Tag Archives: public relations; media relations education; dialogue in public relations; public relations instruction; teaching media relations

Media Relations Instruction and Theory Development: A Relational Dialectical Approach

Editorial Record: Original draft submitted to the AEJMC-PRD Paper Competition by April 1, 2017. Selected as a Top Teaching Paper. Submitted to JPRE on August 22, 2017. Final revisions completed on April 25, 2018. First published online on May 21, 2018.


Justin Pettigrew

Justin E. Pettigrew, Kennesaw State University


There has been almost no research in the area of media relations instruction in the public relations literature. This study seeks to fill a gap in theory-building in the area of media relations and examines the state of media relations instruction in today’s public relations curriculum through a survey of public relations professors. The author suggests relational dialectical theory as a way to better understand the relationship between public relations practitioners and journalists, and proposes a relational dialectical approach to theory-building and in teaching media relations in today’s changing landscape.

Keywords: public relations; media relations education; dialogue in public relations; public relations instruction; teaching media relations

Media Relations Instruction and Theory Development: A Relational Dialectical Approach

Media relations is a core practice of public relations. Today’s practitioners are dealing with journalists who have less time, less support, and less patience. Practitioners are now fighting for space in an increasingly crowded media landscape. Media relations is changing. To better prepare students for practice in today’s environment, the state of media relations education needs to be addressed.

The debate over what a good public relations program of study looks like in colleges continues (Auger & Cho, 2016). Based on the 2017 report from the Commission on Public Relations Education (2018), it seems that there is growing consensus between educators and practitioners on writing as a key component of any public relations curriculum, as well as speed and research capabilities. While there is a need for universities and colleges to turn out well-prepared students ready for work, there is also a need to provide students with the intellectual underpinnings of PR practice to encourage critical thinking about the field. Media relations is an important part of a student’s learning experience, both from a practical and an intellectual standpoint.

Contrary to scholars who have relegated media relations to a purely tactical role (Shaw & White, 2004), media relations is, in fact, a strategic function (also see Pettigrew & Hutchins, 2017). Despite continued discussions about closing the gap between the academy and practice, virtually no research has been conducted in the area of media relations education. Indeed, PR agencies are clamoring for entry-level employees who can develop strategic messages and pitch stories couched in those messages, tailored to specific media outlets (Pettigrew & Hutchins, 2017).

Even more important for practitioners is building and maintaining relationships with journalists and writers. Social media is having an impact on practice, as research suggests (Bransford, 2002; Kent, 2013; Rybalko & Seltzer, 2010; Sweetser, 2010; Taylor & Kent, 2010; Valentini, 2015). However, few, if any, studies examine how social media is impacting media relations. From a theoretical perspective, a different viewpoint can help us better understand how practitioners and media build and maintain relationships, both in the short- and long-term.

This work builds on previous work using a relational dialectical approach as defined by Baxter and Montgomery (1996). It also continues the work of Pettigrew and Heflin (2017) to better understand how media relations is being addressed in textbooks and in the classroom. A survey of public relations professors was conducted about their views of media relationships and the dialogic process, and whether their views on these topics are reflected in what they teach in the classroom. Implications are addressed with regard to the use of relational dialectics to teach students about engaging with and maintaining relationships with the media.


Studies related to public relations instruction focus on niche areas such as writing (e.g., Lane & Johnston, 2017), motivating students to study theoretical modules in public relations (e.g., AlSaqer, 2016), students’ perceptions of public relations (e.g., Bowen, 2009), and the gap between public relations education and public relations practice (e.g, Bowen, 2009). Cutlip and Bateman (1973) “criticized the unsatisfactory and disparate state of public relations education in USA colleges and universities” (p. 1). They argued:

The need for qualified, competent, professional assistance in this field was never greater than it is today. Yet the heavy hand of the past – its publicity genesis – still dominates public relations practice today when our divided society cries out for communication, conciliation and community. Call it “public relations,” “public affairs,” “corporate communications,” or whatever you will, the need for trained persons in this area is likely to increase in coming decades, as our society becomes even more complex.

