“Political Communication [hearts] Public Relations” is the title of my chapter in the volume Public relations theories for contemporary China edited by C. Xianhong. The chapter presents and discusses political communication as the field has developed in the Western hemisphere. The potential of this scholarship to inform public relations is discussed alongside the notion “political public relations.” Arguably, there has also been many studies of public relations and power which could be subsumed under the political communication umbrella. Still, the main argument of the essay is that political communication contributes with a much needed understanding of the communicative dimensions of politics. Political communication and political theory offer important ontological insights about for instance conflicts of interests.
Ihlen, Ø. (2018). Political communication [hearts] public relations [translated from Chinese]. In C. Xianhong (Ed.), Public relations theories for contemporary China (pp. 358-370). Beijing, China: Public Relations Society of China. Preprint version
A consistent finding in the crisis communication literature is that organizations should attempt to have a well-established relationship in place with stakeholders before a crisis occurs. Organizations need to engage in dialogue in advance of crisis situations. Together with Abbey Levenshus (Butler U), I have written a chapter that summarizes and discusses the literature that gives advice on how to use social media in this regard. It is argued that there is still a lot to learn from the more sophisticated theoretical conceptions of dialogue. Dialogue can be seen as a quality of communication and of relating with others, and/or an ideal to strive for. The main contribution of the chapter lies in the discussion of the limits of dialogue in an organizational context, and the practical suggestions for how the dialogue ideal can be approached.
Ihlen, Ø., & Levenshus, A. (2017). Digital dialogue: Crisis communication in social media. In L. Austin & Y. Jin (Eds.), Social media and crisis communication (pp. 389-400). London: Routledge.
New chapter out soon going on about the potential for public relations as a radical activity. Three different aspects or versions of radical public relations are discussed. In the first instance, public relations as a radical activity can be seen as that which provides a break with the previous functionalistic paradigm of the discipline. A second take is that radical public relations applies critical and postmodern theories that call attention to power struggles in society and criticize the role public relations plays in this regard. Ultimately, the chapter ends with a discussion of a third possible take, namely that radical public relations promotes agonistic, consensual conflict as the ideal for practice.
Ihlen, Ø. (2017). Fanning the flames of discontent: Public relations as a radical activity. In E. Bridgen & D. Vercic (Eds.), Experiencing public relations: International perspectives. London: Routledge.
Engagement is all over the place. I have jumped on the bandwagon together with Bree Devin and contributed a chapter to the forthcoming Handbook of communication engagement, edited by Kim Johnston & Maureen Taylor. The chapter explores engagement in relation to corporate social responsibility (CSR), and highlights why engagement is not only seen as a foundational concept to CSR, but is necessary for CSR to succeed. Specifically, this chapter draws on existing literature to highlight three forms of engagement in relation to CSR – commitment, mapping of responsibilities, and closing the loop. Conceptualizations of engagement in relation to each of the forms are presented, whereby engagement is referred to as a state, process, and/or orientation. The chapter concludes by highlighting challenges associated with engagement in relation to CSR, as well future agendas based on the forms of engagement presented in this chapter, as well as new directions in CSR research.
Devin, B., & Ihlen, Ø. (in press). Corporate social responsibility and engagement. In K. A. Johnston & M. Taylor (Eds.), Handbook of communication engagement. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
I have committed an edited volume on Norwegian political communication together with a bunch of the best Norwegian academics and a couple of good colleagues from our neighbouring countries. The volume clocks in on 362 pages and the first section offers chapters discussing how political communication is treated in different academic fields (think political science, media studies, rhetoric). Then follows a section focusing on different actors and institutions (political parties, commentators, public relations agencies, etc.), and a section on channels, platforms and processes (election campaigns, speeches, social media, etc.). The book is rounded of with a conclusion chapter and three commentaries from key scholars in the field. 24 chapters in total. I have a hand on the wheel of the intrdocution adn conclusion, as well as the chapters on public relations and lobbying. Again: Brush up on your Norwegian skills!
Happy to announce that Abbey Levenshus (U of Tennessee) and I have had a chapter accepted for the forthcoming book Social media and crisis communication edited by Lucinda Austin and Yan Jin. Here’s the abstract: “A consistent finding in the crisis communication literature is that organizations should attempt to have a well-established relationship in place with stakeholders before a crisis occurs. Organizations need to engage in dialogue in advance of crisis situations. This chapter summarizes and discusses the literature that gives advice on how to use social media in this regard. It is argued that there is still a lot to learn from the more sophisticated theoretical conceptions of dialogue. Dialogue can be seen as a quality of communication and of relating with others, and/or an ideal to strive for. The main contribution of the chapter lies in the discussion of the limits of dialogue in an organizational context, and the practical suggestions for how the dialogue ideal can be approached.”
Peoples first reaction when they hear the term “critical PR” is usually that this is an oxymoron. However, after the landmark publication Critical Perspectives in PR way back in 1996, critical mass has finally been achieved for such a perspective. Jacquie L’Etang and friends have launched the Routledge Handbook of Critical Public Relations that contains 32 chapters. I am very happy to say that I am aboard. My chapter focuses on a particular program for critical rhetoric and discusses its implications for analysis of public relations. While the critical rhetoric project has several strengths, a call is issued to bring back a focus on the agent to create a better fit for analysis of public relations. It is argued that there are, indeed, other critical, but less macro-oriented, perspectives that should be pursued, too.