Public relations literature emphasizes gaining membership in the dominant coalition. However, we know little about the ways that successful practitioners have garnered dominant coalition membership. By combining 32 interviews with public relations executives, four focus groups, and
open-ended responses on a larger survey of communicators, this study sought to uncover patterns explaining routes to the dominant coalition. Routes found include organizational crisis, ethical dilemma, credibility gained over time, issues high on the media agenda, and leadership. The positive
and negative aspects of each route are discussed and an ethical analysis of findings is offered.