Plain old Bess in a different dress? Disruptions of public relations in the digital age

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This paper focuses on the disruptions in the digital age through the lens of public relations experts from the private sector. In order to understand whether the PR profession is undergoing a major or just a minor change, this study focuses on expert attitudes toward the disruptions and the perceived change of their identity, strategy, and structure of PR. The analysis of semi-structured in-depth interviews yielded six themes: changes that are shaping the industry, changes in organizational identity, occupational definitions and roles, structural aspects, the difference between PR communication strategy and digital PR-strategy, new methods, tools, and measurement models and finally predictions for the future. Three main conclusions arise from these themes: PR agency self-identity is in a process of change from media-relations to strategic consultants; the main source of the change is perceived as media disruption rather than digital disruption (although they are interrelated); and the future in PR is predicted as the all-in-one marketing communications agency, which might develop into a new, hybrid, profession.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102250
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Digital age
  • Disruption
  • Media-relations
  • Public relations
  • Social media
  • Strategic consultants


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