In Bruges: investigating strategic positioning and Science Diplomacy

Technically this was not my first time in Bruges, Belgium. It all comes down to how you define ‘In Bruges’. In 2015, I was a keynote speaker at the inaugural Positioning Theory Symposium held in Bruges, but that time I attended the three-day event via telepresence robot (you can read about my “I, Robot” experience here).

This time, I’ve been been working (in person) with Professor Luk van Langenhove as an invited visiting researcher at the United Nations University – Centre for Regional Integration Studies in Bruges.

Professor van Langenhove is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Positioning Theory, and together we’ve been exploring the adaptation of the positioning framework developed for public relations  (as presented in my 2014 book) for researching the topic of Science Diplomacy.

This work is timely given the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) is currently developing the Foreign Policy White Paper, which aims to set the direction of foreign policy for the coming decade. DFAT has announced that Science Diplomacy is a priority area for Australia and they are working on a developing a Science Diplomacy strategy.

Working with Luk during the past month, we have built on our initial Science Diplomacy paper presented in Singapore earlier this year at the International Conference on Public Policy. Whilst in Bruges, I undertook a positioning analysis of selected public submissions to the DFAT White Paper to ascertain the ways in which Science Diplomacy was being conceptualized.

I found through applying the revised positioning framework that firstly there was a narrow view of Science Diplomacy as primarily being about international scientific collaboration being put forward. Secondly, the analytic lens offered by positioning theory showed how submission authors positioned themselves and others through the strategic use of discourse, a key component of communication.

This research initially will be published as a working paper for the European Leadership in Culture, Science and Innovation Diplomacy Project (EL-CSID).

I’m very grateful to the University of Newcastle, and in particular Professor Daryl Evans, (Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic) and Interim Director People and Workforce Strategy, Ms Tina Crawford, for their support in facilitating this period of my Special Study Program. I am also very appreciative of the warm welcome extended to me by the Director of UNU-CRIS, Professor Madeleine Hosli, and to all the staff and scholars at UNU-CRIS.




Trump’s presidency will be fertile ground for communication research

The election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States of America has dominated much of the news in recent times. It has also been the subject of much analysis by the academic community who, like most of the media, did not predict a Trump win. On November 9th, 2016, the website, The Conversation, published an article entitled, “Donald Trump wins US election: scholars from around the world react”.

In this article it is suggested that Trump will probably take a very aggressive stance against Mexico; that Trump’s rise to power may put an end to liberal democracy as propagated by the US and its western allies in the post-Cold War era; that relations between the US and Israel under Trump may be smoother than under Obama, but less secure; that Trump’s presidency will clear away any remaining resistance to China’s rise to regional preeminence; and, that Trump’s election will strengthen neo-conservative, fundamentalist networks.

Subarno Chattarji, from the University of Delhi states that Trump’s victory is “indicative of the insecurities and resentments of the majority and the desire to return to a purer, better, ‘original’ America, which was largely white and where everyone knew their place”. William Case from City University Hong Kong opines that “with Donald Trump in the White House, Southeast Asia’s entry into China’s orbit will quicken. Indeed, his repudiation of trading relations and security commitments seems to leave countries in the region with no alternative. And his anti-Muslim vitriol will add steam, especially in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines”.

These initial reactions by academics from across the globe immediately following Trump’s election were not optimistic for the future. Given that there was little substance on policy issues in Trump’s campaign, much of the material for analysis was clearly the public communication promulgated by Mr Trump and his formidable communications team.

During the campaign, Donald Trump positioned himself as the man who would make America great again. His success can be traced in part to his assertion that he had the answer to the problem. It was a problem that he had defined – that America was no longer great. This concept was very open to interpretation and difficult to pin down. There were a myriad of potential ways for audiences to interpret Trump’s claimed position as the President who would ‘fix’ things.

For those US voters who had experienced personally negative impacts on their lives in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, things clearly weren’t as ‘great’ as they once were. They could tie the Trump ‘great again’ narrative to their own hopes for a return to better times. For those who interpreted Trump’s meaning to be one where the sub-text was implying that anyone or anything he viewed as ‘non-traditional American’ was a threat to the nation’s greatness, Trump’s messaging was framed as racist, sexist, Islamaphobic or homophobic.

