The Rise and Fall of IPRA in Australia: 1959 to 2000

Jim Macnamara, Tom Watson


The International Public Relations Association (IPRA) was established in 1955 as
the lead international organisation for the development and promotion of public
relations as a professional communication practice (L’Etang, 2004). Involvement by Australian practitioners in IPRA began in 1959 and became intensive during a 15-year period from 1982 to the late-1990s when a number of Australians took global leadership roles. Drawing from the IPRA archive and recent interviews by the authors with prominent practitioners in Europe and Australia, who were involved in IPRA’s management and leadership, this article establishes the narrative of international engagement by the burgeoning Australian PR sector and explores the aims and effects of its involvement in IPRA. It concludes that IPRA’s impact on the development of the Australian public relations sector and Australian influence on IPRA was largely ephemeral, limited to a decade from 1983 to 1993, and reveals some problematic aspects of industry practice and governance. Nevertheless, Australian practitioners made use of both the symbolism of international endorsement and international connections established through IPRA to transform the national PR sector from a predominantly local focus to an increasingly international outlook at a time when public relations services were expanding rapidly worldwide.


IPRA, PRIA, PR history, internationalisation

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The University of Newcastle
ISSN - 1839-8227