Yet, we have already witnessed and are witnessing today a dearth of professional public relations practitioners capable of operating at the higher executive levels in all institutions – public and private – where their counsel is needed. The number of qualified people in public relations is incapable of meeting the demand for competent practitioners. Generally speaking, most of those in public relations work today were not specifically educated for this type of career. They are “retreads” from other fields of communication. (Cutlip & Bateman, 1973, pp. 1-2)

Wright (2011) argued that even 35-plus years later, not much has changed in how we educate public relations students in the U.S. He stated that “even though the need for qualified public relations practitioners is greater than ever and counsel of qualified public relations experts remains essential at the executive level, in the most successful organizations there continues to be problems” (p. 237). At an Edelman symposium in 2007, professor Frank B. Kalupa suggested “the standard model of public relations education in the U.S. is seriously flawed and does not work anymore” (Watson, 2017, p. 53). Wright (2011) also noted, “CEOs of major U.S.-based agencies and their human resources officers continuously indicate that some of the best future practitioners are graduates of university-based public relations degree programs that have a faculty with a combination of academic and professional credentials” (p. 245).

Pettigrew and Heflin (2017) conducted a content analysis of public relations texts used in PR writing and introductory courses in PR and found that discussions of media relations vary considerably, ranging from chapters about media relations to only mentioning the subject. Furthermore, these discussions were found in various locations (e.g., a chapter about ethics, a chapter about corporate communication, and a chapter about public affairs).

Shaw and White (2004) examined whether academic programs in journalism and public relations might not be helping to change the stereotypes and may even be reinforcing the negative perceptions of both professions. Juxtaposing this is the fact that, in practice, journalists and public relations professionals are increasingly dependent on each other. Both journalism and public relations educators acknowledged that “journalists depend on public relations-oriented material due to inadequate staffing levels in most newspapers” (Shaw & White, 2004, p. 499).

Dialogic theory, as presented by Kent and Taylor (1998, 2002), focuses on a “communicative orientation” (2002, p. 5) and is characterized “by a sense that participants are committed to each other and care about each other” (p. 5). While this holds true for certain communication efforts, it does not encompass the complexity of the relationships between public relations practitioners and journalists, which, at times, is fraught with competing agendas and a sense of bias. While their examination of the concept of “dialogic engagement” (Kent & Taylor, 1998) places engagement within their framework of propinquity as a principle of the dialogic exchange, rarely does media relations involve “interactants [who] are willing to give their whole selves to encounters” (p. 387).

By recognizing media relations as a strategic function (Pettigrew & Hutchins, 2017), it is important for educators to teach students the importance of developing and maintaining relationships with journalists and bloggers alike. A relational dialectical approach goes deeper than simply examining best practices to address the fluidity and evolving nature of media relationships.

Relational Dialectics

While much of the work in dialogue and dialectics has examined the relationship between couples (Baxter, 2004), it can be expanded to professional relationships, such as the PR practitioner/journalist relationship. In relational dialectics, “multiple points of view maintain their voices as they play with and off of one another” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 46). Dialectics shift the focus of scholars from the idea of “shared meanings” to the examination of multiple opposing perspectives (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 46). This is not to say that dialogue tries to work toward a compromise among the parties involved. Instead, it is designed to focus on “the messier, less logical, and more inconsistent unfolding practices of the moment” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 46). Communication is always a process, it is always “becoming” something, it never really “is” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 47). There are “no ideal goals, no ultimate endings, no elegant end-states of balance” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 47).  Indeed, balance can be considered a state of non-dialogue. In dialogue, the pendulum swings back and forth between parties, never achieving a final resting place.

For public relations, this view lends itself well when applied to creating and negotiating long-lasting relationships with reporters. While all interaction may not involve face-to-face dialogue, practitioners are still relating to another human being, each with their own needs, desires, and goals. Each party in the relationship has a job to do, and each party brings a voice to the interaction. To help explain this point, Holtzhausen and Zerfass say this about media relations as a dialectical process:

The media are and can be used to shape social and cultural realities. Thus, instead of only viewing media as channels of communication and audiences as the receivers of messages, strategic communicators need to consider how meaning is shaped in the interaction process involving stakeholders and media practitioners. (2015, pp. 8-9)

Baxter and Montgomery (1996) further examine the idea of relational dialectics by positing that there are four key assumptions of relational dialectics: contradiction, change, praxis, and totality.

