Socially integrating PR and operationalising an alternative approach

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The Routledge Handbook of Critical Public Relations, 2016, pp. 335 - 348
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This chapter contributes to critical thinking about public relations in two important ways. First, it reviews key literature and synthesizes the findings of several international research studies which reaffirm that claims made in the dominant paradigm of Excellence theory and other popular theories of PR and corporate communication for two-way interaction, dialogue, co-orientation, relationships, and even symmetry between organizations and their publics are largely illusory and require rethinking. Research involving a range or organizations shows that PR and ‘strategic communication’ are primarily implemented for dissemination of organization messages and persuasion and these approaches are continuing even in social media which explicitly advocate interactivity and sociality. Drawing on recent research and critical studies, this chapter calls for PR to facilitate the integration of organizations into society for mutual organization-public benefit, rather than contribute to power relations that privilege organizational interests. Second, in advocating a social integration model of public relations, this chapter takes an important step towards praxis, which Hegel, Marx and other founders of critical analysis advocated as part of criticism, by exploring how such an alternative model of PR might be operationalized. In doing so, it offers some answers to the critics’ critics by advancing critical thinking towards practice, as well as contributing to critical PR theory.
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