Robert L. Heath and I have had our paper Ethical grounds for public relations as organizational rhetoric accepted for presentation at the 68th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA). In Prague, we will discus how public relations practitioners can communicate ethically and what the positive social contribution of public relations as organizational rhetoric can be. These recurring questions are discussed with the starting point in rhetorical theory. The paper adds the notions of fairness and rhetorical citizenship, as well as agnostic theory to the discussion. Taken together, the paper thus contributes to the further development of ethical grounding for public relations as a form of organizational rhetoric.
Finally! Some of the best papers from last year’s EUPRERA Congress have been published. Electronic version out on the opening of this year’s conference in London. If you are a member of EUPRERA please be on the look out for the discount code. We are talking 70 percent….
1. EDUCATING SOCIETY’S FUTURE PR PRACTITIONERS: AN EXPLORATION OF ‘PREPAREDNESS’ AS A QUALITATIVE INDICATOR OF HIGHER EDUCATION PERFORMANCE
2. CONTEXTUALISING CHANGE IN PUBLIC SECTOR ORGANISATIONS
3. WHEN A NATION’S LEADER IS UNDER SIEGE: MANAGING PERSONAL REPUTATION AND ENGAGING IN PUBLIC DIPLOMACY
4. TOWARDS A SOCIETAL DISCOURSE WITH THE GOVERNMENT? A COMPARATIVE CONTENT ANALYSIS ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL MEDIA COMMUNICATION BY THE BRITISH, FRENCH AND GERMAN NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS 2011-2015
5. LESSONS LEARNED: COMMUNICATION STUDIES IN TRANSITION
6. SECRETS OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
7. SOCIAL MEDIA: THE DIALOGUE MYTH? HOW ORGANISATIONS USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR STAKEHOLDER DIALOGUE
8. CLARIFYING SKILLS AND COMPETENCIES IN ORGANISATIONAL DECISION MAKING – PERCEPTIONS OF FINNISH COMMUNICATION PROFESSIONALS
9. CRISIS, RESPONSE, REPUTATION, ACTOR, AND CONTEXT: A CROSS-DISCIPLINARY STUDY OF KEY CONCEPTS IN PUBLIC RELATIONS, BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
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.
Have to brush up on my (non-existent) Portuguese. Heading off to Belo Horizonte on May 17 to attend the congress of the Brazilian association for org.comm. and public relations (Associação Brasileira de Pesquisadores de Comunicação Organizacional e de Relações). Will present a keynote on perspectives of critical public relations: Fanning the flames of discontent!
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.
In my latest column in the Norwegian practitioner magazine Kommunikasjon I am again plugging results from the European Communication Monitor. The text points to how seven of ten practitioners think big data will change the landscape, although just two out of ten have actually followed up and engaged with big data.