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Awards for best research papers and master/bachelor theses in PR - 13.09.2014
EUPRERA honours academics and students from six countries in Brussels

Brussels, September 12, 2014

Awards for best research papers and master/bachelor theses in public relations:
EUPRERA honours academics and students from six countries in Brussels

The European Public Relations Education and Education Association (EUPRERA), a body of academic institutions, researchers and senior professionals in the field of strategic communication with 500 members from 40 countries, has awarded professors, next-generation academics and graduates from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany and Slovenia for their excellent research in strategic communication at the annual Euprera Congress in Brussels, Belgium, today. The congress is known as the major gathering of scholars and professionals interested in advancing the profession of public relations and corporate communications on the continent. It is hosted by the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) this year.

Academic awards for research on PR ethics, trust and reputation, and CEO communication

Best paper awards were given to the authors of three research papers presented at the congress. The papers received the highest rankings in a two-stage, blind peer-review process performed by a scientific committee of renowned international scholars. Professor Ralph Tench from Leeds Metropolitan University and head of the scientific committee, commented: “The overall quality of papers presented at this year’s conference is very high. We have seen an impressive diversity of high quality research which uses advanced theories and empirical methods to explore relevant issues for the practice. The winning papers present a variety of topics and methodological approaches, and all of them are contributing to the body of knowledge in the field.”

The three honoured papers are:

“To serve society: the polis and public relations’ professional ethics” by Johanna Fawkes, Charles Sturt University, Australia. This paper argues that a profession’s ethics embodies its relationship with society, reflecting its perceptions of itself and its wider contribution. The paper analyses professional ethics and more particularly the dedication of the profession to "the common good". The concept of polis frames a meaningful relation between the PR industry and society. Described as an excellent paper, which raises fundamental questions as to the aim of the PR profession to serve society and "the common good". The paper provides a sharp analysis of the relation between professions and society.

“Applying Variance-Based Structural Equation Modeling to Analyze Causal Effects Between Target Constructs in Public Relations” by Alexander Buhmann and Diana Ingenhoff, University of Fribourg, Switzerland. The paper analysis the causal relationships among trust, reputation and stakeholders’ behaviours through the application of structural equation modeling. This produces a strong paper that has practical, critical and original implementations for academic and practice that can be projected from this study. In addition for the discipline it is a considerable advance on evaluation methods with wider contributions beyond the paper content. Within the paper the findings empirically test assumptions about reputation, trust and behavioral intentions of diverse
stakeholders. The paper includes original quantitative methodological instruments for research in public relations through structural equation modeling which are well applied and the authors provide an interesting and complete design process for the study together with an excellent explanation of the methodology, results and their application.

“Managing CEO communication and positioning: A cross-national study among corporate communication leaders” by Ansgar Zerfass, University of Leipzig, Germany, and BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway; Dejan Vercic, University of Llubljana, Slovenia; and Markus Wiesenberg, University of Leipzig, Germany. The study examines the practices of positioning Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and other top executives in the public sphere and approaches to manage their communication activities. The article presents the first large-scale study on a muchdebated aspect of communication management. It informs practitioners in the field and identifies knowledge that can be integrated into the education of business and communications students alike. The study identifies questions for further research, i.e. comparative studies in other types of organisations and other regions of the world. The paper was commended for providing an
international analysis of the perception of CCOs about CEO’s positioning and communication. This
is an original paper and contribution that fills a gap in literature and adds significantly to new knowledge in a sought after area of strategic communication understanding. The findings of this type of study appeals to academics but also significantly to the practice community. In addition the reviews commented that it was good to see a paper that tackles an important area of communication and does so with strong research/empirical principles. In summary an excellent paper with much to discuss and debate as it adds to the field and the discussions on CEO communication.

Best master and bachelor theses from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom

A growing number of next-generation professionals is preparing for a career in communications at universities and colleges across Europe. Many of them conduct valuable research in their final theses. Two students were honoured this year, based on the votes of a jury comprised of academics and professionals from several countries and headed by Antonio Marques Mendez, Portugal. Professor Oyvind Ihlen, member of the EUPRERA board from Oslo University, stated: “Public relations needs thorough theoretical and methodological knowledge, something the two selected entries contribute to. The jury was impressed by the overall high quality of the submitted theses so the two winners should indeed be proud.”

The EUPRERA award for the best master thesis in public relations 2014 was given to Beatriz de Urquijo Isoard, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands, for her work “Experience Marketing and Destination Branding: A Qualitative Study of Spanish Consumers' Decision-Making Process and Image Perception of Mexico and its Magical Towns as a Cultural Touristic Destination”. The author makes a significant contribution to the field of nation’s brand building and experience marketing and consequently to the one of cultural tourism. She studied image formation processes of Mexico among tourists, contributing in this way to a clearer understanding of the links between expectations, perceptions and decision-making about a certain object. An innovative qualitative multi-method approach is applied comparing focus groups with projective techniques. The results are relevant for public relations scholars and practitioners particularly those working and/or researching the tourism sector. The thesis is well written, well-structured and
methodologically innovative.

Winner of the EUPRERA award for the best bachelor thesis in public relations 2014 is Callum Strode, Leeds Metropolitan University, United Kingdom, for his thesis „Situational theory of publics and intercultural communication“. This impressive BA thesis contributes to the field of intercultural public relations by testing whether sexual identity can be included as a cultural referent in the situational theory of publics. Bridging studies on intercultural communication, social identity theory with public relations literature by focusing on sexual identity as an antecedent variable is interesting. The results are relevant for public relations scholars and practitioners too.


The European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) is an independent organization that aims at stimulating and promoting innovative knowledge and practices of strategic communication, organizational communication and public relations across Europe. Founded in 1959 and previously named CERP Education & Research, EUPRERA is a network with nearly 500 members from 40 countries where academics and professionals attract, convey, disseminate and create innovations in the field. Several cross-national and comparative research and education projects are organised by members and affiliated universities. In order to spread new methodologies and research results, EUPRERA organises an highly regarded academic Annual Congress. Every year, it is held in collaboration with a selected university or college in Europe. The 2014 congress in Brussels, Belgium, is hosted by the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), founded in 1425 as one of Europe’s oldest universities.

Press contact

Virginia Villa – Director of Public Relations and Administration, EUPRERA. E-Mail: Phone: +39 3482457646.

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