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Title: Public relations and public diplomacy : symbiosis and reformulation
Author: Hayes, Roger
ISNI:       0000 0004 2721 376X
Awarding Body: Henley Business school
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis asks the question, how should public relations as a discipline evolve, bearing in mind the cross-frontier impact of new and traditional media and the impact of globalisation, with companies asked to do more and governments able to do less. It argues public relations theory is overly ethnocentric, despite dramatic changes in the communication, political and economic environment and that there is a need to embrace adjacent disciplines such as public diplomacy if it is to become more credible and strategically relevant. Following an interpretative paradigm in the qualitative tradition, data were collected using 56 in-depth interviews of senior practitioners of public relations and diplomacy, largely in two developing and two developed countries. Data were analysed using grounded methods and thematic content analysis, helping illustrate data and ease presentation for the reader. The findings indicated there is a convergence of disciplines and practice, including cross-transfer of diplomats to the private sector and public relations practitioners to government service. They showed that diplomats are engaging in more media relations, commercial activity and broader stakeholder outreach. While public relations practitioners need to add an understanding of international politics and culture to their knowledge of business and communication. However, despite growing opportunities for public relations as a result of new media, advising governments, a broader role for business, complex issues requiring 1. Introduction ii narrative development and more multi-faceted, empowered stakeholders, there are challenges. It has a poor reputation. It is seen as superficial, largely remains in a tactical box and there exists a skills deficit. In particular it requires navigation, negotiation and networking skills to be learned from diplomacy. But this will require a transformation of education and training practices, particularly in developing countries, where public relations is growing fast. This study makes a theoretical contribution by expanding the thinking on the overlap between the two disciplines. They both have to adapt to the new-networked environment, needing to develop relationship and collaborative engagement strategies. In particular public relations needs to possess contextual intelligence and cultural empathy. These themes form the basis on which to further develop public relations theory, which is sorely lacking. A conceptual model has been developed. Further research should be undertaken measuring the quality of relationships with different kinds of stakeholders in different cultures. This research makes a practical contribution by guiding the public relations academy and practice towards a more integrated and balanced education and training template, and developing a ‘best of both’ tool-kit. The symbiosis of the two disciplines indicated by this research and the further integration with public affairs and corporate responsibility should help public relations add value to its theory and practice. This would help it become more credible and strategically relevant for the 21st century global environment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available