Putting engagement in its PRoper place: State of the field, definition and model of engagement in public relations

Source of Publication

Public Relations Review


© 2017 Elsevier Inc. Although engagement has been a catchword in public relations practice and theory for over a decade, the term has been applied rather loosely to imply any form of communicative interaction between publics and organizations. Despite lack of clarity on the concept of engagement, research has been thriving, propelled by the increasing prevalence of social media and organizations’ consequent rush to digitally engage publics. This paper assesses the use of engagement in the field of public relations and critiques the equation of engagement with communicative interaction, with its foregrounding engagement as collaboration over that of engagement as control. It also builds upon theoretical conceptualizations of public/stakeholder engagement, employee engagement, and digital engagement to propose a practice-relevant and theoretically informed model and definition of engagement: Engagement is an affective, cognitive, and behavioral state wherein publics and organizations who share mutual interests in salient topics interact along continua that range from passive to active and from control to collaboration, and is aimed at goal attainment, adjustment, and adaptation for both publics and organizations.

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Author First name, Last name, Institution

Ganga S. Dhanesh, Zayed University