Research

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.

I am currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Technology, Sydney (July – December 2017).

My substantive position is  Senior Lecturer Level at the University of Newcastle. 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.

My research examines strategic communication and public relations  firstly as practices within entities ranging from corporations, governments and not-for-profit organisations and, secondly, as a phenomenon that impacts communication (visible and invisible) in every facet of democratic and undemocratic systems across the world.

Current projects:

  • 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 positioning and creative industries.
  • Massive Open Online Course research
  • Editor of the Asia Pacific PR Journal.

Examples of work citing my research:

  • Kjaerbeck, S.(2017) “Positioning and change in a hospital ward”, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 30 Issue: 1, pp.43-53, https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-05-2016-0094
  • Valentini, C. (2015). Is using social media “good” for the public relations profession? A critical reflection. Public Relations Review41(2), 170-177.
  • Vieira, E. T., & Grantham, S. (2014). Defining public relations roles in the USA using cluster analysis. Public Relations Review40(1), 60-68.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • More… (opens in new window)

Highlights:

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 (https://uonblogs.newcastle.edu.au/melaniejames/2015/07/11/i- 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, https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-05-2016-0094

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.

 

Link to research publications

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

 

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