The way that Donald Trump self-positioned as the man who would make America great again both rallied and divided the population. We still have much to learn about the way such self-positioning works. Research shows positioning is an ongoing task requiring continuous attention and maintenance, not just by an individual but also from networks. Communities who perceived their lives weren’t as “great” as they once were could tie the Trump ‘great again’ narrative to their own hopes for a return to better times.

For anti-Trump supporters, Trump’s messaging was amplified through their networks as negative. As Trump transitions into the Presidency his position as ‘fixer’ may become more secure and he’ll be less reliant on his supporting network. However, if his supporters don’t see him deliver ‘the fix’, he will need that support more than ever, and this network is unlikely to remain strong. This presidency will be fascinating for examining personal and network positioning-power in communication, and will provide all areas of public relations research with fertile ground for exploration.


Batongbacal, J., Case, W., Chattarji, S., Diamint, R., Grzebalska, W., Latouche, M.A., Maher, R., Peto, A., Rynhold, J., Sombatpoonsiri, J. and Vázquez del Mercado, S. (2016). Donald Trump wins US election: scholars from around the world react. The Conversation. 9-10 November, 2016. Link to article.

Our MOOC is a world first in the field – Natural History Illustration


The University of Newcastle’s (UON) partnership with edX has just been announced.  A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in Natural History Illustration is to be first in the MOOC suite for UON.

This MOOC is a world first in the field and is pioneering ways to teach online drawing and related skills in a scientific context. I was thrilled to be asked to head the team charged with delivering this MOOC.

Particular challenges were faced at UON as Natural History Illustration  had never delivered online teaching and no one in our midst had designed an edX course. I brought together a cross-unit team starting back in May 2016 and this amazing team is delivering an amazing course in less than half the average MOOC development time. Enrolments are open and course kicks off on 26 October 2016.andrew-howells-microsope-web-small

bernie-and-wedge-tail-eagle-small-webDr Andrew Howells and Dr Bernadette Drabsch, with Dr Daniel Atkins‘ assistance, have developed subject materials and worked closely with the Centre for Teaching and Learning’s blended and online learning design (BOLD) lab staff, led by Luke Boulton have  orchestrated and
facilitated staging, film shooting, editing, post-production, scripting assistance, technical problem-solving and more.

Dr Clare Lloyd as lead project operations manager and instructional designer has developed edX expertise in course building and management, and brilliantly coordinated all project operations.

We have all worked with Chris Hildebrandt, Dr Kyle Holmes and Slingshot’s Adam van Dyck in adopting principles such as those covered in the new UON course “Innovation, Startups and Entrepreneurship” STAR4000. That is, we’ve used agile, lean canvas management to ensure the MOOC’s availability for enrolment from August 2016.


This has been a stellar team effort that has radically changed the culture of theNatural History Illustration discipline into a cutting-edge digitally enabled team. Through the cross-unit approach we’re “skilling-up” staff across UON enabling knowledge sharing and transfer. It is putting the University of Newcastle, Australia on the map for a unique MOOC in the world. It has also proven to UON staff and stakeholders that UON can develop an innovative MOOC and attract enrolments from around the world.


The team members demonstrated their clear understanding of the environment in which UON, MOOCs and this particular MOOC operated. As a team we tried to “think big” and to act strategically and agilely. Most importantly, we envisioned and anticipated success – for students undertaking the course, for us involved in the project and for UON as a whole.

The University of Newcastle has embraced a culture where curious and courageous minds collaborate to create the future.

Our MOOC team has developed a new way of delivering creative practice teaching in an online environment – we’ve shown we are Curious! Team members have shown their willingness to change the status quo when required and take on new challenges in an environment of uncertainty – thus we’ve been Courageous! We’ve engaged cooperatively to develop skills in agile management to deliver the best outcomes possible for our students, partners and communities – a great example of being Collaborative!

The team engaged beyond UON with edX and others. We’ve been 100% performance focused, and pushed educational, administrative and technical boundaries while always showing respect for all. Team members all strove for excellence, and through their efforts have shaped a positive future for MOOCs at UON, and an exciting future for Natural History Illustration.

