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Media at the center: Public relations in public administrations in the wake of managerialism

Conference contribution
Authors Magnus Fredriksson
Josef Pallas
Published in First annual International Journal of Press/Politics conference, Oxford, 16-18 September, 2015
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Language en
Keywords Management structure, media, mediatization, public administrations, public relations
Subject categories Media and Communications, Public Administration Studies


This paper rests on an assumption that media is much more than a channel or type of organization and that we have to take media under consideration if we want to understand the conditions for public administrations and their public relations activities. This is very much due to the processes of mediatization; that is to say, the double-sided process through which media a) emerge as an autonomous institution with its own set of rationalities that other institutions adapt to; and b) become an integrated part of other institutions’. A second assumption is that the extent to which public administrations adapt to media varies between different types of organizations, mostly as a consequence of an organization’s management structure. Public administrations governed by career managers are more eager to get media attention and control the media image of their organizations compared to administrations governed by field professionals. Circumstances that position public relations at the center of these organizations’ activities but with limited freedom of action. This raises a number of questions concerning circumstances, motives and consequences for public relations and in this paper we suggest three propositions for how we can understand the interplay between media in its institutional form, public administrations and public relations 1) public administrations are mediatized beyond discretion and influence of public relations; 2) media activities of public administrations are formalized and standardized beyond the scope of public relations and 3) media activities of public administrations are more autonomous than public relations.

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