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.
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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.