WHY STUDY WITH US? If you love our MOOC, you may want to come and study on our wonderful bush campus.
“It combines science and art in a really unique way and teaches students how to problem solve in their illustrations” – Rose

If you have a love of drawing, are fascinated by the natural world and admire professional illustrators who can bring life to an object, then the Bachelor of Natural History Illustration is for you.

Some helpful links to presenting papers and posters at academic conferences

Today I delivered a seminar for the Faculty of Science and IT’s Higher Degree Research Students on Effective conference presentations and posters.

These publications and sites may also provide guidance on these topics:

This is excellent on scientific posters: – a presentation by Sam Hertig


A #UON innovation lab; a tale of child abduction and rape; journalism; and, creative industries

Trigger warning: linked material discusses and depicts text and images related to to violence, abduction, abuse and rape

Al Jazeera Screen shot Marc Ellison story Cash Cows

It’s Saturday morning and I’ve read the Al Jazeera website feature journalism story Tales of a child bride: ‘My father sold me for 12 cows’ written by Marc Ellison (@marceellison on Twitter ). Not particular cheery weekend reading, but excellent long form journalism that explicates the complexities involved in addressing and abolishing the practices of abduction, rape and forced marriage of girls in northern Tanzania.

In most cases, after some negotiation, daughters are left with their abductor by their families in exchange for cows. These are not tales that make ‘the news’. Long form journalism, such as feature writing, is one way of being able to tell such stories.

Feature writing is taught as part of the Bachelor of Communication degree at the University of Newcastle (UON). A Norwegian scholar, Steen Steensen, sums up feature writing well by telling us it’s different to news writing in that it is often narrative and is usually not so deadline sensitive:

Feature journalists are allowed to colour their text with subjective descriptions, reflections and assessments. Feature journalism often portrays people and milieus and is therefore usually personal and emotional. Feature journalism is usually visually attractive and presented in delicate layouts using multiple illustrations, mainly still photos. Not all these characteristics will be present in every feature story, but we can expect that one or more of them will dominate stories we perceive as feature journalism. (Steensen, 2009, p.4)

The feature story was written by the journalist, Marc Ellison and maybe subedited by an un-named Al Jazeera sub-editor. It was then uploaded onto a webpage by someone, possibly the journalist himself. What we see on our devices is a template made by designers and that ‘works’ because of the efforts of developers working for Al Jazeera (either in-house or contractors). So it goes on.

At UON, our current degrees cater for this model, indeed our students in Newcastle and Singapore produce this type of journalism and websites, and graduate into jobs related to these areas, every year. We are also educating our students to be able to work within models and systems that are just emerging, or have yet to be invented.

This time yesterday yesterday, I was being given a demonstration by the UON School of Design, Communication and IT’s technical officer, Daniel Conway, of the brand new Collaborative Learning Space in room ICT 3.29 – our own IT Innovation Lab which will be used this year for IT students and those students undertaking the new Master of Creative Industries program.


new Collaborative Learning Space - ICT Building UON

Dr Marc Adam (left) and Mr Daniel Conway (right) in new Collaborative Learning Space – ICT Building UON

Labs like this one are designed to get students engaged with learning, and collaborating with staff and each other. They provide ultra-flexible environments which support latest technologies. More and more classrooms across UON are being transformed to similar style formats and NeW Space in the CBD of Newcastle will be along similar lines.

Many of the creative industries work in spaces just like these. Some of these industries don’t even have names yet but if you click through and look at the Al Jazeera article above, you’ll see an interesting link to a graphic novel. The graphic novel, also written by the journalist, Marc Ellison, tells the same story as the feature article, but through a different medium that incorporates writing, illustrating, video, IT and more.

Some of our UON Visual Communication students and staff produce stunning graphic novels. What struck me about reading today’s Al Jazeera story was that this was the new reality staring me in the face.

