I research and teach public relations public affairs and lobbying. I am the director of the EUPRERA Network on Public Affairs and Lobbying in Europe. I began my academic career later than most after spending 12 years working in public relations lobbying and campaigns management.
My main expertise and focus is on finding ways to square public relations and lobbying with the needs of democratic systems. What makes “good” communication? How are we going to make lobbying more equal between the resource-rich and the resource-poor? How does PR become a public service profession? What are the main language strategies in lobbying and to what extent are these strategies predictable?
I also have expertise in the targeting of older voters in political communication and the often irrational relationship between strategic communicators and older audiences.
I am interested in bridging the gap between academic research and reflective practitioners.
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My main focus has been on finding ways to square public relations and lobbying with the needs of democratic systems. What makes “good” communication? Exploring how agonistic democracy theory helps us understand that dialogic communication is not a cure-all answer to ethical dilemmas. How are we going to make lobbying more equal between the resource-rich and the resource-poor? How does PR become a public service profession? What are the main language strategies in lobbying and to what extent are these strategies predictable?
I also published on the targeting of older voters in political communication and the often irrational relationship between strategic communicators and older audiences.
I am currently the impact coordinator for the School of Media, Communication and Sociology
Davidson, S. (2022). Public affairs and lobbying: Public relations and the unequal contests to construct the public interest. Chapter 22 in (Eds Pompper et.al. The Routledge Companion to Public Relations. Routledge.
Davidson, S. (2021). Public relations and the media. Chapter 2 , pages 2-34 in Tench, R and Waddington, S (Eds). Public Relations and Management Communication. Pearson
Davidson, S. (2020). Made by a Human like You or Me: Back to the Greek classics to further develop the Rhetorical Paradigm of Public Relations. Public Relations Review, 46(1).
Joint Guest Editor. Special Issue: Lobbying Roles, The Public Interest and Democracy. Journal of Public Affairs, 20(2). May 2020.
Valentini, C, Davidson, S. (2020) Trade unions and lobbying: Fighting fat cats while defending the public interest? International Journal of Communication, 14 (2020), pp. 4913-4931
Ihlen, O., Raknes, K, Davidson S. (2018). Framing the public interest: Comparing public lobbying campaigns in four European states. Journal of Public Interest Communications, 2(1), 107-128. doi:10.32473/jpic.v2.i1.p107
Davidson, S. (2018). Organisational rhetoric in deeply pluralistic societies: the agonistic alternative. Chapter in Ihlen, and Heath, R (Eds). The Handbook of Organizational Rhetoric and Communication. Wiley Blackwell: Oxford
Davidson, S.(2017). Public Affairs Practice and Lobbying Inequality: Reform and regulation of the influence game. Journal of Public Affairs, 17(4). Link to paper
Davidson, S. Motion, J. (2017). On Mouffe: Radical pluralism and public relations. In Ihlen, Fredriksson, M. (Eds.). Public relations and social theory: Key figures and concepts. (2nd Expanded Edition). New York: Routledge.
Somerville, I. Davidson, S. (2017). Security, democratic legitimacy and the public interest: Policing and the communicative ritual in deeply divided societies. In Johnston, J and Pieczka, M (Eds). Public Interest Communication: Critical Debates and Global Concepts. Routledge.
Davidson, S. (2016). Public Relations Theory: An agonistic critique of the turns to dialogue and symmetry. Public Relations Inquiry 5 (2) 145-167. http://pri.sagepub.com/content/5/2/145.abstract
Davidson, S & Rowe, O. (2016). Emerging from the shadows? Perceptions, problems and potential consensus on the functional and civic roles of public affairs practice. Public Relations Inquiry. Vol. 5(1) 5-32
Davidson, S. (2015) Everywhere and nowhere: Theorising and researching public affairs and lobbying within public relations scholarship. Public Relations Review, Volume 41, Issue 5, December 2015, Pages 615-627
Davidson, S. (2014). Older Voters: A Phantom Tyranny of Numbers? A Response to Berry: Young People and the Ageing Electorate: Breaking the Unwritten Rule of Representative Democracy. Parliamentary Affairs. 2014 Volume 67 (3): 726-738.
Davidson, S. (2012). Going Grey: The mediation of politics in an ageing society. Ashgate Publishing Limited.
Davidson, S. Binstock, R. (2011). Segmentation: Political Marketing in Aging Democracies. In Lees-Marshment, J. Editor, The Routledge Handbook of Political Marketing. Routledge.
Stanyer, J. Davidson, S. (2011). The global human rights regime and the internet: Non-democratic states and the hyper-visibility of evidence of oppression in Cottle, S & Lester,L Eds Transnational Protests and the Media. Peter Lang Publishing.
Davidson, S. (2005). Grey Power, School Gate Mums and the Youth Vote: Age as a Key Factor in Voter Segmentation and Engagement in the 2005 UK General Election. In the Journal of Marketing Management, Volume 21, Number 9, November 2005, pp. 1179-1192(14).
I am interested in supervising PhD candidates in the following areas:
Development of public relations theory
All aspects of political public relations public affairs and lobbying
Rhetoric and argumentation strategies
Automation of campaigning
Relationships between campaigners and the media/media relations strategies
Science and environmental communication
Media and political communication responses to population ageing
Media and political portrayals of older people and framing of pensions reform inter-generational relations and the meaning of later life
The constructions of the baby boomers and other generations
I am programme director for the MA in Media and Public Relations. I have overseen the development of this course as one that seeks to enable students to become reflective strategic thinkers about communication in fast-changing world.
I lead postgrad modules in PR theory and strategic communication management.
I have also recently introduced a new module that introduces undergrads to rhetoric and PR writing.
Press and media
Public relations campaigns and ethics
Lobbying inequality/finding a level playing field
The Wall Jump is my newsletter on PR public affairs and lobbying: pulling back the curtain on the research pay wall to link academic research and issues in practice
The format of this newsletter is evolving. It starts with a simple premise. Practitioners in PR and lobbying don’t have easy access to lots of relevant and thought-provoking research that relates to what they do. Sometimes because of the academic-practitioner divide often because academic research is hidden behind ridiculously expensive pay walls. Many papers can be found you just have to know where to look. That’s one service this newsletter can provide. There might be others to be discovered as the community of readers builds.