Theory Junkie: International Public Relations


I’m a sucker for theories and I love talking about them.

In today’s episode of the Theory Junkie, we talk about International Public Relations.

Is global PR possible? What does it mean? Is it different than international PR?

These questions were the last to be posed during our Theory & Issues class. And what a great way to finish off the MA PR course at Westminster!

First off, we were introduced to the differences between global PR (GPR) and international PR (IPR). Global PR is a term that refers to the internationalisation of the profession, whereas International PR deals with planning and conducting communication in a foreign country.

As the lecture went on, I was fascinated to learn about the following model used to plan international PR activities:


As we were going through the various factors influencing IPR in a foreign country, I started to see a pattern that bore a striking resemblance to another model – the PEST analysis:



PEST is a marketing model that serves a similar function: to discern macro-environmental factors and penetrate a foreign market.

The similarities between the two models is evident. Not only do their main components refer to the same factors, but they are also both used as a strategic management tool aimed at analysing and planning for activities in an alien environment.

Of course the nuances are there for a reason. Technology becomes Media Technology and Economy becomes Marketplace. These slight alterations serve to facilitate the fact that PR deals mainly with media, and a free and mature marketplace, as well as media consumption habits are the key factors specific to communication activities. Finally, Culture takes central position because communication is perceived very differently around the world.

As these revelations sent nerd chills up my spine, I began to wonder: “Which one is the principal model”?

“It must be PEST”, I thought. “PR is but a part of the Maketing Mix’s Promotion branch.”

Does it really matter in the context of anything but an academic debate? Likely not.

But then I remembered about a list of trends in PR for 2012 by the PRSA and specifically the Convergence trend.

As boundaries between marketing and PR continue to blur, perhaps in 10 years time, the difference between the origins of these models will be nothing but a footnote in some academic’s PhD dissertation, and all that will be taught in educational institutions will simply be “Communication”.


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