My colleagues and I are now enabled more than ever before, with the UON’s focus on creative industries and our new classrooms and labs, to tell stories that need to be told in more creative and engaging ways. Today I learned a new word “kupura”, I read it firstly the feature story written by Marc Ellison. He wrote in his opening paragraph (links to full feature):

“So common are the practices of abduction, rape and forced marriage of girls in northern Tanzania that a single word is used to encapsulate them all: kupura. It is a word used by people from the Sukuma tribe to describe the snatching of girls in broad daylight as they walk to school; a three-syllabled euphemism that downplays their long-term physical and sexual abuse.”

Not everyone will read a feature story but those that do not, may engage with a graphic novel. This way they too may learn a new word and be moved to try and bring about change in the world that will bring an end to situations of gross abuse.

Page 2 of Graphic Novel: Cash Cow

Page 2 of Graphic Novel: Cash Cow

Today I can more easily visualise a project group being given a challenging story such as that covered by Marc Ellison.

Around a table there might be students studying creative writing, video production, web development, journalism, graphic design, visual art, UX (user experience), photography and public relations. They may not decide to develop a graphic novel, but they will develop something.

It will not be narrowly focused and it will not be an individual project. However, it will require an incredible amount of individual effort as part of creative team.

Marc Ellison worked with award winning illustrator Christian Mugarura and the young woman who was the subject of the story, Grace, to develop this multimedia graphic novel that is presented in both Swahili and English. Those who worked to present it on the actual Al Jazeera site are uncredited. It is evident such projects require enormous commitment and effort.

Graphic novel team credits

Graphic novel team credits

The most recent thinking in education says we should be focusing of designing learning that teaches students to critically analyse, creatively problem solve, collaborate and communicate – the 4 “C’s”.

Sometimes as an academic and educator I find this brief almost overwhelming. However, when I see work like that featured in Al Jazeera today and the commitments of people at University of Newcastle to develop great to new spaces for students and staff to make it happen, I feel buoyed. Bring it on.



Steensen, S. (2009). Online feature journalism: A clash of discourses. Journalism practice, 3(1), 13-29.




My first issue as editor – Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal

This year, 2016, is an interesting time to be taking over the editorship of an academic journal. The Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal is an open access on-line journal.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 20.45.27

It is not funded by any organisation specifically, with the host university (University of Newcastle) absorbing the cost of any labour and hosting involved in its production. Nor is it a journal charging authors a fee for publishing.

Such models are emerging increasingly and such author-charges are being called anything from ‘handling fees’ and are even used to pay peer reviewers in some instances. Is this a model that this journal should move to? I think not. It seems to somehow cheapen the work of academics if one has to pay someone to publish the work. However, is the current model economically sustainable?

When all academics are under increased pressure to do more teaching and more research with less resources, where does the wherewithal to edit and publish a quality journal come from? We also need to ask the question: is the academic peer reviewed journal the best way to share our research findings and contribute to the measurement of the impact of our work.

The MIT Media Lab has launched a new kind of academic journal that embodies its antidisciplinary ethos but also has a new approach to getting out research and ideas much more quickly to interested academic and industry audiences. Instead of double blind peer review, their new process involves a process that is anything but anonymous and is called ‘peer-to-peer’.

An article in Wired magazine explains more about this idea and links through to the journal. Is this somewhere that the Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal should go? It is certainly food for thought.

In several countries across the world, the value of academic publishing as a measure of the worth of academic research is being questioned. In the 2016 Australian Research Council publication, “The Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation Paper”, there have been calls for input into what defines impact and engagement with academic research.

It states that a narrow focus on limited engagement measures could create perverse outcomes where, for example, researchers and universities focus on boosting their reportable performance instead of pursuing genuine research engagement that translates into economic, social or other benefits. In addition, the use of a very limited range of metrics may not meet the parameters of the assessment—such as ensuring no discipline is disadvantaged by the assessment (p. 8).

The impact factor of many public relations academic journals is quite low. Does this mean that the research published in this journal since its inception has had no or little impact? How would we know? My article on the impact of new media on PR published in Issue 8 of this journal is my most cited to date, but what does that really mean in terms of impact and engagement? What would be a better way to present our research and assess its impact?

As editor I hope to see more work being submitted that examines these issues in our field, but to also have such mechanisms for increased engagement with the work published in this and other journals in our field.

