Strategic Silence : Public Relations and Indirect Communication book cover
1st Edition

Strategic Silence
Public Relations and Indirect Communication

ISBN 9780367874667
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
258 Pages

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Book Description

Mainstream public relations overvalues noise, sound and voice in public communication. But how can we explain that while practitioners use silence on a daily basis, academics have widely remained quiet on the subject? Why is silence habitually famed as inherently bad and unethical?

Silence is neither separate from nor the opposite of communication. The inclusion of silence on a par with speech and non-verbal means is a vital element of any communication strategy; it opens it up for a new, complex and more reflective understanding of strategic silence as indirect communication.

Drawing on a number of disciplines that see in silence what public relations academics have not yet, this book reveals forms of silence to inform public relations solutions in practice and theory. How do we manage silence? How can strategic silence increase the capacity of public relations as a change agent?

Using a format of multiple short chapters and practice examples, this is the first book that discusses the concept of strategic silence, and its consequences for PR theory and practice. Applying silence to communication cases and issues in global societies, it will be of interest to scholars and researchers in public relations, strategic communications and communication studies.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents





  1. The Western bias against silence

    1. Logocentrism in the European tradition

    2. Binomial separation of silence

    3. Problematizing and naturalizing

    4. Socialized in public relations

    5. How do we measure silence?

  2. Silence does not sell

    1. Seller’s market of PR labour, byer’s market of PR product

    2. Silence does not violate the senses

    3. Silence does not click-bite

  3. Silent symbiosis

    1. Getting attention or directing attention?

    2. The dominance of journalism silences over PR silences

    3. Core and periphery

    4. The message is the story

    5. The messenger is the story

    6. The media is the story


  4. Strategy as discursive practice

    1. Discursive practice

    2. Strategy in silence, silence in strategy

    3. Silence and secret

    4. Strategy and practice

  5. Instrumental and communicative action

    1. Action and practice

    2. Serious and authentic

    3. Practical mastery

    4. Instrumentality and finality


  6. Silence and invisibility

    1. The sayable and the seeable

    2. Presence and absence

    3. Image and representat

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Roumen Dimitrov is Senior Lecturer of Public Relations and Advertising at the School of the Arts and Media, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Roumen has conducted various international research projects such as for the European Commission, United States Agency for International Development and UNESCO.


Is strategic silence simply strategic inaction, hiding something from someone, not telling the truth, overall bad thing? Or it is a more complex concept and central to the PR theory and PR practice as Rumen Dimitrov argues in his ground-breaking publication Strategic Silence: Public Relations and indirect communication? After reading the book, one is left definitely with a new understanding and vision on the enormous power of silence in communication - silence of public relations about its silences, the relation between strategy and silence, silence and indirect communication and strategic silences in plural.

Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO

This book shows that much remains to be done in the field of strategic communication, since for the first time silence as indirect communication and its fitting in the strategical dimension are analysed in detail. Dimitrov's work is not only pioneering; it is the most innovative and critical essay published in recent years. From a broader perspective, it is already an indispensable book for communication theory.

Jordi Xifra, Professor, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain

This is a welcome addition to the stock of public relations literature, addressing a topic that is central to public relations practice, but has been widely neglected in scholarship until now. The importance of silence is continually under-estimated in public relations research yet, as Dimitrov points out, its presence saturates public relations work and merits investigation. Taking the reader on an eclectic journey characterised by an analytical approach that is both forensic and creative, Dimitrov incorporates traditional scholarship as well as insights from a sociology, psychology, philosophy, business, cultural studies – to name just a few of the disciplines – in order to understand the object of his attention. The result is a complex, engaging and ac