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
The role of public relations in modern organisations
The shift to the social organization
Recognition as a management disciple
The only way is ethics
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.