Gregory, Anne (2015) Practitioner-leaders’ representation of roles: The Melbourne Mandate. Public Relations Review, 41 (5). pp. 598-606. ISSN 0363-8111

This paper critically examines the Melbourne Mandate (Global Alliance, 2012), an advocacyplatform developed by the Global Alliance (GA), the umbrella organisation representing 67professional associations and 160,000 practitioners worldwide. The Mandate contains aproposition on how public relations professionals and professional bodies might betterrepresent and promote their roles.The Mandate was created following a five-stage iterative process: first, a brainstormingsession by GA Board members; second, a global survey of leaders of professional bodiesidentifying their opinions on issues requiring advocacy with key stakeholders such as busi-ness leaders, politicians, journalists and the public. Analysis of the 280 responses led tostage three, a three-strand ‘prospectus’ for discussion by the global public relations com-munity. This led fourthly, to research and discussion by three global groups co-led by anacademic and a practitioner drawn from the GA Board and from the pool of recognised lead-ers in the profession. These groups developed the three strands producing a draft Mandatewhich was then debated online before being discussed, in stage five, by 800 practition-ers and academics attending the World Public Relations Forum in Melbourne, Australiain November 2012. Using face-to-face interactions, additional online observations, an on-site, online application and hard copy comments, the Mandate was refined and finalised inMelbourne.The Mandate identifies three critical roles for professionals: defining organisational char-acter and values; building a culture of listening and engagement; and the fulfilment ofresponsibility in all its dimensions. The results offer an interesting representation of roleswhich can be seen as essentially normative, but which, examples demonstrated, are beingenacted by some leading practitioners.The paper critically examines whether the Mandate furthers the GA’s declared missionto advance the profession, and goes on to analyse both the process by which it was gen-erated and the content. Among other topics the paper discusses whether the MelbourneMandate could be proposed as a genuine attempt to capture the best representations ofthe practice and promote these for the benefit of the profession globally. Alternatively, itcould be regarded as largely a distillation of the ambitions of the professions’ elite sincethe process was led by and largely shaped by them. It could also be argued as a furtherattempt at imposing western norms on a profession whose non-western members areunder-represented in such initiatives (Gregory & Halff, 2013). The paper concludes withobservations on the value of such initiatives.

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