Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Towards the professionalisation of public relations/corporate communications in Malaysia : perception management and strategy development

Abdullah, Zulhamri 2006. Towards the professionalisation of public relations/corporate communications in Malaysia : perception management and strategy development. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

[img] PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Download (14MB)


The aim of this dissertation is to explore how the status and standards of public relations as a profession are perceived by the three main groups involved in public relations: academics, practitioners, and business leaders. This study approaches the issues from several perspectives including the sociology of the profession, strategic management, and multiculturalism in the Klang Valley, Malaysia. Low recognition of the profession, a shortage of qualified practitioners, a lack of regulation, and a lack of credibility among practitioners are major issues in the Malaysian public relations industry. In order to administer this study, several research methods were employed: a quantitative postal questionnaire, qualitative in-depth interviews and a review of policy documents. In each case, the focus was on following four dimensions of public relations professionalism: the exclusive jurisdiction of public relations; PR education: the establishment of its exclusive training schools; the importance of a code of ethics; and accreditation and licensing. The postal survey produces a quantitative empirical description of the profession. Importantly, the in-depth interviews and a review of policy documents offer a qualitative, empirical and analytical exploration of the educational and professional standards of public relations management. The results of this study revealed that although the Malaysian public relations industry has grown due to the substantial influences of Western PR knowledge, the public relations profession has not yet matured in terms of achieving professional status in the eyes of society as a whole. In a new global economy, business leaders really value the importance of public relations in improving their organisational strategy development but they were not impressed with the quality and competencies of PR practitioners. Therefore, most of them stressed the importance of accreditation (registration) to improve practitioners' competencies but some of them noted that it is too early to implement legislation. They believe that the main focus should be on the quality and precision of PR practice as current practitioners' tactical and managerial tasks are neither complex nor sophisticated. Thus, there are four key areas of expertise identified which are considered to be the exclusive jurisdiction of public relations: stakeholder relations, reputation management (corporate branding), corporate social responsibility, and consultative and corporate advisory services at the top management level. The majority of business leaders, practitioners and academics considered that the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia did not play a pivotal role in improving the standards of PR professionalism. The institute is expected to focus its main functions on several key tasks: developing a strategic plan, strengthening Continuous Professional Development (CPD) schemes, achieving state recognition - in the form of a Royal Charter and providing membership benefits. Importantly, all of these elements must be aligned with universal and global benchmarking standards. Additionally, although many corporations have adopted their own code of ethics, many respondents did not realise that practising standardised, universally accepted code of ethics in public relations can enhance the dignity and safeguard ethical behaviour and morality among PR practitioners. Indeed, there is a perceptual distance between PR academics and practitioners regarding what kind of professional practice is best for competent PR professionals. PR academics claimed that there are many non-qualified PR practitioners practising public relations, whilst PR practitioners questioned the quality of local PR education by arguing that academics deliver only basic theoretical knowledge of public relations rather than teach students how best it can be practised in the real world. Evidence from the questionnaire survey and interviews, showed that apart from mastering journalistic skills, PR practitioners are aware of the importance of holistic knowledge of business acumen and environmental scanning. The study also revealed that understanding cultural sensitivity is seen as a universal value that falls under PR practitioners' responsibility. Managing cultural diversity can reduce any complexities that affect business performance. Thus, there is a need for PR practitioners to develop a cultural diversity policy in improving relationships with external stakeholders in an external business environment. It is concluded that public relations can be a 'true' profession if all parties involved are united and committed to developing standardised, universal forms of public relations practice. The most critical factor that diminishes the value of public relations is the quality and precision of PR practice. Public relations must be seen as a 'terminal' occupation that maintains its exclusivity to balance its dual role as advancing stakeholders/clients importance and protecting the public interest. Keywords: public relations, professionalisation, strategic management, and cultural diversity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
ISBN: 9781303173936
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2018 17:18

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics