Government agencies in Sweden are experiencing a communicative turn where notions that concern branding, image and identity have become relations, with its focus on creating relationships with external actors and persuasion, must be seen as part of this communicative turn. This book concerns how government agencies practice public relations in a more communicatively orientated political landscape by way of its focus on a particular political issue. In the post-financial crisis of 2008, innovation emerged as a critical political issue on many government agencies’ agendas. Public relations practices were implemented by government agencies on an unprecedented scale in order to promote innovation issues. Considering this, I have chosen to label innovation a political hype. This dissertation follows two government agencies public relations work on innovation. The organizations and their promotion of innovation issues are used as windows through which to perceive how Swedish government agencies use persuasion and the management of external relationships in order to promote political issues. The potential democratic implications of a more communicative state are discussed as well.
This book documents the government directives, policies, protocols and strategies that were created by the agencies in order to facilitate and enable their public relations practices. It also describes and analyzes the spaces where public relations are implemented. The project leaders, project assistants, communication professionals and communication directors that were responsible for the public relations practices have a central role in this book as well. This dissertation shows how political
public relations can be a beneficial practice for government agencies. Public relations may be a suitable practice for a more transparent, open, even creative government. But this book also broadens the discussion, as there are some less constructive, potentially even unwarranted, implications of what I call the PR-ization of the Swedish state.