How Strategic Communication Shapes Value and Innovation in Society: Volume 2

Cover of How Strategic Communication Shapes Value and Innovation in Society

Table of contents

(12 chapters)


Pages i-xiii
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In the context of debates about the performance of Higher Education (HE) in which quantitative measures proliferate, this chapter reports the top line observations of an initial exploration of the preparedness for practice of recent graduates of a Public Relations (PR) course at a post-1992 United Kingdom (UK) Higher Education Institution (HEI). Preparedness for practice is chosen as a conceptual lens (as preparedness for the uncertainty of practice) because HEIs frequently promise it. Using a Bourdieusian framework, preparedness is considered in relation to habitus-field match and HE performance as capital-added in habitus transformation. The chapter offers a complementary way of considering the dynamic between educator and recent graduate agency and how that might be applied when studying course and student performance, designing curricula and developing appropriate ‘signature pedagogies’, especially for those HE actors tasked with delivering against the ‘promise’ of graduate preparedness. In considering preparedness for practice as a performative function of HE, the chapter is located in wider societal debates about the ‘worth’ of HE and offers insight for educators of future PR practitioners.


Change in the public sector appears to be often met with practices borrowed from the private sector. However, implementing private sector practices is challenging (Brown, Waterhouse, & Flynn, 2003), as, for example, the range of stakeholders and their legitimate demands are greater in the public sector (Wæraas & Byrkjeflot, 2012; Leitch & Davenport, 2002), and due to the political nature of affairs, there is more complexity and uncertainty (Sanders & Canel, 2013). In fact, when it comes to change, the public sector can be very different from the private sector due to its often more bureaucratic processes, political nature of decisions and obligations for both transparency and equality.

This chapter focuses on three core areas of organisational change communication: organisational culture, employees and management. The chapter reports findings from a systematic literature review of articles from 1990 to 2016 using thematic analysis in order to answer three research questions: Is change in the public sector different from change in the private sector? What is the perceived role of communication for public sector change efforts? What insights can be found from previous literature about three topics connected with change communication: employees, organisational culture and management?

To begin, we ask whether it is actually true that public sector change differs from private sector change. Then we will examine the results of the literature review on each of these three aspects: (1) organisational culture, (2) public sector employees and (3) change management. We will summarise our findings and will conclude with three propositions for future studies on public sector change communication, which all highlight the rising importance of engagement.


In 2015, Malaysia’s investment vehicle, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), came under international scrutiny after it amassed a debt of US$11 billion (10.3 billion) (Wright & Clark, 2015), which it had difficulty repaying. More disturbingly, investigators found that US$700 million (658 million) was transferred into the personal bank account of Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, founder and chairman of 1MDB’s advisory board (Wright & Clark, 2015). Najib was also accused of embezzling state money (Reuters, 2015) and damaging the image of the country (“Najib tried to bribe me”, 2015). This chapter aims to examine the strategies used by the Malaysian prime minister to repair his image in the 1MDB scandal, the effectiveness of these strategies, and how these impacted Malaysia’s public diplomacy efforts in restoring the country’s image and reputation. Findings showed that the prime minister denied wrongdoing, and simultaneously bolstered his position and promised to turn 1MDB around. In contrast to the current explication of Benoit and Pang’s (2008) image repair strategies, Najib’s way of attacking the accusers sheds light into how image repair strategies may be operationalized in the Asian context. A new image repair strategy – diversion – is proposed to be added to the existing framework.


One of the most important challenges of our society is to cope with the transition of our society into a more and more digital one. Thus, the political and governmental system has to face and adapt to those transitions as well. This chapter focuses on the social media communication of the British, German and French national governments. The goal of this chapter is to compare the social media communication of these three countries in 2015 within each other as well as to draw a comparison between the results of two predecessor studies in 2011 and 2014. A new special focus of this chapter will be on the interactive discourse between society/citizens and governments.


