1st Edition

Positioning Theory and Strategic Communication A new approach to public relations research and practice

By Melanie James Copyright 2014
    242 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In public relations, people talk about positioning an idea, a persona, a political ideal, an ideology – but what are they talking about? Why do some positions taken by organizations crystallize in the minds of audiences, while others fail? 

    Whilst positioning is not something new in public relations, this book is the first to explicate what it involves, how it works and how to do it. This is the first in-depth exploration of the possibilities of Positioning Theory for the public relations field and it adds a new perspective to the growing body of multidisciplinary work in this rich theoretical area, moving the discussion away from the traditional communication plans of previous decades, which fail to accommodate the changing media and opinion landscapes. The author pulls together various strands of socio-cultural theory into an analytical framework, providing readers with a tool to analyse the organizational implications of public relations decisions, guiding strategic decision making through realistic scenario planning.

    This thought-provoking book provides an alternative path to studying communication in increasingly complex environments and as such, will be vital reading for researchers and educators, advanced communication and public relations students, and for senior public relations practitioners.


    Part 1: Public Relations and Positioning Theory  1. Positioning in Public Relations  2. Rights, Duties and Power in Positioning  3. A Framework for Intentional Positioning in Public Relations  Part 2: The Positioning Triangle and Public Relations  4. Determining the Position in Public Relations: The first vertex of the positioning triangle  5. Enacting the Position in Public Relations: The second vertex of the positioning triangle  6. Supporting the Positioning in Public Relations: Storyline, the third vertex of the positioning triangle  Part 3: Applying Positioning Theory to Public Relations Research and Practice  7. Analyzing Positioning Strategies in Public Relations  8. A Detailed Study of a Positioning Strategy: Indonesia, ‘good friend’ of Australia  9. Utilizing the Framework for Intentional Positioning in Designing Public Relations Strategies: Positioning extreme poverty  10. Future Directions for Positioning Theory in Public Relations


    Melanie James is senior lecturer in communication at the University of Newcastle, Australia. She is a national award-winning practitioner, having held senior roles in public relations and marketing communication. She has published in public relations journals and authored Australia’s first public relations careers book.

    'This book offers nothing less than an innovative way of thinking about Public Relations. By drawing upon Positioning Theory it brings to the field the idea of rights and duties and offers the Public Relation practitioners a framework to design PR strategies. At the same time, the book offers to social scientists from different disciplines new insights in how to analyze data from a Positioning Theory angle. Melanie James’ book is a wonderful illustration of the saying that there is nothing as practical as a good theory.'

    Luk van Langenhove, Professor and Director of the United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS), Representative of the Rector at UNESCO in Paris, and co-author with Prof Rom Harré of the book, "Positioning Theory - Moral Contexts of Intentional Action" (1999).

    'Positioning is something that public relations people talk about, yet no one has adequately described or theorized – until now. Melanie James makes an important contribution to both theory and practice by describing, analyzing and applying positioning theory, thereby explaining how public relations contributes to the social construction of reality.'

    Karen Miller Russell, Associate Professor, University of Georgia, USA.