BLEDCOM 2021 CALL FOR PAPERS: Public Relations and Public Risk and Crisis Communication

1. 1. 2021

The 28th International Public Relations Research Symposium (BledCom) will be held on July 2-3, 2021. Conference Theme is Public Relations and Public Risk and Crisis Communication.

BledCom is an annual gathering of scholars and practitioners in public relations and related disciplines to discuss contemporary communication and management problems. Organized annually since 1994, it is the oldest conference in our field that is not affiliated with a professional or academic association.

So far, eight books and nine special issues or sections of peer-reviewed journals have been published based on previous symposia ( We attribute this success to the hundreds of colleagues who have participated over these years and of course our sponsors. We thank you all for sustaining this boutique conference for a quarter of a century.

Conference Dates and Venue:

The 28th International Public Relations Research Symposium (BledCom) will be held on July 2-3, 2021 in Rikli Balance Hotel, Lake Bled, Slovenia.

Conference Theme: Public Relations and Public Risk and Crisis Communication

Perhaps now more than ever, risk and crisis communication have been thrust into the limelight. Individuals, organizations, and nations have all become the sources as well as recipients of information intended to alter their behavior owing to Covid-19 and its debilitating impact on everyday life globally. Some nations have been lauded for their ability to manage the spread of the virus through effective communication whereas others have been targeted for performing poorly. National performance has certainly hinged on the ability of the leaders of these nations to communicate effectively about the pandemic.

Based on the innate relationship between communication and this pandemic, BledCom 2021 seeks to analyze questions such as:

- What has been the role of public relations in communicating and managing the risks posed by this virus and the crises arising from it?
- How as the public relations industry contributed to public understanding of the pandemic and its ramifications on individuals, organizations, and society?
- What are some examples of the positive contributions that public relations as a practice has made vis-à-vis this pandemic?
- What are some examples of lacunae in the way public relations as a practice has conducted itself vis-à-vis this pandemic?
- How has the body of knowledge of public relations (especially concepts and theories of risk and crisis communication) measured up in the communication vis-à-vis this pandemic?
- What lacunae in the public relations body of knowledge can one discern based on the communication experiences during this pandemic?
- What role have public relations associations played in showcasing the practice as a useful tool in this pandemic?
- Has the public relations industry leveraged on its expertise well enough during this pandemic to advance the reputation of the field as a contributor to social good?
- How have social media been used – especially by individuals – to communicate during the pandemic including for such things as “overcoming” the constraints posed by ‘social distancing’ requirements?
- How have individuals, organizations, and governments coped with balancing privacy and social media tools?
- How have organizations, in particular, used tools of internal communication to effectively engage their internal publics?
- Are there discernible differences between different regions and cultures in the way communication has been leveraged during this pandemic? Case studies form individual nations and comparisons between nations are particularly interesting in this regard

Call for Abstracts and Panels:

We invite abstracts that are between 500 and 800 words (including title and keywords) with up to 5 references. Please note that as has been the norm in the past, BledCom welcomes ALL papers that are relevant to public relations and communication management and not just papers that discuss the conference theme. We also welcome panel proposals.

Please use the following guidelines to present your abstract and kindly supply the word count at the end of the submission.

Format for the Abstract:

Please note that the chances of your abstract being accepted are enhanced if you observe the following format in preparing it:

Introduction and purpose of the study (and research question if there is one) – helps summarize the purpose and rationale of your study. Literature review – Helps place your work in context with the existing body of knowledge. Methodology – Define the main method used for gathering data including sample size, and state the rationale for using this method. Results and conclusions – Helps summarize the answers to the research questions while also outlining the implications of the results. Also summarize the limitations of the study and offer suggestions for future research. Practical and social implications – Offer the potential implications both for practice and society. Also provide us with 3 to 5 keywords that highlight your study. Abstracts should come as blind copies without author names and affiliations, who are to be identified on on a separate cover page. Please use the suggested headings to structure the abstract. A list of literature is not necessary, but if it is provided it is included into the word count.

Panel proposal are also welcome. The proposal should describe the title and focus of the panel, name of the chair of the panel, and names of every member of the panel and title or focus of each presentation.


Paper abstracts and panel proposals should be submitted via email to no later than February 1, 2021. Decisions will be made by March 4, 2021 after peer review. Full papers not exceeding 6.000 words will be due by September 16, 2021. The organizing committee plans an edited book on the conference theme to be published by Routledge in 2022. A separate publication of the conference proceedings will feature the remaining papers.

Program Committee:

• Dejan Verčič, University of Ljubljana and Herman & partners, Slovenia
• Krishnamurthy Sriramesh, University of Colorado Boulder, USA
• Ana Tkalac Verčič, University of Zagreb, Croatia

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Picture of Bled in winter, foto: Franci Ferjan

Kardeljeva ploščad 5

SI-1000 Ljubljana