Tom Watson named as IHPRC 2013 keynote speaker

Posted on 29. Jan, 2013 by in Conference, News, Uncategorized

Professor Tom Watson is to be the keynote speaker for the International History of Public Relations Conference (IHPRC) in 2013. He established the conference in 2009 and will be reviewing the trends and future directions of public relations history when making his address on Monday, June 24.

“We have come a long way in just four years in terms of the rapidly increasing volume of public relations history research and articles,” he said. “Some 250 abstracts from around the world have been submitted to IHPRC for peer review, with half being invited to presentation. So it is timely to consider the past, present and future historiography of public relations. I will be arguing for a more critical, questioning approach.”

Prof Watson says PR history is now taking off as a field of research and needs more investment from industry and research bodies. “These are exciting times with the potential to reshape a century of interpretation of public relations,” he said.

Professor Watson’s research and writing on PR history has been published in Public Relations Review and he has presented papers and lectures on PR history at conferences and universities in Australia, England, Germany, Thailand and USA. Before joining Bournemouth University in 2007, he was Head of the School of Communication at Charles Sturt University in Australia.

Prof Tom Watson

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4 Responses to “Tom Watson named as IHPRC 2013 keynote speaker”

  1. Richard Bailey 29 January 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    Does the DJ play favourite hits? I’d love once again to hear your analysis of how PR became commercial and went off track in the second half of the twentieth century.

    I think it’s a powerful critique, but no one else seems to have batted an eyelid when you tried it on us last year.

    • twatson 29 January 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Thanks Richard: Not sure whether PR folks want to hear that message but a new tune will be played in 2013, as the “it’s gone off-track” one was performed in 2011 and 2012. The new one will be based on an analysis of PR history articles and abstracts since 2008 in journals and IHPRC. I have already trialled it and will add depth for June’s keynote. Thanks for your support and see you later in the year. TOM

    • Heather Yaxley 31 January 2013 at 12:08 pm #

      Richard – Scott Anthony touched on a similar idea when talking about his book: Stephen Tallents and the Birth of a Progressive Media Profession at Bournemouth last week. He in part seemed to relate the move ‘off track’ to the rapid expansion of PR after WW2 and the influx of ex-military men into the field as consultants. Haven’t finished the book yet to know if that emerges as a strong theme there, though.

      • twatson 31 January 2013 at 12:42 pm #

        In the UK, Jacquie L’Etang’s history also points to the impact of ex-military people coming into PR but her main case is that it was the desire for recognition of PR and communications in government that drove the formation of IPR and efforts to promote and develop PR best practice and education. The union NALGO was behind this and many of those who set up IPR (later CIPR) were career civil servants and governmental employees; that is, they were not primarily ex servicemen. In the US, the fuel for PR’s growth came from the explosion of consumer spending, post war and into the 1950s, which boosted development of publicity into consumer PR. It’s an interesting debate that is only just starting but there will be a substantial revision of familiar tropes soon.


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