It has been a long winding road, but finally, the dialogue paper that I have written together with Abbey Levenshus is making it into print. This is the gist: Public relations has long been preoccupied with the notion of dialogue, and the advent of social media ushered in new enthusiasm. Still, despite the technology on offer and the fact that dialogue has become a value that “everyone” embraces, most research concludes that little actual dialogue takes place between corporations and their stakeholders. Scholars have pointed to a host of different factors to explain this, ranging from practitioners’ lack of time to their lack of understanding of what dialogue is. This paper discusses perspectives on corporate dialogue with a focus on the constraints identified in the literature, before presenting the main argument that not enough attention has been paid to the macro limits at the systemic level. The paper issues a call to locate dialogue attempts within a system where a limited economic rationality reigns, which, in turn, constrains what individual practitioners can achieve.
Ihlen, Ø., & Levenshus, A. (in press). Panacea, placebo or prudence: Perspectives and constraints for corporate dialogue. Public Relations Inquiry.
Here is my presentation from the Corporate Communication Conference in Hong Kong 2014. Complete with idiosyncrasies, mumbling, and hawing. Full title: Ihlen, Ø., & Levenshus, A. (2014, June). Digital dialogue: Crisis communication in social media. The Corporate Communication International Conference on Corporate Communication 2014, Hong Kong.
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.”
The magazine of the Norwegian practitioner organization Norsk Kommunikasjonsforening has just been re-launched. I am happy to say that I will revisit my roots and run a regular column dedicated to presenting new research (sorry, only in Norwegian). In the first issue I have been trumpeting the latest special issue of Journal of Public Relations Research on engagement, in particular the piece by Maureen Taylor and Mike Kent that deals with the very concepts of dialouge and engagment.
ICA 2015 is on! I am packing two papers and a panel and will be heading for Puerto Rico in May. Together with Abbey Levenshus, I will present a paper that continues our work on dialogue and social media. The paper Extolling and extending dialogue: Proposing new directions for research on corporations’ use of social media includes six propositions about the social media’s dialogic potential for corporations.
Fresh off from the DIGICOM-project, Joel Rasmussen and I will present a paper called Risk, crisis and social media: A meta-study of six years’ research. The paper illustrates how the literature has increasingly focused on causality, explaining the impact of different communicative choices on citizens’ perceptions of organizations in crisis. We also found that there are certain aspects that are largely missing. In addition to the lack of generalizable samples and studies of actual, preventive risk communication, very little attention is given to the effects of the digital divide on social mediated risk and crisis communication.
Finally, together with Magnus Fredriksson I proposed a panel called “Typology Teasing: Extending on Sociological Approaches in Public Relations.” In the wake of recent theory development in the field there is a need for public relations to come to terms with itself as a multi-paradigmatic discipline. This panel will focus on the sociological research strand in particular, which includes widely diverse approaches to social problems and different solutions for these.
The panelists will include such renowned scholars as Derina Holtzhausen, Magda Pieczka, Vilma Luoma-aho, and Finn Frandsen. Magnus will present a paper, while I will be chairing the panel.
Forever blowing my own trumpet… After the Conference on Corporate Communication 2014 in Hong Kong, I landed an ACORN™ presenter commendation. “It is given to presenters whose conference presentations engage, lead and inspire.” The paper presented was Ihlen, Ø., & Levenshus, A. (2014, June). Digital dialogue: Crisis communication in social media. The Corporate Communication International Conference on Corporate Communication 2014, Hong Kong.
Currently, I have dabbled with the troublesome dialogue ideal and how it can be implemented in an organizational setting. Here are the latest musings presented in popular form in the Thought Leadership series of the International Public Relations Association (IPRA): Dealing with complexity and contradiction: the difficult (digital) dialogue.