Dissertation topics for media and public relations students
Its dissertation season for media and public
relations university students.
Bachelor students are refining their topics and
proposals and Masters students are working on
Professor Benno Signitzer at the University of
Salzburg wrote a chapter on this topic in Public
Relations Research: An International Perspective.
It’s worth seeking out. Thanks to Professor Dejan
Verčič from the University of Ljubljana for the
Aligns topic with career goals
“I'd say to make it as specific to your
dream career as possible. Even if career
visions change in the future, you'll
enjoy researching and writing it at the
time and therefore won't get bored and
find more motivation.”
Digital Public Relations Executive
“My dissertation was on using public
relations strategy and tactics to help
raise your profile to find a job. I used
my blog as a case study. It worked.”
Public Relations and Communications Director
Aligns topic with career goals
Avoid populist topics and go deep
“Explore a very small, easily defined
area and use rigorous academic
research methods to establish new
knowledge or explore a topic from a new
Department of Media Arts and Communication
Sheffield Hallam University
I recently asked my network on Facebook for suggestions
for areas of study. I got called out by several people for
short cutting an important area of the research process.
This wasn’t my intention. Instead I wanted to share issues
that are challenging practitioners. Each suggestion is a
jumping off point for further investigation.
I’ve consistently said that we need to encourage better
engagement between research, teaching and practice. If
that’s not your view, please look away now.
The only way is ethics
How does post truth or fake news change the way public relations
operates and how does it sit alongside codes of practice?
Should social media should be held to the same journalistic standards
as other media outlets?
How important is the truth versus storytelling.
We've always believed good public relations should be open,
transparent etc. But what if we're wrong? What if good public
relations is actually as dishonest, ugly and brazen as you can make it?
How should practitioners ensure that messages resonate in an era of
fake news and post truth?
The importance of trusted brands in a post-truth world. In other words
- why the claims about your cornflakes are held to a higher standard
than the claims of political candidates.
What does transparency in public relations look like?
Aly Sandhaus Saxe
Does anyone have the right to be forgotten?
Data and the science of measurement
How can public relations be measured more effectively; focusing on
whether public relations campaigns should be treated the same as
marketing ones; using the same tools such as Salesforce and Marketo.
Measuring the effectiveness of video as a means of communication in
the social sphere.
Test measurement frameworks for Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned
communications and content.
How can data be used to improve the impact of campaigns? Is this a
route to improving the perception of public relations in society?
Data visualisation looking not just at economist infographics and
similar but a historical review of people such as Florence Nightingale
who understood the importance of conveying a story succinctly in an
as easy to understand form as possible.
Does reputation have a monetary value?
Study the behavioral economics aspects of the science of influence –
influencing perceptions in order to influence market behavior – how
individual minds work, as well as the collective.
What does influence look like for the next generation?
The business of influence
What makes a brand invincible? How and why do some
brands die due to reputational harm, while others seem to
shrug it off and carry on regardless?
Evidence based research showing how trust in the
conventional has been eroded over the past decade and the
impact this has on society and business.
Explore the lack of diversity in the public relations profession; LGBT,
women at the top, disability, ethnicity and social mobility.
How do CEOs perceive public relations and what needs to be done to
improve understanding of the strategic value it can add?
What skills and understanding does the communications advisor to
the board need to be credible? Should reputation sit above sales and
marketing in the corporate hierarchy?
Why are ethnic minorities under-represented in public relations?
Characterising the public relations
Why do so many women leave public relations?
Is social media helping to reduce inequalities – or is everything
staying the same?
Is public relations dead? We tend to work in wider communications
roles now and need knowledge and skills to survive.
How do you build mental resilience in journalism and public relations,
particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through exposure
to traumatic events and materials, as well as the wider issues around
the job and its impact on mental health?
Is the news cycle dead?
I did 'is the 'lad mag' dead' back in 2003. It was. James Brown's 'Jack'
died in the water around the same time. Maybe worth asking now is
print journalism dead?
Does the connected economy increase the need for niche specialism?
The rise of online and social echo chambers and the impact they have
Media and platforms
How low can production values be? We're in the social media age, with
Facebook Live, YouTube live streaming as video-based platforms, and
Facebook and LinkedIn and lots more as type-based platforms. So how
garbled can the sound be, how fuzzy can the video be, how distorted
can the speakers be, and so on?
How can global, US-run social networks effectively deal with personal
attacks, death threats or even define trolling, when they have a US
President that is normalising [trolling]?
Explore emerging strategies as companies increasingly need to market
to an algorithm [rather than a human being].
Future of public relations
What is the role of paid media in public relations programmes?
The impact of artificial intelligence on content creation and
distribution. Explore ethics, impact on jobs, and the relationship
between the quality and quantity of content and the role it plays in
manipulating the human brain.
Explore digital as a means of genuine business transformation,
compared with when it is used as a bolt on or stick plaster.
Are we teaching students the necessary skills to succeed in the
industry locally, nationally, and globally?
How do leading public relations companies and agencies perceive the
validity of public relations education?
Public relations education
Public relations in practice
Explore the fundamental changes of internal communication due to
internal social media.
Explore the use of social media by parties in a political campaign.
Paula Clare Keaveney
Explore the application of social media in hospitals as part of the
What role should public relations play in a hostile takeover? How can
it be justified, and used as a positive promotion of the business?
Should public relations practitioners own or participate in the
company narrative or content strategy as part of an integrated public