Public Relations and the Power of Creativity: Volume 3

Cover of Public Relations and the Power of Creativity

Strategic Opportunities, Innovation and Critical Challenges


Table of contents

(14 chapters)

Part I Leadership, Ethics and Creativity


This chapter attempts to broaden corporate communications and public relations research by introducing a theoretical foundation for the inbound (in contrast to the outbound) perspective of communication. The idea of organisational listening has recently been introduced by a small number of researchers. However, current concepts are mostly based on the relational paradigm of public relations. Listening is positively connoted in those concepts because it might help to foster mutual understanding, advance favourable relationships with stakeholders and support normative ideals of deliberation in democratic societies. This is not convincing from the point of view of communication managers who align their strategies and budgets to overarching organisational goals. The chapter aims to develop a new approach beyond the relational approach by linking corporate listening to corporate value. In a first step, current definitions and concepts of organisational listening are discussed in order to underline the need for a new approach. Secondly, the need for an inbound perspective of communication is explained by referring to Giddens’ structuration theory and its consequences for managing communications. Thirdly, corporate listening is conceptualised as a strategic mode of communication by referring to the overarching concept of strategic communication. Last but not least, the chapter elaborates on the value of listening for corporations and concludes with a broadened understanding of strategic communication.


Recently, ethical leadership has become a widely studied research topic. Simultaneously, many studies have begun to emphasise the role of interpersonal communication competence (ICC) in successful leadership. However, there has been little discussion on the links between ethical leadership and leaders’ ICC. To address this research gap, this study aims to compare and combine the research traditions of ethical leadership and leaders’ ICC. The study is based on two literature reviews examining (a) ethical leadership (substudy 1; N = 27) and (b) leaders’ ICC (substudy 2; N = 18). The research questions are as follows: (a) How are the requirements of leaders’ ICC noticed in the literature of ethical leadership? (substudy 1) (b) How are the requirements of ethical leadership noticed in the literature of leaders’ ICC? (substudy 2) The findings reveal that (a) studies in ethical leadership rarely pay attention to leaders’ ICC and (b) studies in leaders’ ICC do not often discuss ethical aspects of ICC, at least explicitly. While a larger sample would have been preferred, the study contributes to previous research by addressing a research gap between ethical leadership and leaders’ ICC and suggests integrating these research traditions to better understand the nature of ethics and ICC in leadership. By promoting novel interdisciplinary research perspectives, the study provides a foundation for further research and development of (a) a competence-based approach to ethical leadership and (b) an ethics-focused approach to competent leadership communication.


This chapter examines different dimensions of leadership communication that promote creativity and innovativeness. It explores how leaders engage and inspire their subordinates on the one hand and how they motivate, challenge and encourage them on the other. The aim is to provide a multifaceted description of how leaders use communication to promote innovativeness in organisations. The chapter draws on the ‘wheel of leadership communication on innovations’ by Zerfass and Huck (2007). The wheel examines communication based on cognitive, affective, conative and social dimensions. The other key concepts of the study are transformational and communicative leadership. The approach is qualitative, and the data derive from interviews with leaders of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The findings suggest that to promote organisational innovativeness all four dimensions – cognitive, affective, conative and social – must be taken into account. Multidimensional skills are required of leaders who are expected to master different communicational roles and to act as enablers, engagers, motivators and supporters at the same time. This calls for emotional and social sensibility, flexibility and adaptability to different people and situations. Leadership communication is crucial for innovation management because creative thinking and commitment enable innovation. Therefore, in the business context, attention must be paid to how people are inspired, supported and motivated, as well as to open communication. The main limitations of the study are that it focuses only on SMEs and that it does not include the voices of personnel, which would have added value to the managerial perspectives.

Part II Knowledge and Collaboration for Fostering Creativity


Little is known about the connections between mediated knowledge and promoting creativity. Based on a quantitative survey among 1,102 graduates from University, University of Applied Science and Vocational Academy in Salzburg, Austria, this research sheds light on the influences of knowledge transfer on the development of creativity. Moreover, the chapter highlights types of mediated knowledge that foster creativity.

