“There’s a cultural thing of invisibility”: emerging sites of struggle for local council public relations practitioners

Maree Keating


Australian local councils must change entrenched aspects of organisational culture if they wish to become more responsive to public expectations about online engagement (Katz & Halpern, 2013). Whilst some Australian local councils are responding to this challenge by introducing a greater focus on social media and re-structuring the roles and functions in communication teams (Oliveira & Welch, 2013), little is known about the perceptions and experiences of staff during this process. In particular, little is known about the effects of change on workplace resistance amongst practitioners, particularly around issues relating to their time and the value attached to certain kinds labour. Drawing on an analysis of interview material conducted with an Australian local council in 2015, this article reports on the emerging sites of tension for public relations practitioners in one local council during its transition to greater online engagement. It concludes that more research is needed into the ways in which changing work practices impacts on the possibilities for resistance within female-dominated local government communication teams.


public relations labour; social media; local councils; power relations

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The University of Newcastle
ISSN - 1839-8227