New Chapter: Routledge Handbook of Critical Public Relations

I’m happy to s51aGYgBRcPL._SL500_ay that my chapter, ‘Algorithmic PR: Materiality, Technology and Power in a Post-Hegemonic World’ has been published in the newly launched Routledge Handbook of Critical Public Relations.

The book was officially released last month at the recent Public Relations: Critical Perspectives, Edgework and Creative Futures conference held at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

It’s a mammoth text – standing at 446 pages – but having browsed a copy there is not much that isn’t innovative, instructive or inspiring about the content. Here’s the official blurb:

Critical theory has a long history, but a relatively recent intersection with public relations. This ground-breaking collection engages with commonalities and differences in the traditions, whilst encouraging plural perspectives in the contemporary public relations field.

Compiled by a high-profile and widely respected team of academics and bringing together other key scholars from this field and beyond, this unique international collection marks a major stage in the evolution of critical public relations. It will increasingly influence how critical theory informs public relations and communication.

The collection takes stock of the emergence of critical public relations alongside diverse theoretical traditions, critiques and actions, methodologies and future implications. This makes it an essential reference for public relations researchers, educators and students around a world that is becoming more critical in the face of growing inequality and environmental challenges. The volume is also of interest to scholars in advertising, branding, communication, consumer studies, cultural studies, marketing, media studies, political communication and sociology.

More info from Routledge here.

Online Reviews and Computational Reputation

Tom Slee’s In Praise of Fake Reviews is a fantastic read that looks at some of the ethical and legal issues of Yelp! and online review platforms in light of the Botto Bistro story that’s been going around social media and the news.

More pertinently for public relations in general (and some of the thinking I’ve been doing on algorithmic public relations in particular) is the notion of computationally determining issues such a reputation.

The essay marks a distinct gap between PR and its privileging of representational communication (i.e. words, images, etc) over – what can be termed – non-representational forms, in Yelp!’s case the algorithms determining ratings and rankings.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a great excerpt covering the complexities of reputation in a digital age and the need for people (public relations practitioners and academics?) to consider and get to grips with the ethical and moral issues at stake:

Reputation is a multi-faceted, qualitative concept. It has been pushed through a meat-grinder by digital reputation systems and has come out the other side homogenized, devoid of texture, but easier to digest. There’s nothing inherently wrong with reputation systems by themselves, but giving them too much authority or influence will inevitably throw up bad incentives on the part of the system owner and those taking part in the reviews. Before we declare “fake reviews” to be a crime or an obvious case of bad morals, we at least need to demand some accountability from reputation site owners.

Full blog post here.