Academic research; Professionals are from Venus, scholars are from Mars

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By Margalit Toledano, PhD., APR, Fellow PRSA, Fellow PRINZ, Senior lecturer at the University of Waikato

“Professionals are from Venus, scholars are from Mars” this was a title of a paper that was written by Professor Betteke van Ruler from the Netherlands ten years ago. The paper was published in Public Relations Review (Vol 31, issue 2, June 2005), the leading scholarly journal of public relations, and it generated many responses, comments and citations. Prof Van Ruler argued that “in defining what professionalism is all about, practitioners and scholars live in different worlds” and suggested certain integration of values.

In the footsteps of van Ruler we, as academics, try to understand and clarify what practitioners are actually experiencing and describe the role they play in society. These questions inspired a growing number of journal publications, books, and international conference debates. The increasing research activity established public relations as a legitimate topic within the disciplines of communication, management, strategy, and other areas of study. Have practitioners participated in this professional development? Some have indeed benefited from research informed educational programmes at universities, however, most were not that involved and missed an opportunity to reflect on the profession.

As a former practitioner who now teaches in a university, I’m keen for some interplanetary conversations.

This blog invites PRINZ members to contribute their perspectives and knowledge to current research. It follows up on a project I managed in 2010 based on two focus groups with PRINZ members who contributed significant insight into the challenges involved in using social media on behalf of organisations. This research was published in Ethical Space: The International Journals of Communication Ethics in 2011.

My current research tries to identify the impact of the cultural environment on practitioners’ professional values and concepts and find out if practitioners experience social media differently in different environments. It is a comparative study that uses the same questionnaire in New Zealand (in English) and in Israel (in Hebrew).

To come up with any valid conclusions I need your help in answering the questionnaire that is distributed to New Zealand public relations practitioners via PRINZ. Can you please make your contribution to public relations research by submitting your answers via this link, it only takes a few minutes.

It is a very short, anonymous questionnaire with some challenging questions that might interest you. We promise to share our findings with PRINZ members and appreciate your help.

Practitioners might be from Venus but some people from Mars are part of the same galaxy and are interested in you and your opinions. Please be a star and make your contribution to growing the PR Body of Knowledge today.

Thank you

Margalit Toledano


Senior lecturer, the University of Waikato

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