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Interview with Angeles Moreno
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid
Ángeles Moreno is Professor of Corporate Communication and Public Relations Management at University Rey Juan Carlos en Madrid (Spain) and scholar at the high-performance Group of Advanced Studies on Communication (GEAC) of the University Rey Juan Carlos, with extended experience on international projects. The leadership she represents as a researcher is proved in her work in relevant transnational studies. Her research has been awarded by PRSA, ICA, EUPRERA and AIRP.
She is highly regarded as an author with huge productivity of 268 publications: 64 articles in indexed journals (leading or solitary 46% 40% Q1/Q2), 27 monographs, 31 reports, 17 book chapters. 5178 citations (GS). H-index: 37 and 10-index: 72.
She has hold managerial roles at university and board roles in academic associations of the field as European Public Relations Research and Education Association or International Relations Coordinator of the Association of Researchers of Public Relations; in her performance as a member of editorial and review committees for the main journals (eg. PR Journal, International Journal of Strategic Communication, Public Relations Review, Corporate Communication, Journal of Communication Management, International Journal of Public Relations, Professional of the Information, etc.) and congresses of the field (International Communication Association, EUPRERA, AIRP). She is an evaluator for national and international research bodies (eg. MINECO, AICO, EAI, ANEP, DEVA, Research Council KU Leuven) and for prestigious editorials.
Prof. Moreno, you are the first academic woman specialized in Public Relations and Strategic Communication to obtain the highest academic rank in Spain. Considering your interest in the issue of gender in the profession and the extensive research you are doing on this topic, how would you judge the role of women in PR academia nowadays?
Women still experience multiple forms of discrimination, inequalities and barriers in public relations (PR) and strategic communication, in both the industry and academia. We were pioneers in gender studies in this field in Spain and this is what our empirical results state in relation to our country, Europe and Latin America, coinciding with other research through the world. Over the years, we have been applying the newest methods of statistical analysis to data from the industry in various countries and our outcomes support the thesis of Claudia Goldin, the winner of the 2023 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences: women’s careers are deeply affected by structural social inequalities in their personal lives. This is what we refer to as the theory of integrated gendered work evaluation (IGWE) in our publication in the Journal of Public Relations Research (Moreno et al., 2022).
But this does not mean that enemies are only “at the (house) gates” (Moreno et al., 2021): strong structural and cultural barriers in the workplace persist as well, as shown by our last insights from the EUPRERA’s Women in PR project (Moreno et al., 2023). There is a high “cost of leadership”, and I personally experienced the same feeling that was expressed by our interviewees in the industry: although you understand this, you should not be a role model to younger colleagues. You can only hope they do not have to prove as much as your generation had to. This is not a surprising coincidence, because data from the academic and professional field have identified similar patterns of inequalities.
Moreover, we do not have consistent results in Europe about what has been called “intersectionality” (a term I do not like). We do not talk deeply about the interactions between gender, ethnicity or class, for instance, in the academic field in Europe. However, we were able to see some of these issues emerging in the focus groups of the Academic PR project (https://academicaspr.com) or at the discussion tables about the most recent book by Aldoory and Toth (2021). The dominant international academic culture in PR and strategic communication is masculine and WASP, and this has simply been taken for granted. I would say that today the crux of the matter are not just the polarized deniers and the soloists that make things openly difficult for their female colleagues –those behaviors are now typified– but the subtle cultural corsets that the chorus –all the male (and female) colleagues that play deaf and blind because “the gay is nice to ME”– supports.
You are director of the Strategic Health Communication Network of EUPRERA, which brings together 31 researchers from 16 countries and global funding of more than 2 million euros. This sounds like a research field with a growing importance in communication worldwide. What are the emerging trends?
The Strategic Health Communication (SHC) Network emerged from the Com-Covid project. The immediate response of EUPRERA’s scholars to analyse the role of strategic communication during the health emergency and crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic attracted a significative number of researchers all over the world. That initial project was timely and has had a relevant impact in terms of academic and social outputs.
Members of the network have also been very successful in attracting funds to diverse national projects. Some of them are still researching topics related to the pandemic, while others have expanded their research to diverse approaches in strategic health communication. The SHC Network has a large number of outputs including 19 journal papers, 10 book chapters, 12 academic presentations, two special panels and two workshops.
The Covid-19 pandemic generated increasing global interest in health communication and particularly in strategic communication applied to the field of health, including the institutions as well as the crises, emergencies and risks involved. Our bibliometric studies clearly confirm this trend. Yet, two critical unresolved epistemological questions emerge: can we talk about strategic health communication as a separate field from health communication, and is the discipline of strategic communication mature enough to allow such specializations?
What is the role of PR and strategic communication’ research for the challenges of our world?
Strategic communication has a growing role in society, in my view, that also entails a huge responsibility regarding ethical concerns. I am very interested indeed in the transference of PR and strategic communication of scientific knowledge to society. This is probably now my favourite career goal today and I am working on it in two areas: within the profession and outside of the field.
I have already been working intensely on this subject for a long time, through its transmission to the PR and strategic communication profession with the European Communication Monitor and the Latin American Communication Monitor, as well as the State of Communication project and other studies in Spain.
What the communication monitors have brought to the table in various continents is an unprecedented set of longitudinal empirical data with three distinctive features: the quantity and robustness of the data, international cooperation, and knowledge transfer. With the Global Communication Monitor, we have developed unprecedented cooperative research with the involvement of approximately 60 research institutions as well as a network of national and international professional associations supporting the analyses. This has had an impact on the recognition of PR and strategic communication in different regions. The European chapter alone has delivered 60 presentations to practitioners and published 32 articles in professional magazines, with more than 31,200 views of the results and 32,600 views of the videos.
To give an example, in Latin America alone, this study is the most the most representative one in the region, as has been acknowledged in the Public Relations Review journal (Moreno et al., 2023; Thelen, 2021), and it is also the most referenced empirical source in Ibero-American conferences.
I am currently excited about the next phase of the European Communication Monitor. This will involve new approaches and is a challenge that will require fresh energy to continue producing a solid and useful forecast of the trends in practices.
On the other hand, I am also now committed to enhancing the recognition of the role of communication in other scientific and professional fields. At the Group of Advanced Studies in Communication, we are now cooperating with consortiums from other scientific disciplines – such as health or engineering – to support and facilitate the transference of scientific knowledge to solve social challenges.
This is the case for the Strategic Communication for Skin Cancer Prevention through Sun Photo-exposure, a project which I lead. The Comunicancer project (https://strategichealthcommunication.com), in which five universities and hospitals are participating, entails a high degree of innovation, interdisciplinarity and transference. This project is linked to United Nations Sustainability Development Goal 3. Skin cancer could be the next epidemic, as it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world, with more than 1.5 million estimated new cases diagnosed in 2020. The relevance of this topic for social health means that the results of this project must be disseminated beyond the scientific community. Thus, the main objective of this project is the practical transference of knowledge to improve the communication of prevention methods that are disseminated by the entities that are currently tasked with this responsibility. In Spain, these entities are part of the project network and will be the direct beneficiaries of the results. In the process, some have already requested our advice to enhance their communications through starting or remodelling their communication departments. In this way, we are proving and highlighting the role of strategic communication in other fields. The mediatization, digitalization and automatization of our societies has placed communication at the centre of every human and organizational activity. Managing it strategically is essential to be sustainable and to survive in this changing world.