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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Guest editorial From: Journal of Communication Management, Volume 12, Issue 4
Editing this history of public relations special issue of the Journal of Communication Management has been a rewarding activity in many ways. It has met a pent-up demand by scholars for an opportunity to publish research collectively; it has helped create a community of those scholars who will increasingly co-operate and discuss their research; and, for me, it has been a pleasure to indulge myself in this fascinating topic.
The proposal for this special issue came in discussion with Professor Anne Gregory, the editor-in-chief of this journal. It is she whom public relations historians must thank for offering an entire edition to an untested market. When this particular project was launched, there was no knowing what the response would be. The call for papers gave a broad canvas for potential authors, but from around the world responses came in substantial volume thus setting this editor a real challenge in sourcing reviewers for abstracts and papers. And this is where the community of scholars began to evolve – from Australia to Turkey; North America to Scandinavia – there was real interest in writing articles, reviewing and giving feedback to the editor. As a result, there is a new platform for scholarship in the history of public relations, which I hope will be recognised in further special issues, conferences, online resources and books.
Public relations historical scholarship has been largely pioneered by researchers in the US, with the notable exception of Jacquie L’Etang in the UK. Amongst the outcomes of this special edition has been a reinforcement of the depth of US scholarship in articles by Karla Gower, Timothy Penning and Patricia Curtin, which also challenge the “great man” model that for so long has posited Ivy Lee and Edwards Bernays as being responsible for evolution of public relations as a practice.
Historians will benefit from Jacquie L’Etang’s conceptual paper on “Writing PR history” which is based on her experiences and the theoretical and methodological challenges she has faced. Robin Croft, Trevor Hartland and Heather Skinner look back in history to the tenth century and the start of the planned manipulation of the Glastonbury myths in creating the national brand of England and Englishness. Natalia Rodriguez Salcedo brings to light the history of public relations in Spain from the late nineteenth century onwards. Tony Jaques from Australia spotlights the role of Howard Chase in the creation of “issue management” and its adoption as part of contemporary practice.
This special edition also plays its part in supporting the community of public relations historians by assisting the launch of www.prhistorywiki.org, a clearing house for scholars, which is funded by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at the University of Alabama. The wiki is introduced by Margot Lamme and Jennifer Land.
But not all papers could be included in this special issue. Articles by Alexander Laskin on the evolution of models of public relations and Klement Podnar and Ursa Golob’s tracking of the development of public relations theory and practice through the pages of Public Opinion Quarterly will follow in forthcoming editions of this journal.
I would also thank the authors whose articles were not accepted for this edition. These were difficult decisions to make and amongst these articles was research and writing that can be developed further for publication. I hope they will be heartened by the increased recognition of public relations historical scholarship that this Special Issue offers and continue their endeavours.
Finally, I must thank the special issue’s reviewers for their time, knowledge and insights and the production team for their advice and attention to detail. Like the authors, they have made this issue of the Journal of Communication Management very special.
Tom WatsonGuest Editor