Can Public Relations Be Science Communication?

In its most recent issue, the Journal of Science Communication raises the question of whether public communication efforts from research institutions are public relations or science communication.

To address the question, the journal has published five commentaries, each of which covers a specific aspect of the issue and takes a different position. I wrote one of the commentaries.

The commentaries (all of which are open access and can be found here) include an introductory piece by Rebecca Carver, who sums up the issue: “There is growing competition among publicly funded scientific institutes and universities to attract staff, students, funding and research partners. As a result, there has been increased emphasis on science communication activities in research institutes over the past decade. But are institutes communicating science simply for the sake of improving the institute’s image? In this set of commentaries we explore the relationship between science communication and public relations activities, in an attempt to clarify what research institutes are actually doing.”

In my contribution, “Public relations as science communication,” I argue that public communications from research institutions (such as universities) often function as both public relations and science communication – they aren’t mutually exclusive. The PDF of my full commentary can be downloaded here.

What do you think?

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