Vol 13 No 2 - 2012


Guest Editor for 2012 Chris Galloway, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne

I am writing this editorial at the conclusion of the remarkably successful World Public Relations Forum(WPRF) held in Melbourne. Of special note was the Research Colloquium day attended by over 100 academics and practitioners. The Colloquium, a Melbourne initiative, was held as a curtain raiser to the Forum and has been embraced by the next 2014 WPRF organisers in Madrid.
Papers presented to the Colloquium have now been submitted for publication in the APPRJ and Journal of Communication Management for 2013. It is with great pleasure that the APPRJ will be able to publish selected papers that covered and wide breadth of scholarship in most areas of public relations research.

The articles in this  final volume for 2012 reflects a variety of practice and academic research. Dr Damian Gleeson’s biographical study of Australian public relations pioneer George Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is hailed in some academic texts as the ‘first’ PR practitioner in Australia. His sensational meant that he would certainly leave a lasting impression on public relations. Gleeson remarks that his latter activities involving gambling may have irreparably damages his career speculation could be given to the harm he may have done to the profession in his own state of New South Wales.

For many of us delivering a ‘Western’ based curriculum to an international cohort can be challenging. Dr Gregor Halff’s papers elicits understanding of the challenges in this situation. Brady and Vidyarini, in their paper, focus on  area rarely examined in current public relations literature - diplomacy and in particular use a case study approach to observe how this activity meets concepts of public relations.
The controversial issue of Coal Seam gas is the focus of Jaques and Galloway’s paper. A broad overview of activism is included but specifically within this issue the role of the Lock the Gate Alliance is considered and delivers findings that potentially question the traditional methods employed in activism.

Practitioner Sasha Grebe’s article also adopts a case study approach and examines the Australian Wheat Board’s response to the Royal Commission into the UN Oil-for Food programme. Despite the negativity surrounding the Commission outcomes Grebe’s perspective also takes into account the contemporaneous restructure of the AWB and the strategy pursued by the organisation.

The work undertaken by the Hunter Institute for Mental Health has led to significant research outcomes and provided public relations teachers with curriculum resources that can be applied across a variety of teaching areas in undergraduate programs. The development of Mindframe for public relations has involved PR academics from a variety of institutions over a significant period of time. This paper presents the curriculum activity conclusions and the  rationale for those conclusions.

I would like to record my appreciation for the fine work undertaken by my colleague Dr Chris Galloway who in 2013 undertakes an academic role at Massey University. I am certain his scholastic leadership will continue to be recognised and appreciated by public relations academics in the Asia Pacific region.

Mark Sheehan, Editor, APPRJ, Deakin University, Australia



George William Sydney Fitzpatrick (1884-1948):
An Australian Public Relations ‘pioneer’
Damian John Gleeson
University of New South Wales

Public relations scholarship has only briefly mentioned George Fitzpatrick, an Australian industry pioneer. This paper - based largely on archival material, contemporary articles, and other published primary sources - seeks to redress this gap in PR historiography. It examines Fitzpatrick’s family background, business networks, and diverse career, which included PR and government lobbying activities at a time when publicity practice in Australia was thought to be confined to the film sector. From journalist origins, Fitzpatrick moved into consultancy and pro bono PR work on behalf of governments, business, and charitable organisations. His PR campaigns, grounded in research trips to America and Europe in the 1930s, reflected considerable understanding of the ‘science of persuasion’ to influence public opinion. Fitzpatrick’s strategies included editorial, direct mail, advertising, events, and lobbying. In 1946 Fitzpatrick faced sensational allegations concerning his gambling businesses, from which he does not appear to have recovered. This paper concludes that although Fitzpatrick’s reputation was strongly damaged, his earlier charitable and political campaigns encapsulated PR practices well prior to the professional PR era in Australia.

Keywords: Canberra, Gambling, Government, Lobbying, Public Relations, Tasmania

Getting It Right From the Start: How the Initial Crisis Response by Scandalized Organizations is Critical to Repairing Reputational Damage
Sasha Grebe
Royal Australasian College of Physicians


Purpose: This paper draws on the case study of AWB and the United Nations Oil-For-Food scandal to examine the importance of the initial crisis response strategy for a scandalized organization in framing the perceptions of stakeholders to the rebuilding of a damaged corporate reputation.

Design/Methodology: The AWB case study is a perfect opportunity to highlight the differences between apologia and apology in post-crisis communication and reputation management.