Contradiction. The concept of contradiction holds a technical meaning in dialectical theory and refers to the “dynamic interplay between unified oppositions” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 8). Central to the idea of relational dialectics is that “communication plays a primary role in the ongoing experience of contradictions” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 8). Dialectics posits that contradiction is a “dynamic and fluid process in which the struggle at one point in time sets in motion the nature of the struggle at a subsequent point in time” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 8).

Change. Relationships are processes of change produced by the clash of opposing tendencies. The basic oppositions or tensions that exist constitute the basis of change in and development of the relationship. The concept of “change” in the relational dialectics literature can be linked to the concept of commitment in Kent and Taylor’s (2002) assumptions. Dialogue between parties may not last forever, just long enough to make a change (Bohm, 1996). This does not mean that the parties themselves necessarily separate, although they may; however, the dialogic instance needs only to last long enough to shift the parties toward a different stance than before the dialogue occurred. These last two points are important for students of public relations to understand. While dialogic exchanges may begin and end, the ongoing dialogue of a relationship is never really finished (Pettigrew & Heflin, 2017).

Praxis. In this assumption, “People function as proactive actors who make communicative choices in how to function in their social world” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 13). At the same time, however, “they are reactive objects, because their actions become reified in a variety of normative and institutional practices that establish the boundaries of subsequent communicative moves” (p. 13). Here we see Kent and Taylor’s (2002) concept of propinquity, in that parties must be willing and able to articulate demands of the other.

Totality. From a dialectal perspective, totality “is a way to think about the world as a process of relations or interdependencies” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 15). Dialectical tensions are played out in relation to other tensions that exist in everyday life. Dialectical tension is “jointly owned by the relationship parties by the very fact of their union” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 15). There may be little commonality between participating individuals’ experiences of contradictions in a relationship (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996).

Baxter (2004) presents a view of relational dialectics that focuses on not just the dyadic communication that takes place between two parties but also the way those dyadic relationships exist in the social order that surrounds them. This approach can assist in examinations of the sometimes-tense PR practitioner-journalist relationship because it focuses on ways people are communicating with others about what the nature of a relationship should be. Dialectics can be complicated, as “interpersonal dialectical processes involve the overt display of oppositional dynamics between people in a relationship” (Altman, 2009, p.27). Openness/closedness, predictability/novelty, stability/change, and other dynamics occur between participants in any exchange.

Relational dialectics fits well within the body of research that exists on PR/constituent relationships. Pearson (1989) concluded that dialogic exchanges “produce an intersubjectivity that blends shared and opposing views on key issues. Although consensus might not result on every issue, sufficient agreement, or concurrence, allows parties to continue dialogue” (p. 44). Conflict or disagreement gives motive and rationale for such exchanges to test areas in which both parties can come to some kind of shared meaning (Pearson, 1989).

As we move toward a relational approach to public relations, dialogue becomes a crucial element in forming and maintaining those relationships (Pettigrew & Heflin, 2017).  While some theoretical perspectives suggest that relationships develop symmetrically (Grunig, 1992), this is not always the case (Pettigrew & Reber, 2010). As Botan (1997) notes, “Dialogue manifests itself more as a stance, orientation, or bearing in communication rather than a specific method, technique or format” (p. 202). To that end, this work poses five hypotheses to address how professors view the relationship between PR practitioners and members of the media, and how they teach their students about that relationship:

H1:      Public relations professors view the reporter/PR practitioner interaction as a dialogic process.

H2:      Public relations professors’ attitudes about reporter/PR relationships are reflected in what they teach in the classroom.

H3:      Public relations professors’ attitudes about dialogue are reflected in what they teach in the classroom.

H4:      A majority of public relations professors will agree with teaching media relations through a dialogic lens.

H5:      Public relations professors will agree that persuasion is a part of the dialogic exchange between PR practitioners and journalists.


Participants for this survey consisted of a purposive sample of public relations professors listed in the 2012 AEJMC directory and professors who were current members of PRSA. The survey was sent to 670 professors at schools with various enrollments, but all schools had some type of public relations concentration or offered several courses in public relations.

The survey consisted of 33 questions. Two of those questions pertained to the classes professors taught and in which classes they addressed media relations. The next eight questions addressed the relationship between public relations practitioners and journalists. Professors were asked to rate their responses to these questions on a five-point Likert scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”

Participants were also asked if they addressed working with journalists in their classes, as well as the use of textbooks in their classes. Professors were then presented with five questions pertaining to their teaching methods regarding media relations. Five questions asked about the nature of the relationship between practitioners and journalists and the nature of conflict in the relationship. Participants were asked in what school or department they taught and about their view of persuasion in the PR practitioner/journalist relationship. The remainder of the questions were demographic.

