NEW YORK—Edelman is launched a new measurement tool, the Relationship Index, that builds on the pioneering work of James Grunig, , professor of public relations at the University of Maryland and one of the top academic researchers in the public relations field.

Grunig has long been regarded as one of the leaders in public relations academia, having authored a study on Excellence in Public Relations with the International Association of Business Communicators and more recently collaborated with Linda Childers Hon of the University of Florida to publish Guidelines for Measuring Relationships in Public Relations for the Institute of Public Relations in 1999.

But for whatever reason, until now public relations professionals have not found practical applications for that academic research.

Now the Reputation Index, a joint product of Edelman’s corporate practice and StrategyOne, research subsidiary of Daniel J. Edelman, will build on Grunig’s work, extending the Relationship Imperative concept introduced in connection with the firm’s 50th anniversary last year. The Relationship Imperative proposes that organizations must build trust and understanding among a crosscurrent of constituencies through open, interactive and information-rich relationships.

According to Bob Kornecki, global director of Edelman’s corporate practice, the Relationship Index will become a concrete extension of the way in which Edelman helps clients benchmark, monitor and manage stakeholder relations. “Relationships between corporations and corporate stakeholder groups are incredibly dynamic and are widely influenced by the cross-fertilization of ideas and information that occur daily across multiple communications channels,” he says.  “It is imperative that companies understand how various constituencies perceive the strength of those relationships, since relationships impact attitudes and beliefs, drive behaviors and ultimately influence corporate reputation.”

The Relationship Index is based on a series of agree/disagree statements developed by Grunig to reliably measure four characteristics of quality, long-term relationships. 

“I’m gratified that Edelman has embraced the research methodology I’d developed to measure relationships,” says Grunig. “Building relationships is such a fundamental aspect of the public relations business, guidelines for measuring them should help pinpoint and document for senior management the overall value of public relations to the organization as a whole.”