The big idea of employees as strategic communicators in public relation

Vibeke Thøis Madsen, Joost Verhoeven

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


The chapter develops a typology of eight different expected employee communication roles based on literature in public relations (PR), corporate communication and related fields. As PR professionals are increasingly taking on a coaching and training role, and communication technology has made employees more visible and approachable, employees more and more take on active roles in the communication with external publics. While PR professionals’ roles are conceptualized fairly well, no framework exists that describes the many communication roles that employees play in contemporary organizations. In the chapter, it is found that employees externally (1) embody, (2) promote, and (3) defend the organization. In addition, employees use communication to (4) scout for information and insights about environmental changes, and (5) build and maintain relationships with stakeholders. Internally, employees use communication to (6) make sense of information, (7) initiate and stimulate innovation, and (8) criticize organizational behaviour and decisions. The typology highlights that employees increasingly fulfil the tactic communication roles as producers and executers of corporate communication as social media have made them more visible and approachable. The communication roles require considerable tactical skills and resources on the part of employees, which they may not always possess sufficiently. PR professionals can play a coaching role in terms of helping employees frame content and communicate in a manner appropriate for the organization, the context and the media. The chapter can help PR professionals and scholars understand the changed role of PR professionals, as well as the changed relationships between organizations and their environment, in the context of dissolving organizational boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBig Ideas in Public Relations Research and Practice (Advances in Public Relations and Communication Management, Vol. 4)
EditorsFinn Frandsen, Winni Johansen, Ralph Tench, Stefania Romenti
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
ISBN (Electronic)9781838675073
ISBN (Print)9781838675080
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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