PR Graduate Melissa Walker Wins Prestigious European Master Thesis Award for Excellence

Melissa Walker, a graduate of MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations (Joint Degree between the University of Stirling and Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona), has won EUPRERA Master Thesis Award for Excellence in Theoretical Impact category for her dissertation “Building the Nation: Analysing the Scottish Government’s Public Diplomacy Campaign Scotland is Now in the Context of Brexit”.

EUPRERA’s (European Public Relations Education and Research Association) Master Thesis Award for Excellence, run since 1995, is a celebration of PR academia and of the role performed by European Higher Education Institutions in the evolution of knowledge of this field. With this award, EUPRERA together with PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Association) and ICCO (International Communications Consultancy Organisation) want to honour and reward Master theses that make a significant professional/practical or academic contribution to the field of Public Relations in Europe.

The jury, headed by Alexander Buhmann, from BI Norwegian Business School in Norway, said about Melissa’s dissertation: “Brexit is currently one of the most salient and prevalent political challenges in the EU. The complex and uncertain process towards a British independence from the EU has led to a controversial debate over Scottish independence. Melissa Walker’s thesis is situated in this important context and focuses on elements of nation building in the digital campaign ‘Scotland is Now’. Using the case of the campaign, Walker looks at how elements of nation building are employed to cultivate an image of Scotland, and how these nation-building elements can be related to Scotland’s soft power strategies in the context of Brexit.

Overall, the jury congratulates Melissa Walker to a very interesting and topical thesis that focuses on important dimensions of a communication campaign in the complex negotiation processes over nation identity, thereby bridging conceptual insights from public relations, public diplomacy, and work on nation building.”

As the winner of this prestigious award, Melissa was invited to present her research at the annual EUPRERA Congress at the end of September in Zagreb. Croatia. Melissa describes her experience: “It’s an honour to have been selected as the winner of this year’s award. I had a great time at the EUPRERA Congress in Zagreb and I am so thankful that I was given this opportunity to present my work. I’d like to thank my supervisor Mariola Tarrega for her guidance and support, and Alenka Jelen-Sanchez for suggesting I apply for the award.”

Her supervisor Dr Mariola Tarrega added: “It was a pleasure to supervise Melissa. Her dissertation brings public relations and public diplomacy together while providing a thorough analysis of one the most important debates of our times, Brexit.”

The University of Stirling celebrated another success in this year’s Master Thesis Awards for Excellence.  Nora Biermann, also a graduate of MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations (Joint Degree), was amongst the finalists for Practical Impact Award with her dissertation “From small citizens to a greater Europe: Differences in the semantic construction and thematic framing of European identity on Twitter during the pre- and post-Brexit era” (supervised by Dr Lluís Más Manchón, Universitat Pompeu Fabra).

This is a remarkable success for our graduates and we would like to congratulate them and their supervisors!