Towards a new global public relations model: from theory to practice. Where are we? A webinar and a very recent paper by a young doctorate student: Chiara Valentini

One year has passed since PRSA, NYU and I organized in New York a four day intensive workshop for 18 senior professional participants from all over the world on the theme: towards a new global public relations model, from theory to practice.

A few weeks earlier again in New York with the support of the Global Alliance and again PRSA, I moderated two consecutive editions (to appease both hemispheres) a 1 hour long webinar on the same issue with the live participation of Jim Grunig, Richard Edelman, Anne Gregory and Sriramesh Krishnamurthy.
As I am about to begin my class on ‘global relations and intercultural communication’ at NYU’s master of science in public relations and corporate communication, I have been able to retrieve for my new students a copy of the cdrom of that webinar which I would also like to share with visitors of this blog.
In the meantime a lot has happened in our academic and professional community and our collective conceptualizations have greatly developed since.
May I also share with you a recent and highly informative global_versus_cultural_approach_in_public_relationship_management.pdf written on the theme for the latest issue of the Journal of Communication Management by Chiara Valentini,a brilliant young Italian doctorate student at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland.
I would very much like to bring this argument further and very much count on your input. Thank you

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9 Replies to “Towards a new global public relations model: from theory to practice. Where are we? A webinar and a very recent paper by a young doctorate student: Chiara Valentini

  1. Toni,

    I was moved by BAK’s comments and replied mostly according to an academic point of view. Therefore, there are a couple of semantic differences to point out as you suggest.

    The first one is that I couldn’t agree more with you when you say that global standards (in my view: the general acceptance of tendentially consensual definitions of what PR is and the wide acknowledgment of commonly agreed principles of PR Practice including Ethics) are “an essential way forward”. The difference is that when writing the comment I referred to “a Global PR model” (in my view: the situation in which only one definition of PR is accepted and the same principles are accepted without questioning them) attributing it mainly a negative charge. I concede that I might be wrong about this negative connotation (although from an epistemological point of view I’m certain that my negative feeling towards a global PR model have reasonable foundations) and I’m certainly aware that similar problems exist with different professions.

    On the other hand, your critic to my argument about the publics is totally right on the level of discussion we are using here in the blog. It was my fault not to adequatly clarify a comment made from a conceptual point of view in which I created my own concept of publics. Without being too much conceptual (you already know how I think about this) I assume a very clear (for me) distinction between three different levels of analysis when talking about publics. (a) The Macro level (that in which a public is at an institutional level. For example, your concept of influentials or end-recipients opinion leaders); (b) The meso level (when a specific group incarnates a specific functional role. For example, when you realize that, in a given situation, catholic priests are the most valuable end-recipients opinion leaders); (c) The micro level (when you go down to the individual level and identify a specific number of individuals belonging to the cathegory of “catolic priests” whith whom you want to communicate and relate.

    In this context, I might agree with you that at the macro level there might exist global publics. However, at the Meso Level, it’s pretty difficult to imagine that Catholic Priests in Italy or in Spain are the same. Even though they have more in common between themselves than with the rest of the world, they certainly can have different agendas, preoccupations, different ways to recognize problems, different motives to be involved and diferent constraints to their action.

    Therefore, I would perhpas restate my initial statement saying that two myths about Global Public Relations include the belief that you can have such thing as a unique model (at least from a theoretical point of view), and the belief that global publics exist beyond broad categories, since specific groups and individuals are very diverse even when they relate to the same broad category.

  2. Joao,
    I am baffled by your idea that if there is no global public then there is no global public relations.
    I do not agree for various reasons:
    °there are many global publics, if by global publics we intend clusters of individuals who, from your interested pespective as an organization, have more in common amongst themselves than they do with their other national citizens. Think of financial market operators, catholic priests, erasmus students, bloggers etc…. wouldn’t you consider them as influential publics to, say, respectively to the financial regulatory bodies, to the vatican, to the universities of europe, to microsoft ?
    Also I do not agree that there is no global understanding about what pr is about…. enormous territory has been covered in this area in recent years and you yourself are a perfect example of what I mean.
    Now, of course, it all depends what you mean with the term global…if you intend that there is not a general agreed understanding of what pr is amongst all the globe’s population, or even amongst all the globe’s public relations practitioners then you are correct. But this is true also for advertising, marketing, aaw, accountancy or any other professional activity (albeit, and I grant you this, to a different degree…). This to me is a specious argument and does not lead us anywhere. On the other hand, it is undeniable that there is a growing and significant cluster of professionals and researchers and scholars and students from all over the world who claim to have a similar (never identical, of course) view of what public relations is.
    And, in its mini-mini way, this blog is also a recognition of this.
    The idea of a global model seems to me to be an essential way forward for the very same reasons you argue to the contrary: i.e. that the value of diversity, amongst others, needs to be one of the generic principles and, similarly, that the value of cultural specificity should be in the specific applications. In other words, a common umbrella in which we more or less all recognize ourselves is essential.
    Otherwise, what is the point for a global alliance?
    Thanks for the tips over my coming course…

