Sport Public Relations in New Zealand: Analysing the State of the Discipline in New Zealand National Sport Organisations
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This study is the first known research to analyse sport public relations in New Zealand and aims to determine the state of the discipline in New Zealand National Sport Organisations (NSOs). A qualitative research process is undertaken involving semi-structured interviews with 12 sport public relations practitioners from 12 New Zealand NSOs. A thematic analysis of those interviews is then used to develop the research findings. The findings of this study revealed that public relations is an important function of management for New Zealand NSOs, with all but one employing a practitioner to fulfil the role. Primarily, public relations is used in a tactical way to increase the number of those participating in the NSO’s sport. Communications activities are heavily focused on media relations and social and digital media, the latter of which appears to be emerging as the dominant means with which practitioners now carry out public relations. Sport public relations practitioners, the majority of whom are female, align with the public relations technician role. The study identifies that practitioners have positive access to senior management and would benefit their organisation by implementing the public relations manager role to a greater extent. Ultimately, although NSOs are benefitting from communications, there is a limited understanding of strategic public relations. The study provides recommendations for further research and urges both scholarly practice and public relations member associations, such as the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand, to influence the way in which sport public relations is presently practised.