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Stigmatisation of Spokespersons

aUniversity of Bamberg, Germany

(Re)discovering the Human Element in Public Relations and Communication Management in Unpredictable Times

ISBN: 978-1-80382-898-5, eISBN: 978-1-80382-897-8

Publication date: 1 February 2023


Many critical descriptions can be found for public relations. While research has so far been limited to describing the negative image of the PR profession or has understood it as a peripheral problem, this chapter takes a more fundamental approach. Focusing on media relations as part of PR, the concerns about the profession are to be understood as a central part of its social identity, which others have initially assigned to it. This subsequently shapes their behaviour towards PR professionals, specifically spokespersons, just as it shapes the spokespersons' self-perception. Media relations is therefore characterised by something discrediting, which shapes the attitudes and behaviour of both the publics and the spokespersons themselves. In sociology, this is described by Erving Goffman's concept of stigma, which serves as the theoretical framework of the chapter. Drawing on Habermas, the discrediting characteristic of media relations is determined by the self-interest, success- and power-oriented character of strategic action. The empirical study, a survey of 429 journalists and spokespersons in Germany, addresses the following two research questions: How widespread is the stigma of spokespersons among spokespersons and journalists? And: What are the consequences of perceived stigma for job satisfaction? The findings are somewhat ambivalent showing that, on the one hand, about three out of five journalists stigmatise spokespersons. On the other hand, only about one in five spokespersons perceive themselves as stigmatised.



Hoffjann, O., Folger, L.A.-M., Gürster, J., Hackenbeck, L.J., Halm, J. and Mirthes, L.K. (2023), "Stigmatisation of Spokespersons", Rodríguez-Salcedo, N., Moreno, Á., Einwiller, S. and Recalde, M. (Ed.) (Re)discovering the Human Element in Public Relations and Communication Management in Unpredictable Times (Advances in Public Relations and Communication Management, Vol. 6), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 163-178.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Olaf Hoffjann, Lea Anna-Maria Folger, Julia Gürster, Lara Johanna Hackenbeck, Jakob Halm and Lena Katharina Mirthes. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited