"PR and strategic communication in divided societies" - Conference Programme

From Friday, January 18, 2013 until Thursday, July 18, 2013 · Call for papers

University of Ulster, Belfast, June 14, 2013. 

"Public relations and strategic communication in divided societies"

Most empirical studies of public relations focus on the activity as it is practiced within ‘normal’ liberal democratic societies. This has arguably had a hegemonic influence on attempts within the academy to theorize public relations. An important if controversial question is whether the theory building, and ensuing public relations models, developed in these ‘normal’ societies have an application to the many countries in the world which are divided by deep societal cleavages along racial, ethnic, religious or linguistic lines. The purpose of this Conference is to not only respond to this question but also to explore how public relations practice in divided, conflicted and post-conflict societies may contribute to theory building in the field of public relations and strategic communication more generally.

Public relations and strategic communication can be defined as activities employed by organizations to promote competing discourses in order to facilitate a favourable position within local, national and global contexts. Such a definition obviously highlights the political role of public relations in purposively influencing the meaning making process. This intersection of public relations and socio-political environments, which characterizes much of the public relations and strategic communication practice in divided, conflict and post-conflict societies, will be a key focus of this Conference.

Conference Programme

8.30 Registration

9-30am - Opening Keynote address:  Maureen Taylor (University of Oklahoma)

‘Nation building in the Former Yugoslavia: How can public relations rebuild relationships?’

PANEL 1 - 10.30am - 12noon

Syed Arabi and Zeti Azreen (International Islamic University of Malaysia)
‘”People First, Performance Now”: Government PR in multicultural, multi-religious Malaysia.’

Ian Somerville and Charis Rice (University of Ulster)

‘Government-journalist relations in a post-conflict society: Communication, trust and political public relations in Northern Ireland.’

Jordi de San Eugenio Vela (University of Vic)

‘International understanding and recognition of Catalonia: An analysis of the role of strategic communication in the fight for the right to decide on self-determination.’

1pm-1.30pm YECREA Workshop – Laura Olkkonen (University of Jyväskylä)

PANEL 2 - 1.30pm- 3pm

Owen Hargie and Pauline Irving (University of Ulster)

‘Crisis Communication Following Terrorist Attacks in a Divided Society: How Meaning is Constructed.’

Vehbi Miftari and Vilma Biba (Kosovo Institute for Public Relations)
‘Can we talk to enemies? The negotiation process in Brussels between Kosovo and Serbia: Reflections on strategic communications.’

Andrew Purcell (University of Ulster)

‘Public relations in a conflict society: An oral history of professional practice during the Northern Ireland “Troubles” (1960-1998).’                                                            

PANEL 3 - 3.15pm-4.45pm  

Shane Kirby (University of Ulster)

‘Sinn Féin and the SDLP: Resources, public relations and power in post-conflict Northern Ireland.’

Mario Ianniello (University of Udine) and Mary Lynch (Mediation Northern Ireland) 
‘Beyond the Dialogue of the Deaf: Transforming Paradoxical Relationships.’ 

Barbra Natifu (University of Oslo)

‘Co-orientation in value-based institutional identity change: A study of the nation-building idea at Makerere University, Uganda.’ 

5pm      Closing Keynote address:  Margalit Toledano (University of Wiakato)

‘Dialogue with the enemy: Lessons for public relations from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’


CONFERENCE REGISTRATION: Please contact Charis Rice for registration details - Rice-C3@email.ulster.ac.uk  

Organising team: Dr Ian Somerville, Professor Owen Hargie, Dr Pauline Irving, Charis Rice

(School of Communication, University of Ulster).