The Media & Communications in Australia

By Stuart Cunningham; Graeme Turner | Go to book overview

15
Public relations
Graeme Turner

THE PRACTICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

Public relations has become the conventional term for a wide range of activities aimed at making corporate use of the media. As it is generally used, it would include the pursuit of publicity as well as its opposite: the attempt to extinguish media interest. It would include the dissemination of information as well as the restriction of access to certain kinds of information or, in some cases, the active distribution of false or misleading misinformation. It has to be admitted that the term is associated with a widespread impression that the activity of the media is open to manipulation and control by professional public relations operatives, or ‘spin doctors’. Demonised in the popular media (who, presumably, would be lost without it), the performance of ‘spin’ is widely regarded as an intrinsic feature of the modern media landscape—and just as likely to be employed to promote the Olympics, a new political party or a brand of underwear.

Despite its broad application, however, public relations is not an accurate label for the full range of activities involved in what Andrew Wernick (1991) calls ‘promotional culture’. The activities of booking agents, unit publicists and celebrity managers fall under the umbrella of this term in general usage, but it is important to recognise that they constitute different kinds of activity. The blurring of the distinctions in the public mind between advertising, publicity and public relations has made it difficult to separate the various kinds of activity from each other.

According to Johnston and Zawawi (2000, p 7), there are three functions properly ascribed to public relations. To paraphrase what they have to say, the first is controlling what the public thinks or does in order to serve the interests of an organisation. This might involve coordinating the promotion of a concert tour for a famous musician, or orchestrating a series of events in support of a charity. The second function is responding to public concerns, developments or initiatives on

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The Media & Communications in Australia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Figures vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Contributors xiii
  • Preface xvii
  • Part One - Introduction *
  • 1 - The Media and Communications in Australia Today 3
  • Part Two - Approaches *
  • 2 - Media and Communications: Theoretical Traditions 23
  • 3 - Political Economy and News 35
  • 4 - Policy 48
  • 5 - Textual Analysis 62
  • 6 - Representation 72
  • 7 - Audiences 85
  • Part Three - Industries *
  • 8 - The Press 101
  • Notes 115
  • 9 - Telecommunications and the New Economy 117
  • 10 - Radio 133
  • 11 - Film and Video 152
  • 12 - Television and Pay TV 173
  • Notes 186
  • 13 - Magazines 188
  • Notes 199
  • 14 - Advertising 200
  • 15 - Public Relations 217
  • 16 - Popular Music 226
  • 17 - The Internet and Online Communication 244
  • 18 - Video and Computer Gaming 258
  • Part Four - Issues *
  • 19 - Media Ethics After ‘Cash for Comment’ 277
  • 20 - New Media and New Audiences 293
  • 21 - Youth Media 304
  • 22 - The Future of Journalism 320
  • 23 - The Future of Public Broadcasting 330
  • Reference 344
  • Index 370
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