Vol. 5, No. 1 – 2004


Appointed Public Officials and Public Relations Practice:  Accountability... – John Harrison
Designing Contemporary Learning Environments for Excellence in ... – Dale Holt and Mark Sheehan
Truth and Deceit in Contemporary Australia – Jeff Malpas
New Language Needed to Help Move Issue Management onto the Offensive – Tony Jaques
Case Study:  Introducing the Twins:  Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 11 – Simone Ferrier
Book Reviews

Appointed Public Officials and Public Relations Practice:  Accountability, Ethics and Professionalism in the ‘Children Overboard’ affair

John Harrison

This paper examines the performance of the Australian Defence Department’s Public Affairs and Corporate Communications Division (PACCD) in relation to public statements by Ministers of the Crown that children were thrown overboard from a ‘Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel’ off the Australian territory of Christmas Island on October 7, 2001.  It concludes that public affairs officials in the Department of Defence failed to act in the public interest, however construed, and did not act in accordance with the Values Statement of the Australian Public Service, nor the code of Ethics of the Public Relations Institute of Australia.


Designing Contemporary Learning Environments for Excellence in Public Relations Education

Dale Holt and Mark Sheehan

Universities are striving to enhance the quality of the educational experience in the professions in response to external and internal pressures.  The professional field of public relations (PR) is not immune to these forces.  Previously, enhancements were often pursued through particular initiatives relating to curriculum, pedagogical or assessment redesign at the unit level.  While such initiatives are valuable we argue for a strategic, integrated, programmatic approach.  This requires the design of learning environments, with integrated virtual and physical dimensions, based on a relevant and meaningful curriculum, and student-centred approaches to learning.  These learning environments enable quality learning in fields like public relations with diverse student cohorts studying on- and off-campus.  The challenges involved in designing what we term ‘contemporary learning environments’ are illuminated through a case study of Deakin University’s Public Relations Program.  Over the last three years redesigning PR online has led to changed curriculum, and pedagogical and assessment practices.  We conclude by suggesting that a commitment to continuous quality improvement will be required to ensure the program’s learning environment remains relevant to the needs of students studying in the field.


New Language Needed to Help Move Issue Management onto the Offensive

Tony Jaques

The terms reactive and proactive are commonly used to distinguish different management response to issues, particularly the defensive issue mode which is often categorised as ‘crisis prevention’.  But beyond the defensive stand is a further issue management mode which enables organisations not just to respond to issues already on the public agenda, but to deliberately seek to raise public issues and to pursue planned strategic outcomes.  This paper proposes new language to identify this mode and examines detailed case studies to explore the concept.


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