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Presentation at the International Public Relations Conference, Barcelona 2 July 2013. ‘Redefining the Identity of the Public Relations Profession In a Borderless, Digital World – the New Leadership Role’. (Author: Dr Beige Pureau, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: (+61) 0437 101 272). Paper to be released in October 2013 after publishing.
Public Relations (PR) is more important now than ever before in a digital age and a borderless society where boundaries are blurred between professional, social, local and global environments. With the remodelling of organisations in this new territory, the PR profession has changed and a myriad of challenges and opportunities are presented in redefining its identity.
PR has re-focused upon interactive engagement, relationships, open discussion, and participation in decision-making. It is more strategic and socially-aware and there is a higher demand for leadership, to guide organisations through the minefield of governance issues. The one-way, controlled, mass media tools historically used are less feasible in a digital space, where everyone’s a contributor, with a voice.
For over a decade, Australian local government has recognised that innovative technologies present the opportunity to communicate and engage with residents, provide services online and enable participation in decision-making (Berryman 2004; Thomas 2004; Shackleton, Fisher & Dawson 2005). The reality also presents challenges for the PR profession.
This study: ‘The implications of innovation in e-government and communication strategy in Australian Local Government organizations: An investigation of current and emerging practice’ (Pureau 2012) presents an insight into the practice and changing role of PR in government. Following an extensive international literature review and comparison, the study examined 100 local government websites in 2009/10 and included a follow-up review of 30 of these websites in 2012, together with reflection on 14 international websites providing examples of innovative practice. The study also included 13 qualitative in-depth interviews with a range of industry representatives and academic commentators, including PR industry leaders.
The study observed PR practice in local government and how changes such as technology, e-government, social media and digital communications are radically altering the landscape of organisations and how this requires a re-think of the PR position. It also provided advice for practitioners navigating this landscape.
Please refer to full research: Doctoral Thesis http://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/swin:31909
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