Jobs of communication professionals are closely linked to transformations in society and therefore the role of these professionals is changing rapidly. Communication students must be prepared for the new demands put on communication professionals in the field. In Ede, a new curriculum in communication was launched in order to enable students to become relevant partners in dialog with society. Not only has the content of the curriculum changed but also the organizational structure of our faculty and the educational role of the lecturers.

We can identify three areas in the new curriculum where fundamental transitions have been made, in order to meet the expectations of a profession in transition:

1. Decentralization. In order to create an agile educational environment, we choose flatter structures and more autonomy for development teams (including budgets). Creating educational ownership improved knowledge sharing and idea generation among lecturers.

2. An agile curriculum. We renewed the content of the curriculum and added subjects as online reputation management, web care, training skills, and advanced listening. What’s more: from now on we invest to improve the curriculum every year, in cooperation with stakeholders. Students participate in focus groups about the curriculum and partners in the field are invited as cocreators.

3. The role of lecturers. The ongoing development of the profession has huge implications for the role of the teaching staff. The lecturer used to be the expert. He shared his knowledge with the newcomers, the students. Nowadays lecturers only add value if they continuously gain experience from practice. Therefore, we encourage teachers and students to learn together with partners in the communication field.


This conceptual chapter explores communicating with transparency and secrecy in public affairs activities in Norway. The tension between transparency and secrecy is particularly interesting with regard to the question of impact of strategic communication on political policymaking processes. As a theoretical framework, we use a double lens to hold the concepts of both transparency and secrets in focus. First, we draw on Fung’s (2013) principles of democratic transparency: availability, proportionality, accessibility and actionability. Second, we use Horn’s (2011) three logics of political secrecy: arcanum, mysterium and secretum. By integrating Fung’s principles of openness and Horn’s logics of secrecy, we construct a model for analysis of a few public affairs activities and practices. Empirical examples of PR agencies’ communicative activities support our model, in addition to interviews with three executives in agencies. The empirical examples illustrate that communication activities rely on top-down controlled information diffusion in PR agencies’ communication activities, such as podcasts and web pages. They use information to develop group identities and to develop stronger relationships to their clients and customers. The social dimension of information in our examples suggests that the agencies are discrete, operate in the background and are careful about revealing their competence and privileged insights.


In this study, the strategies of companies regarding social media and stakeholder dialogue and engagement are central. Based on insights from previous studies, it showed that organizations used little opportunities for stakeholder dialogue on social media. Since dialogue is a condition to create engagement, it is of importance for a follow-up study. Therefore, 10 respondents from leading European companies were interviewed and asked about strategies regarding stakeholder dialogue and related topics. From the results, we can conclude that engaging in dialogue with stakeholders on social media is still underdeveloped. Organizations are not only missing opportunities but also take risk not pursuing the opportunities social media offer.


This chapter seeks to better understand the skills and competencies that public relations (PR) professionals use in contributing to organisational decision-making processes. The data were collected by interviewing Finnish professionals using thematic semi-structured interviews. Overall, the results highlight a deep understanding of organisation management and decision-making processes. The most important competencies were business understanding and target group oriented thinking. The findings indicate that important skills are related to writing and social media. Regarding personal attributes, interaction and tolerance to criticism were acknowledged as most crucial. The conclusions suggest that if professionals analyse and review their skills, competencies and personal attributes related to decision making, this will support organisational performance and strengthen the added value of PR function. A reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of their own traits helps professionals enact their expected role in organisational problem solving and decision making.


Based on the assumption that the identity and self-understanding of an academic discipline determines how it conceptualizes different domains of social reality, including how it imports and/or exports concepts from or to other disciplines, this chapter presents some of the findings of a major ongoing comparative and cross-disciplinary study of how five key concepts within the combined fields of crisis management and reputation management are applied in three different disciplinary contexts. In this chapter, however, the focus is on just one of these concepts: the concept of reputation.


Pages 185-191
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Cover of How Strategic Communication Shapes Value and Innovation in Society
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Book series
Advances in Public Relations and Communication Management
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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