Category Archives: Public relations

Fanning the Flames of Discontent

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.

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Critical public relations

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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!

San Diego O’Hoy!

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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.

 

Positioning the CEO

The latest instalment of my research column in the practitioner magazine Kommunikasjon deals with CEO positioning pointing to the following publication: Zerfass, A., Verčič, D., & Wiesenberg, M. (2016). Managing CEO communication and positioning. Journal of Communication Management, 20(1), 37-55. In particular I highlight the finding that the systematization is somewhat lacking.

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Second edition

In 2009 Betteke van Ruler, Magnus Fredriksson and I edited Public Relations and Social Theory. Magnus and I are pleased to announce that we have just signed the contract for a second and expanded edition. The first edition included chapters on key social theorists like Jürgen Habermas, Niklas Luhmann, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Anthony Giddens, Robert Putnam, Erving Goffman, Peter L. Berger, Dorothy Smith, Bruno Latour, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Ulrich Beck and Max Weber. The second is likely to add contributions on John Dewey, Karl Marx, Luc Boltanski, John Meyer, Chantal Mouffe, Harrison White, and Jean-Francois Lyotard. How can these theorists be applied on public relations? Stay tuned for a 2018 release…

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Tour guide on duty

This year I have had the good fortune of having a research column in the magazine Kommunikasjon, published by the Norwegian practitioner organization Kommunikasjonsforeningen. During the course of five issues, I have attempted to present the latest and the best of current public relations research. For me it provides a good opportunity to stay abreast and not only focus on my own projects. The latest issue showcases the best paper from the EUPRERA conference in Oslo, authored by Alexander Buhmann and Diana Ingenhoff. Previous versions of the column have focused on the European Communication Monitor, as well as articles from the Journal of Public Relations Research (on engagement), Communication Theory (on transparency), and Public Relations Review (on social media roles). Already look forward to next year!

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