Review: Exploring Public Relations and Management Communication

About the author

Teela Clayton graduated with an MA in Public Relations and Strategic Communication from Leeds Beckett University in 2020.

Exploring Public Relations and Management Communication (fifth edition)
Edited by Ralph Tench and Stephen Waddington
Pearson Education, 2021, 672 pages

He gives us a name, and we all but run, my over-achieving peers, and I, to the library. It is a place of sanctuary, of learning, but it may as well be a battleground. This is the Hunger Games and there may only be one winner. Or potentially seven if the library catalogue is to be believed; either way, the odds are not ever in our favour for a class of 22, for the competition is tangible. Palpable. I can taste it in the night air as I gulp it in between long strides. The words are unsaid, but we have performed the inference. If we cannot secure this text, we will be consigned to perpetual failure in our PR careers.

And the last copy waits on the shelf for me, thick and unforgiving of my commute.

There can’t be a single self-respecting PR student in the country who hasn’t spent at least one late night holed up with Tench and Yeomans and an assorted pack of post it notes.

(I have a story about a PRCA sponsored event with free-flowing prosecco, but that’s for another time.)

It is a tome which has seen me through each of my Master’s modules, from Corporate Communications within an Intercultural Context to PR Skills, and Strategic Communication in between.

Since that late-night pilgrimage under the cover of darkness just over twelve months ago, it has been my PR bible, carrying me through several (what feels like a hundred) edits of my dissertation, particularly as it’s one of the few books that positions politics and democracy within the PR sphere.

Ralph Tench and Liz Yeomans have been editors of ‘Exploring Public Relations’ through four editions, the last published in 2017 and featuring many of their esteemed colleagues at Leeds Beckett University, including the brilliant Dr. Martina Topić. Full disclosure: she is my dissertation supervisor.

But as we enter a new normal, featuring the most hotly discussed topic of 2020 (Covid-19 rather than Tiger King), 2017 may as well be a decade away. What then for the new iteration, a rebranded and renamed fifth edition, without a recently retired Yeomans?

The title is a subtle nod to the overarching aims and objectives of public relations, its growth through osmosis and the ongoing debate of its rightful place at the grown-ups table. 

Ralph Tench – himself well known in the world of PR as an academic researcher and scholar having helmed the EUPRERA project – has teamed up with Stephen Waddington – one half of PR’s premier power couple and managing partner of Wadds Inc – to provide a robust and holistic overview of the current landscape of public relations. To say they both know their stuff is an understatement; it’s a pertinent text given the advances – and challenges – in the industry over the year, and gives comprehensive coverage of the global crisis. 

For me, as in previous editions, this ticks all of my boxes for a complete tool for learning. It marries critical analysis with real-life case studies and examples, seamlessly blending the theory with the practical.

I am not ashamed to say that I was filled with joy on coming across a glossary of terms and instantly opened my laptop to use my newly discovered lexis in an academic paper I am writing. This is where I feel ‘Exploring Public Relations and Management Communication’ leaves its rivals in the dust: it isn’t just a schoolbook for undergraduates. It isn’t just a reference for post-graduates. It’s a definitive resource that almost certainly has a place in every (virtual?) office in every organisation and every sector. It fills in the gaps of those things that nobody-ever-teaches-you and even some-of-the-things-you-thought-you-knew. 

In these Covid times, I’m having to rely on my own library of books. Tench and Yeomans had become like old friends, quotable as, say, Conficius or Oscar Wilde. Relatively new to my PR career, I’m glad I have my very own signed Tench and Waddington to spend my dark lockdown nights with. I’ve a list of the chapters I’ve still to read and in which order I’ll absorb them. 

After all, as Confucius said, ‘real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance’.