advance, so it means if it was identified what was to be done for the clients and how it should have been delivered to them, establishing in the process what results are really valuable for the client (Nóbrega, 2013, Johnston and Clark 2010). The answers are linked to what the press agents aims to achieve, but unrelated to the service strategies, because they don't follow the assumption stated by Nóbrega (2013, p 60.) that says: "don't provide a service to anyone if it will not provide benefits. The exercise of identifying this benefit is very important to understand, plan and ultimately communicating internally and externally what is the essence of the service we provide".

Table 2 - Report of responses from press agents on the relationship
between the service promise and actual delivery.

Press Agent

Service Promise




Monthly reports, the client's vision, growth of the brand, material collected in clipping, clipping evaluation, Weekly Meetings

"Monthly reports with review of all that was done, the client's vision of your business, the growth of online brand, material collected in clipping, clipping evaluation of positive and negative news, if detected, with suggestions to change with respect to the negative ones. Weekly meetings  to plan and make changes where necessary "


Communication and efficient customer care

"[...] Communication with the public and Customer Care via efficient channels of communication"


Strengthening the image, efficient and effective internal communication

"Strengthening of institutional and professional image, efficient and effective internal communication, [...]"



"[...] Be sure that the exposure of your brand will get successful placements.


Understanding, Dissemination, Approximation

"Greater understanding of how the media works and how it can be better used by the Press office to achieve goals, [...] earch for the best ways to disseminate information of ideas / products / services and how to better reach internal audiences, [...]"


Broader Communications Service

"I provide a full communication service  and not only press office"



     "Recognition by society"



     "Interaction with target audience"

Source: Primary (2013)

The results indicate that the media relations professionals do not usually define the service strategy or detail the services to be provided as part of a proactive strategy. It was noted from the responses of the press agents interviewed that they do not understand the meaning of the attributes so they act differently from the proposed service strategy model, possibly for not having knowledge of management. Press officers who do act in accordance with the theory presented by authors who study media relations, it means, when they speak and act regarding strategy they always connect it to communication tools, image and client's needs with a focus in journalism and don't extend it to the area of management (Albuquerque et al. 2010, Sartor, 2011, Cardoso, 2006, Di Bella, 2011).

5. Final considerations

The purpose of this article was to investigate to what extent the press agents establish a service strategy in their operations as part of a larger study under development. In this article three attributes of the construct were surveyed: Services, Client Segmentation and Service Promise.

The results showed that press agents do not usually devise service strategy, even informally, as proposed in this model. By not establishing a better structured strategy they lose the chance to identify opportunities to introduce new services, or even to improve existing services that can help set them apart from the competition. Also it was observed that these professionals do not offer services in a planned way, linked to a strategy. Service needs are not detailed precisely enough which can lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding for clients. There is a certain understanding that services are the same as a list of activities to be performed, not connected with an articulated strategy.

Another finding is that segmentation is derived from the services and not the clients. By doing so, it appears that, once again, the press officers are concerned about what to offer and not what clients actually need. This finding should allow them to find better correlation of the services that will be offered to facilitate the planning of the actual needs of the client. Still on segmentation the press officers did not identify groups of clients according to their needs and / or expectations. As for the Service Promise, the benefits to the customer are neither clear nor presented in a planned manner. The tasks are completed and, according to the client's perception, this is how benefits are identified. There is no definition of Service promise for the client as far as the press officers are concerned. What happens frequently is, in their daily actions, the press agents do their work as defined by the methodologies and tools of communication or take care of the image of the clients as requested by themselves. It implies a reactive strategy which is never appropriate since the communication specialist is not the client.

5.1 Managerial implications, limitations and future research

Although the sample size was not representative, it identifies some suggestions to achieve better results for press officers in how they work. The establishment of a service strategy that takes into account not only what we do, but also the needs and expectations of clients can lead to better performance and customer perception of services. The binding of services to a defined strategy is another aspect that can strengthen the image of press officers. The explanation of a Service Promise from a services-strategy perspective can strengthen image pre and post service. All this brings to attention the need for the professional press officers to think more strategically about their role towards clients and market.

The main limitation of this study is that being an initial research it did not cover a large number of press agents, and needs to be expanded. Another limitation, as a part of a broader research project, the entire study on service strategy has not been included which would certainly identify more and better managerial contributions.

Two possibilities appear immediately: the research needs to expand and dig deeper using a broader universe of professionals and include clients of different types and sizes that can complement the study using as a basis the current construct model.


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1. Doctor in Production Engineering from the Polytechnic School of the University of Sao Paulo and Professor of Professional Master's in Business Administration from the University Potiguar. (
2. Master in Business Administration from the University Potiguar. (
3. Doctor in Education from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte and professor of the Professional Master in Business Administration from the University Potiguar. (

4. Master in Business Administration from the University Potiguar. (

Revista Espacios. ISSN 0798 1015
Vol. 37 (Nº 19) Año 2016


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