One such such mechanism is the newly re-convened Asia Pacific Public Relations Research and Education Network headed by Dr Marianne Sison from RMIT University. Its uses may include calls for papers, chapter contributions, calls for research partners, conference announcements, suggestions or inquiries related to teaching materials and references and the like. I commend Marianne for this initiative and in our discussions we have agreed that this journal will work very closely with the Network.

Perhaps such a network could also evolve into a sharing of research impact or engagement news, for example, has some organization decided to give someone’s new model for crisis preparation a trial in practice? It would be fascinating to see some further ideas come forward for further utilizing this valuable network. I’ll certainly be using the network to share news about this journal, including future calls for papers and announcements of when our new issues are published.

That being said, I’d like to commend this issue’s articles to you as we again cover a wider range of territory both topically and geographically, as well as bringing you a book review of ‘The Routledge Handbook of Critical Public Relations’ (Routledge, 2016), edited by Jacquie L’Etang, David McKie, Nancy Snow and Jordi Xifra. The journal has an Asian Pacific focus but as always, welcomes and presents scholarly articles from across the globe.

Australian Research Council. (2016). The Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation Paper.

Reflective Communication Scrum Method for Public Relations

Recently Eighteen04, a business incubator for clean technology startups in Newcastle, agreed to participate in a research project with myself and University of Newcastle Communication Honours student, Samuel Rooke, from the School of Design, Communication and Information Technology.

We are planning an action research public relations project that is using Professor Betteke van Ruler’s (2014, 2015) Reflective Communication Scrum (RSC) method. Scrum as a method for managing projects and workflows originated in IT and is now used in many areas, but only recently in public relations. I believe it shows great promise in the strategic communication and PR space and Sam and I presented on the method and the Eighteen04 planned project to Newcastle’s Professional Communicators’ Group at the end of April.


PCN RCS shot

Newcastle professional communicators were interested to hear about the new Reflective Communication Scrum Method for Strategic Communication and PR at UON on 29 April.

Eighteen04, being a dynamic organisation providing co-working spaces and support to clean energy technology startup companies, was asked to be involved because of the synergies between agile methods such as ‘scrum’ and the organisation’s approach to business.

Eighteen04 is aiming to be the Asia-Pacific hub for clean energy technology startup companies, and to further position Newcastle as the key city for startup ventures in Australia. The Reflective Communication Scrum (RSC) method appears to be a good fit for Eighteen04’s public relations needs as it accommodates unforeseen dynamics and obstacles in the method, which traditional PR planning methods do not.

Both researchers and Eighteen04 members will be involved as needed in the project Scrum team as required as this team needs to be self steering, and multidisciplinary, in line with the RCS method. Eighteen04 has nominated one of their co-founders, Mr James Giblin, to work in the Scrum method role as the Project Owner and he has agreed to be actively involved in and committed to the project.

The aim is to get things done in the shortest possible time. It is planned on having Scrum meetings to determine what needs to be done and evaluate what needs to be done next; then a Sprint period of 2 weeks when agreed actions are undertaken; then the team Scrums again. Daily check-ins ensure work stays on track with potential and actual blocks to progress being identified and addressed as early as possible.

We’re planning to have the student researcher, Samuel Rooke, embedded in the Eighteen04 workplace located at the CSIRO Energy Centre 3 days a week over several months this year.  This project will involve him implementing communication strategies and tactics under my guidance together with reporting and reflecting on the process and experiences of using the RCS method.

I’ll be presenting our project design process in a paper to the International PR Meeting in Barcelona, Spain, on 29-30 June 2016 to international scholars and we are looking forward to getting their feedback on our work to date. It’s wonderful that Professor van Ruler has agreed to be my “distant mentor” on this project and we are planning to meet at the Bledcom conference to be held in Slovenia in early July, where I am co-author on a paper with UON academic and PhD student, Andrea Cassin.



van Ruler, B. (2014). Reflective Communication Scrum. Eleven, The Hague.

van Ruler, B. (2015). Agile public relations planning: The reflective communication scrum. Public Relations Review, 41(2), 187-194.

