Diversity in Australian Public Relations: an exploration of practitioner perspectives

Katharina Wolf

Abstract


Public relations (PR) scholars have long emphasised the importance, as well as the prevailing lack of, cross cultural awareness and international PR skills. As political and economic powers are shifting from West to East, it becomes even more imperative that the public relations industry embraces diverse modes and styles of communication by moving beyond its traditional focus on Western inspired practice, as reflected in the popularity of US and UK based textbooks, and the prevailing focus of scholarly research on familiar (usually Western) cultural context. Recognised as a culturally diverse nation, this paper investigates if Australia’s multicultural fabric is reflected amongst its communication professionals and hence shapes the characteristics and communication styles of the local public relations industry. Given its geographic location, Australian communicators should theoretically be well positioned and equipped to play a prominent role across Oceania and the Asian continent. Based on first hand insights from Australian communication professionals from diverse backgrounds, both in terms of ethnicity, as well as country of origin, this exploratory study provides an insight into the cultural fabric of the Australian public relations industry. Findings challenge the assumption that the nation’s multicultural make up has shaped its communication industry. Whilst participants emphasise the value of an international perspective and diverse cultural backgrounds, the Australian PR industry is still perceived as largely white, Anglo-Saxon, with a continuing dominance of female professionals. Based on practitioners’ first hand insights, the industry has failed to recognise diversity as part of its occupational identity.  

Based on first hand insights from Australian communication professionals from diverse backgrounds, both in terms of ethnicity, as well as country of origin, this exploratory study provides an insight into the cultural fabric of the Australian public relations industry. Findings challenge the assumption that the nation’s multicultural make up has shaped its communication industry. Whilst participants emphasise the value of an international perspective and diverse cultural backgrounds, the Australian PR industry is still perceived as largely white, Anglo-Saxon, with a continuing dominance of female professionals. Based on practitioners’ first hand insights, the industry has failed to recognise diversity as part of its occupational identity


Keywords


Australia, cross-cultural, internationalisation, diversity, multiculturalism

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References


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