Reputational capital in 'the PR University':public relations and market rationalities

Cronin, Anne Margaret (2016) Reputational capital in 'the PR University':public relations and market rationalities. Journal of Cultural Economy, 9 (4). pp. 396-409. ISSN 1753-0350

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Drawing on empirical data, this article identifies the emergence of the ‘PR University’ as an assemblage. Using a case study of university press officers’ work, I analyse how this form of media relations PR stages competition between UK universities through the media. A key form of this competition centres on the accumulation and circulation of what I term ‘reputational capital’. I focus on one core element of reputational capital - media stories about HE research and the circulation of research metrics. I argue that the assemblage of the PR University pulls the HE sector into dialogue with PR principles and practices in the context of recent shifts towards market rationalities. But this relationship is not a simple cause and effect model in which increasing HE ‘marketization’ creates a boom in universities’ PR practices, or intensifying investment in PR by universities merely amplifies or legitimises existing market tendencies in the sector. I argue that the PR University as assemblage starts generating its own logics around which actors in the field must orient themselves. More broadly, the PR University operates not only to promote an individual university’s market position, but acts upon public debates about the social role, legitimacy and financing of UK Higher Education.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Cultural Economy
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20 Apr 2016 09:10
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 00:59