International Women’s Day 2016: interesting stories that help communicate why we mark March 8

Happy 2016 International Women’s Day. I’m sharing some interesting stories that help communicate why we celebrate each March 8th:

Six great Australian women revealed (opens in new tab): Australian history is full of invisible women: young, old, creative, courageous, flawed, strange and real. Women who took risks, did what they wanted and ignored all the warnings. Women whose contributions to the life of our nation have been significant. ABC has  only chosen six, but there have been so many more.

Women Invent: 100 women in tech whose names you need to know (opens in new tab): Role models deserve recognition, and every time you cite a woman in tech, you’re furthering the message that this industry isn’t just for the boys.

Gender diversity in top Australian finance roles lagging world  (opens in new tab): First, the good news. The number of women chief financial officers in Australia’s top companies has increased. Now for the reality check.

The Confidence Gap- 2014 article from The Atlantic magazine (opens in new tab): In studies, men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both. Their performances do not differ in quality. Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. Here’s why, and what to do about it.

Why women volunteer to be surf life savers – To celebrate International Women’s Day and the amazing work our women do in Surf Life Saving SLS Australia did a call out and asked their  female volunteer surf lifesavers what it meant to them to be a woman in surf lifesaving. They were overwhelmed by the positive responses and shared just a few on their blog. I was honoured to be among the responders!

and finally, some food for thought:

Feminism has failed and needs a radical rethink by Professor Eva Cox – (opens in new tab): “So 41 years after International Women’s Year, Australian women are still the very much the second sex, insofar as we are permitted limited share of power and resources in the public sphere, but on macho market terms” .

Enjoy, celebrate, reflect and act!

Asia Pacific Public Relation Journal – special issue now published “Focus on Asia”

The new issue of the Asia Pacific Public Relation Journal has been published today and is centred on the theme “PR in Asia: State of Play”. This was the theme of the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) academic research forum held on 25 October 2015 in Hobart, in conjunction with the PRIA National Conference. This theme will carry across to the next issue of the journal, as there are more papers from the forum being finalised.

I am honoured to be the special issue editor and to have been the convenor of the 2015 PRIA academic forum. I was most keen to continue to focus on the Asia and Pacific regions, continuing the recent work of scholars including the edited collection, Asian Perspectives on the Development of Public Relations: Other Voices by Tom Watson (2015) and the excellent article, Toward an historically informed Asian model of public relations, by Halff and Gregory (2014).

This issue also rides the momentum initiated by Dr Marianne Sison following her convening of the highly acclaimed World Public Relations Forum Research Colloquium in late 2012 and her editing of the special issue of this journal in 2013, where she focused on public relations in a global world and across borders. She referred to the term ‘Asian Century’ as referring to “a view that Asian politics and culture will dominate the 21st century based on the region’s increasing economic prosperity and population size” (2013, p. 1). This scenario is unfolding, but it is clear that complexity is at its heart. The continent of Asia is comprised of many countries with differences in cultures, laws, demographics, political stability, digital access and economic development, not to mention geographies ranging from the Arctic Circle to Equatorial environments.

The founder of Global Brand Forum, Karthik Siva, summarises the challenges:

The most pronounced factor is the Asian aspiration to be modern and progressive, but not necessarily to be Western. As diverse and heterogeneous as Asia is, there exists a common set of values for harmony and order, institution above individual, respect for elders, strong family and community ties, fear of losing face and honour, team above self, consensus-based approach, strong traditional anchors, and premium on relationships rather than objectivity (Kotler, Kartajaya and Hooi, 2015, pp. 74-75).

This is highly relevant to communication practitioners and academics, especially those of us from the West whose values may be quite different. It is evident that communication, and how communication strategy is devised and implemented, remains central. To that end I am thrilled that Dr Sison opens this journal with an insightful, and somewhat provocative, commentary on the challenge to Australian public relations posed by the ‘Asian Century’. My hope is that this continues to stimulate both dialogue and action in Australia and beyond to drive increased engagement, cooperation and learning across the region.

