How social media enables everyone to have their say on public relations

One of the really great things about social media is that it enables anyone to participate.  For those involved in the academic or practice sides of public relations (or both), the online world is also a great learning resource.  Combining these two benefits, check out Bill Sledzik’s post, and resulting comments: a sort of unified definition of public relations — without a single mention of ‘marketing’.

The name of James Grunig is familiar to anyone studying public relations – and it is fascinating to read his comments left on Bill’s post.  Students often forget that those more familiar as names in text books continue to reflect on the profession, and have opinions or develop theories that can be challenged and justified.  This is what makes PR such an exciting discipline and also explains why it is so hard to define. 

I’d love to see Jacquie L’Etang, Kevin Moloney or others who present critical perspectives on Grunig’s work also join online discussion, alongside practitioners and students.  Being able to read emerging debate makes ideas come to life – and, if we wish, we can also reflect our own viewpoints.  Of course, we then need to be prepared to justify these, which is one of the lessons that students and practitioners need to develop. 

PR is a dynamic, developing discipline and it is great to see how engagement with the online world enables academics and practitioners to have their say.

However, as is apparent at Toughsledding, we need to have the evidence to back up our opinions.  That means going back to original sources and understanding the full context of views and models, not just relying on the snapshot summaries that may be presented by lecturers, critics, bloggers or practitioners (of the marketing or PR persuasion). 

Only by taking the time to become more informed ourselves, and relating what we learn to experiences and examples of practice, can we contribute towards the development and progress of our profession.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

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