The role and status of communication practice in the USA and Europe

Jerry Swerling (Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of South California, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Kjerstin Thorson (Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of South California, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Ansgar Zerfass (Communication Management, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Publication date: 28 January 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore trends in practitioners’ perceptions of their role within organizations as well as their influence among senior management both in the USA and Europe. It analyses practitioners’ beliefs about the status of their work as well as their understandings of the ways the new media environment is shifting their everyday practice.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on data from two surveys of public relations (PR) practitioners, one in the USA and the other in Europe. These data enable comparisons between communication practice in the two geographic areas. The paper focusses the analysis on senior-level practitioners who reported working within the communication department of an organization.

Findings

The findings of this study suggest that practitioners in both regions are optimistic about the influence of communications within their broader organizations. However, European practitioners are more likely to adopt a “central but flexible” organizational strategy for managing the need to speak in many voices across media and publics. American respondents report much greater use of social media tools than do their European counterparts. These findings are discussed as they relate to the diverse circumstances characterizing the communication practice in each region.

Originality/value

This paper provides a rare comparative look at attitudes and practices within PR and communications in two distinct geographic areas.

Keywords

Citation

Swerling, J., Thorson, K. and Zerfass, A. (2014), "The role and status of communication practice in the USA and Europe", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 2-15. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCOM-04-2013-0037

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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