I believe the theme of this issue is somewhat ‘aspirational’ in that it does not provide an overview of the state of play of public relations in Asia. However it does provide an insight into a range of topics that provides for some fascinating reading. We are taken on a journey across Asia with an article that examines the crisis management handling on social media relating to the loss of flight MH370, another on political propaganda in Indonesia, and two articles that address corporate social responsibility. We then jump across the Pacific to the USA to examine an anti-obesity social marketing campaign in New York City, and then head back to Australia to conclude with an article about how public relations is positioned in a political debate about carbon tax.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 5.22.49 PM

Journal Home Page


I am delighted that we have contributing authors from across Asia, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Australia. For readers, the articles again show the complexity of issues in public relations and related areas across the Asia and Pacific regions, which are so often related to cultural values, power relations, politics, law and ethics.

My thanks go to Dr Clare Lloyd (University of Newcastle/Curtin University) who has worked as this special issue’s assistant editor, to the library staff of the University of Newcastle, to editor-in-chief Mark Sheehan, and to the many peer reviewers who turned around work in record time to make the very tight final deadlines. Our appreciation is also is extended to the Public Relations Institute of Australia, especially Mr Julian Kenny, who, among many other achievements, championed this journal and the contributions of PRIA’s academic members to the wider public relations community for seven years. We wish him well with his future endeavours.

On more general matters relating to the journal, Volume 16 of the Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal is the last under the editorship of Mark Sheehan, Deakin University. For over a decade Mark has been the editor-in-chief and has kept the ship afloat. I acknowledge his unflagging efforts, and those of the many special issue editors, across the years. Your service to public relations scholarship has been exemplary and those of us who follow have much to live up to.

It is with a sense of excitement and humility that I take up the editorship of the Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal from 2016 and welcome it to its new home at the University of Newcastle, Australia. It’s very special for me as this journal was where my first academic article on public relations was published under the special issue editorship of Associate Professor Gywneth Howell (Western Sydney University) back in 2007/8. It’s also the journal in which I was first exposed to Australian public relations scholarship. I recall when Dr Raveena Singh (University of Canberra), then co-editor of the journal, handed me the first issue of this journal to read back in 2000. For this, I am grateful.

I am also particularly pleased to announce Dr Marianne Sison, RMIT, as the new Deputy Editor. Shortly, we will be forming a new editorial board for the journal. Stay tuned for more news on the journal in the near future.



Halff, G., & Gregory, A. (2014). Toward an historically informed Asian model of public relations. Public Relations Review, 40(3), 397-407.

Kotler, P., Kartajaya, H., & Hooi, D. H. (2015). Think New ASEAN! Rethinking Marketing Toward ASEAN Economic Community. McGraw-Hill.

Sison, M. D. (2013). Introduction: Public Relations Beyond Borders: Future Directions. Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, 14(1 & 2), 1-3,

Watson, T. (Ed.). (2015). Western European Perspectives on the Development of Public Relations: Other Voices. Palgrave Macmillan.

Take a deep breath and discover, actually, what is disruptive innovation

“The Scream” by Edvard Munch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If there’s a term that divides people it’s “disruptive innovation”. The very mention of it sets people screaming with enthusiasm or terror. Thankfully, we can all take a deep breath, relax, and read a great new article from the Harvard Business Review that revisits exactly what this term means.

As the authors (Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor and Rory McDonald) state:

“If we get sloppy with our labels or fail to integrate insights from subsequent research and experience into the original theory, then managers may end up using the wrong tools for their context, reducing their chances of success. Over time, the theory’s usefulness will be undermined.

“This article is part of an effort to capture the state of the art. We begin by exploring the basic tenets of disruptive innovation and examining whether they apply to Uber. Then we point out some common pitfalls in the theory’s application, how these arise, and why correctly using the theory matters.

‘We go on to trace major turning points in the evolution of our thinking and make the case that what we have learned allows us to more accurately predict which businesses will grow.”

So read on, and re-engage with how disruptive innovation might be just what we all need.

Link to the article in Harvard Business Review December 2015 edition online (Open link in a new window/tab)



The material or views expressed on this Blog are those of the author and do not represent those of the University.  Please report any offensive or improper use of this Blog to
Skip to toolbar