Qualtrics was used to deliver the survey. Cover letter emails were sent to the survey sample, including a link to the survey. The recipients had the choice to either refuse or agree to take the survey. The consent form of the survey was presented as part of the invitation letter in the initial email. There were two follow-up reminders sent to professors in the sample, and the results were analyzed after the survey had been active for four weeks.

Public Relations Professor Survey Participants’ Demographics

The survey of public relations professors resulted in 93 usable responses. The response rate for the survey was 14%. Fifteen professors provided incomplete surveys, which were not included in the results. Ninety-eight professors “completed” the survey, but five professors chose to click through the survey without providing responses. Eight e-mail addresses failed to reach respondents due to technical problems, such as respondents’ out-of-office reply. Another two public relations professors responded that they did not have time to take the survey for various reasons.

Descriptive analyses of the demographic data were performed to provide information about the respondents’ age, the number of years of professional experience of the professor, the title of their current position, the number of years they had been teaching, and the number of years they had been at their current school (see Table 1).

Table 1

Profile of Survey Respondents

Age 30-39                          17 (19.3%)

40-49                          21 (22.8%)

50-59                          25 (26.9%)

60 and over               25 (26.9%)

no answer                5 (5.4%)

Highest Degree Bachelor’s                 2 (2.2%)

Master’s                     20 (21.5%)

Ph.D.                        64 (68.8%)

other                           7 (7.6%)

Years of Professional Experience

in Public Relations

1-5                            23 (24.8%)

6-10                            20 (22.6%)

11-15                        10 (13.1%)

16-20                          15 (16.2%)

21-35                          22 (23.9%)

no answer                 2 (2.2%)

Years Teaching 1-5                              11 (14.9%)

6-10                            26 (28.1%)

11-15                          15 (16.1%)

16-20                          9 (9.7%)

21-25                          11 (11.9%)

26-30                          6 (6.5%)

31-45                          10 (11.0%)

Years at Current Institution 1 (or first year)             7 (7.5%)

2-5                                 24 (29.2%)

6-10                               19 (20.4%)

11-15                           16 (17.4%

16-20                              3 (3.3%)

21-25                           11 (12.0%)


In response to what classes they taught most often (they could choose more than one), 64 professors indicated public relations writing or communication, 64 said introduction to public relations, 56 said public relations campaigns, 21 said public relations administration or management, 13 said introduction to mass communication, and 35 said public relations cases.

When asked about the classes in which they address media relations, 57 said public relations writing or communication, 50 said introduction to public relations, 36 addressed the topic in campaigns, 28 said PR cases, 12 covered media relations in PR administration/management, 5 said introduction to mass communication, and 14 said they addressed media relations in other classes, including a class on media relations (n = 3), crisis communication (n = 2), PR strategies and tactics (n = 1), and public relations and social media (n = 1).

The “composite public relations professor” from the demographic data was a 52-year-old with a Ph.D., 6-8 years of professional experience, and 12-13 years of teaching experience. This person had worked at the same institution for about 10 years and taught primarily public relations writing or communication or introduction to public relations.

Statistical Analysis for Hypotheses

An exploratory factor analysis separated concepts of “interaction” from concepts of “dialogue” in the questions on the public relations survey. The factor analysis did not reveal two distinct factors, possibly because the concepts are seen as intertwined. Indices were then developed based on conceptualizations and question wording. Cronbach’s alpha tests confirmed the reliability of the indices, at .73 (interaction) and .78 (dialogue). Through this process, valid measures for these concepts were developed.

Regarding H1, (public relations professors view the reporter/PR practitioner interaction as a dialogic process) survey results showed 72 public relations professors either agreeing or strongly agreeing that the relationship between journalists and public relations practitioners does consist of ongoing communication between the two parties (N = 92, M = 3.90, SD = .89).

Results of the survey supported H2 (Professors’ attitudes about relationships are reflected in what they teach in the classroom). Correlation coefficients were computed based on questions in the survey regarding attitudes about relationships versus what the professor taught students about relationships. The results of the correlational analysis presented in Table 2 showed positive correlations between the professors viewing the relationship as one of “give-and-take” and teaching that view of the relationship to their students.

