Melanie James is an expert communicator, researcher and educator. She primarily works as an academic at the University of Newcastle in strategic communication and public relations. She researches positioning in strategic communication and public relations, focusing on how innovative theory can deliver greater impact in communication practice.
Melanie led the new MOOC Committee for UON and project managed the first NewcastleX Massive Open Online course (MOOC) development, which in December 2017 won the global award “MOOC of the Year” for Exceptional Contribution to Online Learning by Edx.
In 2017 she was a Visiting Research Fellow at UTS and a Visiting Researcher at the United Nations University – Centre for Regional Integration Studies, Bruges, Belgium. In 2016, Melanie successfully undertook the Head of School role for the School of Design, Communication and IT and led a team of 60 staff through a major restructure process.
She has won national and state awards for her communication campaigns. She continues to take on selected strategic communication consultancy roles. Prior to joining the University of Newcastle, Melanie was an executive level communication manager in government (Australian Greenhouse Office, Australian Electoral Commission, Australian Bureau of Statistics), health and financial sectors.
Her research is internationally recognised and she was a keynote speaker at the 2017 International Positioning Theory Conference at Oxford University. Her academic book (Routledge, 2014), Positioning Theory and Strategic Communications: A new approach to public relations research and practice, was well reviewed.
Her 2017 “Autoethnography: the story of “doing a MOOC” or knowing “the beast” from within” chapter appears in Bennett, R. & Kent, M. (Eds.). MOOCS and Higher Education: Where to Next? (Ashgate). Her invited entries on “Emergent Strategy” and “Strategic Readiness” for the Wiley International Encyclopedia of Strategic Communication are in press (2018).
She is the current editor of the Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, now open access, established in 1999.
She is an invited contributor as a “thought leader in social media” in both the 2017 and the original 2014 edition of Lipshultz’s book, Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (Routledge). She served from 2012-2015 on the National Educational Advisory Committee of the Public Relations Institute of Australia.
Having been awarded the National Educator of the Year Award 2015 by the Public Relations Institute of Australia, Melanie continues to pursue innovation in teaching. Her third year students with technical officer, George Hyde, made this video as a tribute to her teaching: View here (30 secs).
She is a published creative writer, and has been a finalist in the Australian Vogel Literary Award and the University of New Orleans Press non-fiction competition.
Employment history and academic qualifications can be found here (opens in new window on LinkedIn).