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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Professionalism and Emerging Professions: Meeting the Challenges in Public Relations Education

Jannet Pendleton.

Practitioners in all fields face challenges in meeting changing societal expectations of their professional roles and in finding personal satisfaction in the work they perform. These challenges are most apparent in emerging professions such as public relations, where professional standards are not as clearly defined or subject to the kinds of regulation that exists for traditional professions such as law and medicine. Public relations serves a dual role as mediator of communication with unique responsibilities to the wider public interest and as advocates for their clients.

This definitional discussion is taking place within wider debates around the appropriateness of traditional paradigms of professionalism and their relevance to current business practice. As public relations strives for recognition as a legitimate profession, traditional definitions of professionalism are being challenged.

A lack of professional regulation and guidance, together with the challenges of client demands and negative public portrayal of the profession, call for a new type of professional person. Concurrently many professionals are seeking greater validation and meaning in the work they do. This paper discusses the challenges for public relations education in encouraging awareness of the social role and responsibilities of the profession, the development of standards of ethical practice appropriate to those responsibilities and the provision of opportunities for personal and professional growth.


Jannet Pendleton  (Australia)
Lecturer in Public Communication
Department of Media Arts, Communication and Information, Faculty of Humanities and Social Science
University of Technology, Sydney

  • Vocational education
  • Professionalism
  • Ethics
  • Public interest
  • Personal growth

(30 min Conference Paper, English)