Editorial

Jim Macnamara

Abstract

Welcome to the first issue of Public Communication Review for 2012. There have been some delays in publishing this second volume because of changes to roles and the teaching and research commitments of editorial staff, which academics will understand. We apologise to authors whose work has been delayed and we are working on speeding up the review and publication process.
This issue did not have a pre-planned theme, but two important perspectives on issue management and crisis communication are provided. In the first, we have given more space than the usual article length to an analysis of a major crisis at a university in Europe. While this occurred a few years ago, the article by Martial Pasquier and Etienne Fivat from the Institut de Hautes Études en Administration Publique (the Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration – IDHEAP) provides a forensic analysis of a crisis unfolding, the actions taken by management (and desirable actions not taken), and the repercussions and effects that continued long after the initial incident. The article provides a ‘thick description’ of actions and thinking inside a crisis, as well as media and public reactions, and is informative for organisations and their communication staff.

The second perspective on this theme is provided by an experienced Australian practitioner in a professional article. Tony Jaques has a long career working in issue management consulting, along with some academic teaching, and he provides salutary reminders of how crises often arise out of issues that are poorly handled or not addressed at all by management. Tony also explores the future of issue management including evolution from reactive responses to a proactive form of agenda-setting and framing by governments and policy-makers, the impact of social media, the relationship between issue management and crisis management, and the positioning of issue management within organisations.
Before these two thematically related articles, this issue presents an analysis of a recent health communication campaign. In our lead article, Deborah Wise and Melanie James from the University of Newcastle in Australia use discourse analysis to examine one particular element of the communication campaign to promote use of a vaccine that prevents the development of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Types 16 and 18 which cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers. In a similarly detailed approach to that of Pasquier and Fivat, Wise and James analyse one brochure using discourse analysis to explore its text and visual content, paying attention to framing, presuppositions, register, modality, foregrounding and backgrounding of particular issues or themes, as well as omissions (what is not said). Their sentence-by-sentence analysis contributes understanding of the techniques of discourse analysis and illustrates the role and importance of deep knowledge to achieve effective communication through an information resource such as a brochure.

This issue also includes an article based on a paper presented to the Third International PR History conference in Bournemouth, UK in 2011 by Robert Crawford and the editor. While being circumspect about publishing our own work, this article addresses an important gap in
Australian PR scholarship – the lack of a comprehensive localised history of the development of public relations practice and the role and influence of PR socially, culturally and politically. Hence, the title refers to an ‘outside in’ perspective, noting that most PR histories to date have been written about PR for PR. This article examines a significant national cultural event, Australia Day, to identify how it was established, maintained in spite of opposition over many decades, repositioned to adapt to a changing social, cultural and political environment, and finally institutionalised with the Bicentenary celebrations of European settlement (1988) and celebrations for the new millennium.

This article prompts us to issue a reminder to our readers to submit articles, tell your colleagues about Public Communication Review, and refer your students to the free online site – http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/pcr. As a ‘young’ journal, we do need to attract more quality submissions to achieve our goals of promoting scholarship across the diverse field of public communication and contributing to the dissemination of research in Australia and Asia Pacific.

So please spread the word. And we hope you find the work of authors published in this issue informative and stimulating.

Jim Macnamara
Editor

March 2012

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