Along with Csikszentmihalyi and Wolfe (2000), creativity refers to ideas or products that are originally worked out and valued by society. Regarding that, two contrary theses exist. On the one hand, according to Hadamard (1954), it can be assumed that creative processes are not linked to background knowledge. On the other hand, along with Weisberg (1993), it can be noted that creative ideas or products are affected by mediated knowledge. Moreover, extraordinary creativity in a certain professional field presupposes not only qualifications and abilities, but rather particularly knowledge. Although qualifications for public relations (PR) practice and education are ongoing topics in literature and practice (e.g. Szyszka 1998; Merten & Schulte 2007; Spatzier 2016), little is known about the empirical linkage of knowledge and creativity. This chapter deals with the question of the connections between knowledge transfer and the development of creativity in the education for public relations, marketing, advertising and graphic design.

In summary, the findings indicate the types of knowledge that foster the development of creativity, in which basic knowledge matters, as well as the other types. Last but not least, it can be demonstrated that knowledge transfer at the university should be changed concerning the embedding of creativity.


The aim of this research was to identify the importance of trust as a determinant of participants’ behaviour and the weight of different motivational factors that enhance the amount and the quality of contribution.


Quantitative research methods (online survey of 450 respondents and content analysis of 250 reviews) were applied on a Romanian crowdsourcing platform founded in 2008, with the mission to help potential tourists to take the most informed decision in their travel choices.


The data collected showed that the majority of the active members have a positive outlook over their experience within the community, admitting its trustworthy characteristics. The findings show that most of the top-rated members of the community were not motivated by material rewards such as money or prizes, but rather by socially related factors or by individual factors (positive feedback through comments or acquiring knowledge).

Research Limitations

The findings cannot be generalised to other crowdsourcing models, which are subject to different task designs, outcomes, local contexts and even functionalities.

Practical Implications

The results of this research can contribute to the design and implementation of customer-centred platforms, which might represent a way of development of organisational communication in the future.


The research posits that individuals’ experience within colloraborative crowdsourcing communities needs to be meaningful, as participants act based on a reciprocity norm, of giving something back to the community which is useful for fulfilling their own information-seeking purposes.


Co-creation of knowledge offers significant opportunities for innovation. This chapter seeks to gain understanding of the process of co-creation of knowledge for innovation and public relations in multi-stakeholder projects by exploring current insights in academic literature. The research questions look at how co-creation of knowledge for innovation has been investigated in the scholarly literature; the roles of end-users; and the modes and challenges of end-user participation and in collaboration relating to communication.

The method of this chapter is a structured literature review, following a series of rigorous steps: a search of databases, analysis of 33 articles found, summarising relevant content using a data extraction table and a data extraction continuum as analysis tools to show the range of projects discussed in the literature to create a comprehensive overview.

The findings indicate that multi-stakeholder networks can be structured for different aims. In the articles found different types of projects were investigated. Four categories of projects were found: (1) co-creation projects benefiting one company; (2) co-creation projects benefiting business-to-business value chain networks; (3) co-creation projects benefiting public entities; and (4) co-creation projects benefiting innovation network stakeholders.

Complexity is highest for multiple stakeholder co-creation projects benefiting innovation network stakeholders, where the roles between stakeholders are fluid and changing constantly. Solving common issues motivates the stakeholders to collaborate and build trust. Open innovation environments may facilitate communication and interaction.

Co-creation of knowledge requires intensive collaboration. Knowing the main challenges to address will help the functioning of co-creation collaboration networks and their public relations.


The aim of this chapter is to encourage a reorientation of creativity research in Public Relations (PR). By identifying key themes which characterise the study of creativity in PR, the chapter highlights limitations in current scholarship, including an overemphasis on what is framed as the creative individual. To offset these research gaps, the chapter introduces a collaborative perspective on creativity which is new to the field and positioned as a viable focus for future investigation. It is argued that this social conceptualisation of creativity has important implications for PR’s strategic role in organisations, its wider impact on society, while also highlighting the importance of leadership to the creative process. This perspective brings a range of factors into play for those with an interest in creativity, and to synthesise key themes, a new conceptual framework is presented to guide future research.

Part III New Creative Approaches to Public Relations


This chapter applies recent theoretical developments linked to the concept of culture to the field of public relations research and practice, notably through the prism of creativity as a vector of cultural change.


The chapter is theoretical in nature and draws on relevant scientific literature in the field of public relations research, but also the social sciences more generally, and illustrates the issues being discussed with reference to relevant public relations campaigns.


