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Title: Practitioner perspectives on higher education as a preparation for employment in public relations in Ireland
Author: Madigan, Pauline
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 1221
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis is an empirical study of how practitioners understand the nature of public relations as an occupation in Ireland and how they view the role of higher education as a preparation for employment in this field. Given its recent history and association with higher education, there has been little research into this relationship. In addition to investigating practitioners perspectives on their own career backgrounds and the growth of undergraduate and professional education related to public relations, consideration is given to the skills, knowledge and attributes seen to be necessary for entry into the occupation. Using an interpretivist approach and design, semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of sixteen senior public relations practitioners in Ireland. One-half of the interview sample had received a formal public relations education and the other half had not. Drawing on a review of academic, professional and international literature on the development of public relations as an occupational field, a thematic analysis was applied to the interview data. The main findings were that, firstly, practitioners supported the hiring of a graduate with a higher education qualification, although some were less concerned that this be a specific qualification related to public relations. Some practitioners without a formal education in public relations expressed regret and frustration about how much longer it took them to develop an understanding of the occupation without such a platform. A second major finding related to the importance of theoretical understanding when public relations was located and studied within higher education. Higher education courses were held to impart more long-term depth, appreciation and criticality, in contrast to the focus on essential specific skills in many training courses and continuing education programmes. A third important finding was the recognition of the contribution of higher education to the future development, health and strength of public relations in a fast-changing global and digital world. While there were concerns about core skills such as writing, there was an overwhelming desire on the part of practitioners to assist and join with higher education in developing programmes that equipped graduates with the knowledge and capabilities to operate in a diverse range of public relations roles and settings. These perspectives were echoed in the international literature on public relations. Based on these findings, a new model of professional practice is proposed, one in which the industry, education and professional bodies work in a more integrated, collegial, collaborative manner in order to move the profession forward in Ireland. Styled the ‘Integrated Professionalism of Public Relations’, this model is designed to improve graduate capabilities and thinking, and ultimately benefit the public relations industry as a whole.
Supervisor: Parry, Gareth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available