Findings: In seeking to avoid genuine reform of itself and the regulatory it operated in, AWB caused itself further reputational damage. This demonstrates the importance of getting an apology right from the outset.

Research: The Royal Commission established by the Australian Government examined in great detail the approach taken by AWB to the “Oil-For-Food” “kickback’ scandal.

Practical implications: There are numerous studies of corporate scandals and why they occur but the AWB case study provides a unique case study into post-crisis communication and how organizations can respond effectively to corporate scandals.

Original value of the paper: The unique insights gained from the Australian Royal Commission investigations into AWB clearly show that the company initially tried to stonewall or manage through the impacts of the scandal without a genuine contrition and commitment to reform. As the National regulatory Affairs Manager, and Government Relations and Trade Advocacy Manager employed by the new management team, the author was intimately involved.

KEYWORDS: corporate scandal, reputation management, crisis-communication, public apology, post-crisis response, Oil-For-Food scandal, AWB Limited.

Cultural Diplomacy as Public Relations in an Indonesian Consulate in Australia
Titi Nur Vidyarini
Petra Christian University
Danielle Brady
Edith Cowan University

In this paper we investigate the similarities and possible convergence between public relations and cultural diplomacy in the work of the Indonesian Consulate General in Perth, Western Australia. Using a qualitative research approach, interviews were held with Consulate staff and heads of Indonesian organizations based in Western Australia. The findings show that the Consulate General does perform a public relations role through its culturally based communication practices. Indonesian community organisations liaise with the Consulate General and its publics, and effectively serve as a communication channel to the Indonesian citizens in Perth. Balai Bahasa Indonesia Perth, is an example of an international actor performing cultural diplomacy on behalf of Indonesia. The research concludes that cultural diplomacy is another form of public relations, in which two-way symmetrical communication and mutual understanding are pursued.
Keywords: cultural diplomacy, consular diplomacy, intercultural communication

Coal seam gas in Australia: can activists be effective from the margins?
Tony Jaques
Issue Outcomes Pty Ltd
Chris Galloway
Swinburne University


Activist groups have dual identities: the way they see themselves and the way others see them. Community opposition to coal seam gas and large-scale coal mining in Australia has highlighted this distinction as the radical “Lock the Gate Alliance” and others attempt to hold back the accelerating momentum of coal seam gas exploitation.
This paper backgrounds CSG development in Australia and applies activism, social identity and risk scholarship to examine this alliance of highly motivated opponents in terms of its self-identified roles and responses to industry and governments. It explores implications for organizations confronted by radical activists who pursue a strategy of non-cooperation and questions the effectiveness of such an approach. The paper suggests that non-cooperation may limit activists’ capacity to achieve their objectives.

Teaching Public Relations to Students with a Confucian Cultural Background
Gregor Halff
Singapore Management University

This paper explores how the Confucian cultural background of students influences their perceptions of and reaction to the dominant public relations curriculum from the ‘West’. Using focus groups of Asian students, three heuristics that affect the students’ affinity to learn public relations are identified. Instructors working with students from a Confucian cultural background are advised to incorporate these heuristics when planning their curriculum.

Keywords: Teaching, Public Relations, Intercultural Relations

Empowering Future Practitioners: A Curriculum Approach to Enhance ‘Response Able’ Communication about Mental Health Issues.
Jaelea Skehan
Hunter Institute of Mental Health and University of Newcastle
Robina Xavier
Queensland University of Technology
Siobhain Lowthe
Hunter Institute of Mental Health

The power of public relations to shape community attitudes is well documented but with it comes professional responsibility. Mental illness and suicide are two key social issues requiring the profession of public relations to consider its role. This paper reports on the development process and pilot evaluation of a federally funded educational initiative designed to empower public relations undergraduates to consider the impact of communication on public understandings of, and responses to specific social and health issues. While the curriculum materials focus on mental illness and suicide, the process has application to other areas of social responsibility. The curriculum resources reflect the model of empowerment and capacity building, avoiding proscription or censorship but offering emerging practitioners tools and knowledge to make their own informed decisions about the way in which they can responsibly communicate in practice.


Keywords: Public Relations, Community Attitudes, Professional Responsibility, Social Issues, Mental Illness.

APPRJ subscriptions, full transcripts of all articles and back articles are available. Contact APPRJ Editor, Mark Sheehan at sheehanm@deakin.edu.au


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