Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Communications Honours

School

School of Communications and Contemporary Art

Faculty

Faculty of Education & Arts

First Advisor

Dr Mark Balnaves

Abstract

Environmental issues have regained a prominent place on the public agenda in Australia over the past 18 months because of extensive media coverage and the growing trends of environmentalism and communitarianism. The public's protest for pollutant corporations to be held environmentally accountable has become vocal. They are now regularly inclined to seek out media attention to expose or highlight pollutant corporations' unethical practices. Pollutant corporations now have the choice of cleaning up their act and ensuring they become more ethical in communications with their publics or be constantly attacked by activist groups and the media, lose stakeholder and community support and establish a negative external image that could arguably never be reversed. These trends highlighted the need for research into exploring and defining, within an Australian context, the emerging area of ethical environmental public relations - a specialist area of public relations focused solely on pollutant corporations approach to environmental issues, crises, sustainability practices and building community relationships. A case study into a Western Australian lead contamination issue that occurred in the country town of Esperance explored the current model of public relations practiced by pollutant corporations as well as the emerging role of environmental public relations. A number of conceptual conclusions were drawn as a result of this exploratory research, relevant to defining this emerging area of public relations practice.

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