Choosing a dissertation topic: PR is practical, contribute to the body of knowledge

Choosing a dissertation topic: PR is practical, contribute to the body of knowledge

Here are 20 topics bridging academia and practice that would make the basis of excellent dissertations for media and public relation students.

I led a lecture on dissertation topics for Media and Public Relations Masters students at Newcastle University last week. It’s my fourth-year teaching at the university as a Visiting Professor.

During the session we explored how to choose a desertion topic, explored 20 areas of modern practice, and discussed how to land expert interviews. Here’s the presentation deck.

PR is inherently practical. A dissertation is an opportunity to explore a topic that will set you up for a job once you graduate.

Avoid popularist topics, that’s easy, go deep in a niche. The best dissertation projects are original and contribute to the professional body of knowledge.

Here are the areas that I recommend to students as a start point.

Societal issues and public relations

What’s your purpose?

Building a post-Brexit vision for Britain and the EU

Digital divide: digital isn’t democratic

Weaponised media

The role of public relations in modern organisations

The shift to the social organization

Recognition as a management disciple

The only way is ethics

Working internationally

Characterising the UK public relations profession

Business is booming

Back to the future of PR

Shifts in agency land

Representing the public

Exploring the modern media landscape

Who influences you?

Peak social media

Storytelling: tell me story

Voice is hot public relations tech

Skills to get on and get ahead

March of the machines

Basic skills: coding versus writing

Listening to conversations

Measurement and management

The development of the profession

We ended the session with a discussion about finding expert interviews. It’s one of the most challenging aspects of the dissertation process and is the subject of a previous blog post. Seek out people based on expertise, invest time in your pitch, and be realistic about your expectations.

If you’re a student studying PR I hope that you’ll find this presentation deck and blog post useful. If you’re a teacher or practitioner please let me know if you think I’ve missed anything.

Thanks to my colleague Ramona Slusarczyk for her feedback and support while I was preparing this lecture.

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