In just one book – Global Public Relations: spanning borders, spanning cultures

Global Public Relations: spanning borders, spanning cultures

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.

From the very beginning, as mandatory course books I have opted to use the Vercic and Sriramesh’a Global Public Relations Handbook (edition 1, and then 2), in tandem with the fundamental Post, Preston, Sachs’ book. Redefining the Corporation: stakeholder management and organizational wealth (2002).

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.

For example, the book interchangeably mixes international with global. I disagree, as in my view international implies some home base and peripheral locations around the world as an organizational mindset, while global implies one worldview, based on generic principles and specific applications applied to a profession, rather than an organization, which is today practised either from a global perspective or is not.

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.

From this new entry into the publishing field there is a lot to learn from and a lot to think about.,+spanning+cultures&source=bl&ots=vy4ATV2rbU&sig=5Ho95DgY2j5y7IIqLWu8yxbmBKg&hl=en&ei=Xo52TPrGOYmr4Abg7bWoBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
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3 Replies to “In just one book – Global Public Relations: spanning borders, spanning cultures

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  2. Thank you very much for posting the review of “Global Public Relations: spanning borders, spanning cultures”. There are so many books for Public Relations and coming across the good ones is not that easy. Sharing the recommendation of Toni Muzi Falconi, a professor at New York University’s Master’s in Public Relations is worthy information and an evidence for the value of the textbook.

  3. I came across this textbook last semester and adpoted it for our course titled International PR at Georgia Southern University. I also struggled wtih a textbook that presented material in way that promoted the desire to read the material. With other textbooks students wouldn’t read the material because the international perspective involved 30+ pages of history and two pages on communication. This time around, students not only enjoyed reading the book, but several students also chose to keep their book for future reference. Students also had the opportunity to meet one of the co-authors, Alan Freitag, which may have had some influence on their decision. (Although he only referenced the book in his talk when asked.)

    I agree with your statement “…there will never be an ”ideal” book on global relations, but this one – at least for now – comes the closest, in my opinion.” I hope if students in their early 20’s can see the long-term value in a book and make the decision to keep it, that others will at least give it a chance.

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