After being awarded my PhD in March 2011, I have consolidated research on my Positioning Framework that was developed as the main outcome of my PhD.

I am researching the application of Positioning Theory to strategic communication, examining theory and practice in emergent strategy, agile management and telepresence.

Examples of work citing my research:

  • Paull, M., & Whitsed, C. (2018). Why authenticity in corporate and employee volunteering matters for employee engagement: an organisational behaviour perspective. In Disciplining the Undisciplined? (pp. 193-210). Springer, Cham.
  • Angeles Moreno, Cristina Navarro, Mariam Alkazemi, “How the public and public relations professionals interpret leadership in Spain: results from the ComGap study”, Corporate Communications: An International Journal,
  • Block, D. (2017). Positioning Theory and Life-Story Interviews: Discursive Fields, Gaze and Resistance. In Identity Revisited and Reimagined (pp. 25-39). Springer, Cham.
  • Van Langenhove, L. (2017). POSITIONING THEORY AS A FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYZING IDIOGRAPHIC STUDIES. Methods of Psychological Intervention, 55.
  • Kjaerbeck, S. (2017) “Positioning and change in a hospital ward”, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 30 Issue: 1, pp.43-53,
  • Moore, K. D. (2017). 7 Environment and ageing. Geographical Gerontology: Perspectives, Concepts, Approaches. November.
  • Yaxley, H. (2017). Career strategies in public relations: constructing an original tapestry paradigm (Doctoral dissertation, Bournemouth University).
  • Andrews, J. L., & Taylor, J. E. (2017). Keeping Adult Education in the Mix: Using the Marketing Mix to Foster Viable and Sustainable Graduate Programs for Adult Learners. International Journal of Technology and Educational Marketing (IJTEM)7(1), 26-37.
  • Zerfass, A., Verčič, D., & Wiesenberg, M. (2016). Managing CEO communication and positioning: A cross-national study among corporate communication leaders. Journal of communication management, 20(1), 37-55.
  • Heaselgrave, F., & Simmons, P. (2016). Culture, competency and policy: why social media dialogue is limited in Australian local government. Journal of Communication Management20(2), 133-147.

  • Sison, M. D. (2016). Diversity and inclusion in Australian public relations: towards a multiple perspectives approach. Media International Australia160(1), 32-42.

  • Keating, M. (2016). Changing the subject: putting labour into public relations research. Media International Australia160(1), 20-31.
  • Puksawadde, A., Rerkkang, P., & Jirasophon, P. (2015). Strategic Public Relations through Online Social Media. Journal of Public Relations and Advertising8(2).
  • McKie, D., Xifra, J., & Lalueza, F. (2016). Introduction to configuring intelligences for 21C public relations. Public Relations Review42(2), 243-248.
  • Torres Sánchez, R. D., Fandiño, S., & Anselmo, G. (2016). Posicionamiento de los Estudiantes Cuando Trabajan en Actividades Cooperativas.
  • Valentini, C. (2015). Is using social media “good” for the public relations profession? A critical reflection. Public Relations Review41(2), 170-177.
  • Wise, D. (2015). Positioning PR: an Analysis of the Representation of Public Relations in Australian Political Speeches. Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal16(1), 90-106.
  • McDermott, B. R. (2015). Pre-service elementary teachers’ affective dispositions toward mathematics. The University of Texas at El Paso.
  • Vieira, E. T., & Grantham, S. (2014). Defining public relations roles in the USA using cluster analysis. Public Relations Review40(1), 60-68.
  • Adi, A. (2013). Social media audit and analytics: Exercises for marketing and public relations courses. In Social media and the new academic environment: Pedagogical challenges (pp. 143-162). IGI Global.
  • Bégin, D. (2013). Rethinking the RACE model for a social media world. Journal of Professional Communication2(2).
  • Kazaka, O. (2011). Corporate Communication in Social Media in Latvia. Acta Universitatis Sapientiae. Social Analysis1(2), 241.
  • Isakson, C. (2010). Australian book publishing and the internet: How two Australian book publishing companies are using the Internet to engage with customers. Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, 65-74.
  • Schoenmaker, S., & Alexander, D. (2012). Live cattle trade-the case of an online crisis. Social Alternatives31(2), 17.
  • Wolf, K., & Archer, C. (2011). Shifting online: an exploratory study into PR consultants’ attitude towards new media. In Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association conference. Australian and New Zealand Communication Association.
  • More… (opens in new window)


Keynote speaker at the International Positioning Theory Conference, Oxford University 10 July, 2017.

Delivered a keynote address at the Inaugural International Positioning Theory Symposium held in Belgium in July 2015 (I attended using a telepresence robot provided by UON due to severe knee injury ( robot/ );

Invited participant in a plenary session of leading international scholars on the topic of PR and Social Media” Barcelona PR Meeting 2016.

Invited keynote panel member on academic publishing in the PR field alongside the field’s longest serving and must respected editors, Professor Hiebert (PR Review), and esteemed academics Professors David McKie and Jordi Xifra (PR Inquiry);

Invited in 2017 from the University of Lahore to join with a team of international scholars to scope a major communication research project; and

– being formally invited by one of my field most eminent scholars, Professor Emeritus Robert Heath, who is heading the editorial board publishing the International Encyclopaedia of Strategic Communication by Wiley Blackwell, to contribute  scholarly entries on emergent communication strategy and strategic readiness. This is part of the vast International Communication Association sponsored “International Encyclopaedia of Communication Project”.

Having taken over in 2016 the editorship of the Asia Pacific PR Journal, my first editorial considered academic research impact, referring to the 2016 Australian Research Council publication, “The Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation Paper”. I pointed out the impact factor of many public relations academic journals is quite low. Does this mean that the research published in this journal since its inception has had no or little impact?  I am leading the discussion in my field on these issues and this is also one of the topics I addressed as part of the invited expect panel at the International PR Meeting in Barcelona.

In 2015, I saw a Danish scholar presenting how my PR Positioning Framework had been successfully used to design a health communication campaign for hospital staff that was reducing infection. This article is now published in 2017 Susanne Kjaerbeck, (2017) “Positioning and change in a hospital ward”, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 30 Issue: 1, pp.43-53,


In 2016, a presentation I gave to a local industry group in Newcastle on my latest research on agile PR management resulted in feedback that Newcastle Airport communications team had implemented the new method with success.

My research philosophy centres on my belief that academics have a responsibility to serve their professional field, their university’s research goals and the needs of the wider community. This belief is premised on the notion that academia does not primarily exist to build commercial wealth but to build and enhance knowledge in a multifaceted way to augment our understanding of our world and the way it functions.

I firmly believe that in working to develop a deeper understanding and an enhanced theoretical approach that can explain and predict behaviours and knowledge in public relations practice, I can contribute positively in all three areas – the professional field, the university’s research goals and the needs of the wider community.

During my 2017 study program I was appointed a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Technology, Sydney and was a Visiting Researcher at the United Nations University – CRIS in Bruges, Belgium.

Current projects:

  • Positioning theory for explicating Science Democracy as a policy concept and as  practice
  • Social presence and telepresence – positioning in virtual environments
  • Positioning Framework – further development, refinement and application
  • The relationship of strategic positioning and organisational listening
  • Communication program evaluation
  • Emergent strategy and its relationship to strategic positioning.
  • Massive Open Online Course research
  • Editor of the Asia Pacific PR Journal.

Link to research publications

Link to University of Newcastle staff researcher profile – Dr Melanie James


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