Review by Toni Muzi Falconi
I’ve now been teaching Global Relations and Intercultural Communication at New York University’s Master’s in Public Relations for five years, including reviewing my (ever-changing) syllabus involving some 150 students to date.
Also, from course to course, I have alternated mandatory readings of Van Ruler and Vercic’s PR in Europe, or Sriramesh’s PR in Asia, and Young and Phillips’ most recent edition of Online Public Relations.
Early this year, my Kindle Reader thankfully advised me a new book was available, Global Public Relations: spanning borders, spanning cultures, authored in 2009 by Freitag and Quesinberry Stokes from the University of North Carolina.
I bought it, downloaded and read it and immediately required students of my most recent July/August NYU class to adopt it, along with the above-mentioned Handbook and Redefining the Corporation.
I’m pleased to report that my students were equally happy to read this book; they certainly improved their understanding of public relations compared to previous courses.
So textbooks, after all is said and done, do continue to serve a purpose and matter….
This one is certainly worth reading and studying. Not only for students, but also for scholars and professionals. It’s well written, well structured and highly informative.
Of course, as things change so quickly, there will never be an “ideal” book on global relations, but this one – at least for now – comes the closest, in my opinion.
I do not necessarily agree with every concept or path its authors (Freitag and Quesinberry Stokes) have chosen to follow, and I take this as yet another another sign of its quality. This makes the experience good for me, as it stimulates critical thought and helps me think through many ideas and concepts regarding PR that I had always taken for granted.
For example, as much as the authors insist on taking a global perspective, in some instances a – most likely inadvertently – North American (and, but this is definitely a quality, even provincial) ethnocentrism seems to surface.
Mind you, not so much in its actual contents, as in the worldview it proposes.
On the other hand, while one of the paradigms the book offers is that there is no one way of practising effective public relations, there seems to be insufficient emphasis on the facts that:
- Public relations is, in itself, a global profession and no single sub-discipline should escape this truth. To the point that each course should take this path and therefore education curricula should do away with specific courses dedicated to global public relations.
- We, who are directly involved, should be the first to recognize and to advocate for this.
- Generic principles are in no way effective if they are not entirely interdependent with specific applications. Effective practice relies on this structural interdependence, whether one is Coca Cola in Thailand, the World Bank in Nicaragua or Walmart in California.
- While the book details “generic principles” quite well, it is less convincing when it illustrates specific applications and, most importantly, the components as well as the identification process of the public relations infrastructure of a given territory. Not to mention in explaining the reasons why no generic principle is in itself valid if not practised differently in coherence with a certain specific infrastructure.p
In conclusion, I highly recommend the textbook, Global Public Relations: spanning borders, spanning cultures. finds its way horizontally into undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate courses in public relations, irrespective of the single subject or the country… and that anyone who is interested and aware of the impact public relations has on the dynamics of today’s societies read it.