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Attention food and drink PR specialists

24 Feb

An undergraduate student, who has recently written about a spectacular publicity stunt for a burger company, now needs help with her dissertation research in a related area. She's hoping PR people involved in the food and drinks industries will complete a simple questionnaire to gauge the effects of new Ofcom regulations on the promotion of fatty food. Can you help?

Dissertation discussion

20 Feb

It's that time of the academic year again. I'm getting more comments and email requests (spam comments too from essay writing businesses which I remove as soon as I can) on this topic than any other. So here are some groundrules on my response to dissertation requests.

  • I will respond to your questionnaires and interview requests whenever possible. I've welcomed the chance to answer questions on the effects of the recession on the PR industry from a New York University student and on the ideal curriculum for a PR degree from a Leeds Met student in the last week.
  • I will not give anyone a topic to research. I can give general suggestions (see below) but your dissertation is your one chance to pick a subject to study. Don't give it up, least of all to a stranger.  

Good dissertation topics have the following characteristics:

  • There is an existing body of (academic) literature for you to read. 
  • It is a subject that allows you to contribute your own original research. 
  • It probably involves an element of novelty and change.  

Let's take an example. A student took the 'glass ceiling' as her starting point (well-established body of literature) but chose to ask about the barriers to entry for young men onto PR degree courses (involves change, very researchable).

Or another. I've not yet supervised a study into the use of Twitter in media relations (readily researchable, very topical). There's no academic literature though, so is this a show-stopper? Not at all, because there's literature on communications and public relations theory, social media, media relations practice and much non-academic chatter about Twitter.

Busy for some

29 Aug

There have been some mighty spats and some strong themes doing the rounds while I’ve been away. Here are some of them:

  • Well-known blogger Tom Coates hates press release spam. It’s fallen to Stephen Davies (among others) to stage a defence of PR.
  • Nobull_charnosI hate spam like the next person, until it’s personal and then it’s no longer spam. One news release I welcomed receiving was, interestingly, from Stephen Davies himself. It’s a social media news release. Another was from two recent PR graduates who’ve taken part in a photo shoot with their team (see picture) in support of ‘National Stockings Day’.
  • Senior industry figures have been thinking about the merits of young graduates entering the business. David Byrne, CEO of Weber Shandwick writes:

    We want people with good analytical skills and an understanding of how to make a case. We need people who can actually write – more and more important as PR and the media we deal with change – and we need people with a real interest in the world around them. We increasingly need people with specialist sectoral knowledge as content becomes more important than just contacts.

    And we need people who actually want a career in PR in its many forms, and see it as a profession rather than just a brush with glamour.

    As more kids with socially diverse backgrounds work hard and get good A levels, and more good quality communications-related degrees become available, this will help our business.

  • Meanwhile Edelman’s European President and CEO David Brain advises job seekers to go global in search of valuable experience.

Begining to get the paradigm shift

16 Aug

If a week is said to be a long time in politics, imagine what twelve months means in social media.

Drew B is back with a review of what the trend spotters were saying a year ago. My comments of a year ago look cryptic; I was expressing my lack of excitement with the crop of new tools and environments. For example, I was cool on Second Life then and that’s now the tone of so much media commentary this summer.

But Drew’s question was about the social media tools we use and find invaluable. My ‘daily bread’ comprises:

  • Google Reader: for news feeds (eg blog updates)
  • Facebook: the great hidden advantage for me is that I don’t have to maintain email addresses for my ‘friends’; people can change jobs, move house, change names even and if they’re on Facebook I can still reach them)
  • Email: it’s old tech but it’s still an important social networking tool, preferable to me to tedious texting. Googlemail has a good spam filter.

Like many of us, my blogging diet is changing. I’m still reading blogs daily but posting less. This could be because of the cycle of the university year; it could be because more chatter is going elsewhere (see Facebook, above). I have a hunch that my wiki will outlive this blog – but that’s operating as a simple website, not as a social media space. As Jakob Nielsen says, we’re mostly lurkers, not participants.


15 Aug

Cipr_member PR Studies is my personal weblog about public relations. I’m a university lecturer teaching this subject at Leeds Metropolitan University, but the views and interests articulated here are personal, not those of my institution nor of my colleagues.

In the 1980s I wrote about business and technology for a magazine based in London and New York. In the 1990s I worked in PR management specialising in the technology sector. In the 2000s I’ve been focusing on PR education and training.

I read widely, but only pay out of my own pocket for two periodicals: The Economist and Private Eye. I am independent of political or commercial interests though I support free markets and view myself as a social liberal. I am a member of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations and a contributor to Forward blog.


This is an independent, non-commercial site. I strive for accuracy (within the constraints of an instant publishing medium), and will correct any inaccuracies that I become aware of. I credit sources through quotations and hyperlinks – and request that PR Studies should in turn be credited as a source.

I link to sites that we find useful and relevant to our interest in public and media relations. Yet I do not endorse or control the content of external websites. I strive to keep links up to date, but request help in alerting me to changed addresses.

Issues or complaints should be made to:

Comments, trackbacks and email

I make it easy to comment, challenge or contact me. But I also need to guard against off-subject or offensive postings or comments. Much of my email through this site is spam and this is deleted rather than opened; I’ve started moderating trackbacks as most are machine generated. This may mean that a genuine enquiry is hastily deleted: if so, I’d encourage you to try again.

Editorial guidelines

I welcome contributions from students and others, so these guidelines are for guest contributors:

I strive to write succinct postings, using UK English that is intelligible to an international audience. My approach is journalistic: preferring short titles, short sentences and short paragraphs. Postings extending beyond four short paragraphs should use the ‘extended post’ facility.

I use minimal formatting, with minimal capitalisation (web and internet are acceptable usages on this site). I do not italicise publications (books, newspapers, news channels), and never italicise a word that is also hyperlinked.

Short quotations of less than a full sentence should be within single inverted commas. Quotations of one or more sentences should be indented using the ‘quoted passage’ button, without the need for inverted commas. Quoted sources should always be clearly credited, either by a note in the text or through a hyperlink. When linking to weblogs, I try to use a permanent link (‘permalink’) to ensure that the link is – and remains – specific.

Notes from a small island

31 May

Paul Holmes started it with his reflections on industry events in Europe. Then Stuart Bruce added his thoughts.

Let me stir in An American Tale – Simon English writing a first-hand account of US and UK media relations in Corp Comms magazine.

And here’s the key question. Is Britain closer to US practice or to that in continental Europe? And if we’re drifting westward (as I suspect we are for historic, economic, cultural and linguistic reasons), where does that leave Ireland, recipients of much inward investment from the US, but also good Europeans within the Eurozone?


27 Jun

I’m not on leave yet, but I’ve been busy in the offline world marking scripts for two professional qualifications. My house has also been struck by lightning, taking out the PC, TV, phone line and other equipment. Though there’s always time in a busy schedule to post, there isn’t time enough at present for me to keep up with blog browsing.

This leaves one eery thought. What happens when bloggers die? Unless we leave our passwords and simple posting instructions with someone we trust, there will simply be a prolonged silence followed by removal of the site when the subscription lapses. Is this lapsing into a silence an appropriate metaphor, or should we seek a more conclusive end. Self-written obituaries in draft format?

Sorry to be mawkish. It was only my house that was struck by lightning, not me. And things are relatively easy to replace.