Rethinking Public Relations: Persuasion, Democracy and Society, 3rd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rethinking Public Relations

Persuasion, Democracy and Society, 3rd Edition

By Kevin Moloney, Conor McGrath


232 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780367313005
pub: 2019-08-01
Available for pre-order
Hardback: 9781138593657
pub: 2019-08-01
Available for pre-order

FREE Standard Shipping!


This new, third edition of Rethinking Public Relations continues the argument of previous editions that public relations is weak propaganda. However, while earlier editions focused on PR as representative of the uneven power distribution in society, this book goes further, conceiving the power of PR as more than just structural but also as having an important rhetorical component.

In this extensively revised edition, Moloney and McGrath dissect the nature of the modern PR industry, arguing that its idealised self-presentation should be replaced by a more realistic and credible defence of the societal value produced by advocacy and counter-advocacy. This book includes expanded coverage of PR’s impact on society (through areas such as CSR, sponsorship and community relations), its relationship with stakeholders, and its role in democratic debate and public policy making. It also considers the ways in which journalism has capitulated to PR in an era of ‘fake news’ and ‘churnalism’ and in this new edition, the role of digital and social media is examined for the first time.

Maintaining the rigorous and critical stance of previous editions, this new edition will also prove accessible to Masters level and final-year undergraduate students studying public relations, media and communications studies. It will also be of great value to practitioners who seek to widen PR’s ‘voice’.


Praise for the previous edition:

"Kevin Moloney analyses the relations of PR propaganda and democracy with a very wide intellectual and professional horizon. The style of his text is clear … even entertaining. All those who are in or close to the profession of public relations will read Moloney's book with enthusiasm" European Journal of Marketing, 2009

"Moloney's book is colourful and polemic, positioned as a project of 'PR watch'. He conveys something of a 'Niagara of spin' in his fast moving prose which makes extensive references to US sources on propaganda and public relations.", Jacquie L’Etang, Department of Film and Media Studies, University of Stirling, UK

"Like Shakespeare’s Caesar, public relations ‘bestrides the world like a colossus’, and the wider world urgently needs a more mature understanding of what it really is. For this reason alone, Kevin Moloney’s thoughtful, balanced book deserves a large readership, certainly inside and, even more importantly, outside the public relations community. But there are other good reasons also. First of all, the author is extremely lucid; second, he does what many scholars should do but too often do not: propose realistic solutions as well as identify core problems and questions. Some of those solutions are far-reaching: all of them should be heard.", Simon Moore, Associate Professor, Bentley College, Massachusetts, USA

Table of Contents



1. Paradoxes, paradigms and pillars

2. PR – dignified, efficient or self-delusional?

3. Rhetoric, framing and PR messaging

4. Stakeholders and society

5. Journalism and PR – conflict, complicity, capitulation

6. Digital evolution or revolution?

7. PR, politics and democracy

8. Lobbying and public affairs

9. Conclusion



About the Authors

Kevin Moloney was a PR teacher and researcher from 1985 to 2018. He was also a journalist with regional and national papers and spent over a decade working in public relations.

Conor McGrath has been a lecturer in PR and lobbying at Ulster University. In addition, he was worked as an MP’s researcher, a self-employed lobbyist, and a public affairs director at a PR agency.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Marketing / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Public Relations