Academia and Practice: Where next?

I was away in Sweden at Philip Young’s NEMO organised Flashpoint conference last week and was lucky to listen to some excellent academic papers, and more importantly become involved in an ongoing debate about the need to bridge the currently yawning gap between PR academia and practice.

Since returning there have been a number of blog posts pop up raising a range of issues which I broadly support. I won’t cover them off here but would urge you to go and take a read and participate for yourselves – there’s loads of comment and discussion going on.

Firstly of all the University of Wolverhampton’s Sarah Williams posted on the difference between academics and practitioners. This was followed up by Stephen Waddington’s post on the need for academia and practitioners to work together to support a “maturing profession” – a perspective followed up by Stuart Bruce’s in his post.

This is all great stuff, and an important marker for integrating theory and praxis. But…. the most important question is: what is to be done?

Most of the posts mentioned offer some thoughts and here are a few of my own:

  • Regular event(s) led by industry and academia to push forward greater interaction, debate and overcome the fear of the other
  • Some form of jointly agreed agenda that can identify and articulate some of the more common needs and demands for both areas
  • A forum to foster ongoing debate – online or otherwise
  • PR Week to carve out a niche to discuss developments and expose the agenda to a wider audience
  • Some level of engagement among high-profile employers, government, big agencies, etc
  • Some level of engagement from industry bodies

 

Comments

  1. To echo just one of your points: PR Week has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shift from being a trade publication into being a professional publication (covering issues, debates, books, research etc) as it moves from weekly to monthly.

    There are some welcome signs in my oddly-named monthly – but I fear there’s no desire to go down this route.

  2. Sarah Williams says:

    Completely agree with your suggestions, Simon. I met with Simon O’Neill in Birmingham yesterday. He’s a senior consultant who has been working with Paul Willis at Leeds Met to develop some ideas to bring people together and an event of some sort is in the offing. I know there are pockets of this activity happening all over the country but what’s lacking is a central point, a repository, to find out what’s happening and to encourage others to get involved.

    Wouldn’t it be great to think, Richard, that PR Week would want to help but sadly I agree with your conclusion.

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