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.
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.