Exploring the use of public relations in organising activism: Implications for addressing gender-based violence in the developing world

Habib Mohammad Ali, Jennifer Boddy, Patrick O'Leary, Jacqueline Ewart


Public relations (PR) offers strategies that may create positive change in response to gender-based violence (GV). It can be transformative in influencing people’s attitudes and choices. However, PR has traditionally focussed on managing relations with stakeholders to build the image of corporate institutions. This has meant that the professional and academic interests of PR have often become aligned with profit-making institutions. Instead, from a critical perspective, PR can be used in non-profit sectors, including non-government or voluntary organisations with an interest in organising campaigns to promote community health and wellbeing. It can function as a discursive tool to promote the voices of marginalised people to transform society and promote equality. Such an example can be found in activism against GV. Literature on activism against GV is reviewed in this paper to identify how PR strategies are used amongst activists to organise campaigns. The use of PR has appeared as a community action tool and as an individual communicative technique to organise activists, to promote the GV agenda, and to attain public support for eliminating GV. The value of PR in addressing difficult issues such as GV offers hope, especially in the developing world where large scale social intervention programs are not feasible. 



Activism, discourse, gender-based violence, human services, non-profit organisations, public relations

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