Persona - an old public relations problem?

Steve Mackey


This essay uses the neologism citizen public relations to express a view of the phenomena examined by persona studies implying that public relations studies might be regarded as an antecedent discipline to the former. It goes on to suggest potentially intriguing differences and similarities to do with political and epistemological problematics. The central theme is that the term identity is simultaneously the key link and the key contrast between the two disciplines. This is because the term identity is usually deployed at the internal, psychological, subjective level by scholars of persona while it is usually applied to external, material objects and events by the public relations industry and its academia. The essay also makes the point that both areas of study can be unified as different species of the genera rhetoric in the traditional sense of that still older field. This coincidence and dissonance may invoke a debate which can lead to theory development in all three fields. The fields are not comprehensively surveyed – a process which would be lengthy and might bring up many contrasting perspectives. Instead the work of representative leading authors is presented to make a prima facie case.


Public relations, persona, rhetoric, identity, image

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