Two lecturers at the Department of Public Relations in the Ghana Institute of Journalism, University of Media, Arts and Communication (UniMAC-GIJ), Noel Nutsugah and Albert Anani-Bossman (PhD), have published groundbreaking research on the state of public relations research in Ghana over ten years based on a comprehensive systematic literature review.
Their research, titled “Development of Public Relations in Ghana: A systematic review,” offers a comprehensive analysis of the evolution and current state of public relations studies in Ghana while providing plausible avenues for future research.
The duo, who have been touted as specialists in both the practice and scholarship of public relations, embarked on this ambitious endeavour to shed light on the growth and significance of public relations research within the Ghanaian context and how the lack hampers professional practice.
The research spans a wide range of topics, including the limited public relations scholarship from the African context, especially in global conversations, the dominance of CSR and CSR Communication, limited research in areas such as Sports PR, Digital PR, PR in Oil and Gas, Crisis Communication, and the need for Ghanaian public relations scholars to do more to deepen the understanding of the field within the Ghanaian context. By conducting an extensive review of existing literature, Nutsugah and Anani-Bossman have provided a comprehensive understanding of the field’s progress, current status and areas where future scholarly efforts should be channelled.
One of the key findings of the research highlights the dominant use of the Excellence Theory, Dialogic Communication Theory, and Stakeholder Engagement Theory to underpin public relations research in Ghana at the expense of other important theories, such as the Social Exchange Theory and the Signalling Theory. The authors emphasise that for public relations research to be contextualised and relevant to the Ghanaian context, scholars must move towards developing their own theories.
Furthermore, the systematic review underscores the lack of public relation research in Ghana’s digital context, even though organisations and individuals in Ghana seem to have rapidly adopted digital and social media platforms. They argue that there will be a need to populate research in that area due to the transformative impact of these tools and how they allow professionals to reach wider audiences, build relationships, and shape public opinion effectively.
The researchers also shed light on the challenges faced by the public relations industry in Ghana. They explore issues such as limited resources, inadequate infrastructure, and the need for continuous professional development opportunities. By identifying these obstacles, Nutsugah and Anani-Bossman hope to stimulate conversations and inspire initiatives that will address these concerns and enhance the overall practice of public relations in Ghana.
The piece of work was published in the oldest PR Journal globally, edited by the venerable Prof of PR, Maureen Taylor, who co-authored the Dialogic PR Theory with Prof Michael Kent (Kent and Taylor). The journal is A-rated by the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) and carries an H-Index of 96 (Scimago ranking). The journal is published by Elsevier.
The publication marks a significant milestone in advancing public relations research within the country. The groundbreaking insights provided by the authors will undoubtedly serve as a valuable resource for academics, practitioners, and policymakers seeking to strengthen the profession in Ghana.
Nutsugah and Anani-Bossman expressed excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the field. They hope their research will spark further investigations, encourage dialogue, and ultimately lead to implementing best practices and standards to propel public relations research in Ghana to new heights.
As the field of public relations continues to evolve, Nutsugah and Anani-Bossman believe that their research provides an essential foundation for future studies and endeavours in Ghana and beyond. It serves as a testament to the dedication and expertise of Ghanaian researchers, affirming their significant role in shaping the global understanding of public relations.
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