20062021

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Personal profile

Biography

Dr Kate Fitch is a communication and media studies scholar, who specialises in critical and sociocultural approaches to public relations research. Her research has drawn on historical and social justice perspectives, including feminism and intersectionality, to understand the broader societal impact of communicative activity and promotional work. Her contributions have advanced the discipline in advocating critical feminist research and identifying the limitations of public relations theory to address gender inequality in theory and practice and in promoting more evidenced histories that recognise the impact of the professional project and the subsequent exclusion of particular narratives and activity. Dr Fitch's recent research investigates public relations in popular and contemporary culture and informs the emerging, interdisciplinary field of promotional culture.

Dr Fitch's first book, Professionalizing Public Relations: History, Gender and Education (2016, Palgrave) remains the only book-length, historical investigation of the development of the public relations industry in Australia. Leading critical scholar, Professor Jacquie L’Etang, noted ‘this book will become a classic source’. Her second book, Popular Culture and Social Change: The Hidden Work of Public Relations, co-authored with Professor Judy Motion, (2021, Routledge) was described by Professor Jordi Xifra as ‘a fundamental text of a new critical thinking of public relations’ and identified by Associate Professor Melissa Aronczyk as ‘a much needed critical account of the contemporary impact of public relations’.

Dr Fitch joined Monash University in October 2017, where she established the public relations specialisation. She was previously academic chair in the School of Arts at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. An award-winning teacher, she received an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning in 2011 for the development of the public relations curriculum and its focus on work-integrated learning, as well as school and university teaching awards.

Prior to joining academia, Dr. Fitch worked in public relations and editorial roles in the arts, government and community sectors in the UK and Australia.

Research interests

Dr Fitch’s book, Professionalizing Public Relations: History, Gender and Education (2016, Palgrave) is the first book-length, historical investigation of development of the public relations industry in Australia in the twentieth century. Her second book, Popular Culture and Social Change: The Hidden Work of Public Relations (2020, Routledge), co-authored with Professor Judy Motion, opens up critical scholarship on public relations by exploring the ways public relations engages with contemporary, promotional and popular culture. 

Dr Fitch has published more than 30 book chapters and journal articles. She has published in public relations journals, including Public Relations ReviewPublic Relations Inquiry, Corporate Communications: An International Journal; in communication and media studies journals such as Journal of International Communication, Media International Australia and Ethical Space: International Journal of Communication Ethics; and in education journals such as Higher Education Research and Development. Dr Fitch’s work has also been included in award-winning, edited books such as Gender and Public Relations: Critical Perspectives on Voice, Image and Identity and in field defining collections such as The Routledge Handbook of Critical Public Relations.

Dr. Fitch is the Regional Editor - Asia Pacific for Public Relations Inquiry and has previously served on the editorial review boards of Public Relations Review (2010-2018) and Prism. She has co-edited special issues of Media International Australia on 'Rethinking Public Relations in the Australian and New Zealand Communication Landscape' (2016) and of Corporate Communications: An International Journal on ‘History of public relations’ (2020).

Supervision interests

I am available to supervise theses on critical and sociocultural public relations; gender, race and communication; promotional culture and promotional industries; media and public relations history; and public relations in Southeast Asia.

I currently supervise doctoral and masters students in public relations history, public relations and disasters in Pakistan, and feminist media studies. 

I have successfully supervised students working on diverse topics, including:

  • Political public relations in Indonesia
  • Communication on transboundary animal diseases in the Greater Mekong
  • Risk communication in the control and eradication of zoonotic diseases
  • ‘Follow the light’ [Creative work with communication component]

Community service

Dr Kate Fitch is a member of the Mindframe Public Relations Expert Working Group at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, where she advises on responsible communication and teaching around mental health and suicide. Dr Fitch has previously served on the Public Relations Institute of Australia’s state council in Western Australia (2006-2008) and national education committee (2008-2011).

Research area keywords

  • Communication
  • Gender & Diversity
  • Public Relations
  • Media Industries
  • Social Media
  • Media History
  • Popular culture
  • Promotional culture

Network

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