Theory plus a catwalk controversy.

Being a first year university student, I have realised that most introductory courses contain a strong theoretical background. On countless occasions the prescribed weekly readings have left me feeling baffled, bored and somewhat confused, frantically ‘Googling’ the definitions to words in which I never knew existed. Even though a number of theories can be quite perplexing at first, I do appreciate that the frameworks exist for many important reasons. Theories are in place to provide grounding, a basis and without the theories there would be no practice. Theory is also a great way to gain greater understanding of Public Relations as a whole as it can often be tough to define. Nevertheless this does not mean that all theories are necessarily correct and as I have learned can often be contested against. One of the many beauties of the world is that we are all entitled to our own opinion, each to their own.

Naturally when beginning to read about PR theory I was presented with a variety of frameworks and perspectives, adding to the diversity and dynamism of the profession.  One theory is simply not enough to cover such a broad spectrum. Sociology, psychology, organisational theory and communication all play key roles in influencing PR theory. The most appropriate theory will vary depending on the nature of the situation and an array of other influences (Chia & Synnott, 2009).

The framing model was one of the communication theories which stood out to me the most. ‘Framing refers to how individuals organise and package information, and is critical to how we construct our reality’ (Hallahan, 1999, as cited in Chia & Synnott, 2009). This model can be easily related to so many things going on in the current media. A prime example of this theory in practice would be the recent incident involving Australian fashion designer Alannah Hill and her comments regarding an alleged sexual harassment victim. The comments Hill made were seen as highly controversial and as a result a decision was made to hold a ‘sorry sale’ in one of her stores with profits going towards a charity for women. The framing of Alannah Hill’s seemingly good deed was ultimately to distract the public eye from her stint of bad publicity, highlighting her humble apology and charitable act. Is any publicity really good publicity?


Alannah Hill (left) pictured with fellow designer Alex Perry at the David Jones Spring/Summer 2010 fashion launch.


The two links below provide articles and video footage of the occurrence.

Other references:

Sison D, M. (2009).  Theoretical Contexts. J. Chia & G. Synnott, An Introduction to Public Relations: From Theory to Practice (pp. 54-90).  South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press


One response to “Theory plus a catwalk controversy.

  1. Pingback: Public Relations Management in Organisations. | Ashleighmaysmith's Blog

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