Public relations literature and scholarship in Australia: A brief history of change and diversification

Jane Johnston, Jim McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article traces the development of public relations literature and scholarship in Australia from the 1950s. It presents a discussion of Australian academic and professional texts from early chapters on public relations in generic communication texts (Sommerlad, 1950), to the first book on public relations by Thomas Dwyer published in 1961 and David Potts’ pioneering 1976 edited volume, Public Relations in Australia, to the latest collection of texts and monographs. It also plots the beginnings of Australian scholarly public relations and communication journals. In providing this examination, the paper includes two case studies: Macnamara’s collection of public relations handbooks published from the early 1980s through the 1990s and Johnston and Zawawi’s Public Relations: Theory and Practice, first published in 2000, which spearheaded the contemporary range of Australian public relations texts. Based on an examination of early publishing history and key case studies, the article investigates the development of public relations as a discipline within the Australian tertiary sector, drawing on the texts as primary sources, published accounts and reports, plus a brief survey of PhD outputs since 2001. It reports that, after an initial period of largely imported texts and scholarship, growth within the academy in recent years reflects the rise in Australian-based literature and a burgeoning scholarly environment within the Australian tertiary education sector.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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