Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Communications Honours


School of Communication and Arts


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Supervisor

Dr Mark Balnaves


This paper puts forward the proposition that relationship-building public relations could facilitate a more genuine engagement between Members of Parliament and their constituents. Much has been written about Grunig and Hunt's (1984) two-way symmetric public relations and its role in establishing, building and maintaining a sense of community between an organisation and its publics. Previous work has extended the relationship management paradigm to various sub contexts such as the non-for profit sector. However, the majority of literature provides an organisation-centric perspective. This paper takes the Grunigian notion of symbiotic relationship building and applies it to the political context. This study focuses its observations and analysis within the political microcosm at democracy's interface between the local Member of Parliament and their constituents. The objective of this study was to evaluate how public relations is currently used at electorate level and to suggest how it could be improved. In doing so, the researcher spent a year in a marginal seat leading up to the 2007 Federal Election and gained rare insight into the mind of the incumbent, the Party machine and the critical role of PR in the democratic process.