While the field of public relations has moved beyond simplistic models of cultural values and characteristics, it is argued that more complex visions of culture have been neglected. Specifically, drawing on structuration theory, culture can be seen as a ‘system-generating mechanism’ relying on creativity to uphold and renew cultural references and norms. In this perspective, public relations is both producing/reproducing culture and being produced by culture. It follows that the concept should be apprehended not as an ontological category but as a social construct, as the source of heuristic and discursive categorisations.

Social Implications

A call is issued for public relations to also question the ideological underpinnings of the production of symbols in which practitioners partake on a daily basis.


While the chapter fits into an emerging body of work discussing the cultural dimension of public relations, the link with creativity and the use of structuration theory to conceptualise this link contribute to its originality.


The Christian Churches have lost a great amount of their attraction in many European countries over the last century. Since the 1960s, ties to the Churches have been relaxed and approval for their central beliefs and standards has declined.

This is a problem, since the Christian churches are essential agents of fundamental values, such as solidarity and charity that foster the cohesion of a community. Christian faith communities are committed to preserving these values.

If we imagine the Church as a company, from a design perspective the question arises of what stories and images of the Church could revive its values? What could be a convincing set of contemporary visual items of the Christian Churches?

With the creative methods of design thinking some alternative approaches for visual communication of Christian Churches in the age of social media have been developed in a workshop with various representatives of Christian Churches.

Two creative methods were the focus of the workshop, Rummaging and PaperPoint. These methods were selected for refining the strategic concept with the goal to develop solutions for a new way of visual storytelling.

The first strategy is the definition of ‘core values’ and transition to today and the second strategy is change of perspective, refining the concept for the new way of visual storytelling.

The results show that design thinking can be used to bring about creative results even from participants without a professional advertising background.


Creativity has become one of the most important features of communication campaigns due to the rise of new technologies. It is also targeted by the public relations sector to gain more attention of their publics. However, creativity is still a vague concept for the public relations field. Therefore, this study reports what creativity means for public relations and how creativity is achieved in the public relations sector. To do this, this study analyses public relations campaigns which are the winners of and shortlisted by PRWeek Awards and PRWeek Global Awards. Findings show that creative campaigns need to send messages that are original and adaptive, new and functional, and potentially useful. They drive consumer response, increase recall and product evaluations and also come up with new ideas, but they still focus on finding new ways to process old ideas.


European industry, academia and potential end users for future solutions are widely involved in applying for European Union (EU) funding of research and innovation and implementation of the projects. Funding instrument requirements emphasise the influence of skills and know-how of these project consortia professionals. This chapter proposes a co-creative model for communication and dissemination, or project PR, based on the experiences of both planning and coordinating dissemination activities of three EU funded projects. Multidisciplinary international project Public Relations (PR) offers strategic opportunities for PR professionals.

The model employs the co-creation methods based on the pedagogical model called Learning by Developing (Laurea, 2011). In addition to the pedagogical model, the proposed conceptualisation of co-creation for public relations and dissemination utilises a media evaluation framework, which is adapted from Vos and Schoemaker’s model (2004), combining elements of both balanced scorecard and quality management.

The findings demonstrate that commitment and active participation of end-user groups in the early stage of the project are needed for successful dissemination, which should be supported by each partner’s PR actions and networks. The dissemination process should start when the project begins, be ongoing, even extending to beyond the project. Dissemination is an expanding process, and it requires facilitation that supports PR and the engagement of key stakeholders. The European Commission can gain from modernised PR and dissemination activities, and from as many end users as possible adopting new innovations, which generate more business possibilities for the industry, and further research projects for the academia.


At the beginning of any conceptual work concerning communication management, there is a demand for a deeper understanding of the problem that needs to be addressed and for the context in which it occurs. Communication management practice mostly relies on instruments like briefings, structured interviews or classic controlling data, when it comes to an analysis of organisational structures. This chapter shows that the potentials of a more constructivist perspective and a qualitative methodology can be useful to find out what is really at stake. It presents creative visualisation of organisational contexts and visual grounded theory methodology by the example of internal communication management.

Cover of Public Relations and the Power of Creativity
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Book series
Advances in Public Relations and Communication Management
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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