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The rise and fall of IPRA in Australia: 1959 to 2000.

Watson, T. and Macnamara, J., 2014. The rise and fall of IPRA in Australia: 1959 to 2000. Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal.

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Macnamara and Watson - The rise and fall of IPRA in Australia (APPRJ 15-1).pdf - Accepted Version



The International Public Relations Association (IPRA) was established in 1955 as the lead international organisation for the development and promotion of public relations as a professional communication practice (L’Etang, 2004). Australian practitioners began their relationship with IPRA in 1959. However, it too three decades before it became intensive over a 15-year period from 1983 to the late 1990s during which time leading individuals took global leadership roles. Drawing from the IPRA archive and recent interviews by the authors with prominent practitioners in Europe and Australia, the paper establishes the narrative of international engagement by the Australian PR sector and explores the aims and effects of its involvement with IPRA in four periods: 1) Early international engagement (1959-1967): London-based Australians occasionally attended IPRA meetings in Europe, but engagement was mostly by correspondence with little evident impact on IPRA or vice versa. 2) The Jon Royce era (early-mid-1980s): Melbourne consultant Jon Royce’s presentation of Australian PR to IPRA in 1983 led to the 11th Public Relations World Congress being awarded to Melbourne for 1988. Royce was IPRA President in 1985 but died in early 1986. 3)IPRA World Congress in Australia: The 1988 IPRA World Congress in Melbourne in Australia’s Bicentenary year is acknowledged in IPRA records as very successful and a significant milestone in the nations’ developing PR industry. Senator Jim Short was praised for his leadership and Sydney consultant Jim Pritchitt joined IPRA’s Council and then Board, after which Australian membership of IPRA soared. 4) Peak membership and leadership (1990s): Pritchitt became Australia’s second IPRA President in 1992. Also during this time, Australians took a lead role in development of the IPRA Gold Paper No.11 on Evaluation (1994). In 1999 IPRA awarded its 2002 World Congress to Tasmania, but was postponed to 2003 and then merged into that year’s Public Relations Institute of Australia National Conference. This failure symbolised the fading influence of IPRA within Australia and internationally. By 2000, Australian membership of IPRA had fallen to 25 from a peak of 78 in 1993. The reasons for the rise and fall are explored in the paper. Based on archival documents and interviews with IPRA members from these periods, it concludes that the impact of IPRA on the development of the Australian public relations sector and Australian influence on IPRA was relatively ephemeral, limited to a decade from 1983 to 1993. Nevertheless, Australian practitioners made use of both the symbolism of international endorsement and international connections established through IPRA to transform the national PR sector from a predominantly local focus to an increasingly international outlook at a time when public relations services were expanding rapidly worldwide.

Item Type:Article
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:21585
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:03 Dec 2014 13:03
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:50


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