Category Archives: Lobbying

San Diego O’Hoy!


Setting sails for San Diego in May. Got two papers and a panel accepted. The first of the papers has Alex Buhmann (BI – Norwegian Business School) as lead author and is a review of how Habermas has been used in public relations over the years. Two crucial points emanate: First, the work of Habermas has much unused analytical potential, specifically with regards to issues of public deliberation and legitimacy in public relations. Second, there are few references to his newer publications something that suggests that public relations scholars are missing out on crucial turns in the theories of Habermas.

The second paper and the panel focus on lobbying. The paper is written together with Ketil Raknes (Kristiania U College) and continues our work on rhetorical lobbying strategies relying on appeals to the common good. The panel uses framing theory to zone in on the challenge organizations that lobby in the public domain face: Why should anyone care for their private interests? The typical strategy is to argue that the latter matches the public’s interests. Everyone is better off if the lobbyist’s proposal is accepted.

The panel I am chairing consists of the following contributions:

  • Defining the Public Interest Ketil Raknes; Kristiania U College, Norway
  • When “Public Interest” Co-Matches “Private Benefits:” The Peculiar Interplay between Part-Time Politicians and Vested Interests in Switzerland’s Direct Democracy  Irina Lock & Peter Seele; Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
  •  Democracy, Pluralism and Political Discourse: Lobbying and the Public Interest Ian Somerville & Scott Davidson; University of Leicester, UK
  • How Do Organizations Discursively Frame Community Issues Through Lobbying Campaigns? – An Italian Case Study Chiara Valentini; Aarhus U, Denmark

Dejan Vercic from the U of Ljubljana, Slovenia has graciously accepted to be a respondent.

Buhmann, A., & Ihlen, Ø. (2017, May). The fate of Habermas’ theory in public relations: A quantitative review of three decades of public relations research. Paper presented at the 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, San Diego, US.

Ihlen, Ø., & Raknes, K. (2017, May). “Everyone will be better off”: Rhetorical strategies in public lobbying campaigns. Paper presented at the 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, San Diego, US.


ICA is on

Lobbyism is one of the most contentious practices within the larger field of public relations, regularly attracting media scorn. At the same time, scholars have called for more research that develops ethical and societal perspectives on lobbying. Today, in Fukuoka in Japan, Melissa Dodd, Magda Piezcka, Ketil Raknes and myself presented a panel unpacking the arguments regarding the place of lobbying within public relations and democratic societies. Great fun!

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World Tour on Lobbying

Ketil Raknes (Kristiania U College) and I are touring the world with our gospel on lobbying. We will be attending a London workshop in May, do the ICA conference in Fukuoka in June, and head to Groeningen in September. We have just had a paper called “Self-interest in New Wrapping: ‘Appeal to Community’ as a Topos in Lobbying“ accepted for this years EUPRERA conference. The paper explores strategic communication and organizational rhetoric that makes appeals beyond organizational self-interest. In the private sector, corporations frequently argue that they are not just maximizing profit at all costs, but pursue higher goals invoking the term corporate social responsibility. In lobbying too, appeals to what is “best of society” have become a staple rhetorical strategy. However, little research has been done on this type of rhetoric. Building on the notion of topos the paper explores the ways that lobbyists attempt to fuse their private interests with a broader appeal to what is best for society as such.

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Little Love for Lobbying?

Together with the excellent scholars Melissa Dodd (U of Central Florida), Magda Pieczka (Queen Margaret U), and Ketil Raknes (Kristiania University College), I have just had a panel accepted for the ICA conference in Japan. We will attempt to unpack the arguments regarding the place of lobbying within public relations and democratic societies. Our discussant is Anu Kantola (Helsinki U). The panel is the first output from the newly formed network for lobbying and public affairs of EUPRERA, the European Public Relations Education and Research Association.

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Off to Japan

Ketil Raknes from Kristiania University College and I have just had a paper accepted for a ICA preconference in Tokyo called Powers of Promotion: Apprehending the Social and Political Impacts of Promotional Culture. Ketil and I will talk about how “the common good” is framed in professional lobbying. Appeals to what is “best for society” are common in lobbying campaigns as non-elected political actors have to argue beyond their self-interest. Lobbying campaigns that use the news media are likely to put even more emphasis on the common good-argument.

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