Professors who agreed that the reporter/PR practitioner relationship is one of give-and-take also communicated that concept in their classes (r = .424). Professors who taught the importance of relationships between journalists and PR practitioners also taught that the relationship was one of give-and-take (r = .220). Additionally, professors who believed relationships were as important as outcomes also believed that the relationship was one of a give-and-take nature (r = .398).

Table 2

Correlations Between Beliefs About Relationships and Teaching About Relationships for PR Professors

Relationship exists Teach importance of relationships Relationships as important as outcomes Relationship is give-and-take Teach relationship is give-and-take

Relationship exists

.349 .184 .422** .110

Teach importance of relationships

.099 .530** .277** .220**

Relationships as important as outcomes

.184 .392** .362** .191

Relationship is give-and-take

.422** .308** .398** .424**

Teach relationship is give-and-take

.011 .220* .191 .424**

** Correlation is significant at the .01 level (2-tailed).
* Correlation is significant at the .05 level (2-tailed).

The results suggest that public relations professors do, in fact, teach what they believe about relationships between journalists and PR practitioners.

Correlation coefficients were then computed to find support for H3 (Professors’ attitudes about dialogue are reflected in what they teach in the classroom). The results of the analysis of the items that measured attitudes about dialogue and teaching about dialogue were significant at .53, p < .01.

Support for H4 (A majority of public relations professors will agree with teaching media relations through a dialogic lens) was found by calculating the frequency of survey respondents who agreed with the statement “I believe in, and teach students, that media relations should involve dialogue between a journalist and a PR professional.” Ninety-one professors (M = 4.47, SD = .60) either agreed or strongly agreed with the questionnaire item.

To test the final hypothesis in the study (H5), frequencies were calculated for the two groups of survey participants for the questions that addressed persuasion. Public relations professors (N = 90, M = 3.87, SD = .965) either agreed or strongly agreed that persuasion by the public relations professional is part of the journalist-practitioner relationship.

Additional Analysis

While beyond the scope of the hypotheses and research questions posed by this work, additional statistical analysis was conducted to see if there were differences in opinions based on age and years of teaching experience about dialogue and teaching students about dialogue. A one-way analysis of variance was conducted to compare professors’ age and their attitudes about dialogue. The test was not significant, F(36,21) = .308, p = 1.0. There was also no significance in the number of years the professors had been teaching and their attitudes about dialogue F(34,53) = .889, p = .64.

One-way analyses of variance were also conducted to see whether the classes that the professors taught most often had an impact on how they viewed dialogue. Those tests did not reveal significant results, as attitudes about dialogue were similar regardless of which class the professor taught most often.

Summary of Findings

H1: Public relations professors view the reporter/PR practitioner interaction as a dialogic process. (Supported).

H2: Public relations professors’ attitudes about relationships are reflected in what they teach in the classroom (Supported).

H3: Public relations professors’ attitudes about dialogue are reflected in what they teach in the classroom. (Supported).

H4: A majority of public relations professors will agree with teaching media relations through a dialogic lens. (Supported).

H5: Public relations professors will agree that persuasion is a part of the dialogic exchange between PR practitioners and journalists. (Supported).


Relational Dialectics and Dialogue as a Basis for a Theory of Media Relations

If professors are teaching students a dialogic approach to media relations, then it makes sense to continue a theoretical discussion of relational dialectics as a way to ground media relations in theory. As relational dialectics suggests, “dialogue is a flow of meaning between people” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 11). The ideas of contradiction and change are central to relationships with media, maybe more so than any other group public relations professionals deal with on a regular basis. If dialogue involves “shifting their views on particular issues or problems as dialogue occurs” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996, p. 12), then the idea fits nicely with the idea of “mutually beneficial relationships,” which is part of PRSA’s proposed definition of public relations (Corbett, 2012). Both public relations practitioners and journalists have to engage in give and take in order to have mutually beneficial relationships. It is important for students to learn that media relations should be an ongoing process. While media relations can be done in an isolated exchange, students should learn how to take that isolated exchange and attempt to build a relationship using dialogue.