  3. Toni,

    There is an interesting idea coming from the debate. The idea that perhaps the biggest argument why global public relations is a myth it that there is no such thing as a global public.

    I’m aware that in the academic context this is a very deep discussion (I am deeply involved in research specifically focused in the publics) but easy to understand by all of us.

    One other (minor) argument is that there is no global unique understanding of what PR is about.

    So if you put this together, what’s the point of searching a global PR model? There are global standards that we should be looking for (Ethics, professional accreditation) and there should also be consensual understanding of the meaning of certains concepts (the concept of publics and relationships being of course among the first), but the “cultural argument” put forward by Chiara helps argue that diversity should be the rule of our profession after we secure this basic common background.

    By the way Toni, with regard to your question, I’ve done it and strongly suggest that everyone tries to find poetry reading courses or even basic acting workshops (Some theatre companies might have this on offer). They give us a greater understanding of our vocal system and challenge us to put much more intention in our reading and speaking.


  4. Toni, I remember that about a year ago my pal, Debbie Weil ( did a post that compared the presentation styles of Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki and Tom Peters. In particular, I recalled this postscript she wrote:

    P.S. Guy does something that I’ve been working on recently: he smiles the whole time he talks. It’s disarming and very engaging.

    She linked to an online video that shows Guy Kawasaki in action:

    I realize that your lectures likely won’t be done through video, but I bet if you taught as if you were in front of a room full of people, smiling (probably best not to grimace), gesticulating and even standing up/sitting down, your voice will quite naturally be more animated.

    After all, it is generally suggested that call centre staff, etc., smile when answering the phone, as it gives a natural life to one’s voice.

    (I’m “listening” to Guy’s video as I type this…I think I hear him smiling….)

  5. I was advised the best way to learn to speak in a dynamic fashion was to read exciting bedtime stories to a young child. Getting into character, adding in sound effects, being scary or timid, etc, all help modulate the voice.

    The problem is, that the more exciting you get, the less they want to go to sleep….

  6. Hey Brian, good to hear from you. I knew I had to post something really provocative to stir you….Kidding aside, the issue of academic papers being too boring or complex,as you well know, is not new: just these last months I participated in two discussions, one on the Ipra yahoo private group when Jim Grunig was bashed over the head by a number of ‘professionals’ because he said that the latter should make an effort to understand what academics write about rather than academics should write more clearly so that professionals may understand them. I know I ma exxagerating…but more or less… another debate was on ODwyers following a provocative od-ed by professional Huey which raise many academic highbrows.
    On falling asleep reading (or listening to) academics, let me tell you this story.. on June 25 I am to begin an online synchronous course on global relations and intercultural communication with some 13 masters students from NYU composed of seven two hour long synchronous sessions. To do this as properly as possible I am being assisted in my learning curve by a tutor from NYU. I have tried and tried, rehearsed and rehearsed, listened to myself numerous times. Unfortunately I discovered what, in my heart, I had always known and nobody really dared to tell me (even when I was active in politics…): I am monotonous. IN real life the problem can be adverted by gesticulating, standing up and sitting down, walking around, making grimaces….but on-line…jeeezz…I have sofar succeeded in moving from 8 to 25 the minutes I can listen to myself speak before falling asleep…but I will never be able to do this for two hours….my poor students do not yet know what they will get…any ideas? suggestions? tips, anyone?

  7. I tried Toni. Honest.

    I printed out the 17 pages of closely spaced type and I tried and tired and tried to get past page four, but I kept falling asleep.

    Except for the wolves in Norway, it just kept going around in he said – she said.

    Sorry, but I can’t comment any more.


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