The public relations-imperative for sustainability: Roles for public relations in advancing the 2030 Agenda
Full paper submission to Public Relations Review platform by 18 July 2024
Submission portal opens on 15 June 2024
Guest Editor: María José Canel, University Complutense of Madrid, email@example.com
Special issue information:
Public relations communication and strategy is about relationships and the global agreement on sustainability of the 2030 Agenda provides new research challenges and opportunities to the extent that its success depends on the quality, type and number of relationships that develop among the concerned actors.
On September 24, 2015, the 193 member states of the United Nations (UN) signed an extensive intergovernmental agreement to pursue 17 sustainability development goals (known as the SDGs) that embrace a wide range of issues and requires the collaboration of all kinds of public and private sector organizations in order to find effective solutions for complex challenges. Since then, “all around the world people are heeding the call to act
locally to solve problems and challenges with a global reach and significance” (Ansell, 2022, p.2). Organizations of all kinds are building alliances, showing that key actions implementing the 2030 Agenda are the development of interactions among different actors via which complex problems are addressed.
The implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs requires communication and awareness raising activities such as media campaigns, websites, videos, SDGs guides, and workshops. But what seems to be a critical successful factor for this agreement is the establishment of the relationships that sustain the collaboration that is at the core of the methodology for the advancement of the SDGs. Wicked problems can only be confronted if all kinds of organizations engage with and involve stakeholders in collaboration. For that public relations concepts, theories and strategies are needed (Willis, 2016).
The 2030 Agenda presents a great opportunity that could provide ways of investigating “whether and how public relations can add value to society” (Heath, 2006, p. 95), and be a leverage for public relations to step forward in articulating the contribution to society literature attributes to this field (see, for instance, Heath, 2006; Yang & Taylor, 2013; Sommerfeldt, 2013).
RATIONAL OF THE SPECIAL SECTION
This special section of Public Relations Review calls scholars, students, and practitioners to consider the role of public relations research and practice can play in advancing the 2030 Agenda and stimulate public relations contributions to the next years of the SDG agenda. Canel’s (2023) Commentary “A call for the ‘Public Relations-imperative for sustainability’: Roles for public relations in advancing the 2030 Agenda” in Public Relations Review (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2023.102368) lays out the rationale. Illustrative research questions for article submissions include but are not limited to:
How can public relations theory and practice advance the alliance building goals required to develop the 2030 Agenda? Alternatively, if and how have progress on the SDGs advanced public relations theory and practice?
How do we create compelling stories that help to achieve organizational goals and objectives and ultimately, build support for coalitions and spur collective action?
What are the globally shared problems and challenges of establishing alliances that are needed for global agreement for sustainability?
How can public relations scholars and practitioners develop and use rhetorical knowledge to help organizations and stakeholders to communicate strategically to jointly address this global call?
How can change management communication help in making sense about why the change is happening, and therefore provide meaning about why sustainability is needed?
What is the role of public relations research and practice in establishing a culture of collaboration within organizations for the support of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda?
What are useful lessons from specific cases about aligning different stakeholders under common goals?
How can public relations help in analysing risk distribution across the different actors involved in the 2030 Agenda, as well as in judging whether benefits of sustainability balance or offset harms?
How can risk communication and/or issue management research and practice help in monitoring the extent to which sustainability becomes a social trend in public opinion?
How can public relations support sustainability-social trends as they mature into public policy?
What are the characteristics of networks of collaboration that seem to move issues forward or seem to stall the creation of public policies that support the SDG agenda?
How can technology foster relationships that create identifiable resources (measurable and measured) from non-physical realities, and to which benefits, or values are associated, whether of a social or economic nature?
How can we leverage big data and computations methods in public relations to achieve the 2030 Agenda goals on sustainability?
What roles can public relations research and practice play in putting transparency and open data policies and practices at the service of the involvement of more actors in collaborating for the sustainability of the 2030 Agenda?
How can we theorize different roles for public relations in government communication for sustainability, and what are practical implications of these theorizations?
How can public relations research and practice conceptualize and better understand the intangibles that help in designing, implementing, and assessing actions to go forward in the path to the 17 SDGs?
What ethical approaches and frameworks can be deepened by public relations participation in the SDGs?
To what extent can public relations help in dealing with the risk of a “post-truth” world in which actors of the 2030 Agenda operate?
What models, concepts, frameworks, metrics, indicators, and research methods could bring light about new ways of assessing public relations outcomes that capture the pursued goal on sustainability?
What new conceptualizations and practices of PR-evaluation of sustainability could enrich actual debates about evidence(s) and outcomes of public relations?
Other research questions that deepen and broaden our understanding of the contributions and issues related to public relations in the 2030 Agenda on sustainability are welcomed.