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Centre for Public Relations Research and Professional Practice

The Public Relations Research Group operates in the BU Media School’s Institute for Media and Communication Research. As its name suggests, it is focused on research into the history, practice and theory of public relations and adjacent fields of communication activity.

BU has long experience in research and teaching of public relations having been one of the first UK universities to launch undergraduate studies in the late 1980s. It has extensive links with the UK PR industry, which is illustrated through recognition by both the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and the Public Relations Consultants Association.

Current research activity includes the impact of ‘churnalism’ upon PR, CSR, corporate communication, history of PR, PR literacy, digital PR pedagogy and volunteerism.

Publications

A recent paper by BU’s Public Relations Research Group explores the validity of two new terms (pdf - 499kb) that may help academics and practitioners understand past (and present) PR practices and events more completely.

‘Dissent PR’ and ‘protest PR’ are apparently new to the disciplinary lexicon. They are offered here as a differentiation on ‘activism PR’, being arguably more refined than the latter’s very wide reach. Secondly they allow the development of new explanatory categories that may deepen our knowledge of PR events. For example, they may more fully describe the development of the long 40 year campaign to abolish slavery in the British Empire, 1789 to 18331. Finally, there is a possible, more general disciplinary outcome, i.e. the weakening of the common but misleading perception that PR is a politically right-wing method of communication.

To explore these matters, four seminars were held in the Media School, Bournemouth University, during autumn term 2012 to see whether interested colleagues could usefully apply the terms to current, recent and past PR happenings.