Announcing our 2017 Panel Lineup

By Richard Waters, University of San Francisco

In the previous edition of the newsletter, I highlighted the process for selecting the panels and explained why many good panel proposals aren’t ultimately scheduled due to the limited number of spots that the RPD has as well as the challenges with co-sponsoring sessions with other divisions that often have different plans for their limited conference sessions.  That being said, I’m thrilled to reveal the panels that have been selected for this year’s conference in Chicago.  Working with the research, teaching, and professional freedom and responsibility committees, we have selected panels that reflect a range of topics and co-sponsors that will bring some new topics for discussion by our membership.

The following list highlights this year’s panels with proposed titles and moderators along with a brief description pulled from the proposals.  It also lists the day and time that the panel has been scheduled.  Research sessions will be scheduled following the paper competition and announced in May.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

“Public Relations, Public Health, Public Good: Preparing a New Generation of Nonprofit and Public Sector Communications Professionals” (co-sponsored with ComSHER Division from 8:15-9:45am) will be moderated by Denise Bortree from Penn State University.  This teaching panel will demonstrate how varying approaches can be used to prepare students to work in nonprofit public relations with a special focus on health, science, and environment. Panelists will share their experiences from classroom innovation including examples of effective activities and case study suggestions that will help prepare students for the unique challenges that face them in their chosen career paths.

“Can Communication and Legal Get Along? Examining Tensions and Cooperation between Legal Counsel and Communication Practitioners” (co-sponsored with Law & Policy Division from 10:00-11:30am) will be moderated by Alexander Laskin from Quinnipiac University. This PF&R panel will convene practitioners and academics to discuss recent salient issues, developments and interactions involving communication and legal professionals in a corporate context. The panelists will focus on such issues as the benefits of clear and transparent communication and business practices to the success of the enterprise, its stakeholders and society generally, versus working within legal and regulatory constraints and protections.

“Reality Isn’t What It Used to Be: Social Scientific and Cultural Approaches to Understanding How Visuals Work in Public Relations” (co-sponsored with Visual Communication Division from 1:30-3:00pm) will be moderated by Matt Haught from the University of Memphis.  This PF&R panel examines the ways practitioners can work to evaluate and measure visual communication within campaigns and the ways researchers can advance knowledge in the area. The panel will provide a needed public discussion about how scholars and practitioners can work together to critically analyze the use of visuals in public relations.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

“The Strategic Imperative of Brand Activism” (co-sponsored with Advertising Division from 11:45am-1:15pm). This PF&R panel combines Chicago-area practitioners with academics to discuss best practices, potential pitfalls, and rewards of implementing brand activism as a communications and hiring strategy.

“Breaking the Cycle of Burnout for Minority Professors:  Tips for Coping in the Present and Advocating for the Future” (co-sponsored with Small Programs Interest Group from 5:00-6:30pm) will be moderated by Rowena Briones from University of Maryland. Panelists from various career stages in the academy will discuss their experiences with regard to diversity recruitment and retention during this PF&R panel and will offer tips for minority professors to avoid feeling isolated and overwhelmed.

Friday, August 11, 2017

“Public Relations at the Intersections: An Examination of Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Class and Sexuality in Action” (co-sponsored with LGBT Interest Group from 1:45-3:15pm) will be moderated by Jennifer Vardeman-Winter from University of Houston.  This research panel will propel the conversation beyond sexuality and consider the intersections of gender, ethnicity, race, class, and geography, and how they play out in public relations practice and research.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

“Public Relations History in the Classroom: Making More Time for Meaning-Making” (co-sponsored with History Division from 9:15-10:45am) will be moderated by Jeffrey S. Morosoff from Hofstra University.  This teaching session will discuss recent research about the lack of public relations history in our classrooms and offer tools and insight designed to empower students with the understanding of history’s relevance to this vital profession.

“The Ethics of Advocacy: A Debate and Discussion of How to Teach Advocacy” (co-sponsored with Media Ethics Division from 11:00am-12:30pm) will be moderated by Kathy Fitzpatrick from American University.  This debate will challenge teams of three scholars to debate the ethics of organizational advocacy in the current “fake news” environment.  While debate judges weigh the arguments from both sides, audiences will discuss strategies for teaching advocacy ethics in the classroom.

I’m personally looking forward to the ethics debate and the burnout panels, but I could not be more pleased with the range of topics that will be discussed at this year’s conference.  The research topics will, no doubt, bring even more topical diversity to the Chicago conference.  I hope that you’ll join us in Chicago for these sessions and others that will feature our division members.  If you are participating in a session that isn’t co-sponsored by Public Relations Division but want it to be featured in our next newsletter, please let me know the panel title, date and time of the panel, and a brief description so that we can include it in our conference preview newsletter later this summer.

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