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Beyond the catwalk: Investigating the use of public relations in the Australian fashion industry

Cassidy, Leah (2011) Beyond the catwalk: Investigating the use of public relations in the Australian fashion industry. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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      Abstract

      The dominant paradigm in public relations theory positions public relations as a management function within a corporate environment. It argues that two-way ‘professional’ rather than one-way ‘craft’ practice is the most ethical form of public relations. However, this approach has contributed limited theoretical insights into public relations practices outside of a managerial, corporate setting. This thesis therefore aims to investigate public relations in a niche environment, the Australian fashion industry, employing a multi-method qualitative research design of ethnography and practitioner interviews. Drawing on an analysis of the researcher’s observations and experiences in the Australian fashion industry, as well as the perceptions of fashion PR practitioners, this thesis argues that fashion PR has been relegated to a ‘craft’ i.e. a non-professional practice in an effort to confirm public relations’ status as a professional activity. This thesis reveals that fashion PR is marginalised from mainstream understandings of public relations due to its association with marketing, promotion and publicity, its highly feminised domain, and its reputation as a glamorous, yet superficial occupation. The findings of this thesis suggest the theoretical gap between ‘craft’ and ‘professional’ public relations practices cannot be sustained, and therefore the dominant paradigm is not an adequate conceptual model for embracing the diversity of public relations practices. Investigating the use of public relations in the Australian fashion industry provides a unique contribution to the existing body of knowledge underpinning public relations, informing new understandings of the industry by examining the work performed and drawing on the perceptions of practitioners.

      Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
      Murdoch Affiliation: School of Media, Communication and Culture
      Supervisor: Fitch, Kate
      URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/10204
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