Guest speakers and the meaning of PR…

Guest speakers and the meaning of PR…

Since the start of the Autumn semester our public relations postgraduate students have enjoyed a busy visiting speaker schedule organized by Dr Julia Jahansoozi. It has included a number of fascinating guest lectures from visitors located both far and near including Kate Fitch, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia. In September Kate shared her recent research exploring the experience of senior female practitioners and gender issues in Australia. It was a fascinating research lecture providing a lot of insight as well as ideas for our students regarding areas of potential research for their dissertations.

In October we had presentations from our Honorary Lecturer, Steve Chinn, Stephanie Goodwin, Associate Lecturer at UCLAN, , and Wendeline Besier, CSR Manager for Royal Imtech.

Steve Chinn gave two lectures – one to do with advocacy and the role of PR and communication in ‘big scary divisive issues’ in public life – such as assisted suicide, equal marriage, abortion, the five discriminations, freedom to exercise belief, religious offence.  Again, plenty to think about and consider! Steve’s other presentation focused on the challenges of international communication and the critical importance of understanding the cultures you are communicating within with examples of how organizations have got it both right and wrong.

Stephanie Goodwin based in Lancashire made the trip up to Stirling and walked our students through a referendum campaign she had devised and managed in the USA providing sharp analysis and the insider perspectives plus the joys of having a large budget to ‘get things done’. It was a whirlwind trip filled with critical insights into what contributed to achieving the referendum win – insights that you only get from someone who has personally led the campaign. Student feedback labeled Stephanie as being “brilliant”…

Flying in from Amsterdam’s Imtech HQ Wendeline Besier, discussed how she made the transition from being a masters student to being the global CSR manager for a listed company within seven short years. With copious examples of what she does both on a daily basis and at the strategic planning level students developed an understanding as to what someone in this role is responsible for as well as the challenges she faces as Imtech operates globally and within very different cultures.

November brought Gigha Smith, one of our alumni who works for a famous Scottish whisky distillery, Samantha Groessler, Senior Policy Officer with the Scottish Government, as well as four distinguished European professors – Dejan Verčič (University of Ljubljana), Ana Ana Tkalac Verčič (University of Zagreb), Jesper Falkheimer(Lund University), and Matts Heide(Lund University).

It was wonderful to welcome Gigha back to Stirling. Her aptly titled presentation ‘life in luxury’ covered what she has done since graduating in 2010 with a focus on her recent work within the LVHM group – which was a lot! Gigha discussed her personal experiences from initially starting out working within a public relations consultancy based in Falkirk and her transition to working ‘in-house’ for the Glenmorangie Company (part of the LVHM group) managing the communication for its prestigious whisky brands and specifically her most recent focus on Ardbeg. Student feedback included comments such as “inspiring” which it indeed was. This guest lecture came at just the right time to lift spirits (no pun intended) as students approached the period of assignment deadlines with the reminder that ‘it’s all worth it’…

Samanther Groessler popped over from Edinburgh to demystify what policy officers actually do and what sorts of processes are involved when you work as a policy officer within the governmental context. As an example of her work Samantha went through her responsibilities and challenges (her focus is on media and the screen industries) around the implementation of Leveson within Scotland.

The final guest lecture session culminated in an intensive 2 hours with four of Europe’s leading scholars. Dejan Verčič, Ana Tkalac Verčič, Jesper Falkheimer, and Matts Heide. Research presented ranged from the European Chief Communication Officers Survey, internal communication, and conceptual research discussion on moving from PR to Strategic Communication. Our students had the great opportunity to question the very people whose work they had been reading during the semester.

Our students’ feedback for our guest speaker series has been overwhelmingly positive: “Amazing!”;  “Great”; “Very interesting and useful…”;  “Very nice to get an insight into the “working world” of PR”; “Guest speakers have been excellent, very interesting and useful…”; “It was really good to see all the different specialties (CSR, ethics, marketing PR…)”, and so on… which has made it all a pleasure to organize. It’s in these extra-curricular sessions that inspiration comes just when students need it as well as insight into the fascinating world of public relations.

Next semester it starts again…

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