Relational dialectics also explain the “coming together and drawing apart” nature of media relations today. If, as the survey here suggests, relationships are as important as outcomes, the outcome, instead of being the primary focus, now truly does become grounded in the exchange. Here again, we see contradictions with previous research by Wright (2011).

In the classroom, this could involve teaching modules that have students interacting with actual journalists on story ideas with an end goal of story “creation” rather than straight story “pitching.” Another example of this concept in practice is to have several journalists come to class to discuss the idea of dialectics as a way to interact with public relations professionals.

Professors’ Proclivities: Dialogue 

Professors have a lot to communicate over the course of a semester in any class.  In public relations classes, particularly public relations writing, it is quite the task to get students to write a coherent press release, much less all of the other materials they need to learn to write. Adding a good grounding of media relations on top of that is challenging. However, professors are doing it, which is important because professionals spend 30% to 90% of their time on media relations (Pettigrew & Hutchins, 2017). Appropriately, this survey also supported that professors are teaching media relations as a dialogic process in their classes, which is an update to arguments made by Kalupa (as cited by Watson, 2017), who suggested that public relations education is still focused on one-way communication. Professors are acknowledging that public relations is, in fact, rooted in an exchange of thoughts, ideas, and information with various publics. In terms of media relations, students are learning that it is more than just sending media materials to appropriate media outlets and following up. They are learning that a relationship with members of the media is an ongoing, fluid, and ever-changing process.

The points made by Wright (2011) may also need to be examined further, specifically his suggestions that curricula focus more on outputs than on outcomes. This work clearly indicates that professors are teaching relationships and dialogue as central to the reporter/PR practitioner relationship. As this study shows, professors possess a wealth of professional experience that they bring to the classroom, as all of them had some practical experience in the field, and the degrees the professors have are reflective of a high level of scholarship.

The results of H2 (Professors’ attitudes about relationships are reflected in what they teach in the classroom) and H3 (Professors’ attitudes about dialogue are reflected in what they teach in the classroom) are helpful in understanding that professors may be going beyond “best practices” in teaching students about media relations, which is where most PR textbooks end the discussion. Regardless of how texts treat the subject, many professors are supplementing texts with fodder for classroom discussion through their own views about dialogue and relationships (Pettigrew, 2013). By sharing examples from their professional careers, professors are giving real-world examples of building relationships and creating dialogue with reporters.

Support for H4 (A majority of public relations professors will agree with teaching media relations through a dialogic lens) indicates that professors are teaching students the importance of dialogue with the media. In learning how to practice media relations in preparation for internships or entry-level jobs, it is also important that educators provide ways for students to practice media message development and pitching before they are placed in a position of having to do so for a client or employer. Many educators have indicated that they are doing this (Pettigrew, 2013), but for others, time constraints become an issue. This author proposes that a media relations class become a part of a PR program’s curriculum, at least as an elective.

Limitations and Future Research

As with any survey, there was the issue of self-reporting bias and self-selection in survey participation. The population for the survey was small, and the the percentage of respondents was smaller still. What was desired for this work was a “snapshot” of how professors view and teach media relations in their classes to advance theory and suggest potential ways to improve media relations instruction. This researcher is not suggesting that the results of this survey can be used to draw more general assumptions about the state of media relations education in the United States today.

There is also much to be done in theory development in public relations. There is benefit in more exploration of incorporating relational dialectics as a basis for theory, particularly as it relates to media relations to encompass the notions of tension, conflict, and a focus on the process rather than the outcome. It would be beneficial to revise and re-administer this survey in 5 years to see if technology and the changing nature of PR and media relations has changed the attitudes of educators.


The subject of public relations education is rich with unmined areas for research. It is hoped that continued work in this area will help to fill the gap that exists between PR practice, education, and research. This study demonstrated that, contrary to previous research, public relations professors are committed to quality teaching in the area of media relations. In addition, this study also suggests relational dialectics as a starting point for understanding the give-and-take relationship between media professionals and public relations practitioners. Instructors should consider how a relational dialectic approach in their classrooms can help students understand the realities and expectations of today’s public relations workplace, as well as using relational dialectics to foster intellectual thought about the media relations process. Moreover, the closer we examine how we teach students how to practice, the more we may learn about practice itself. As today’s media marketplace continues to change and adapt to new technologies, so are public relations practitioners and professors adjusting their relationships with media professionals.


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