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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The papers in this issue of Journal of Communication Management investigate professional practice, the profession itself, and failures of strategic communication.
We begin with Somerville, Gillham, and Wood’s “Public Relations and the free organizational publication: practitioner perspectives on the brave new (media) world”, which combines a refreshing dose of scepticism about the new media with some interesting empirical data showing how communicators find their own way through the complexities of organizational needs, expectations, new technologies and the discourses about them. While those interested in the practice will find an account of changes affecting organizational publications and their use, readers with a critical interest in the issue are offered a more philosophical reflection on new technologies and organizational communication. Yeomans in her article “Emotion in public relations: a neglected phenomenon” continues this questioning tone set by Somerville, Gillham and Wood and turns her eyes to emotion and emotional labour. She reminds us of the extent to which this phenomenon has been pushed to the margins of our research horizons by the unrelenting discourse of PR professionalism and its inherent gender bias.
Larsson’s work, “Public trust in the PR industry and its actors” brings us a fascinating study of the public standing and understanding of professional communicators in Sweden. The article reports the results of extensive survey work, part of “Sweden’s most extensive annual assessment of political preferences, public opinion (and) media use”. The Journal’s readers will no doubt note that public relations and advertising are now firmly established on this social radar and perhaps reflect on the state of knowledge about these occupations in more general terms. The study with its careful interpretation of the findings makes another important point, namely that public relations cannot be studied as a practice disconnected from its cultural background.
The next two articles are something of a treat: case studies of failure. Ihlen’s “When lobbying backfires: balancing lobby efforts with insights from stakeholder theory” presents a narrative of a failed policy lobby by a powerful actor, the Norwegian oil industry. By considering the case from the beginning through to its aftermath of damaged stakeholder relationships, the author argues for the need to reframe the somewhat instrumental focus of lobbying. Grantham’s study reveals key mistakes in strategic communication in a merger case and their consequences. “Risk Assessment as a function of a successful merger Merrill Lynch Advest merger” highlights the importance of organizational culture, its management through communication both internally and externally.
The last article in the issue is Tonca, Reid and Anderson’s “Effective Spokespersons in a Public Service Announcement: Comparing Celebrities and Victims”. The authors present a careful experimental study drawing on research in advertising to offer guidance helpful in making tactical, communication choices.
As usual, we hope readers will find useful information and intellectual stimulation, and perhaps follow some of these interests in their own work.